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What Pain Medications Are You Taking? What Works For You?

BackToWorkBBackToWork Upstate NYPosts: 31
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:40 AM in Spinal Stenosis
Greetings... I hope all are enjoying a Merry Christmas and/or Happy Holday Season... despite the painful issues at hand.

This is my first post... I'm also relatively new to this whole Stenosis thing. I can't walk for more than a few minutes... before the pain gets bad. I can't hardly walk at all when I wake out of bed. I have to pile on meds and drink a bunch of coffee to get to the point where I can go to work... Thankfully I'm only working part time right now. But still very worried about being able to do my job... or keep it... as things get worse.

Trying pain meds while the wheels get turning at the VA. I'm waiting to get an appointment to see a neurosurgeon and/or spine specialist.

Some of the meds I've been prescribed and trying:
Hydrocodone 5mg/Acetaminophen 500mg
morphine 15mg SA
oxycodone 5mg
Flexeril (cyclobenzaprine) 10mg
Amrix (cyclobenzaprine) 15mg time release

I'm working with my doctor... I'm keeping track of everything that I'm taking and doing... troubleshooting. I'm not sure about the dosages and whether or not I'm taking enough of this or that.

So I'm here asking questions. I'm curious as to what others are taking. Until I get to see the doctors at the VA hospital and get a better game plan... I have to make do with the pain medications... so I want to know more about them.


What Pain Medicationss are you taking?

What Dosage? (ie. 10mg twice a day,etc...)

What Works For You... or What Combination works for you?

Thoughts, Ideas, Advice... etc...

I just started my job a few months ago when the pain was just a soreness that I thought would go away... I had just recently moved here and thought I had just worked my back a little to hard... but then just about sudden like... things fell apart... I got the video of my MRI and the report... it's sickening! It's a wordy report with lots of ugly vocabulary but the words "severe" and "stenosis"... are especially grotesque... ughhh!!!

I love my new job... best I ever had... something I always wanted to do...

Your Help with this painful situation will be Greatly Appreciated.

Thanks, John B. (BackToWork)



  • Happy Holidays John, and Welcome to Spine Health!

    For me, *most* of my pain is direct nerve pain, so I am on 150mg 2x a day of Lyrica. Before I was put on it, I could NOT function - at home or work! The pain was so bad I would just curl up and cry. With the Lyrica, I almost feel "normal" for a change. Don't get me wrong, I still have pain the Lyrica doesn't even touch (I call them "zinger" pain - I think the actual word is breakthrough or something). I hate drugs, so even though offered other meds, I turned them down so I can function. Take care, and again, welcome!!!

    PCTF C4 - T2, Laminectomies C5, C6 & C7. Severe Palsy left arm/hand.
  • Most of us rely on a combination of meds to manage our pain. What I've learned here is that you can't rely on just one painkiller to do the trick, and also that you can't expect your pain to be totally taken away by any meds. This is why we go to Pain Management clinics...not Pain Elimination clinics (don't we wish).

    You also have to be open to other sorts of treatments like physical therapy, aquatherapy, using a tens unit, spinal injections, nerve blocks, trying out alternative ones like accupuncture, meditation, massage, stretching...thank goodness we have a lot to choose from.

    When you go see a doctor, the biggest mistake you can make is to ask a specific narcotic medication. This throws up red flags and you'll be labeled as a drug seeker. These doctors have to weed out who's for real and who is abusing or diverting their meds. Believe me, they seen and heard it all.

    Well, currently I'm on Methadone 10mg 3x's daily, Oxycodone 15mg 4x's daily, Dilaudid per infusion pump, Zanaflex for muscle spasms, Cymbalta for nerve pain, and an NSAID for inflammation. I hope to be able to cut back on some oral medications once the pump medication dose is increased to a therapeutic level.

    I hope that you will be able to stay at your job with the help of your doctors and also that your pain improves. Take care
  • i was just told i have SS. apparently i've had it for years and even after mri's etc, was not told.

    i finally begged for physical therapy so i can learn how to function. on the script it said SS and drop foot.

    previously my doctor said he couldn't prescribe anything for pain because it is chronic. he offered the usual neurontin, elavil, etc. stuff i have tried in the past for RSD.

    i have no idea what is going on with that. what should i do? like the first post on this thread, the pain is unbearable when i wake up.

    i'll post an intro so i don't hijack this thread.

    thank you so much for any advice!
  • BackToWorkBBackToWork Upstate NYPosts: 31
    Hi Ouchies,

    I'm new to all this myself. This was my first post here... or anywhere and I'm not sure what hijacking is but... your being helpful so... hijack away.

    I'm still in the process of getting completely diagnosed and until I see the neurosurgeon and/or spine specialist at the VA, I'm getting and trying pain meds to get me by. I'm not sure what definitive treatment plan I'll be on but by then I hope to have a workable med sked. Coming up with the right mix and program is a process in itself.

