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stockbrokersstockbroker Posts: 464
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:31 AM in Depression and Coping
I finally got my spinal cord stimulator. I think my expectations were too high. 50% is considered a success. I probably do have 50% improvement but it is far less than what I had hoped for. Also, the stimulator does not help me with flares and I had a doozy a week and a half ago. Every since that time, I have been depressed in the classical sense. I have been in bed, not going to work, not crying or anything. I can't seem to shake this. I've started taking Zoloft which my PCP gave me many months ago but which I hadn't taken. I've been taking it for a week. I don't feel better. I've had episodes like this that have lasted a couple of days but nothing like a week plus. I think ever since my fusion, I've been on a downward spiral. I just can't seem to get motivated about anything. I'm not expecting anyone to do anything, just thought I needed to tell someone and I'm too embarrassed to tell anyone who I know (besides my husband--can't keep it from him that I'm not getting out of bed.) I can't eat anything. I sleep alot. I AM DEPRESSED. It is not a good place to be. Susan


  • Please, know this is classic symptoms of depression. Make the CALL!!! Zoloft may do the trick, but you should let your PCP know you are this bad. Zoloft takes several weeks to build a level and help. My doctors always kept me on a dose for 6 weeks before bumping up.

    I know how you feel about the SCS, we are all told 50% is a success, but we hope for more and hold onto that hope to hard. If it does not happen for us we can go into depression.

    Please be careful, maybe it is time to look at other means of pain control to help balance the SCS better?
  • Definately call the doc!
    And this can't be said enough, your not alone. Many go through this and can't seem to bring themselves to say or do anything about it - that's the biggest hurdle to get over initially. To get over the 'why bother?' part.

    Make the call!
  • I'm sorry you're feeling this way!!! As Wrambler said, a lot of anit-depressants take a few weeks before they start working to their full capacity. Call the doctor, and maybe he can give you something else to help out, or change your meds. I hope you feel better soon, warm wishes and hugs to you
    APROUD CANADIANveteranButNOTa doctor, my thoughts are my own
  • I hope you called your Dr to get something to help you. One day at a time. Take care. 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
  • sorry to hear you are stuck in a dark pit.. :''( i have been there before too. :( seeing your doctor and staying in close contact about the meds is very important. i hope the light shines for you soon! :D Jenny :)
  • I know that there is nothing I can say to help you feel better,but it hurts because I've been there and understand how you feel.

    You will get past this.

  • Last night I noticed on my bottle of Zoloft, it said "take one to TWO tablets daily". I took a second pill last night and will up the dosage to two pills (100mgs). My husband doesn't have to work this weekend so I won't be all alone to wallow. If I don't feel better by next week, I will call the doc. The irony is----I don't call because I don't have the energy or inclination because I'm so down. Robin, thank you for the lovely card. How could I ever explain to "normal" people what this site means to me. Susan
  • Ha,I can't tell you how many times I cancelled my Dr appt because I was just not feeling good enough to go.The irony.

    Course..some might call it something else,but that would be them.Normal..what...where..whose normal?

    I'm glad your husband is off this weekend.I'd like to tell you not to be embarrassed,or not to do this or that,but I know that it's not right for me to say,and my saying things won't make them so.The only thing I know that might help is try focusing on one positive-mainly in yourself..and force yourself to shower daily,or if the SCS doesn't allow for that,a sponge bath and powder.
    When I was depressed,it helped me immensely...because even showering daily was a chore,and harder than I can describe.
  • The Zoloft is working! Hurray! I woke up early yesterday. My husband was still sleeping. After an hour of watching TV while Dennis slept, I realized with a certain amount of glee that I was BORED. Depressed people don't get bored. We spent Saturday bumming around the rummage sales and, finally, went to a very casual but expensive favorite restaurant to kind of celebrate our recent anniversary. I wasn't very hungry but that's okay. It was cold and rainy all day. 45 degrees in June---that's Wisconsin. Of course, in the middle of the night my legs really started hurting, as they are at this moment but I still don't feel depressed. I'm going to help the hubs clean the house---at least clean the windows where the dogs rub their little wet noses and get the glass all smeary. I HATE THAT.
  • What a relief to hear that you're feeling bored- just kidding. O:) I'm glad that you're starting to get over feeling depressed. Getting out of the house really helps, esp having a real nice anniversary dinner with your husband. My husband and I were planning to have ours, but the damn back pain prevailed, so it turned out to be staying home with kids, watching movies and ordering Papa Johns. Oh well, it was nice but we have to reschedule dinner some other time. When you do clean up, please don't overdo it and rest in between tasks. My dog doesn't smear windows but she snots the hell out of the place..Ugh! But she's so darn cute she gets away with it all. Have a nice weekend :H
  • I'm so glad the veil of dispair has lifted for you. I know that pit as I have been at it's edge before and felt that one poof of wind would send me over the edge. But a good doctor...cymbalta and wellbutrin have made my life much better. Keep taking your meds even when you are feeling good because it's easy to say "oh, i've felt good for so long i think i'll stop". Don't stop without your doctors ok. I'm so glad to hear that you are doing better...give the your doggies a hug from me.

