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Afraid to return to work

Reformed1RReformed1 Posts: 257
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:47 AM in Exercise and Rehab
I have tried returning to work a few times since my fusion in January, but I keep running into issues with increased pain:

Surgery - Jan 19,2010
Resumed part time - Mar 1st (2 hrs/day, then 4, then 6)
Resumed full time - Mar 15th (within 2 days I was in terrible pain, so I worked from home, but still fulltime)
Went back out on partial disability - Mar 31st
Resumed full time - May 1st (with stronger meds)
Went back out on partial disability - July 21st (long hours caused a major flare up that would not calm down, despite a lot of medication).

Now, it's mid-September and I'm going nuts being at home and I really want to get back to work. After a series of SI injections and Epidural Lysis of Adhesions procedures, my pain is a little better, although I am still on a lot of medication.

If I return to work, I will need to limit my work day to no more than 8 hours and I will need to be able to work from home occasionally to limit driving.

By biggest fear is that my performance won't be up to par due to the medication and the shorter work day (normal day is 10-12 hours) and even with some documented medical restrictions, I believe that I could be terminated for non-performance. I have no idea if I am truly protected by the law or if my employer can find a loophole.

Then, as my workload increases, I wonder if I will find myself having to go back out again. I think my credibility is already suffering since I've been in and out now a few times.

Financially, I can manage to live on LTD if I have to. I believe that LTD is my safest route because my pain is still not fully resolved. However, what if it is never completely resolved? Am I going to put my whole life on hold? Should I try to get my doctor to help get me comfortable enough that I can work a full day? If he continues to restrict the amount of medication I can take, then I have no choice but to stay home. STD runs out on 10/22 and I am very stressed out about having to go on LTD.

I'm very confused about what to do.



  • I'll let you into my world for a minute.

    They cannot do surgery, they would rather wait until I am in a wheelchair, so if they screw it up, the view is the same. I do appreciate that sentiment.

    Monday was a holiday. Light work. Walked the driveway, which is 1/2 mile long. Spent the day doing that. I got to run to town in the evening, and have a coffee and cigar out with the sweetheart.

    Tuesday - I had the alarm set for 5am. I woke - I realized I had only slept for an hour, if that. I grabbed a meditation tape and plugged myself in. I added my meds, and by 0930, I was coming around. My sweetie was up at 8 am, and left me to rest. She knew that I never got rest, for the last week or so.

    I got to the office at noon. Boss takes one look at me, asks how I am doing and just tells me to look after the big stuff and leave whenever I want. Now since I am the one-in-charge, I also had been getting Blackberry notes, since last week about a few things. I started with the most urgent of those.

    1500hrs - I have left the office for the third walk. Doing well so far, but I am noticing that I am stiff, due to the chair. I grab it and switch it around so I can move more.

    1700 - I have my lappy back in the bag, and I am out the door.

    At 2000 - I check my email - all is ok. Things are fine.

    I head to bed at 2130. I need to be up at 5am.
    Wed - I get up and go to work. I send my staff home early and take over, my one boss comes and checks on me. I am looking much better, and since yesterday, I have gotten a good sleep. Actually - I spent the night between meditation and other such work. I usually get a better rest from it, than sleep itself.

    I am off - and have eaten lightly all day. Dinner for me - is a sandwich, again -eating light. I want to drop 10 lbs in the next couple of months, and the safe way, is to slowly drop food off and increase walking a little, to not crash my body with pain, nausea -which is what usually happens. And I keep walking. There have been so many days, that I could not, that I revel in the simple pleasures of just walking and watching things, like frogs and dragon-flies, and hummingbirds. The sunset last night - was so dark-red - that it looked like a midevil painting, but you could never capture the colors of the evening.

    By 2200 - I have just finished all of my meds for the day. Discomfort is at a 5, and with that I am satisfied. It is there, but not intense. I have used all of my allotment - for the day, so that to me means that I need to slow down some.

