Welcome, Friend!

It looks like you're new here. If you want to get involved, click one of these buttons!

Veritas-Health LLC has recently released patient forums to our Arthritis-Health web site.

Please visit http://www.arthritis-health.com/forum

There are several patient story videos on Spine-Health that talk about Arthritis. Search on Patient stories
Protect anonymity
We strongly suggest that members do not include their email addresses. Once that is published , your email address is available to anyone on the internet , including hackers.

All discussions and comments that contain an external URL will be automatically moved to the spam queue. No external URL pointing to a medical web site is permitted. Forum rules also indicate that you need prior moderator approval. If you are going to post an external URL, contact one of the moderators to get their approval.
Attention New Members
Your initial discussion or comment automatically is sent to a moderator's approval queue before it can be published.
There are no medical professionals on this forum side of the site. Therefore, no one is capable or permitted to provide any type of medical advice.
This includes any analysis, interpretation, or advice based on any diagnostic test

Newbie learning to accept life with chronic pain

sammy84ssammy84 Posts: 2
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:44 AM in New Member Introductions
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.



  • I'm sorry to hear you've had pain for so long and no health insurance. Here's a post that may help if you go to a Teaching hospital close to where you live. http://www.spine-health.com/forum/health-insurance-issues/no-health-insurance-and-teaching-hospitals I don't live in the USA so can't offer too much else. I hope you can find a Dr. to help you. 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
  • Samantha,

    First off a Hearty WELCOME to Spine-Health!!! I am so sorry to hear you are going through this - especially so young and with no direct cause. You will see that almost equally we "know" what caused our problems, and equally as such like you - unknown cause. *hug*

    Have you by chance looked at social security to see if there is any help there? I don't know which state you are in, but any help possible there? Sorry, just trying to throw out ideas that you may or may not have tried. "Pre-existing" yeah, that's a winner! I switched my coverage from family to single, and they threw that at me! I reminded them that I've been with them for over 20 years, they looked and "whew" problem solved - ridiculous!

    (Smiling) You made the comment concerning the issues at your levels "(I love that I can type that and you guys know what I mean!)", yes many do, and with that, know that you have fellow spiney support here! We might not be able to physically assist you, but we are here for questions, comments and yep...venting if needed! Again, welcome aboard!!!!

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

    I agree on looking into the link provided.
    The reason the insurance company won't take you for pre-existing condition is probably b/c you let the coverage lapse. If you had continuous coverage they shouldn't deny you. Meaning when you got dropped from your parents, you should have been offered COBRA.

    Anyhow, stick around...we do understand what you are going through. The positive is they know where your pain is coming from so they can treat it. And, like you said, you are young so perhaps in 2 years, there may be other options better suited for your situation...technology moves pretty quickly.
  • Hi Samantha,

    Welcome from me too, you've found a good place here @ SH for info & support. If you can find a doctor through a teaching hospital, it's possible they'll be able to help you w/ either free meds or substantially reduced costs. Also, certain states have assistance programs for folks w/ limited incomes in helping them secure required or maintenance meds at little/no cost. Also, do you have a PCP? Perhaps, he/she may have on hand some samples of pain meds they'd be willing to give you to help you for a time.

    Please keep us posted and again welcome to the board-

  • Welcome to a place where people understand your language. It does help.

    I would suggest going back to your neurologist. Explain when you call for an appt that you don't have insurance. Many docs will work with you. If he's like mine he will talk to you on the phone and might refer you to a pain management doctor.

    If you explain your situation to the PM doc I am sure they will understand. Make sure you follow the directions exactly and there should be no problem. Waiting might not be such a bad idea. Fusions seem to lead to more fusion in alot of people so time might be a good thing for you. Also medicine gets better each year so they might be able to do a disc replacement rather than a fusion in a few years.

    Good Luck and let us know what happens.
  • Thanks for all the comments everyone!

    Yes, I have Cobra at the moment, because I didn't want my coverage to lapse. I did try reapplying with my parent's insurance company as an individual, and they are the ones that denied me for pre-existing condition. Basically, through some legal mumbo-jumbo, the "family" and "individual" health plans were two legally different companies, and so they did not have to comply with me being covered by their "family" version. A bnch of garbage, I know.

    I have also tried to revist my surgeon, but according to his nurses at the front desk, he won't see me because I owe about $500 after the parts that Cobra paid for, and he won't see me until I've made a "significant" payment, which I don't have at the moment. I'm debating waiting until I can pay off my debt and going back to him, or potentially going back to the doctor who originally referred me to this surgeon. In either case, it will cost monies, le sigh.

    I have looked in to my state's Medicaid (Texas, btw) but you have to be pregnant or have a child under 18 in order to qualify, which I don't, nor am I willing to do just for insurance. I also don't qualify for any disability, since I am still working at least part time. And honestly, I am physically capable of the work, so I wouldn't pursue that idea anyways. I haven't looked into Social Security, since I didn't think they would be able to help me at my age without claiming disability.

    I am certainly in a process of research right now, before I make any big decisions. I'm confidant that lurking around here will help me, by hearing everyone else's stories and advice. Thanks for being so welcoming everyone!

Sign In or Register to comment.