  • I went to see the pain psychologist today at the urging of my PM doc. This was the psychologist who did my evaluation for the SCS (the GOOD psychologist not the bad one). He is ex-military and can be somewhat brusque though I like him. I don't know, however, if I can deal with his brusque style. For instance, after reading to me his initial report requisite to the stimulator and how I had scored extremely high on the intelligence portion of the test (I didn't know there was one), he pointed out to me that I seem to think, in the face of all evidence to the contrary, that I am going to be able to do the things I once did and loved, viz. tennis. Then, he would say, "that's pretty dumb, isn't it?" I told him that talking to me thus would make me feel disinclined to open up to him. "Really, he said, "I didn't think you were fragile." "Well I am, I told him. Make a note of that. This guy seems like a good doc, a well-meaning doc but I know how sensitive I can be, especially now when this depression has come, seemingly absolutely out of nowhere and consumed me like a California wildfire. I don't want to go to see someone who is going to make me feel worse but I am only "better" with the depression but still bad. Has anyone out there had experience with a psychologist who specialized in chronic pain? Is there really a benefit to acknowledging that my old life is over and I ought to accept that? How do I fill in the blank and make life fun? I'm really struggling. Susan
  • Hmm, I kinda want to say: Aren't psychiatrist/psychologists supposed to make you feel BETTER? :O Where does he get off telling you that you're goals (getting back to a normal life) are dumb? To me, that's ridiculous! :? We need to make goals and strive to reach them, or we just aren't living! You keep your goals, and remember, we are only going to go as far as we THINK we can!

    I, myself, have a goal to play racquetball again. Prior to surgery, I played to the point we called it GIMP RACQUETBALL, where my son would hit the ball softly so I could walk to hit it back lol. =)) We did this up until about 5 months before surgery, when I finally just couldn't even hit the ball.

    remember: you can do whatever you set your mind to! B)

  • I think there is two sides to the old life story. The one where we aspired to return to it and try our hardest to get there. This one can also lead us into depression when we refuse to accept ourselves as we are if we can't attain our old self.

    The second side to the story is NO he should not be using words like "dumb". He has no real reason to place a label on his patients like that, especially out loud! I actually had another thought I wanted to express about the old life thing, but that thought done flew the coupe!!!

    Accepting ourselves when the old life is gone has to be the hurdle that really is hard for a depressed person, guilty as charged, :H Not sure how to even figure out who I am. My co-worker asked me what I am allowed to do now that I have an SCS. I DON"T KNOW! I am also very depressed right now, so don't think you all are alone.

    I can not even find a chronic pain shrink or one that does not look at me like I am nuts if I mention wanting some help figuring this all out!

    I find myself shutting down, it is all very hard to deal with right now for me too.

