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Newbie and struggling with the emotional side of it all

awalker819aawalker819 Posts: 164
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:36 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
Hi all,
I'm new here post-wise, but I've been lurking around reading and soaking up all of the great information and input for a while. I'm scheduled for 2 level fusion on Oct 5th, and have been dealing with severe radiculopathy, spasms, cramps, sciatica, numbness, from stenosis, etc., etc., for close to 2 years now. But in the past 6 months or so, it's gotten much worse, and especially the past month. I've been through the physical therapy, the cortisone shots, etc., with little to no relief. Now I'm just waiting for my surgery. And literally JUST waiting.

I used to be a very active person, playing softball 3-4 times a week, working out 4-5 days a week, or hiking or something. And now I feel like a useless, waste of space. I can barely walk even with a cane (which I hate as I'm only 30). And simple everyday tasks are such a struggle that I can barely stand it.

I'm lucky enough to have a great gf who tries to take care of me, and tries to understand what I'm going through. She has had 2 microdiscectomies herself, but her whole experience from injury to surgery was 3 months, and only about 3 weeks with the 2nd surgery. So she understands to a certain extent. But it took a while for her to realize how much more major of a surgery fusion is, and how hard it's been to deal with the pain this long and the degree and variety of symptoms I have.

She does a lot of the basics for me, like grocery shopping, and helping with chores and dinner. But I've changed so much because of the whole ordeal, as well as the meds and just struggle to get through the day every day. I'm exhausted from still working a 40 hr week through the pain, and then not being able to sleep at night. And all of this is taking its toll on us as individuals as well as a couple. I'm carrying the burden of all of the negative changes for both of us because even though I can't help the situation, it's still my fault.

I'm just so depressed all of the time these days, and have no one to really talk to. She has her friends and can get out of the house, do whatever she wants whenever she wants and I'm stuck at home hardly able to move. I try not to dwell on it and just focus on my work and getting through the day, but I just can't anymore. I've gone tfrom a very independent stoic person, to this worthless lump that just can't stop crying and feeling miserable. I've tried to talk to her and maybe come up with something to help the situation. But she's so wrapped up in her own exhaustion and frustration with it all that she's just emotionally unavailable. And I can't really blame her for that, you know?

I guess I just feel so alone and sometimes just don't feel strong enough to get through it all.

Anyway, thanks for "listening" everyone.



  • I understand how you feel.The pain is inbearable and overwhelming and right now you have no control over any aspect of your life, you just can't do anything. It's normal to feel like this, we all do.

    But the good news is you are scheduled for surgery! Just think, in a few weeks this will be behind you and you can start working toward your future post surgery! It is true that recovery is the hard, a long haul that takes patience beyond belief...but for me, because I was in extremely excruciating pain before surgery the pain was less after and even though I'll never be the old me ....I couldn't live or function at all before surgery so I've made progress and I'm sure you will too! So while your gf is out having fun you need to research this site to find the things you will need to do to prepare for surgery (the list of things you will need is at the top of this forum), get your bed, bathroom, house ready, have gowns and clothes that will be easy to dress in, slip on shoes and get put all your strength into a positive attitude that centers around you raking care of yourself first! Before you know it you will be going out again! Feel free to complain, ask for advice, or laugh here as that is what SH friends are for.

  • Thanks for saying something - I too lurked here for a couple of years, before I said anything, during a pain-cycle.

    I think it is harder for those, who have this pop into their lives quickly, than those of us who have had this slowly take over. I have a level of acceptance about all that is happening, but then I also need to accept that there must be something that I can do to change myself and the outcome.

    Now that you have tossed out this lump - of the emotional side of it,[and all of us have it, regardless of whether we admit it] what do you want to do with it? Sometimes the best thing is to take a look at it, determine what is real, what is not, what can be changed and then change and improve what you can!

    My sweetheart decided to take time and go out on her own and I knew that she needed time to process this disease. I have live with it for 2+ decades, She has just understood[in the last 2 years] that it is something that will not go away for me ever. She was not ready to accept that. I have to, because to not accept it, means that I cannot accept myself. If I am to heal myself, I cannot toss any part of myself out, I have to make peace with it. That is the big question, How to make peace with it!

    I also made a decision to go out, once or twice a week or every 2 weeks, no matter how bad I feel and no matter how hard it is for me to get myself moving. I go to Coffee and Food places and just try to act normal, like everyone else. I go out to dances and instead of dancing, I stick a stool on the edge of the floor and tap my cane and move my butt, cause I am not dead yet and just because I cannot do some things is no reason for me to stop!

    So - and I have been were you are too, come out and play
  • I had fusion L-2/3/4 last October...almost at my year mark. So last year I was where you are today. There is light at the end of the tunnel!

    I was the first one to experience back problems for the past several years so my family and friends had a hard time understanding at times too. I wish I was the only one to have to experience this but since my problems ...my husband, dad, and now my niece that just turned 30 in July, your age with 3 bad discs, has joined me...I just hope they don't experience years of pain like I have or end up like me!

    I wish you a less painful day today!