    Today - 5 - I am up again - Slow this morning. I am really slow - I spent 40 min in the bathroom, just shaving, grooming and a really warm shower. I had one last night too, but a morning shower means that my shoulders and neck stop aching when the meds hit. It is dark when I leave for work, I know that I must be slow today, I am tired, and when I am, I can forget to tighten my abs, or core muscles, before I get-up to walk. So I almost have to be robot like now, for a bit today, I need to ensure that I do not forget to stretch anything, and slowly engage each and every muscle first, before I need it.

    My sweetheart told me last night, that when I went to cradle her head and hug her, that my fingers pulled her hair. Now I have been having problems with my fingers cramping and locking up completely, because of problems with my cervical verts. But I had not realized that it was getting to a point, where I was not realizing when it was happening. I only thought I had put my fingers into her hair, big difference.

    Fears - I know that I have a few issues with my nerves and vertebra. I have neuropathic pain, that has never gone away, in now, almost 3 decades. For almost 25 years, I was told there was nothing wrong with me, then the day I rode the CTscan. I have days that my body does not do, what I want it to do, and that interferes with my looking after my sweetheart, but we have found really healthy ways of dealing with all kinds of things related to this condition.

    I don't fear much now - life for me - is about living every day, to help someone else - to make sure I look after myself and to ensure that I look after those that count on me. I enjoy my days, but as I have sad before,


    I sincerely hope your day is better!
  • I made that decision and so did they. Back in June the surgeons were telling me that surgery was the answer. The pain was not being managed so I was in agreement. I went out on disability for three reasons. First the pain was affecting my performance, second surgery was on the very near horizon and third I knew that the company was making cuts and if I was laid off I lost the STD and LTD. TIming is everything!!

    Unfortunately I was about 2 weeks short of qualifying for FMLA this year so I had no leave protection. Two weeks after I went out on disability I received a call that I was "let go". Not unexpected and it's hard to blame them. But since I was already out on disability my STD and LTD continue.

    I would love to be working but when vacuuming the house is enough to send me for the percocet I know it's not possible. At least not in a traditional office setting. As I work to find comprehensive pain management I am also trying to evaluate what I could do and what my limitations would be. I've come to the conclusion that I would need an extremely flexible job working either for someone else or ideally for myself.

    Only you know what you can manage. It's not fair to you or your employer to work in pain that will effect your performance. Have you spoken to them to see if working from home is an option? Or to even see how much they are willing and able to accomodate your needs? I hope you can work something out. Keeping busy is very important and if it comes with a check its a win-win
  • I am working from home approximately 6 hours per day. Is it a productive 6 hours? Not really. I'm supposed to be in a leadership role, but I'm barely keeping up with email, helping resolve issues on projects, answering ad hoc questions from my manager, but I'm doing very little to actually drive results. That is the essence of my performance plan at work and that's why I feel like I will fail if I return to fulltime, whether at home or in the office.

    I can relate to what you described about vacuuming. I couldn't stand how cluttered and dirty my garage was, so I straightened it up and used my shop vac to clean the floor. It was nothing strenuous except I'm 6' 4" and the shop vac hose was designed for someone 5' 4" and so I did the vacuuming somewhat hunched over. OMG did I pay for that for days!
    So, I'm now in a very protective mindset. My NS is telling me "no more than 4 narcotic pills per day". In order to be in compliance, I'm pretty much restricted to my recliner, along with frequent breaks in order to walk around or do PT.

    Is this my life? I'm terrified that when I see him next week he will tell me that I now need to reduce to 3 pills per day. With that, my life will consist of virtually no activity because any little thing will set my pain through the roof and I will have no recourse to stop it.

    Getting back to the work topic, with this backdrop of inadequate pain relief, I guess I should give myself a break and accept the fact that I CANNOT work without adequate pain meds or some other type of pain reduction, and right now my doctor is the one constraining me.

    Does that sound like I'm playing the victim?? I hope not because I hate doing that. I'm trying to be realistic about what I can control and what I can't.
  • I can soo understand the fear of doing something to set off the pain. Many days I sit here and say "why aren't I doing more?" and then I do more and am in alot of pain. In my case it seems like a light switch - on/off.