    Comparatively speaking, today was a good day. I woke up better this morning than in the previous 6 weeks or so. "Better" means I wasn't buckling up and hanging on to stuff as I slowly made it to the kitchen/meds/coffee pot. I live in a small 12x60 mobile home... some mornings it would take me in the neighborhood of ten minutes to go from one end to the other, bedroom to kitchen.

    Today I was able to go to work and for awhile I felt much better mentally and physically. I didn't feel so doped up and I felt more flexible. I had to take meds while at work when I felt the pain creeping back. I still have to judge how much time to wait between doses to avoid the roller coaster effect. I also want to be on as little a dosage as possible so as not to wreck my innards.

    Below I've listed the package that I took today starting at around 1AM. I use a small eraseable white board to write down what I'm taking and when. My goal is to be somewhat pain free at the time I have to leave for work. In fact my whole regimen, everyday, even on my off days, is to come up with the right med solution so I can go to work and do my job.

    I'm a night owl and generally work like a 2nd shift/evening hours gig. Today I had to be at work by 3PM and work for 4 1/2 hours. Not a lot of hours unless your haunted with disabling pain.

    12AM: 1 Morphine 15mg/SA (12 hr Pain Pill, time release);
    1 Methocarbamol (aka: Robaxin) 750mg (new pill, 1st day, muscle relaxer, seems OK so far, http://www.drugs.com/methocarbamol.html )

    12PM: Lots of coffee.
    1 Morphine;
    1 Methocarbamol
    2 Hydrocodone 5mg/Acetaminophen 500mg (aka: Lortab, Pain Pill);
    1 Diclofenac 50mg (anti-inflamatory);
    1 Oxycodone 5mg (straight Oxy no additives);
    1 Acetaminophen 650mg/extended release (OTC "TopCare" brand, "Arthritis Pain Relief " I call it APR for short, not sure what store I got it at but it's a generic type brand)

    The Methocarbamol is my newest pill. I like it better than Flexeril/cyclobenzaprine (another muscle relaxer): "Methocarbamol is a muscle relaxant. It works by blocking nerve impulses (or pain sensations) that are sent to your brain. It has no direct effect on the muscle." I got that from this site: http://www.drugs.com/methocarbamol.html .

    I'm probably going to ditch the Oxycodone and the APR. The Oxy by itself didn't seem to be effective, made me feel stoned, and even with the APR, didn't seem effective. I'm still adjusting, testing, weeding things out and fine tuning.

    The Hydrocodone 5mg/Acetaminophen 500mg (aka: Lortab, Pain Pill) which is similar to the Oxycodone (Oxy is more addictive) works the best for me... it's a keeper... I have to be careful with the dosage because the acetaminophen in high dosages can be poisonous and even fatal.

    Side effects: So far not too bad. Today I didn't feel so dopey or sleepy. I have swelling of the feet and constipation. I take a generic laxative (Sennosides 25mg)at night before bed. I eat raisin bran for breakfast. I may snack on a Fiber One bar. Sometimes I'll have a glass of water with a teaspoon of generic Metamucil... I drink lots of water because there's a lot of dryness... chewing gum seems to help with the drymouth.

    I sleep with my feet raised on a pile of pillows above my heart and wake with my feet looking much better. I sleep with my head on a couple of pillows too. Kinda like a leaning forward position but laying down... or like my spine shaped/curved like a bowl . I use a heating pad under my Lumbar area.

    Long Hot showers work for me. I like to bend over and let the shower rain on my lumbars.

    I use several creams before bed and after shower before work: the menthol type; the Aspercream type; the Capsaicin type. I think the Capsaicin type works the best but BE Careful with it... it's like hot sauce... and if you get it on your genitals, mouth, eyes, etc... OH Boy!... my girl put some on my back and thigh/hip... accidentally hit my soft spot... shower shower shower shower... my penis became a hot tamale! ...she felt so bad... I was laughing about it... It'll always be a funny memory... Laugh with the Pain! I hope this link works for you http://sturly.com/capsaicinatwebmd
  • BackToWorkBBackToWork Upstate NYPosts: 31
    ...boy... do I feel like crap...

    I got through the weekend. It was grueling and it really beat the hell out of me. I worked Saturday night til 9:30pm and then had to be a work Sunday morn at 7:15am. Saturday night at work was rough with the pain and meds, and to add to the stress of it all, there arose some scandalous drama with a few of my coworkers. Not with me personally but the situation may effect my sked which in turn may increase the stress associated with my condition and/or situation.

    I didn't get much sleep. I woke Sunday morning after just napping, really, and began my regimen. I was again able to get the pain to an acceptable level of mobility. It was snowing. I had to brush off the car but that went ok.