  • Welcome to Spine-Health. Just about everyone here can relate to what you're going through.

    This journey through spine problems is a long and tough one, and it takes adjustments in your and your girlfriend's lives.

    First, please don't refer to yourself as a useless, waste of space. And it's NOT your fault. These things happen to us and it takes time to absorb and accept it. You might not be able to hike or jog, but you can still have dinners together, tell jokes, enjoy a movie and have some ice cream.

    My husband has had very few pain issues so he was new to all this as well. The only way for you both to get through this together is communication - talk, talk, talk. It's frustrating for our significant others because they can't do anything for us but just be there to help and listen.

    You'll always have ups and downs, but you both will be going through this journey together and it is possible that it'll bring you two closer than ever.

    Hang in there. I think you'll find that Spine-Health has a lot to offer not only in terms of information, but with support as well. We all understand what you're going through and when you vent here, it takes some of the burden off of needing to vent with those you love.

    Take care and again, welcome to Spine-Health.
  • you and i have gone through the same issues. we both were into sports. we both were young when hit with trouble and we both felt miserable about our situations.
    there were no mris when i got hit. somehow i got back on my feet and went 30 years enjoying things like hiking and skiing. whatever you do dont give up. hang in there and do your best to recover. you now have hope with surgery approaching. put a picture in your mind of being back on your feet in 6 months. it's common for people in pain to get down in the dumps. to me depression is worse than pain. please check with your dr to see if certain meds are causing you this depression. i no longer take narcotic pain killers because they made me down in the dumps.
    just know youre among friends here who want to share their experiences. should you want to discuss this further feel free to personal message me in order to share our thoughts....pete
  • Okay, so I typed a whole response - and lost it somewhere.

    I have been on both sides of this issue:

    The overworked mad about having to do everything while I'm incredibly sick and pregnant while my husband got addicted to pain pills ...yada yada

    Then, I had to go through it 10 years later. Luckily not the rx addiction part - learned that lesson the hard way- but the having to hurt and be a drag and not be able to go skiing, hiking or do anything I used to do person.

    There is hope.

    Now I am healing very well - despite the complications and DH healed so well he rejoined the military.

    Are we out of pain? - No. We still deal with a lot of pain and backaches.

    Are we better off now than before? - Yes. Very very much so.

    You can have a life afterwards. A positive attitude makes a HUGE difference though. Surgery is not a cure-all, but it certainly helped us from getting worse and allowed us to resume our lives - even if not quite at the same level as what we once had (mostly me - DH does more than ever before)

    Hang in there -

    Feel free to PM me with questions - the stuff we went through when DH had his microdiscectomy was nasty and it brought us to the brink of separating.
  • Thanks to everyone for your support and kind words. Despite the depression, I am very hopeful and positive about my surgery. I don't have crazy expectations but I see it as the first step in my recovery, and while I have a long hard road ahead of me, it's the road to a much better place.

    My gf had a very, VERY long emotional talk yesterday and I think we sorted a lot out. I think there are a lot more outside forces, like stress at work, that are making it more difficult for us both. And I made the point that it's important and healthy for us both to get out sometimes, I just need her help doing that sometimes as I can't always walk or drive on my own.

    I've spent so much time reading everything about surgery and everything I can do to prepare and get the house and stuff ready. We started shifting our bedroom around to make it easier for me to get in and out of bed and to the bathroom. And we've talked about a lot of the other things on the list, and that I've read in general that will hopefully make my recovery.

    I'm really expecting today to be a better day-especially since on top of the depression and normal day-to-day, yesterday my car battery died and left me stranded at lunch! A sure sign that life doesn't stop even for pain!

    Thank you again everyone, and I look forward to continue reading everyone's stories, and am thankful for the opportunity and platform to vent and find a little extra support.
  • I had the same levels done that you are having. I am no longer dragging my leg around and I rarely need my cane. This surgery changed my life. It took time to get stronger and begin to walk normal again. My quality of life went from a 3 to a 7. I hope your surgery is life changing and you soon find yourself at a 7+.
    Faith M
  • Glad to hear things are looking up a bit. You and your GF are very smart to be prepared before the surgery. Salzworks did a great job putting together a list of things to consider having on hand for your recovery. I wish I had that list 6 years ago when I had my 2 level fusion!
    This is a great site, keep coming back, you will find so much helpful information, so many kind and caring people here that know what you are dealing with.
  • I have to agree with Pete81241 after you get use to the pain, depression is the next worst symptom that can happen. I have chronic back pain, DDD, protruding L3 and waiting for surgery for over a year WC is denying claim so I'm taking 10mg of Oxycontin twice a day and oxycondone when needed. I try to endure the pain not wanting to be addicted to the pain meds.

    I had surgery in 97 and bounced back for a good 10 years before my set-back. Hang in there friends and family are the most important, try your best to socialize and keep you problems to yourself, taking to much about your condition my keep them away.

    Sign on to forum and people that know first hand what you are going thru is a better outlet then friends and family, they care but they'll never know what you are going though.

    Also, if religious you may want to pray and talk to God, He's my guiding light though these tough times.
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