    Have you considered going back to your neurologist or orthopedist (doctor of your choosing lol) to look for the source of your pain? From your signature it sounds like you had surgery which worked but still have pain. I know that after my surgery I had new issues that are to blame for my pain.

    I'm wondering if anyone has looked for the source of your pain now? Yesterday this doctor I went to basically told me that they were over treating my nerve pain and not addressing the muscular pain. Makes sense - now I can see if he's right.
  • I use 3 long acting Narc pills per day. 2 cover a 24 period, 1 is 1/2 strength and I can use it to "cushion" the drop after 8 hrs.

    I also have IR meds - at the lowest available size. I have an equal amount of IR - to what I take in ER each day. Effectively - I have 9 individual doses of IR.

    I was on short-acting meds for a year and running a roller-coaster, up and down every 2 hours. I kept telling my Dr that we needed to change this to ER meds. I jumped through every physical and Psyc hoop that he threw at me. Then I wrote him a 20 page letter, detailing my last month, what worked - what did not, and why, in my mind. I gave him a copy of the guidelines for Chronic Pain management, for another prov and asked him if there was anything wrong in following them. I also learned who the Neurologists were, at our local Clinic, and asked for a referral, or asked him[Dr] to ask him, what might be suggested.

    I had another relapse - the day that I was to go to a new Physical Therapist. I was at a pain level 9, and showed up anyway.

    Since we only get to see our Dr for at best 15 to 45 min - I take time to prepare some reports, on the other 4x168hrs per week. He/she only gets a small snap-shot on my life and so I try to increase that snapshot, with factual information, that assists him/her.
  • You are trying your best in difficult and challenging circumstance and find where your daily threshold is, this is never easy or simple, bigger companies have HR departments that enable those who face change not to be discriminated against based on a disability. Trying to do the same as we did prior to any surgery is questionable and most employment is not conducive to having chronic pain, you are trying to be the same person as you once were, is sustaining employment with what is left feasible, only you know.

    The more medication we take in the desire to perform increases the fog and our performance suffers as a consequence, it is a constant balance of finding where that optimum volume is perceived to be and coping on a daily basis. Once we have decided we want to work, that encourages us to find developing modes and imminent change to facilitate progressive employment if possible, what we think we should or can do, never does relate to reality and we have to make adjustments in what we are capable of doing on any given day and our expectations. Continuing work is a head game and once we decide this may be possible we have the practical elements required to achieve this objective, this takes time, experience and appropriate support. A sympathetic employer, attentive to our needs and see beyond those periodic discrepancies in function, medication should facilitate us and not restricted on the basis of that is where our functionality stops.

    That key is change what you can and not worry unduly about those things out of your control, working in pain can get progressively more difficult, I now question my own sanity in using all my energy in the pursuit of employment, other than the practicality of not working and the financial implication. Working from home where possible is managing your resources and enables pacing to be more effective, chronic pain mandates us to be more productive in a shorter time scale, you are trying your best and should be supported and encouraged in that objective.

    It seems as if I went to sleep and when I awoke my life had changed irreparably, from a physical employment I had to develop new skills and use what I like to call my downtime to enhanced myself for future employment to a less physical role. I created a job from nothing conducive to enduring through chronic pain and one that I can sustain even with my limitations. I had many years watching others lives develop and never lost that desire to return to employment even at my lowest points.

    Anyone working or even trying will get my support and encouragement; we may make it look far simpler than it is in reality. We all have apprehensions and that is normal, if we can survive pain every day and many here do, we have those inherent skills to excess to be able to adapt the our new normal in trying to seek or continue employment, we have to be realistic and impacted change may make the reality of the traditional working concepts difficult, we have to work in what we can do.

    Take care.


  • jlrfryejjlrfrye ohioPosts: 1,110
    I returned to work after both of my surgeries. The second surgery work only allowed me 4 weeks since I had no FMLA left. The surgeon wanted me off at least 12 weeks. He agreed to let me go back to work only because if I lost my job I would also lose my ins. I knew my work was not up to par because of the pain meds
    and the pain. I was let go. If you feel that your work will not be up to par I would continue with the LTD until I was certain I was able to do the work.
  • This will be my third attempt this year to return to work fulltime. I had a great meeting with my NS's PA and I feel like she really wanted to enable me to live my life.

