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Hello! Help me make my doctor listen...

AnonymousUserAAnonymousUser Posts: 49,671
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:29 AM in New Member Introductions

My name is Josh Anderson and I am joining the board thanks to advice from a friend.

I am currently suffering from a bulging disc at L4/L5 and a slipped vertebrae that has disturbed the alignment of my spine.

As of late, I have been in constant pain with tingling and numbness in the legs. This latest flair up, which started about six weeks ago, has been the worst I have ever dealt with. After going into the ER, I was given a morphine injection and prescribed a prednisone steroid pack to take down the inflammation and vicodin for the pain. As soon as I finished the steroid pack, my doctor prescribed me indocin as an anti-inflammatory medication and percocet for the pain. I soon found myself back at the ER where I received another morphine injection before getting a pat on the back out the door. Finally, my doctor referred me to a spine specialist. The spine specalist told me what was going on and mentioned that surgery is inevitable and then proceeded to schedule an epidural (which took place last Friday) and physical therapy (which won't begin till April 10). I have returned to the ER twice since meeting with her two weeks ago, both time I was given a morphine injection and sent home.

I feel like I am getting the run around from my HMO. I go in to one doctor he sends me to the next, the next tells me something and sends me on...it's starting to seem nobody there really wants to help. I've been told surgery is needed and I'm dealing with unbearable pain...I just don't know why we are waiting so long.

Due to the pain, I had to resign from my job. I'm not longer sleeping, I cannot drive for more than 15 minutes without feeling the pain, I'm depressed from being stuck in bed all day...My entire life has been put on halt and I feel like my doctors just don't care.

I'm desperate for help. Ways to deal with the pain, ways to get the attention of my doctors...anything to help me out.

I'm happy to join a group of people that may be able to get me going and help me return to the lifestyle I once knew.




  • Welcome to Spine Health.

    Actually from what you wrote, it does not seem like you are getting the runaround. I know it seems hard to believe, but each of us go through this thought process the first time we injure our back.

    Basically a GP will try and treat you first and get you through the acute phase. Many people respond real well and can avoid surgery. When your pain and symptoms persist, then you will get referred to the next level/doc for pain management. When it is finally determined that your pain and symptoms cannot be controlled by conservative measures, then you are referred to a surgeon for further evaluation.

    It is a long and laborious and anxious time. Those treating us are not feeling our pain and don't realize how long 6 months can be. Basically unless your condition is considered a risk of permanent damage, the protocol is to try conservative measures for 6 months or more.

    Hang in there and keep a record of all your ER visits and daily pain and symptom log. When you do meet with a surgeon, that log will help to paint a better picture for the doc.

  • Welcome.

    I can totally relate to what you are writing.
    I've posted on here several times. Nad been passed around like a plate of cakes from one doc to the next. Neuro Surgeon, GP, Pain Management etc. The Pain Management people are at least listening, and are chasing up repots from recent tests. But, it does feel like they have absolutely no urgency, and sometimes, little concern.

    Life goes on hold, I cannot drive as I cannot turn my head quickly of comfotably. I've not worked since Christmas, and I'm getting to the stage where I think I will have to resign too.

    It is hard, and the diagnostic and treatment periods ARE slow, with meds being passed out like smarties, and doctors seemingly taking little interest (I am sure they are, but it just seems that way sometimes)

    Hang in there, you do need to try and accert that it will be sorted out and you will have some answers, but it takes months and months.

    These boards are full of similar stories, and you will have days where you feel like you are alone, and other days where you feel that some progress is being made.

    As per the last post, the medical profession do not feel the pain and stress we are under, only like minded souls, like those on here do. So keep in touch.

    We are here to exchange views, information and above all, offer support.

    Take Care

  • Sometimes the process for spinal surgery takes a long time, and to us that suffer seems like an eternity. My Dr did not want to preform surgery until all consevative measures had failed.

    I am three months post op and now understand why Drs try all conservative measures first. One my recovery from spinal surgery hasn't been an easy recovery and two the chances are I'll get better, but there are also pretty good chances of no improvement or my condition getting worse.

    My process in a similar type HMO setting from 1st ESI (I had 3) and PT till surgery was about 4 months. Hey, the PT and ESI's help some people so keep the faith they just might work for you. The key that really started my process to getting the ball rolling was getting into see the spinal surgeon, which wasn't easy for me either.

    Good luck Josh and hang in there.
  • Your story is all too familiar for most of us in chronic pain. We spend our days taking our meds, laying in bed or reclining watching the rest of the world carry on while trying to cope with pain 24/7.

    I understand your frustration with HMO's and I personally hate the system and think PPO's are so much better. I was messed over by an HMO when they lolligagged about approving a badly needed MRI. After about 2 months of being BS'd I looked outside their network and found a spine clinic who would see me. The day after my initial appt I was having my MRI done at last and found out I had two disc herniation. All that time wasted! I could have been getting treatment and now today I partially blame them for my permanent nerve damage. The other part of the blame I assigned to my former PCP.

    I think if I would have been treated sooner then maybe I could be better today. Now I deal with chronic back and nerve pain everyday and it's been 3 years. This is nothing of course to those who have suffered decades of constant pain and my heart goes out to them. So if you want things to get done, put your foot down and be heard- don't let anyone sweep you under the rug. Take care
  • dilaurodilauro ConnecticutPosts: 9,842
    I know that while you are in pain, the last thing you want to hear about is taking time and having patience.
    When a person first experiences back or any other spinal problem, they generally see their PCP. Since the PCP is a generalist , based on their clinical observation will recommend you seeing a specialist. From there, the specialist does their reviews and sets up any diagnostic testing that they want to see.
    The bottom line, the specialist wants to have as much valid information in their hands, so that the right decision is made.
    Having spinal surgery is something that no one should jump into. You want to make sure about it and you also want to have tried the various conservative treatments to see if any one of those or a combination can help you , postpone or potentially avoid the surgery.
    All of this takes time, you could be looking at anywhere from 6 weeks to 6 months before every thing is settled.
    The one thing I am not sure about from your post is that in between seeing the specialist you are going to the ER for pain medications. Is that because you do not have a PCP?
    Ron DiLauro Spine-Health System Administrator
    I am not a medical professional. I comment on personal experiences
    You can email me at: rdilauro@veritashealth.com
  • You are in the right place for support and understanding. I think all of us have felt helpless and frustrated and alone. We've also had our share of being passed from doctor to doctor with no relief in sight. Know that you are not alone.

    That being said, you are on the right track even though you don't feel it. ESIs are usually the last in a long line of conservative treatments. Sometimes they work really well, well enough to get you into physical therapy which might actually reduce your pain.

    Sometimes they don't work at all. You may be able to stop at 1 shot if it doesn't give you any relief. My doctor at the time wanted me to have a series of 3, even though they really didn't help. They usually make you wait about 2 weeks before they accept that it didn't work. Call your spine specialist. Tell her about your ER visits and your current pain level. Tell her that you had to quit your job and that you can't sleep or drive. The worst they can do is make you have another shot or two before they will consider performing surgery.

    Good luck, and keep us posted on your progress. I hope things get better for you soon.
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