    It was my very first day at this job where I had to open the store with the manager. The first thing he asks me to do is scrape/shovel and use the salt spreader to ready the sidewalks along the front and one side of the building. That's a lot of sidewalk but the snow was pretty light and not yet very deep.

    I'm trying to show that I can pull my weight and I'm not ready to reveal my true situation. After yesterdays' scandal, I didn't want to add injury to insult, so to speak, to the worries of my boss... he's a very nice guy.

    I'm also somewhat fearful about losing my job... or getting my hours cut to practically nothing... my hours are too economically short as it is. It's a very complex and bizarre balance I'm trying to maintain.

    In my head I thought of my girl a lot... and talked to God... trying to keep the conversations on the pleasant, positive, and inspirational side. It was a real test of fortitude and endurance. The pain meds were just heating up. I took my time and was as careful as possible. I wasn't rushed or anything and it all ended up OK. I had a long day ahead of me and was scheduled to work til 5pm with an hour lunch at 11am.

    To shorten it up, the day went very well. I popped meds as necessary, mostly lortabs and oxycodone and a robaxin... it's hard to keep track while at work but I did write some of it down as best as I could remember. Point is... I made it. I think the Morphine and Lortabs may have helped the most.

    My feet and calves swelled up like watermelons. I was bloated and still constipated after 2 days. I had my feet raised for most of the night and went to sleep with them raised. I didn't sleep very well and felt somewhat sick. I finally got out of bed mid morning feeling a bit queezy, shaky, and generally crappy and with swollen feet.

    I still feel lousy this late afternoon but I'm off and will be off til Saturday. It would have been very difficult if not impossible to work today. I decided to stop the Oxycodone, the APR's, and the Flexeril

    I'm going to keep taking the Morphine and the Diclofenac on a 12 hour sked, 12am/12pm to keep it in my system and use the Lortabs and the Robaxin as necessary. The Robaxin is my muscle relaxer of choice and it seems to mix in well without making me too sleepy yet I hope too that it helps me sleep at night. I hope it's not the pill making my feet swell up. I have to research this swollen feet situation tonight.

    At Noon today I just took a Morphine and a Diclofenac. On my off days , I intend to take only the minimum amount of pain meds and keep my feet raised as much as possible.

    I spoke with the VA clinic and discontinued the oxycodone and had the Lortab script refilled. I'm short on those but if I conserve I should be able to make it through the coming weekend.

    I can clearly see how pain can so overly dominate and interfere with a persons' quality of life. It seems while killing the pain in one area I'm creating and accepting somewhat lesser physical anomalies in another... not to mention risking and sacrificing the health and well being of my financial situation.

    I will keep on top of things, learning as I go. I'm confident that I will eventually get the right kind of help that allows me to create a better quality of life without dibilitating pain.

    In the mean time, my girl and I intend to manage things as best we can, surviving this crisis as all others, just as we have in the past, and grab and enjoy as many fun filled moments as possible... I'm sure there'll be some doom and gloom moments when the going gets tired and the body gets weak... but we'll snap back... as we always have. I like to believe that we're two mature, intelligent, committed, dedicated, devoted, loving heads... working on a very difficult and complex project together.

    Having an awesome loving relationship is the best most powerful med... I certainly would be a wreck without her. With her by my side... with her love and support... sometimes all this back nonsense seems like just a walk in the park... I hope thats not just the Morphine talking. Just kidding, it's really not... after over 5 1/2 years... I fall in love with her again, and again... everyday.

  • I agree that having the support of the one you love most can be the best medicine in the world. You're lucky to have her in your life and I'm guessing that she feels the same way about you.

    Women, by nature, are nurturers and so you're giving her something that is in her nature, not by choice, but it's necessary nevertheless.

    All you can do is the best you can do. All spineys realize at one point or another that you can only do what you can do and then push it a bit further. We pay for it then learn how to deal with it.

    Being a spiney is a journey and we all understand what a difficult and learning journey it can be. You just keep on going, the best you can, and your girl won't only be there to help you, she'll respect you all the more for your strength.

  • BackToWorkBBackToWork Upstate NYPosts: 31
    Hi Cath,

    Thanks for the comforting comments. She's there for me one infinite percent. She's always commenting about my strength and fortitude amongst other things...

    I should have spoken about it in my original post but i believe support is crucial. It could come from anywhere... feeling good about the care your getting from your doctors is a big one but so too the love, care, interest, and compassion from family, friends, anyone, everyone... your dog and cat... a forum! ...gather it up... cultivate it. I believe it's a vital part of the treatment and healing process.

    My Girl is a Treasure and an Angel. She also happens to be a CNA at a local hospital working in a cancer ward... it's a bit of a sad, depressing gig for her... the job doesn't quite fit her... she should be baking or creating something for an occupation. ...boy, did I ever get lucky... although when I met her... I wasn't thinking much about future injuries and health issues and such.