    So, I am returning with the medical restrictions of no more than 8 hours per day and that I should work from home whenever it is not necessary to be in the office. She also gave me some latitude with my medication in that I have a range of 4-6 pills per day of Hydrocodone as needed. After my recent SI injections and my third Lysis procedure, I will most likely be at 3-4 pills per day. I will do my very best to minimize the medication, but I feel like I have a good safety net if it gets bad. I also have a ton of vacation time since I worked parttime all year and continued to accrue vacation. Plus, the holidays are coming up.

    I hope this isn't a mistake. I was so relieved when she told me that she wants me to have a functional life even if that means I still need some narcotics to do so. Additionally, she reduced my Neurontin since the pain relief has been minimal and it really interferes with my cognitive abilities. I have to say that I feel more alert just in making that simple change.

    Well, off to work. I will definitely stay in touch. I still have a long road ahead of me. I'm starting PT for my SI joint next week, and I'm seeing a Physiatrist the following week to see if he can help improve my function and further reduce the meds.

    Take care, everyone!

    P.S. Tarheelgirl, please come back and say "Hi" to your numerous FRIENDS here!
  • dilaurodilauro ConnecticutPosts: 9,856
    I've was doing this since 1978 until 2000. At that point, it was clear that I could no longer tolerate an hour commute and put in 10 hours a day at the computer, managing a data center and hosting meetings.

    I had too many flare ups and too many weeks at a time away from work.

    A joint decision was made to start working from home.
    Initially 1 day a week, then 2, then 3 and since 2004, it was full time working at home and perhaps 3 or 4 visits to the main site a year.

    Working from home was the only way I was able to continue to be very productive for the company. Still after years of doing that, the hours of working on a computer just caused more problems.

    So many more MRI's, ESI's, PT sessions, medications, etc. So when I finally retired in June 2009, I first started to feel somewhat better.

    I had been pouring money into non-reimbursed treatments ( Acupuncture, Deep Tissue Massage) but it was my only relief.

    Now, that I am retired and not spending the time on the computer, it has helped. The negative thing was the cumulative years of doing all of this, deteriorated my shoulders, so now I have had one complete shoulder replacement and next month the other one will be done.

    SO returning to work can carry a two edged sword.
    You want to be back at work, the company wants you back at work, but you know it still causes problems.

    Working from home is better, but you can get lost in the shuffle, because you are not 'seen' on the job.

    Bottom line, your health is the most important thing you need to make sure is being taken care of
    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
  • If you return to work only to be fired for whatever reason and you loose your LTD you'll end the proverbial creek without a paddle for sure.
    I'm at the point where the disability insurance company wants me to do a "FCE" function test. I cannot return to my former career, 'cause the Government agency that license me has/will fail me on physical grounds. I don't know what else I can do anyway. My typical day is a few hours here at my computer desk chair in the mornings then on the couch for a few hours, my meds make me sleepy so I usually nap for an hour or so. Then up & do a few things around the house. I spend the rest of the afternoon in my recliner reading or watching TV. Pain and spasm come and go but mostly at low level in the recliner or lying in bed. The meds keep me going I guess. Anyway what kind of job can I get?
    I hope this insurance company isn't go to start some monkey business. Next month it will be a year on LTD. I did medical retirement from my company so I could access some retirement funds to pay medical bills.
    What happens at these test? Is this beginning of the end for my LTD? Someone one told me I should get an Attorney lined up for the "fight of my life". As if I wasn't already depressed with my situation.
    My low back MD didn't work and they really don't won't to go back in, if I can make do, plus I do not want another surgery at this point.
    Between my low back and neck pain I am pretty much stuck at home. At least I'm lucky and live in a rural area and not stuck in some small city/town apartment.
    Sorry I didn't mean to go on and on.
    But most definitely don't give up or mess up your LTD.
    C3-4-5 fusion 2005
    C-5-T-1 disk bulged
    L-4-5 bulge to the right, with Microdiscectomy, failed
    L5- Bi-Lateral bulge
    Pain in right foot -loss of feeling
    Left butt, hip and front thigh pain with bad shooting pain into inside ankle sometimes
  • I'm facing a similar deliemma. Surgery doesn't seem appropriate at this time. The meds are close to covering the pain when I am home doing nothing. But how do I know what will happen if I started working again? If I go back I lose the LTD and I already lost that job so there is nothing if I can't handle it.

