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When you have a good day or two

Cath111CCath111 Posts: 3,702
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:39 AM in Chronic Pain
I've seen a lot of members with this question: "I've been feeling good for the last two days. Should I cancel my surgery?" Or, ".....cancel my procedure?" Or, ".....do I really need to continue treatment on my spine?"

This is the way I look at it: Just because you have a day or two without pain doesn't mean you should consider yourself suddenly cured or healed. This is the probable scenario: you have a day with relatively little pain so you go about your "old normal" routine - working, lifting laundry, mowing, shoveling snow, cleaning the kitchen, etc. The next day you're hurting so bad that you're babying yourself most of the day.

What we have to realize is that if we can't live a relatively normal life every single day[/u], if we can't get on with [u]normal everyday things without experiencing residual pain, then we've lost the quality of life. Can you be satisfied having two or three good days out of the week with the rest of the days spent in debilitating pain?

The life of a spiney certainly can and does include days of relatively little pain. I know that I've experienced days where I feel like I'm really a-ok. So, like most of us, I do too much on those days and suffer the consequences. Does this mean I don't need surgery? Does this mean I should stop all my meds? Does this mean that I'm back to normal? Absolutely not.

Could I live without my upcoming surgery? Sure. But I'd have to sit down and baby myself every other day for the rest of my life. What I'm looking for is being able to live a relatively normal life every day, not just on the days that I happen to feel good. In reality, I may never be normal like I used to be, but I'll settle for a new normal where I know my spine is at least stable and I can function on a reasonable level, hopefully without having too many of those days where my recliner is my best friend.

This is a very difficult thing for most new spineys to understand and honestly, I've only begun to understand it myself. There have been so many questions about whether to continue with surgery and/or treatment because of a couple of good and relatively pain-free days. And the answer isn't simple, but it's very clear: don't make a conclusion based on one or two days of no or low pain levels. Those are blessings, but for a spiney, they usually aren't permanent until you get treatment that gets you to where you need to be.

I guess I just want fellow spineys to know that yes, we can have good and even great days. But that doesn't mean you don't still have problems that need to be taken care of medically. I also understand that not every spiney fits under this umbrella, but I'll venture to say that most do and for those of us that are under the umbrella, simply take those good days as a blessing and continue to work on getting yourself to the new normal that you're willing to live with and accept.



  • Yes I agree and must use that advice on myself. My pain seems to accelerate into 'can't cope' mode at 7pm, through until I fall asleep from sheer exhaustion, then every morning it's back to, 'not quite as bad' again. Of course it always builds up during the day and by 7pm, once again I'm usually in tears from the pain.

    Our GP/PCP is open from 8.30am until 6.30pm, so I never ring up at 6pm to let them know how bad it's about to become in one hour!

    Good advice in both the short and long-term.

  • Pain is never static and it is sometime difficult to acknowledge that surgery is the preferred option when we have better days and we have to look to the future for a prediction for the now. We usually make our decision of the basis of a good diagnosis and who is to say how that will continue into the future, we all have to have the belief and faith in the decision that we make for future potential improvement.

    Is doing nothing a realistic option or are we just delaying the inevitable, these are never easy decisions, for the most part we do not make rash decisions and anyone considering surgery does well to take all the advice possible.

    Take care

  • I do agree with original poster that one or two days does not mean a cure but it can mean a trend in the right direction.

    The most important thing I did was to start a daily journal of what I eat, exercise and how I feel that day. Over time this will be invaluable to the doctor and yourself. This info can be used to experiment till you find the right combination that works for you.

    The doctor explained to me in the coming months I will still have bad days but that should come less often and further apart till almost gone unless you over do it. To me this is the definition of healing.

    Now the idea of being cured in our situations is a tricky one as when I broke my ankle many years ago there was never this, "it can come back at anytime" cloud hanging over us. I believe that I may not be what I was but with enough time and PT I can come close. Meaning I may never be able to do a deadlift again in my life but maybe I can ride my bike again.