    Another thing I think I should have mentioned regarding side effects... so far... spine or no spine... meds or no meds... my libido seems to be ready and raring to go. It's probably because we love each other so much or maybe because we're vegetarians and eat a lot of fish, but whatever...

    Sure I've been exhausted, fatigued, and most of the time very icky... she's even went through a bad cold for a while... but when the opportunity "arises"... things work fine... better than fine... and you won't find a better pain remedy... I'm not kidding!

    Give yourself a med holiday, or lay of the horror pills for a bit... a little caffeine... chocolate helps me... and then Grab The Moment. You'll swear you're as good as new... until you try to walk in the morning... but it's worth it... for days on end it's worth it. Do IT! ...as often as possible... Life IS Too Short!

    Re. Spiney? ...again, I'm new to this and only read a few posts before getting started... I saw the term "spiney" in one of the posts I read but wasn't sure it was a term for sort of a community member or something like that. That's funny, yet a little sad... in a somewhat hard to accept sort of way... I think I'm still experiencing some denial. My girl thinks I am and she's also compassionately trying to help me with that too. I guess... yeah... I am... a spiney...
  • BackToWorkBBackToWork Upstate NYPosts: 31
    (hmmm... cath... willa... cather... author of the quote in my sig! ...just a coincidence... hmmmmm...)
  • BackToWorkBBackToWork Upstate NYPosts: 31
    The beginning of the new year found me in great immobilizing pain. I spent my first evening of the new year at the VA ER in Syracuse. Apparently, whatever was left of my 2 lower lumbar discs gave up, gave in, and gave out. I'm now convalescing at home pending a TLIF (fusion surgery).

    I was taking all kinds of pain meds to kill the pain and keep my denial alive. I had been making it to work by sucking down lots of coffee along with lots of narcotics including but not limited to morphine, lortabs, percosets, flexeril, and others as previously posted. All pain killers, muscle relaxers, and anti-inflamatories. I was either in pain, stoned, or sick.

    I couldn't do it anymore.The past weekend really did me in and by Thursday, I knew it was over. Friday morning my body agreed. I guess from numbing all the pain I just made things worse. There's nothing like brain wrecking pain to set one along the path of truth and acceptance.

    When we set out for the clinics, It was snowing on the heavy side so Suzy put the Jeep in 4-wheel drive. We had to stop at the Ithaca clinic first to pick up a doctors note... and then head for Syracuse. It was rough driving going and even more rough on the way back home. Suzy had a difficult time and it was very draining.

    Upon arrival at Syr-VA, I could barely get out of the Jeep. I couldn't stand and walking was out of the question. Suzy got a wheel chair and brought it right up to me. I was crying with pain. It was my first time in a wheel chair. Sitting or laying down I"m fine. I can even bend and I'm pretty flexible... but I can't stand or walk without terrible pain. Getting out of bed and moving about the house without a full load of pain meds was a horror show.

    Going to the ER was not only necessary but very beneficial. Previously, I was still waiting for things to happen with the VA. I never got to see a doc or neuro surgeon after the first MRI. I was just getting shuffled around. They skipped a neuro surgeon consult, spine specialist consult, and pain management consult and scheduled me for physical therapy. I told them that PT would probably paralyze me and that I needed to see a real doc before doing anything. Apparently the Wilkes-Barre VA network was understaffed and overwhelmed. I was even told that by just about everybody I talked to who was associated with it.

    I switched primary clinics from Sayre, PA/Wilkes-Barre hospital to Ithaca within the Syracuse VA Hospital Network hoping for better results. I was told it was a much better facility with state of the art this and that, neuro and spine docs up the wazoo, etc... and also because the Syracuse hospital was closer. I should have registered there to begin with but I didn't know better at the time.

    Sometime last week I got a call from the Ithaca clinic. They said the neuro-guy at VA-Syr wanted a second/repeat MRI because he said the first was somewhat unreadable ( ! ? ! ). They were also going to sked me for a reflexology x-ray. But as of Friday none of that had been scheduled yet. That would have probably been another two weeks of delays and waiting to get things going. Going to the ER has eliminated all that waiting time. I'm now where I should have been over two weeks ago.

    The VA ER did a fantastic professional job with me. New Years Day, heavy snow fall, between midnightish and 4AM... they got an MRI tech in to do an MRI... and then a neuro surgeon in to read it and consult with me. He got right to the point about the surgery, that I needed it, and then he began telling me all about it. About my discs the neuro guy said quote "...they're shot". He also said I had severe spinal stenosis, spondilo-this, spondilo-that, and that they would "scrape out" and clean up things in there as necessary. He said I was a good candidate for a TLIF (fusion)... and that they worked very well for people with similar issues.