    It really pissed me off when the neurologist said I'm fine even though I'm in pain, meds are causing problems and now have a fractured arm. I mean duh????? Oh and my eye goes blurry after reading for 15 minutes. Guess that doesn't matter.

    I wish I could try working but I just don't see it happening yet.
  • I know what you mean too. Sorry to hear about your broken arm.

    It's like you're darned if you do & darned if you don't.
    I like it when someone says I am a slacker or something of that sort.
    Yeah right! I was making almost a 100 grand a year now getting a little more than 25% of that plus having to use my savings to pay for medical bills (my 20%)
    and paying for my own health insurance.
    56 years old and right where I wanted to be in my life "plan". Some people are just plain stupid about these pain issues and spinal problems. I get constant criticism about taken my pain med. I finally had to tell a couple of people off, really off too, about their comments. If they never had these problems most just unable to understand it.
    Anyway try to hang in there.
    C3-4-5 fusion 2005
    C-5-T-1 disk bulged
    L-4-5 bulge to the right, with Microdiscectomy, failed
    L5- Bi-Lateral bulge
    Pain in right foot -loss of feeling
    Left butt, hip and front thigh pain with bad shooting pain into inside ankle sometimes
  • Right or wrong, I'm back at fulltime...

    I can always go back out on disability if this doesn't work out. I felt that I needed to give this another try. I do have medical restrictions this time of no more than 8 hours per day and work from home (yes, mostly in a recliner) as much as possible. My pain level has gone up, but mostly because I drove into the office the first two days and was sitting upright for eight hours. This has confirmed beyond a doubt that sitting upright is causing my pain.

    So, while I'm working, I'm also doing PT religiously and I'm seeing a Physiatrist tomorrow. I'm hoping that he has some tricks up his sleeve to help with my pain.

    I do want to say that I read my LTD documentation very carefully and it scared me. It was not a given, and it very clearly stated that I had to apply for SSD and even appeal it if I was declined. So, working is by best option for the moment, especially since I have a ton of unused vacation and some financial incentives to collect early in 2011. I would have lost them on LTD. We'll see how I hold up. I honestly give it about a 50/50 chance of working. At least I can say I tried my very best. (That comment sounded condescending I re-read it, so I want to be clear that I am only referring to myself. I would NEVER suggest that you folks are not also trying your very best. Fair?).

    Take Care,
  • I have tried so hard to do what I think is right, and get back to working fulltime. Well, I'm failing. My workload has increased to the breaking point. I manage large projects and if I was feeling 100%, I would be very excited about my latest assignments. However, I cannot even think through the basic planning steps with enough clarity to meet anyone's expectations. My manager is overly-reassuring, wish should be a blessing, but I'm afraid that it is just postponing the inevitable -- that I need to go back out on partial disability. That has huge financial consequences for me. I will lose all of my stock options, my 401K matching, my PTO, my annual bonuses, and 30% of my base salary.

    Even with that kind of sacrifice, I feel like I'm doing something wrong by asking my doctor to support me in submitting the paperwork. I would hope that they would understand that I wouldn't ask for this if it wasn't necessary. Maybe I'm the only one doubting my actions.

    I'm so confused about everything. I feel like I'm on the verge of a nervous breakdown. I had to pick my son up from school today and as I was sitting in the parking lot waiting for him, I broke down into tears. What is that? Mourning the loss of my life as I once knew it? Anxiety? Depression?

    I think it's time to dig out the phone number for my Therapist (the mental health kind).

    Take Care,

  • Before you do anything or make any decision I think you should see a therapist. See if your doc can recommend someone or look for someone who is also a life coach.

    I applaud you wanting to do your best but maybe it is you who is doubting. I've never had a boss with lower expections than mine so maybe you are doing fine.

