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What to do????

AnonymousUserAAnonymousUser Posts: 49,671
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:26 AM in Depression and Coping
Ruptured a couple discs in my back, was my fault. This was 3 years ago. Did the PT and was managing with Epidurals and pain pills. In Feb of this year, had a epidural cause a infection in my spine. I was in and out of the hospital 3 times for a total of 3 weeks. Now I have 3 ruptured/degenerated discs. Not sure what ones, just know they are the lower ones.
Did P.T. again, did not help much.
Have been off work on long term disability since feb. Pain dr has me on 40 mg er oxy's, 2 per 24 hours. Also take xanax for obvious reasons.
Problem is my work does not involve heavy lifting but a lot of travel. I have had to miss a lot of work due to back pain. They put me on long term disability and basically said, do not come back until your back is fixed, IE surgery.
I have been to 3 neurosurgeons. All 3 say my back is really bad for a 40 year old, worse than they have seen for my age. None gave me much hope with the offer of a Spinal Fusion. One was very blunt and only gave me a 40-70 percent chance of improvement. Plus I am worried about all the stress and strain it will put on my good discs.

I can get by most days pretty good with my pain meds. Surgery scares the living you know what outta me. I do not want to get it done. My feeling of self worth is really low due to not working. Feeling very depressed. I know I need to go back to work but am afraid of going back and then having to take time off for my back again, not an option. My Pain Dr says another epidural is NOT an option, I would not get one anyways. Just feel pressured into this surgery without good odds. Plus the recovery is not pleasant. Feel really hopeless.
Thanks for letting me vent here...


  • Sounds like you're behind the proverbial rock and a hard place. It really is such a terrible decision to make. I had a single fusion surgery 6 months ago and am still in recovery. My advice would be to put surgery off as long as you can; surgery is really the last option.

    What type of work do you do? Is there any chance of fine tuning your occupation to include mostly desk work? Do you travel by air or ground? Probably a dumb question to ask someone with the name "aviator", huh? You seem like a very intelligent person and 40 is still young enough for a career change.

    After surgery, lots of folks have a lot of trouble sitting for any length of time. I didn't have that problem at all...it's just the getting up and down that's a problem.

    I wish you the best in making a very hard decision. Personally, I didn't have the surgery until I was bed-ridden more than I was upright...couldn't walk and was in extreme pain all the time. Meds didn't help.

    Hugs to you today! >:D< >:D< (Love giving hugs to all the young men. At my age, I can do it!
  • I know your dispair. Can you see an Orthosurgeon? For another opinion? I had to get an antidepressant to help deal with the loss of not being able to work. Also in alot of jobs there is a service where you can get therapy. Your human resources would have info or the union if you have one. I hope you hang in there and never give up hope. We're here to support you. Charry
    DDD of lumbar spine with sciatica to left hip,leg and foot. L4-L5 posterior disc bulge with prominent facets, L5-S1 prominent facets with a posterior osteocartilaginous bar. Mild bilateral foraminal narrowing c-spine c4-c7 RN
  • When our backs are up against the wall, we come out swinging!

    One thing that I found out I had to learn to do, was to separate the feeling of fear from the other internal voice of reason. The two can be giving me two very different messages. It is very normal and very healthy to fear surgery, yet if it is necessary to have surgery then you have to be able to listen to that internal voice of reason. (I hope this makes sense)

    Remember many people on this and other forums, are here because they need support for not so positive surgical outcomes. There are numerous numerous people who have had great surgical outcomes! You have to remember that.

    What are your risks of permanent nerve damage if you leave your back in the mess it is at the moment? No sense in suffering all this time and time to come, if you are going to wind up causing permanent damage to your nerves and possible greater complications.

    We can't get back time lost. All the time we lose to the suffering, is gone forever. We can however take the chance or risk of moving forward. We suffer a short time longer and then come out at the other end of the tunnel.

    Yes a fusion can stress the remaining good discs, but how long from now? No one knows. As we age, discs start to dry and become less of a risk for herniation. If you know what you did that caused your problem in the first place, then do your best to avoid that activity.

    I write down a list of pro and cons. One list for doing nothing and one list for having surgery. This way I can step back and take a good hard look at what I am facing.

    I now have a Spinal Cord Stimulator, which controls a large portion of my pain and allows me to be active once again. It does not however address the problem with my spine, which will one day need to be repaired. At the moment the risk of making things horribly worse while trying to "fix" things is too great. I have however bought myself some time and am moving forward.

  • so sorry you are in this position. After my 2nd surgery and I was not better but worse, I felt just like you. So discouraged about what to do, the pain, mourning my old life, etc. When I finally sought the opinion of a highly recommended neurosurgeon, he found that I was in a dangerous position - over-rotating and shearing of the spine due to a facet joint "missing". Hmmm, not mentioned in any surgery notes, but had to have broken off during the 2nd surgery.

    I had so much anxiety but a surgeon I trusted, and my final surgery - a 360 PLIF with the works - was a success and stabilized my back.

    The sad part? All the waiting I did caused permanent, irreversible nerve damage and now I suffer 24/7 burning nerve pain. Am getting a spinal cord stimulator to try and get some of my life back, get off some meds (hopefully) and move on.

    Good luck - I wouldn't do anything you didn't have an inner peace about. Your gut won't lead you wrong.

  • The responses I have read really cheered me up!
    I just do not have a good feeling about the surgery. It did not help over the holidays having to talk about my condition all the time. I am sure everyone here can relate, it is bad enough having the problems we do, let alone having to discuss em at every turn...
  • I totally understand where you are coming from. My work said the same to me, come back fixed. I don't know what exactly that means, but I assume it means they want the same level of work I guess. I also am close to your age and terrified on the thought of having surgery. I have found reading SH, talking to people here has really helped my decision to do whatever my surgeon wants. Mine is in the neck, as bad as it gets. But it took me to do every single conservative option - basically to give up and go the surgical route. It I could be guaranteed that it could go away naturally I would, but you come to a realization when you haven't worked for months and your life is put on hold because of pain - that maybe, maybe time for surgery. This is how I made my decision, and it has been the hardest one I have ever made in my life. :)))
  • Ive been where you are, and im 38. I did every conservative treatments available before surgery because I did not want surgery.
    Actualy, afterwards has not been that bad. The very bad pain I had prior to surgery is gone. Dont get me wrong, I still have bad days, when I feel super good then over do it and have a few bad days after. The worst part had been the nerve pain in the legs, which my NS has controlled beautifully with a couple of meds. I rarely take any pain meds anymore, and I started PT last week which has I think starting to help.
    Its a personal decision with surgery, lots of things to consider. We are here for you to vent anytime or just to ask qeustions. We can only give our personal experiences and sometimes what we know from jobs...Im a RN.
    Best of luck to you whatever you decide!
  • If so, how did it come out?

    Going to my long time family Dr tomorrow. Gonna pick his brain on all of this. He is aware of everything and I respect his decisions.
    Plus I think I need to get on an anti depressant until I decide and get though this. Always kinda depressing after the holidays. Such a big build up before and POOF, they are over. They never seem to live up to my expectaions.
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