    They were concerned about my feet being swollen like water melons and my blood pressure. That had to be addressed first... but the regular Doc said he was pretty sure the edema in my feet was from all the meds I was taking. They gave me some T.E.D. socks (anti-embolism stockings aka: compression socks) to take home with me. They also gave me a walker to take home with me.

    I'm now on a more rational pain med sked... with just the Lortabs and whichever muscle relaxer I prefer, the Robaxin or the Flexeril. Things still hurt and I look forward to each dose time, but I'm not moving around very much. The doc said to just rest, wear the socks, and keep my feet up as much as possible.

    I've never ever had any BP or blood issues and he said that my BP was probably elevated due to the pain and that was normal. The neuro-doc also said that I was "now on the radar" and things will begin to move along. That was the best news. I felt like I was finally getting the help I needed. Everybody was so nice.

    I was very worried about my job and what was going to happen with everything... the overdose of meds didn't help with that either. I got a doctors note saying I was going to be out... and I have a bunch of forms to fill out with my job and the clinic... I'm not sure what's going to happen with my job. I think they'll hold it for me. We're applying for HEAP... a heating assistance program that will pay for our kerosene. So we have lots of stuff to do like that.

    I feel better about things. I'm not worried so much. I'm convinced we'll get through it all... like everything else... and eventually my back will be as good as new if not better. I'm just now focused on healing up my back and doing the right things toward that end. I believe I've a good head about it. I intend to be a model patient.

    I am now totally in the beautiful, loving, healing hands of my most adorable girl... Suzy. She is absolutely Awesome! I could go on and on just about her.

    I hope there's a good lesson or few in here for someone. I guess I like to write and this forum has been a nice quiet spot to write and think and get my head together.

    Happy New Year! Good Luck To All!
  • I'm sorry to hear you ended up at the ER because of the terrible pain, but you are right about it having a positive outcome- now they'll really get things moving for you. It is an outright miracle that an MRI tech came out in the middle of that frigid, snowy night.

    I had a TLIF done last year on L4-S1. At the time of the surgery I was on Fentanyl patches, Norco, and Zanaflex. I was sick and tired of all the pain and I had no trouble making up my mind about having surgery despite it being a fusion. The quality of life was poor and any type of activity only worsened my lower back pain and sciatica. The MRI showed that I had a recurrent L4-5 herniation which happened only 1 month post op after a microdiscectomy, retrolisthesis, nerve compression and severe DDD (L4-S1).

    Well, that was my reason for the TLIF. I'm surprised you were still working in your condition. How long does your medical release last? Now you can tell your boss that you can't shovel snow. I am so glad you have such a sweet and compassionate girlfriend by your side; it sure makes a world of a difference. And I know you need your caffeine too, but maybe you should cut back a little bit because of the high BP at the ER? You need to be extra good to your body, esp right before surgery. Please keep us posted and take care...
  • So sorry for all that you're going through! I had a TLIF a year and a half ago. I wish I could say that I had no pain now, but that would be a lie! My original pain was resolved by the surgery (could not walk), but now I have trouble with the SI and lots of muscle problems.

    Anyway, my main reason for responding to your post was that you mentioned diclofinac in your list of meds. I was under the impression that this drug had been removed from the market because of problems caused by it. Anyone else heared the same? Just ask your doc about that one. It is a wonderful anti-inflamatory and I was sorry to see it gone. I had been on it for about 10 years and it worked great. It did, however, raise my blood pressure.

    Hopefully, 2010 will be a better year for you and the rest of us "spineys."

  • dilaurodilauro ConnecticutPosts: 9,868
    its not just one or two medications that are going to provide the relief. Many of the posters here talked about that.
    Its a total combination of medications, excerise, diet, lifestyles, etc that help
    Take a look at

    So many of our Spinal situations get very complicated so we need the right mixture.

    And always remember, no mix of corrective actions are going to eliminate all your pain. The objective is to help you manage and control your pain. Depending on what your actual situation is, some day, you set a goal of being pain free and then work like heck to get there.
    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
  • BackToWorkBBackToWork Upstate NYPosts: 31
    You sure have had a lot of repairs done! Jeeze!!! I think maybe you need a new mechanic.

    You didn't mention how the TLIF went and what it's done for you.... was there a long recovery period?

    Thanks for the tip about the coffee... we've been monitoring my BP and it's still kinda high. It's probably from the injury / pain and/or meds... My feet are looking better, less swollen... mostly the left one... I can see bones on the right one... but that's the leg that hurts the most.

    Yeah... those meds kept me goin' for a short while but I think because I numbed myself so much I made matters worse. That Morphine really made me nuts! I had such a meltdown the day before the ER... but I guess I was due.