    Another thought is what are you taking? I know the neurontin leaves me feeling spaced out. That is one of the reasons I stopped working -- I didn't feel comforatable sitting at my desk half the day starring at the wall. Maybe there is some change that would help with attention or maybe switching up on something. I'm in the process of switching off the neurontin and onto nortryptaline which is also an antidepressant. I almost laughed when the doc said it wouldn't be a high enough dose to act on depression --- come on doc help a girl out here!!

    So take a step back. I'm sure your boss would not put an important project in your hands if he wasn't confident that you could handle it. If he thinks you can do it then so do I :)
  • Dave,

    I have 2 college degrees that I worked very hard for and loved getting, and spent every minute of looking forward to a lifetime of using. I so understand your tears, trust me.

    But, hey, give your son a hug and appreciate your family. They are what really matters.
  • I'm so sorry you're going through this. The big stuff was hit well by Kris and HB. The only thing I would add - presuming you have a good relationship with your boss? Have a sit down with him and see if *he* is seeing problems. Like was said, it might be you are being really hard on yourself, and over-seeing what is really going on.

    You know yourself best, so if you feel it would help you sort things out, for sure have a sit down with your therapist. We are hear to vent too and bounce ideas off of, ...but you knew that! Support *HUGZ*

    PCTF C4 - T2, Laminectomies C5, C6 & C7. Severe Palsy left arm/hand.
  • Hiya >:D< I kept on telling myself i was ok to work. I was doing well going places within my career. Then i did 2 weeks of 12 hour shifts, i was buzzing, i felt a little pain but nothing to what it had been, just thought it was because of the long hours i was doing. Then i had a day off, it was a nice sunny day . So i thought i would do some gardening, i felt ok as i say (i knew there was a weakness in my back) then stupidly(easy to say now) i decided to move some concrete slabs in my back garden. Then as i picked up the slab, i felt somthing click in my back, then excruciating pain, i could not move. At this point a friend came to see me, so she and my daughter had to carry me and put me into bed. My daughter phoned the doctor, he advised complete bed rest until he came to see me(i had no choice as i couldnt move). When he came about an hour later he prescibed diazapan and tramadol(i was off with the fairies)he then told me i should not be working and he would not give me a fit note for work, and he then told me to write my notice out as there was no way i would be able to go back to work(i cried for a week, i had worked so hard to get where i was with work)i was gutted i can tell you. That was back in 2006, they still will not let me work. I have since seen surgeons, still under pain management. Has for the problems with my back its been a downward spiral since then. I take quite a bit of medication, but these days it only takes the edge off the pain.
    Sorry for long post!

    Angie >:D< :H
  • Dave,
    Working and in pain is always a physical and emotional challenge, we are trying to be the person we once were, with limited or restrictive capacity and although that may well be attainable in the short term, once the pace increases we are mandated to keep up or falter.

    Even a sitting down job is not conducive to enduring with continual pain and the necessary medication just increases all those things that we find difficult and problematic in this cerebral stupor, in knowing that my physical job was unsustainable I changed to a more sedentary employment and that in itself with chronic pain is not easy. Although pacing may be the key to longevity that is not always possible and although I know returning full time has been your objective, could you survive financially part time and give yourself the rest you need to continue.

    We would all applaud anyone trying to do his best, if the limitations are that this format of working cannot continue what are your options, for me going to any work brought more benefit than not, perhaps a measure of my identity. Only you know what your limitations are and you have to be brutally honest with yourself in assessing what is possible, from what you think or expect you should be able to do, no amount of effort can change the reality of your limitation and all those seeking to continue employment have that balance between expectation and reality to determine.

    Knowing your limitations and working within them is a strength, this is a long term objective, however hard we try our effort is not always reciprocated in kind, working harder does not always equate with overall output. We all cry inside because we care, your son will admire you for who and what you can be, and that will differ from your goals, he will love you, whoever you are.

    We are all afraid of the unknown and imposed change does not make that easy, do what you can with what you have, and find a way to make employment work for you, if possible.

    Take care and be kind to yourself.

