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Long chronic pain journey

EwaightEEwaight Posts: 250
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:46 AM in Chronic Pain
I haven’t really been an active member here for quite sometime. I wanted to share my chronic pain journey with you all in hopes that it might help others.

I have had back issues since my late 20’s. I started having severe pain and sciatica in the mid 90’s. I did physical therapy and many epidurals for 2 years and finally had a fusion to L4/5. The fusion allowed me to function at a normal level but my pain in other areas increased. I was unable to stand for any length of time and some days I could walk for distances and some days not. I was not able to touch the outsides of my arms or legs without causing pain. I had X-rays and Doppler done on legs and everything was fine. I have spent a ton of money on special shoes and seen several foot doctors who said my feet are fine. My doctor told me that I did not fit the pattern of Fibro, but it was possible that I had it. I did make a food connection, as I noticed my pain levels were better when I was on Weight Watchers. I just got used to the pain and didn’t touch my arms or legs.

I don’t handle any types of drugs well. They make me depressed and suicidal. I started handling my pain with wine. I could come home from work, drink a glass of wine and my pain would just melt away. A box of red wine became a staple at my house for the next 10 years. I knew that I was addicted, but every time I tried to quit the pain would get so bad that I started again.

I started having pain in my neck and tingling in my arms shortly after my lumbar fusion. Did an MRI and was diagnosed with the same degenerative neuropathy and degenerative disc disease as lower spine.

I found this site after being hit by a car and having fusion to C4/5 in 2008. I have never really been my old self since that surgery. I was given Cymbalta for nerve pain and depression. It did not agree with me and made me a bit manic. I never really regained my ability to concentrate and focus. I was easily agitated and any little bit of stress I felt immediately. I started having anxiety attacks and feelings of worthlessness.

I am 53 this week and went through menopause several years ago. It’s hard to tell what is really going on with your body as you age. We don’t have a gage of normalcy for old age. I chalked so many of my symptoms up to aging and menopause. I did research bio-identical hormones and was put on a natural cream several years ago. I used it for about a year with out noticing any effects.

In Feb. of this year I decided to finally tackle the 80 lbs. that I have gained in the past 10 years. I started back on Weight Watchers and am down 40 lbs. so far. I had to give up the wine in order to get the weight off. Even though I was wine free and losing weight I still felt pretty bad. I kept waiting for that burst of energy.

For the past few years I have had signs that my immune system was not working properly. I am extremely sensitive to chemicals. I cannot handle processed foods, MSG, sugar substitutes, etc. The most bothersome is my sense of smell. I have had to leave work and work from home several times when someone in my cubical land is wearing too much perfume. I can’t even spend much time in the cleaning isle at the grocery without getting a headache. I saw an allergist and was diagnosed as being allergic to 20 things. I started on allergy drops 3 times a day but it could take up to 5 years to get better.

I noticed in the past few years a lot of my hair has “gone missing.” I have no hair on my forearms and have started getting weird patches missing in my eyebrows. The skin on my neck and chest turned red and I started to get these weird puffy “bags” under my eyes. I just thought “great, I’m starting to look like my mom.” I started getting weird dizzy spells in the afternoons and in my sleep. I had a Doppler on the arteries in my neck and an MRI and all was fine. Ear doc and eye doc said all was fine. Once again, I thought old age.

I do yearly blood work with my doctor and he always says that he wishes all his patients had my lipids.
My Vitamin D and B-12 were low so I started on weekly B-12 shots and D3 2,000. Really except for chronic, unexplained pain I was healthy as a horse.

My aging brain was still bothering me. I started to worry about losing my job because of my inability to focus. I work in accounting and deal with a lot of high profile figures. I started making really stupid high $ mistakes. I had been researching hormones and the effects of low testosterone on the brain. I decided to see a doctor who specializes in bio-identical hormone replacement therapy. I knew from previous tests that I was totally deficient and wanted to see if the testosterone would make a difference.
She did a full panel of blood work. I was totally shocked when she recommended an addition Thyroid panel because my levels did not look right. I was diagnosed after this blood work with Hypothyroidism.

So many of my symptoms now make sense!! I am on daily meds for the thyroid and also receiving estrogen, progesterone and testosterone. She asked that I try to go dairy and gluten free and see how I felt. I will have to do blood work every month until we get the levels right. I was also still Vit. D deficient and now take D3 5,000 daily.
It’s only been about a month since I started this journey but I already can tell a difference. I sleep like a baby and am excited to get out of bed in the morning. I actually feel like exercising. My butt is not freezing cold to the touch and my neck is no longer red. The weight is still coming off slowly. The only difference I can really tell from going gluten and dairy free is that I am gas free. Hubby has always joked that I should enter a farting contest.

I still can’t touch my outer arms or thighs but the pain seems to have lessened. I have no pain in my neck or lower spine and am able to stand and walk for longer durations.
I have tried to pin point just when I damaged my thyroid. A lot of my symptoms started in 2000 after my first fusion. I have been doing a lot of reading about out endocrine systems and when we get depleted. Many years of abuse just finally took its toll. I have always worked hard and played hard. High stress job combined with a steady diet of coffee, cigarettes and alcohol just finally took its toll. I do believe that the stress of surgery and going through menopause at around the same time contributed.

Sorry this is so long. Just wanted to share because I am glad that I did not just give up searching and accept my old age lot in life. I am on the work till I die financial program so I am excited to be soaring with the eagles again at work.



  • I'm glad you didn't give up and they found out about your hypothyroid causing fatigue and other symptoms. Good to hear about your weight loss also. It's great to hear you're doing so well at work. Thanks for the positive update! 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
  • Your post also shows the *best* example of self education, and being your own advocate! Wow, that is amazing. Thanks, thanks, thanks for sharing! *HUG*

    PCTF C4 - T2, Laminectomies C5, C6 & C7. Severe Palsy left arm/hand.
  • its me...smelly! I'm so glad to read your post. I always knew you was a smartie, and am happy you are feeling more yourself.

    I dont chat here much anymore, and mostly lurk around and read a few posts. You were one of the members here that made me wanna be here.

    Keep feeling better...you deserve it !

    Drea/sweet soprano/ just drea

  • That is one incredible journey. Glad to hear that you are feeling better and that you are getting treatment that seems to agree with you. Really glad you didn't give in to "old age". It is really sad when I see someone who is in their 50's or 60's and they give up on life and just become "old". Good for you for refusing to get old so quickly. I hope that doc is on your Christmas Card List.

    Best wishes to your continued better health.

  • hi! :H i just turned 54 so i know of the battle you have faced with menopause and the beginning of aging.. i am so glad you are having some of your issues taken care of and are feeling much better.fortunatly, i used estrogen during my menopause and went through it with no problems.. thank you for sharing your good news.. all the best! Jenny :)
  • Nice to see you! Hope you're doing well. 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
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