    My boss is alright... he didn't know how messed up I was for all the drugs I was taking... he's got some very serious back issues too from a car accident 12 years ago... he, apparently, takes lots of meds also. I have a bunch of papers to fill out... but he said I don't have to hand them in till I'm ready to get back to work... so I guess I'm off until I'm ready and the docs say Ok.

    In the meantime we got approved for HEAP, heating assistance... they'll pay our heating bill for the duration. I have to apply for NY State disability... food stamps... whatever to get us by... so that's my job now... making calls to get the surgery moved along and filling out forms for public assistance and so forth. We're on top of things.

    Now I'm playing hop scotch telephone calls with the VA. They take good care of me, usually... but the wheels turn slow... I have to stay on top of them and I have to make lots of calls...

    Yep! ...my girl is AWESOME!!!

    Persistence pays off! I'll get fixed sooner or later and I'm praying for some very functional results.

    John B.

  • BackToWorkBBackToWork Upstate NYPosts: 31
    I get plenty of Diclofenac... just got some November 18th... couldn't find any info about discontinuance.

    I'll have to check on its effect on the BP though... maybe it's not helping me mine either.

    Sorry to here about your TLIF not too well. I got a few good reviews and I hope to add to the list.

    Thanks for the tips.
  • BackToWorkBBackToWork Upstate NYPosts: 31
    Yeah... I've totally accepted the fact, especially after my experience at the ER, that life has truly changed for me. I don't feel bad about it. I'll adjust. I'm adjusting already. I intend to be a good patient pre and post op. I got changes to make and I'm not opposed to making them... nor am I the stubborn type. I think a lot about my loved ones and I don't want them to worry about me. I'm going to do the right things. I'm going to stay on top of this whole spine issue and like you said... make goals and work like hell to achieve them... a good inspiration I think is Mr. Lance Armstrong... whaddaguy!

  • I had to laugh at the Willa Cather coincidence post. Sorry it took me so long to post again. Since I last posted, I'd forgotten I'd posted AND I had TLIF surgery.

    I'm glad you're accepting your situation and realize that now you're a spiney. We're all spineys here and it's a very exclusive club. I can't speak for every member, but I'm proud to call myself a spiney because it's a badge that I've earned. I'm just out from my second surgery, so one scar on my neck and now another on my back - proof!

    So, you're working toward getting surgery. Do you know when you'll be having it? I can't yet tell you about my outcome with my TLIF as it's only been three days. All I can say is that my back really hurts where they cut and the surrounding area. Luckily for me, it only hurts when I move. LOL

    Take care, John and keep us posted, ok? And tell Suzy "Hi" from your fellow spineys. She's a sub-member now because she's taking care of a spiney. And we all know that...SPINEYS RULE!

    Cath (aka Willa Cather...get better?) heehee

  • So sorry to hear of all your problems, but it does sound like your trip to ER will have speeded the way to treatment for you.

    I hope that once they get your pain meds sorted, that you will be more comfortable and able to move about.

    I totally agree with you about being the model patient. I am also trying to do everything that I can think of to improve things for myself. I have been trying to avoid fusion surgery (spondylolisthesis) but am beginning to wonder if I should just get on and have it.

    I'll be following your story to see how you get on. I really hope that things move forward and that you can receive the treatment you need, so you can enjoy life with your 'girl'. She sounds very special and obviously loves you completely.

    Take care, and keep laughing (even if it hurts!)
  • BackToWorkBBackToWork Upstate NYPosts: 31
    Cath... This may sound wierd, but I'm excited to hear about your TLIF Op. You better keep me posted. I'm praying for your recovery. I'm very, very, interested in reading about how post-op goes for you and about how successful it is. I know it's not the same for everybody but I have heard many encouraging stories about it's success.

    Just for JellyHall... I didn't even think for a split second about getting the surgery. I'm a fix-it guy. I was born that way... took apart my first train set with a butter knife. I know tools and parts and repairs. I knew exactly what the Neuro-doc was talking about. I saw it in my head and I know with the right supplies, equipment, tech info... and if I could reach around my back... I could do it myself. In fact, I'm pretty sure I'd make for a great surgeon... that is if I didn't find all that blood and exposed flesh so icky.

    With the technology and know-how they have these days, I'm believing the Op is a great idea. I'm not trying to push the Op on you, Jelly, like some salesman... I'm just relating to you my thoughts and feelings about the prospect. I'm good to go.

    And Jelly, It's your body... and your future. Only you knows you... Don't just follow your heart... or just follow your mind... get them both together for a conference with yourself and decide what's right and best for You. Take your time... who knows... may the right thing to do will just show up, present itself, and help you out, like a new friend.

    I don't expect the TLIF to cure me or anything like that, and I do expect to be living with a certain amount of pain. I just hope it helps me to be functional so as to be able to do my job as required, and of course live a higher quality of life than I'm doing now.