  • I had the most awesome job as the manager of the largest veterinary clinic in the Pacific for the Department of Defense. It was so rewarding and I didn't mind the long hours and weekends worked. I took off 30 days to go to the US for an SCS trial and implant. After 2 weeks away from the stress of work I realized how hard the job was on me and made myself a promise that if with my SCS it was just as tough on me physically, that I would quit. I gave it 2 weeks and I had to throw in the towel. Needless to say a huge financial loss to my family as well. It was the right decision for me and my docs were thrilled because it made treating me so much easier and much more effective.

    It has been two years now and I am just now capable and comfortable enough to seek out part time employment in a low stress job. During the last two years I did volunteer work to "stay in the game" and it was great because I felt like I made a difference and was able to find my limitations.

    We each have to find what's best for us and be willing to face the reality of it. It wasn't easy for me, but it was necessary and it was the right thing to do. I hope that you can come to terms with whatever decision you make. Once you do, then it feels right and you can move on.

    Best wishes,

  • I was mentally prepared for LTD, but when I talked to my new doctor yesterday (a physiatrist), he was not supportive of me going back out on disability. Instead, he increased my meds in an effort to make me more comfortable so that I can continue working (yeah, now it's even harder to think). I still feel very vulnerable that I could be let go somehow. That's my biggest fear, although my manager keeps reassuring me that it won't happen "in the near future". I don't find much reassurance in that.

    I'm thinking of going back to my neuro-surgeon and see if he would support me being on disability. In the past he said he would support me 100%.

    "C", I am happy to hear that you are back in the game even if it's not what it once was for you. Again, I have come to terms with that and I think I would be okay with giving up my fulltime job.

  • Sorry to hear that work seems overwhelming right now. I'm still out on LTD and don't know when I'll be able to ever go back to work. I know you were working shorter hours but don't they require you to gradually work up to your full time hours? I was told when I go back to work they work you in slowly so it isn't so overwhelming. Don't know if that would help more than just diving right in. Could you take one day vacation days for a short time period? I hope it works out for you. 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
  • Hi Dave...I feel so horrible that I've never been on this thread to support you! I've never clicked on this one before! How are you doing now Dave...what is going on with work? Have you been back to see the NS? Only YOU know your body...noone else does...noone here, your family, your docs, your bosses...noone..only you can make the call...what are you feeling it's going to be? And don't let anyone of this site, inparticularly someone who is proud of himself for never going on disability and seeing us who do as weak...do not let people like that bother you. Only YOU know what YOU need.

    God bless...
  • I just enrolled in an 8-week "Pain Psychology" program that teaches about pain management and meditation. Along with that, I'm seeing my counselor (psychologist) on a weekly basis starting next week. She has helped me through some rough times in the past and I'm sure that she can help me deal with my fear of failing on the job and if long-term disability is in my future, that she can help me deal with the sense of loss that goes with losing your livelihood.

    I don't think that any doctor has any magic tricks up their sleeve that are going to make me feel better. I think at this point, I have literally tried everything except the "mind over matter" route.
    I'm even considering an 8-week program at the Mayo Clinic which gets you off of all medications and simultaneously teaches pain management techniques. They claim that at the conclusion of it, 85% of their patients report improved pain even though they no longer take any meds. I thought that was interesting.

    Oh, the other thing that I just remembered is that as I approach 1 year post-op, I believe that I could be a candidate for a pain pump. I don't think that I am a candidate for SCS because those are geared toward neuropathic pain. I firmly believe that my pain is Nociceptive (sp?). That's why I respond so well to Hydrocodone.

    For now, I'm still working fulltime and it's mental and physical torture. I cannot think the way I used to and so some simple tasks are proving to be challenging. This extra stress cannot be helping my overall health. I keep noticing that my breathing is shallow, my palms are sweaty, my body is tense, and I bet that my blood pressure is elevated. Not good.

    Sorry for wrambling on. Obviously, I'm very confused right now.

    Thanks again for your support!

  • that's what is so great about this site. We all understand that sometimes you need to see what you are feeling in writing.