    There is also the other issue in the original poster which is quite good also. Will a natural recovery give you enough. It may not so surgery may be the best answer and that is why you need to discuss with your docs, several would be best. From my understanding in many cases over a 5 year period with or without surgery the results will usually be the same. This is why they call this surgery optional.

  • When I posted this, I used myself needing surgery as an example, but what I've posted can also be true for anyone that needs any sort of spine treatment, whether it's surgery or conservative measures such as PT, injections or pain management.

    I believe that every member on these forums has or has had to have some form of treatment to be able to function on a practical level. After all, that's why we're here.

    So, I'm sorry if my post made it sound like I'm a cheerleader for surgery - I'm not. Really, I'm just a cheerleader for spineys, especially new ones, doing whatever you need to do to get back to a relatively normal life without second guessing yourself because you've had a good day or two.


  • I agree 100% that we need to do whatever it takes..but I really think you brought up some great points when you do need to make that decision about surgery. For many spineys it is really not that cut and dry.

    I think like another poster said in a different thread we demonize surgery cause most of the folks who are here have had bad experience with surgery. There are times when surgery is the correct measure, we just do not hear about many of the successes here.

    So like I said I really think your post had alot of stuff to chew on for many of us.

  • Cath,
    Yes, good days are not reflective of more to come or the reason why the pain may increase, I always try to use my lower pain days which is an interesting concept as windows of opportunity to do more thing with the pacing mode on all the time. It is not possible even with those lower numbers of pain to use them as we would like and the easiest task become very difficult and just surviving the day itself an achievement.

    The working environment is not best suited to chronic pain and the only consistency of the chronic element is inconsistency itself, how can we do unimaginable things and then not even do the simplest, it is never easy.

    The hard bit is also having made that leap of faith towards surgery it does not give us the improvement we understandably expected, those lower days never last for long and the increase throughout the day always difficult to manage and function, all my collective effort takes energy and this has a finite duration and once that has gone no amount of capacity is left, never the same on any day and not always as predictable as I might like, I am better in the mornings at least.

    If managing pain is effective without surgery then so be it, we are all trying to get through and work with what we have, pm is not surgery and we all continue with some apprehension of trying to do our best with all the information and current medical advice possible.


  • It is strange how often people feel much better just before that medical appointment when a big decision is about to be made.
    Just a couple of days before my MRI scan, I felt much better. So much so that I felt embarrased and expected to be told that there was nothing wrong with me. In actual fact, I was told that I had several problems and it was amazing that I was managing to walk around as well as I am.
    No surgery to date, and I'm still fighting to avoid it. On a good day, I feel that I can beat this. Then on a bad day, I sink into despair and wonder if I should just get on and have the decompression with fusion and try to get my life back. Incredible how my mood can change so quickly depending on my pain levels.
  • Cath111 said:

    So, I'm sorry if my post made it sound like I'm a cheerleader for surgery - I'm not. Really, I'm just a cheerleader for spineys, especially new ones, doing whatever you need to do to get back to a relatively normal life without second guessing yourself because you've had a good day or two.


    *I* didn't see your post as an advocate or cheerleader for surgery..but you made a valid point towards surgery as well. I am one that is apparently "cascading" in the adjacent disk area. Shots don't work for me, PT only makes it worse, Lyrica (I love it) - no side affects so far, and it knocks the pain waaaaayyy down. I know that there are more surgeries in my future.

    I joke with people who comment on my neck. I call the scars (like a ladder), my "gills"...some people buy that! Amazing.... At any rate, all spinies have something going on...PT, meds, shots, directed flex exercises, surgery. We all have something - no need to apologize for your original post! I think from seeing the members who posted, they know that. :-) Take care Cath!!!

    PCTF C4 - T2, Laminectomies C5, C6 & C7. Severe Palsy left arm/hand.
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