    Suzy bought me a new cane today. It's really sharp... copper colored.. and high tech... very hansom. It's not very useful for this condition and it doesn't help me very much but I feel it helps her quite a bit. God! I love this girl. I've said it before, I'm saying it now... and I'm sure to be saying it again... I fall in love with her brand new everyday... over and over. I'm aware of it when it occurs and in my mind I'm saying... "yep... there it is".

    By the way... Suzy is a Spiney! She had surgery two years ago on a herniated lumbar. It was very successful. She motivates quite well. Her job is somewhat physically demanding, and she gets sore, but she handles it well. She complains more about her sinuses than her back and hardly ever uses the heating pad... well... especially since I've been hogging the damn thing. She laughed hysterical when I told her that the both of us were now Spiney's. We're the ultimate loving, intimate, connected couple... we even share the same Spiney tags and issues.

    I'm being very good. My feet were like watermelons so I get lots of rest and keep my feet propped way up all the time. I'm also taking a Water Pill, Furosemide (Lasix), and a Potassium pill. My feet are looking much better. I'm eating light. My weight hasn't been an issue... I maintain a good weight for my stature... it's just that it went up so much so fast what with all the water I've been retaining.

    I'm a vegetarian anyway, and usually just fish and vegetables and all that... I check my weight everyday, and with the water draining off, it's going back down.I have that issue and some high blood pressure. Suzy checks it twice a day and it's slowly going down also.

    I've never had HBP, or any blood problems... or anything! Not even a year ago during a checkup, the doc said I had the blood of a twenty year old... I was fine and dandy up until this past October... so somehow all this junk is related. The docs feel it's just because of the condition and the meds but they have to do a full "Work-Up". I have to get OK and squared away before surgery gets scheduled. I'm sked for and exam and Echocardigram on Jan. 27th. But that's OK too...

    The Neuro-doc surgery guy at the VA Hospital found a new job... he's in Chicago now... they may have to outsource the surgery so I have some waiting to do anyway. That's a whole 'nother story. It was kinda funny... Suzy told the Neuro-clinic lady we're not picky, nor are we opposed to going anywhere, anytime, to anyone, to get the surgery done... even Chicago.

    I'm taking minimal pain meds. I have a great med sked and I'm sticking to it. Right now I'm taking Lortabs 7/500's on a sked that doesn't put me into the tylenol poisoning range... Flexeril 10's, which most of the time I cut in half so as not to be too groggy during the day... when I like to work on the computer, and play with my toys. I like the Flexeril also because I feel they help to keep me from getting antsy, hyper, or anxious... they help me get the rest I need, and keep me from getting crazy ideas about moving around too much.

    I take a whole Flexeril before I go to bed to help me sleep. I'm also taking Diclofenac 50's twice a day... and everything I do is done sitting or laying down, and most always with my feet up. I don't move around that much at all.

    The following is just some of the things I'm doing to keep my mind active and positive. I just thought I'd go on about it here to give others better food for thoughts other than negative spiney crap.

    I work in the Auto Parts business, and new to it, so I'm studying for an ASE Certification, to go with it. I'm building a website geared toward promoting the auto parts and repairs businesses in my home town... It keeps me in tune with my occupation. It's fun & it's free!

    Suzy got me a Paint-By-Numbers Kit... Hummingbirds & Fuchsias... I'm going to do it and give it to her for her birthday. She also got me a learn to sketch kit... always wanted to give that a go... and that's not all...

    There's Admin Ops to do. I have some forms to fill out for food stamps and disability... and then research about whatever else I can find to help with the financial crisis of it all. I've also been doing a lot of chatting with my family and friends and not all about spiney stuff. Journaling here on the forum helps quite a bit too... kinda like sharing with others of like mind, body, interests, and injuries. It's very therapeutic for me... and I like to write... as you can see.

    Another thing is that it takes a lot longer and it's a lot more work to do just normal simple things like taking showers, getting dressed, making meals... anything standing or walking... and often having to stop and let the pain subside a bit before moving again.

    There's a lot of things to be aware of so as to keep the pain down and/or not cause further injury. Twisting is one of them but also silly things like gargling... bending backwards in the shower to rinse my hair... or tiltng my head and/or spine backwards for any reason (ie. tossing back a handful of popcorn or peanuts... ouch!).

    I told Suzy yesterday that I hope things don't move along too quickly... I've got so much to do!
  • Sorry it took me awhile to get back to you. Life happens LOL. The cold weather has been wreaking havoc on me and many others too, and I get lazy and don't feel like doing much. I) It's great that you keep yourself busy and motivated- keep up the good work.

