Background to my current elevated pain level:
I went home to Illinois to visit family from Nov 31st to January 13 of this year. I usually go home for two or three weeks at a time. During this time I usually sleep on the floor. Soft/worn out mattresses are very uncomfortable for my back. The floor is much more comfortable for the time being and it usually it is not an issue to sleep this way. Ive dealt with chronic pain for 5 years now and although its always there it comes and goes with more intensity. About half way through my trip I started to experience a lot of pain and pressure in my lower back. More so then usual. It got so bad that I considered going to the emergency room a couple of times. I also started to get a lot more sciatic symptoms. This has been going on up until this point. In fact it seems to be getting worse with time rather than better. As I said this is contrary to what usually happens. My trips home usually aren’t to horribly painful but each time I get back to San Antonio from Illinois I usually have a flare up that lasts for a few weeks and then simmers down. Laying down usually brought relief. Now even lying down is uncomfortable and has been uncomfortable since it started getting really bad half way through my trip. I set up an appointment with my primary care doc and told him the situation. He is my "fairly new" doc because I was seeing someone before him who was in the service when I was active duty. He gave me an injection (not an epidural) for arthritis pain and gave me a referral to see a neurosurgeon. About two weeks past and I didn’t hear anything and the pain seemed to get worse so I called the Neurosurgery office. They said they can’t see me without a new MRI. The last one was done in 2008. So I called the doctor’s office back and they said they would send a referral for an MRI. The way my insurance works is things have to be approved from them first prior to me receiving the service. A while past and I didn’t hear anything about the MRI so I called my insurance and they said they don’t see the referral. So I called the doctor’s office again, same thing. Then I called the insurance. Same thing. Back and forth. I felt like a pest. The MRI is scheduled for today. I’ll let you know how that goes. Hopefully there is not more damage/change from the last one and this is just a really prolonged flare up on top of my regular baseline. I also called a while ago to set up an appointment with my pain management clinic. I have been seeing this pain management clinic for a few years now and I usually only go once a year. Sometimes not even. The problem with this clinic is a couple of things. It is on base and it is understaffed. I don’t call often but 9 out of 10 times I do call they don’t pick up the phone. Literally, Ill call at 9am, no answer, answering machine. 10:15am, same. 11:20, same. 2:40pm same. 4:30pm same. One of those times I would leave a message with my call back number and info. I try calling the next day, same. I wait and try a week later, same. In fact it is not uncommon for me to call and leave a message and wait and not receive a call back until 2-4 weeks out. Usually I don’t get a call back at all. This was one of those times. I waited a few weeks after leaving one message and trying a couple of times throughout the weeks and got no answer. I finally decided to play the pest again and call them more frequently until they picked up the phone. I finally got a hold of someone and they set me up with an appointment. That appointment was this morning. I was asking them to refill my Vicoden prescription since it is running low. The last time I had gotten a refill was Aug of last year. They only gave me 15 vicoden pills in that prescription. I usually can get by, by just taking Celebrex and tramodol. My pain management doc was very short and unsympathetic to me. I wasn’t asking him to hold my hand, just give me something to get through this difficult time. I told him the situation o f increased pain and he told me “well your MRI was unremarkable”. I told him that MRI was three years ago and that I was going to get another one today. I told him that the MRI he is referring to showed that I have 5 herniated discs. He asked me “what does that mean to me”? He didn’t even let me answer and said “I tell this to all my patients but just because you have an MRI showing degenerative discs and hernaitions doesn’t automatically equal pain”. He went on and said that if you take anyone off the street and give them an MRI some will show worse damage and have no pain while…” I cut him off and told him I know, while some who have little damage have a lot of pain. What does this have to do with me? I told him I was in pain and he questioned my use of Vicoden. He said “you know it’s a depressant. It brings people down. He said you stated you were depressed. I said yes I am in a lot of pain. He asked if I was getting Vicoden and being seen by another source. I told him no this was the only place I get my medication and the only clinic I am seeing. He said “Lets try to get you off of Vicoden and just have you on steroid injections.” I told him fine but what about now. He said “Im not going to re-new your prescription on Vicoden.” He said “Vicoden is not for chronic pain” Im going to prescribe you something else. He also said I want you to go right now and take a urine sample. Realizing that he is not helping me and blowing me off I asked to be seen at another clinic. He got upset and said fine and literally started walking out of the room. I asked as he was leaving what do I do now? He said “go take your sample”. As he got right out the door I stood up and asked him well what about the prescription now? What are we going to do for the pain? He said “well I can write you a prescription for Neurotin” I said fine. He said are you ok, you look a little nervous? Are you in a good place right now? I said yes, I am just in pain. He said go pick up you prescription and get that sample and left. Nothing more then that was said. Literally. With that I left went downstairs got my prescription and took a urine sample.
Does anyone know why my pain management doc wanted me to take a urine sample or what Neurotin does/specifically helps with? I looked online and it looks like its an anti-epileptic/seizure (which I don’t have) medication and that it helps with pain. He left the room before I could ask any questions and denied me more Vicoden. Does anyone know if Neurotin works well for chronic pain/sciatic pain or if there are any side effects to be on the look out for? Also, is it common for you to have this type of experience at pain clinics and is it common to be denied pain killers when not in pain?