Hello all. I'm glad to have found this community. I think it's something I'm really looking for. Long story short, I have chronic low back pain like many of you. I am currently struggling with the realization that despite all the treatment options out there (many of which I have already tried), I will likely have at least some level of pain for the rest of my life. And I'm only 25.
I don't have an exact start date for my pain. I was never in a car accident, and though I love to ride horses, I have never fallen or been thrown. I did not play sports ever in my life, and have suffered no other trauma that I can attribute my pain to. I have been visiting doctors for about 8 years now, and no one can tell me why or how this happened, not that it really matters a whole lot at this point.
I have gone through the gaunlet of injections and physical therapies. I have a TENS unit which I rarely use because it hardly helps. I have done trigger points, corticosteriods, epidurals, and radio frequency lesioning. The radio worked at first, and I had about 8 months of very decreased pain (which really lifted my hopes), but a second round of them did absolutely nothing to help. And so my hopes are dashed once more.
Last October I had a discogram done. I have two herniated discs and one of them is torn. L3-L4 is herniated, L4-L5 is torn. (I love that I can type that and you guys know what I mean!) My doctor says I need fusion surgery, and has referred me to a surgeon.
In November I met with the surgeon and we agreed that a fusion at L4-L5 would be my best option, and I may need to fuse L3-L4 in the future if it deteriorates further. He was very honest about the fact that I would likely still have pain after the surgery, but that he could take a pain level 8 or 9 and bring it down to 3 or 4, which is much more managable. I have a high pain tolerance, so no biggie.
Well, aside from not being 100% certian that I want to fuse my bones together, I also lost my insurance. I was under my parents insurance, but since I turned 25, I don't qualify anymore. I can't get insurance at work because I don't work enough hours, since I'm in school. I'm in the process of transferring from one college to another, so I cannot partake in student insurance. My boyfriend's insurance does not allow for unmarried partners to be listed, and we don't want to get married just so I can have insurance. So whether I want the surgery or not, it has to wait at least a year or two until I graduate and can get health insurance through an employer. Oh, and when I tried to apply to the insurance company I had been on under my parents, they denied me for pre-existing condition. The same condition they've been paying for the past 7 years. Long story short, I don't have nor can I get proper health insurance.
So I figured I would just get some narcotics in the meantime, something to take the edge off on bad days. I do not take any medications currently for my back. My original doctor wasn't very keen on prescribing anything for me, and the only thing I have is a dwindling stash of Darvocet I keep for the really bad days at work. So I wanted to see my surgeon to see if he would prescribe me anything since I could get the surgery right now. He won't see me because I owe him $500, which I just found out about now. Since I work only part time, I really can't afford that at the moment, so I'm stuck without the ability to see my doctor.
So I have a lot to think about lately. I've been debating seeking out investigational treatments, since clinical trials usually pay for everything. I've also been thinking about not getting the surgery, and whether or not I'm causing further damage by waiting years to have it. I've been thinking about going to another doctor or a pain management clinic to try to get some prescriptions, but I feel that will make me appear like an addict looking for a fix. So I'm pretty miserable as of late and unsure of what my next step will be. Hopefully I can get some advice and support from this forum and make some better decisions for myself.