    Dave those programs sound great. I've read a few things like that recently. I know that if I keep busy I tend to forget at least some of the pain. But I usually feel it worse later because I did too much.

    Have you considered talking through the options with your doctor again? I'm finding that my neurologist has skipped over some simple things like a home tens unit. When I see him this week I plan to ask him to start over from the beginning.

    Hopefully you have a peaceful and restful weekend.
  • Thanks, Kris.

    Yes, I plan to tone the conversation WAY down next time. I'm seeing my Pain doc on the 22nd again and I will very calmly ask him what he thinks we need to do. I will not ask for anything specific. That's what got him riled up last time. I was able to diffuse it, but I gave him the wrong impression. This time I will be clear that he is the doctor and I'm just the patient and I will do whatever he prescribes.
  • I wish I had some valium to take before my appt - lol. As the PA in the PM office told me last time I am a "take charge" type of person. Give me a problem and I charge ahead and do whatever it takes to fix it. Definately not what the doctor wants.

    Part of me wants to look into all the diff meds people have tried. But I hesitate because I don't want to go in saying "this is bad" "this is what I think" etc. It's like those commericals for the "purple pill-ask your doctor". I'm sure doctors hate when the patient comes in saying "I need the purple pill".

    My task for the next few days is to keep a very detailed pain log. I don't think the doctor really understands what I am feeling. I know he wanted me off the oxy but I wasn't taking it to sleep...I was taking it because the neurontin wasn't covering the pain and the pain was keeping me from sleeping. So lets treat the pain and not cover it up...grr...here I go again. Might be easier to go to medical school so I can treat myself :)
  • Kris,

    I don't like the fact that you are frustrated, but somehow when you go "grr", I feel like growling right along with you, so I love it when you do that. Maybe we need a "grr" smiley. Is there one out there? X( This is okay, but I like the sound of "grr". The angry smiley doesn't quite cut it.

    Again, I don't mean to make light of your situation. Quite the contrary -- I can truly empathize with your frustration.

    Not to discourage you, because I really meant to try to cheer you up, but I stopped keeping a pain log because every time I showed it to a doctor, they just glanced at it and then resumed whatever they were doing. I even had graphs of pain level and med usage. It just did not resonate with them, so I stopped. Maybe it looked like I was trying to convince them I needed more medicine? The fact was that I was trying to show some areas of improvement. Maybe doctors don't do math or graphs.

    Take care, Kris!


  • That's a shame that your doc felt so about your keeping of a pain and med chart. I found it to be quite useful with all of my docs, especially in showing trends and medication efficacy. I hope you find the 8 week program to be of some benefit. I believe that programs like that are great for showing us what "tools" we have available to us, many without realizing it. I feel these are tools that will allow us to find "our way" to manage our pain influenced lives.

    Hang in there!

  • oh, I am so thankful for my doctor when I read all that some of you go thru. Dave and Kris...I need to get you on a flight to NC and have you see my little country doctor who still makes house calls! He is so awesome. No, MOSt docs out there hate it when a patient comes in asking for "this med" or "that med" or "i've read this online" or "i've heard this"...but, my doc listens to everything and he leaves it open to be a 2 way conversation. Yes, he's the big MD...but it's MY body and MY pain! So, having dialouge is so, so important. I can't stand the arrogant doctor when it's 'my way or the highway' act. I worked with them for 13 years and the great ones are few and far between, that is for sure! I just wish you could find someone like I have. He's just my pcp...not even a PM doc! I did that for 2 years, but got tired of the stigma associated with that place.

    I really hope you can get some more help next appt. I'd like for you to bring up the pain pump and see what he thinks about it. That program at the mayo clinic, although totally opposite of a pain pump sounds neat...I am not sure I would be in that 85% to be able to get off all meds, but I sure would like to back off some of mine. i don't like being 'maxed' out on them. Although, my pain is very well covered now...but still, don't like being on such a high dose. Have you asked your doc for a long acting med? I know, I know, you can't really 'suggest' anything without strife...but just curious.

    keep us updated! I'm just not sold on you working full time...you sound so miserable and I feel so completely horrible for you. I hope you figure out what needs to be done. What does your wife think?
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