    Susan, I am not trying to steal your thread, just hoping to let you know you are not alone!
  • At last....a fellow fanatic. I think I understand where this guy was coming from, i.e. I am NOT going to play tennis again. I had already made that acknowledgment though I did think I could go out and just "hit some balls". I "hit those balls" knowing I would suffer significantly for the day or two following. I understand there MAY be an advantage to my acknowledging that I may have to transfer my exercise thrills to walking (yeah, right --same thing--s-o-o-o much fun) but in so far as I've been battling this really serious depression, I didn't appreciate his telling me I'm being "dumb" --not that I worry that I am dumb, I know I'm not, but it just didn't seem compassionate. He claims he doesn't want me to "bullshit" him. I really think I would benefit from seeing a pain psychologist but I would like a kinder, gentler pain psychologist who doesn't just tell me I'm being "dumb" about giving up my dreams of recapturing some of my favorite things in the whole world. If, in fact,I need to be realistic and accept that my old,life--the one that I loved is no longer realistic, I think (especially in my depressed state) I need to be lead there with very soft gloves and even softer words.
  • You don't know how good it feels to hear you say you are struggling with many of the same issues I am. I know when you said you were weaning off your pain meds (my deep-seated dream) I felt so disappointed and jealous and, ultimately, depressed. Lets put the "dumb" thing into some kind of perspective. First of all the psychologist told me I had scored in the highest category for intelligence on the psychological tests they have me prior to giving me the okay for the SCS trial (whatever that means). When the psychologist told me my reaction to NOT being able to get off ALL my pain meds, ride my bike and play tennis again was DUMB, he wasn't telling me I was dumb, clearly. He was, however, trying to be emphatic and he didn't need to be. In fact, when he started being "emphatic", I got turned off. it isn't easy for me to admit to "weakness". BTW, you guys don't have that market cornered. I think part of the problem is that the SCS people we hear from on these boards are the truly exceptional cases that have been able to get off of their drugs and go on to have these wonderful lives. When I first posted that my experience wasn't quite so great, I received three or four PMs. Nobody wanted to say anything negative i.e. less than wonderful because they didn't want to dash anyone's hopes. This leaves normal viewers with the notion that once they get their SCS, they will be able to get off of their drugs and return to a normal life. THAT, SIMPLY, IS NOT THE WAY IT WORKS. Almost all of us who has a SCS will still need drugs, espescially for pain flares where the stimulator doesn't really offer any additional benefit. We don't want to tell this so we leave all with the notion that the SCS is a panacea. When it proves not to be, what can possibly ensue but depression. That's where I am. I know I am better off with the SCS. Way better off. I am not so much better off that I can quit my pain meds and head out to the tennis courts and I take it as my mission to not allow anyone else to be mislead as to the potential benefits of this device. IT IS WONDERFUL. It will help you. It will not make everything better. Probably. Everyone is different. But it is rare that this device would make you feel toatlly normal. PM me if you have any questions. Don't set yourself up for a let down like I did.
  • Well said, Susan. I haven't noticed this bias, because I'm not even being asked to consider SCS, but I think you are absolutely right. Unfortunately, much of this forum is a bit one-sided. We say it again and again: once you're cured, most people leave, leaving new people to believe that they shouldn't risk surgical treatment, even though it could be their best course of action.

    Same goes for what you say, if there is a bias in the forum for SCS, people need to be able to learn both sides. I often wondered why a psychological test needed to be done prior to the implant, but if depression is a major factor afterward, I can see the connection now. Any way, I hope I made sense, getting a bit tired now (|:
  • I have received PMs from people too. Telling me to not despair. When I asked about feeling cold. I received a bunch of replies saying "me too, I thought I was the only one" Now, forgive me but why do we need to do that to ourselves and others?

    Is it because we so desperately want to be the "perfect" "no more meds for me" that we refuse to admit that the device is not PERFECT?

    Are we afraid to admit that it is not quite as good as we hoped?

    I'm going to guess that everyone is going to have a different answer. Perhaps I am wrong to admit and ask about the things I do not like about it in public? The fact that I tried to fix my lawn tractor last night and now have a very sore ipg pocket. The irritation I feel being double by the fact the I asked for the ipg to NOT BE THERE!

    I guess I do not want to scare people off from trying it either. There seems to be a lot of people walking the edge, trying to decide if they dare try one. That confuses me, I know it is surgery, but I would take even the chance it is going to work over sitting around and wonder day after day if it might have?

    As for meds, I quit for about 10 days. I have been taking Norco on an irregular basis as needed after then. Some days are good, others not so good. I'm hoping that once I get in for my 2 month follow up I can get a little better pain control from the SCS and perhaps move to Tramadol for bad days as it worked for me in the past.

    Hang in there, at least we know we aren't all alone.
  • I totally agree with you, Kat, and Wrambler. We're just telling it like it is- no treatment or procedure is perfect when it comes to severe back problems. Besides, I think everybody knows that they are not fully guaranteed to bring total relief.

    That is why my doctors have told me upfront that I may or may not get relief from my back surgery. This also goes for the morphine pump surgery I'm about to have- I was told it's NOT a cure and that it won't give me 100% relief, but the hope is that I function better. And, I might need my oral BT meds even after having the pump installed.

    We certainly are not trying to scare off or discourage anyone regarding surgery or SCS; we're letting people see the whole picture so that they can see how things are really like and know what they're getting into.

    Susan, I agree the new psych doctor is pretty gruff but I believe that maybe he doesn't realize that he comes off that way. He seems to be the type that is straightforward, straight talking. If you can deal with it, that's good as long as he sensitive to your needs and TACTFUL. If you want to kick him to the curb, go right ahead.

    Whatever happens, you know that you have our support and we'll be with you the whole way. Take care
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