    Well, the recovery from the TLIF was very difficult and I kept having a lot of set backs and pain flares. My surgeon had to give me Toradol which is contraindicated when you are fusing, but the back pain and nerve pain was really bad. I did fuse just fine despite taking that for a while. My PT was terminated after a month because it made me worse. Then I had a horrible pain flare that landed me in the ER and I was sent in for another MRI which showed scar tissue growing on the L4-5 nerve root and on the L5-S1 level too. I was also told I had permanent nerve damage which occurred before the fusion. My pain had gotten worse since having the TLIF and this led up to me having a pain pump today.

    That's my story for now. I didn't want to discourage you with my unsuccessful outcome. I"m sure that it will turn out better for you. Just hang in there and think positive thoughts. Take care

    PS I'm so happy that Suzy is up and around and back to work after her spinal surgery. <:P
  • BackToWorkBBackToWork Upstate NYPosts: 31
    Thanks for scarin' the livin' crap outta me! ...just kidding!

    ...but seriously... you did make me think very deeply... and there is the fear that things won't go well. There are a lot of emotional side effects to all this... to the whole package. I've already seen a lot of it in myself and it does seem to be making for more ups and downs and mood swings. Suzy and I have just discussed how this whole spinal issue has begun to effect us and now that we're aware, we're coming up with some very nice strategies to keep us together... to keep us from getting overwhelmed... to keep us from losing sight of what's important... but it's easier said than done... especially when you're polluted with meds and still in unrelievable pain... your psyche can't recognize itself... and your serotonin receptors resemble the ragged ends of an old mop.

    I went looking for information about back pain and depression. There is an excellent article right here on this very site. I think everyone should read it... even if you've never had a back ache in your life. The statistics are amazing. It seems if you have back pain then it's very likely you're going to experience some depression. It seems to be a biological, psychological, and sociological side effect somewhat linear to the degree of how much pain you're experiencing. It makes a lot of sense to me.

    ( http://www.spine-health.com/conditions/depression/depression-and-chronic-back-pain )

    "Major depression is thought to be four times greater in people with chronic back pain than in the general population (Sullivan, Reesor, Mikail & Fisher, 1992). In research studies on depression in chronic low back pain patients seeking treatment at pain clinics, prevalence rates are even higher. 32 to 82 percent of patients show some type of depression or depressive problem, with an average of 62 percent (Sinel, Deardorff & Goldstein, 1996). In a recent study it was found that the rate of major depression increased in a linear fashion with greater pain severity (Currie and Wang, 2004). It was also found that the combination of chronic back pain and depression was associated with greater disability than either depression or chronic back pain alone."

    I believe some of the biological factors relate to what's going on with your body physically. The injuries themselves, your body & brain chemistry, your circulation or lack there of... changes in your physical routines and activities... not to mention the side effects from the meds... that Morphine I took for about a week or so, I'm sure greatly inspired and assisted the melt down I had one morning. Got off that junk then and there. I know the Flexeril leaves me with a somewhat depressed disposition.

    The Psychological factors I think would include how you think about all that's happening to you. Losing my job was a big one for me... first time in my life I got a job I really wanted and enjoyed... which is now either gone or severely in jeapordy... I was only on the job for about 2 1/2 months... sheesh! Change... any kind of change in a persons life is difficult, even when you want to change... so here's change being forced upon you in a big way. I can see my self esteem has taken a major deep dive... I never had to be so taken-care-of in my life... never in a wheel chair... with a walker... or a cane... my view of myself... self image... gone through and going through various stages of fear and denial... guilt, embarassament, humiliation... Accepting and/or trying to accept the inevitable major life changes that are happening and approaching... vulnerability, helplessness... mortality... and that's just some of the readily available conscious data... the subconscious crowd is right now still tail gating... they haven't entered the stadium yet.

    The sociological factors, or how you relate to others, your social interactions, I believe would include, first of all, the isolation (or Lack of interactions with others)... lack of freedom of movement... even simple things like walking the dog or going shopping... relationships with significant others, family, friends, etc... these things all change for better or worse... your sex life... that's gotta be a biggee!

    jeeze! you can go on and on... it's no wonder Depression, simple, major, clinical, or whatever... is just about a guarantee.

    So far my Spinal Repair & Management Operation has consisted of Pain Management; Organizing & Coordinating (staying on top of) the various offices & departments of the various agencies and facilities necessary to getting surgery done, and/or obtaining financial assistance, and/or etc... as quick as possible (ie. greasing the wheels).

    And so as to ward off impending psychological doom, to make the change of life as less depressing as possible, and maybe even to avoid having to take yet another med (anti-depressant), I now include in my Regimen... time set aside for building a spiritually uplifting, positively reinforced, inspirational barage against emotional blitzkrieg.

    I started with the word... courage.

    Thanks ALL for all your attentions... See you around the posts...

    I'm moving on now... time to change a life...

    Ps. Interestingly enough note one of the definitions of the word "Nerve" from the American Heritage Dictionary - "Nerve": 4.a. Courage and control under pressure. b. Fortitude; stamina.

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