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PLEASE help...I can't take the pain anymore!!!

KimD592KKimD592 Posts: 435
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:55 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
How do I differentiate between normal post-op pain vs pain from another herniated disc? I ask because last night I had excrutiating pain on my left side. It went from my incision, over to the left, and wrapped around my left side along my ribcage. It was extremely painful, and I ended up having to take my stronger pain meds. It's so easy to chalk everything up to healing after spine surgery, but at what point does it become concerning? The discs I had operated on were herniated to the right. However, I have another disc that is herniated to the left that he did not touch, because it hasn't caused me any symptoms. When I had the intense pain last night, it left me wondering how do I know at this point? Obviously I'm going to have pain as my muscles continue to heal from the surgery, but how do I know what's normal and what's not? Or how do I know when to call the surgeon or wait it out?


  • dilaurodilauro ConnecticutPosts: 9,839
    but based on some of your recent posts, it could be related to the lifting your child and/or other things.

    Your surgery is still so new. Like a babe-in-the-woods. Normally, I would suggest waiting a week to see how things progress before calling your doctor.

    However, since you are still so fresh out of surgery and you have done things you shouldn't have, I would go ahead and call your doctor, if for anything a peace of mind
    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
  • I totally agree with Ron.
    Normally I'd say take it easy and take it in stride and ask at your next appointment.

    But I always think if you are concerned and the pain is different than what you felt the 1st 2 weeks post op, call the doctor's office to get their insights.

    Remember, with back surgeries, more is not better.
    You need to walk and move because it helps keep scar tissue off the nerves BUT you need to be VERY careful on bending, twisting, lifting...and avoid where possible. The most you should lift is a gallon of milk and NOT over your head.

    Also, this means no vacuuming b/c that's dangerous too.
  • Well, it happened again last night. I started out this morning feeling okay. The pain was there but tolerable, and I only needed to take my Motrin 800. As the day progressed, I developed this left-sided pain, which wraps around my ribs and to the front. This is now the third day in a row that I've had this pain. I thought every day is supposed to be getting better, not worse?! I adhered to my restrictions 100% today. I took the kids to the pool at my parents' house, but my mom came and picked us up. I had the older kids carrying the heavier bags, so all I carried was my purse. I sat in a chair with good back support. The kids, if they wanted to sit on my lap, crawled in and out of my lap by themselves. No lifting whatsoever. It was a very relaxing day. By mid-day I started feeling this gnawing pain in the mid back region, but over to the left. As the day progressed, it intensified and wrapped around my ribcage to the front, just under my left breast. I brought my Motrin with me to my moms house, and I definitely exceeded the max dose by about 1600 mg. By the time I got home, I couldn't even stand up straight...the pain was a 10 on the pain scale. I could barely walk. I honestly thought about going to the ER, but instead I took an oxycodone and a valium and went to bed. It felt like it took forever to kick in, but finally I fell asleep. I woke up at 1:30 feeling spaced out from the meds, but the pain is tolerable again. We'll see how long that lasts.

    Honest to God, it feels exactly like the pre-op pain I was having, except that was on my right side and would wrap around my ribcage to just under my right breast. The only difference is this pain on the left is about a thousand times worse. I think I've redefined my idea of what a 10 on the pain scale feels like. When I initially got home from the hospital, I hated how the narcotics and muscle relaxants were making me feel, so I stopped taking them. The doctor prescribed me Motrin (Ibuprofen) 800 mg three times a day, though some days I've been taking one additional one. I read online that the max dose is 3,200 mg per day, so I figured that one extra won't kill me. They wanted me to take it because it's an anti-inflammatory. I'm now 16 days post-op, and up until 3 days ago, I was only taking the Motrin. Now, once this left-sided pain hits, I have to take an oxycodone and a flexeril, but I ran out of flexeril, so I've been taking the valium, which does nothing.

    I'm going to call the surgeon's office as soon as they open, but I'm really concerned about this. I understand the muscles have been cut into and it's going to take some time to heal, but where it's hurting and radiating to isn't even near the incision. I do have pain around the incision, and that pain has been getting better each day. In fact, if I didn't have this left-sided pain, I could probably get away with taking very little Motrin. So how do I know whether this is part of the normal healing process versus that other herniated disc that the doc said has worsened in the last two months? Is it normal for the pain to suddenly get worse like this, before it gets better?

    I'm seriously freaking out because I can't go through this again...I really can't. I cannot...no...WILL NOT have another surgery. And at only 16 days post-op, I can't even fathom that just yet. I was going to wait a week or two and see if it gets any better, but with how severe the pain is getting, I think I'd feel better calling the doctor. Is this going to mean another MRI? Ugh, I hope not. My medical bills, along with all of my other bills, are seriously piling up. And I'm starting my new job August 8th, and I really don't want anything holding me back. The good news is that it's a desk job, so pain or no pain, I WILL be starting on the 8th! I've been looking forward to starting this job for a few weeks now, and it's what's been getting me through the tough days. We really need the money, plus, I just need to feel like a productive, contributing member of society again.

  • dilaurodilauro ConnecticutPosts: 9,839
    Getting all worked up and stressed can also lead to some problems. When you body tightens up with stress, it can effect your muscles and cause discomfort.

    In terms of your medication, I am not completely sure how you are managing them. You talk about the Motrin and Oxycodone, which sounds like your doctor wrote prescriptions for those after your surgery. Now the flexeril, when that ran out, you took Valium. Are these medications that your doctor prescribed for your post surgical situation.

    Remember, we have all been telling you , you are so fresh post surgery. This all takes time. You can not rush something that cant be rushed. You will have good days and bad days.

    The things you have done recently that should not have been done (lifting,etc) sounds like have aggravated your condition and could be some of the reason you are in the pain you are in.

    If you pain is getting that high, you should be going to the ER. Any time a pain level starts to go over 8, its time to think about getting to the hospital.
    A true meaning of pain level 10 says you can not do anything.

    If you are not going to the ER, then call your doctor and discuss all of this with them.
    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
  • Yes, all of these medications were prescribed post-op by my doc. In the hospital, they had me on oxycodone, flexeril, valium, and Decadron (a steroid). They gave me scripts for all of them, but I didn't fill the flexeril script because I already had that at home from when I intially injured my back. I thought I had more left than I did, though, otherwise I would have filled the script they gave me. My MIL went to the pharmacy for me when I got home from the hospital, so I have no idea whatever happened to the script for the flexeril. However, when I got home, I was frustrated by how groggy I felt all of the time. That and I had a severe reaction to the steroids, so I called my doctor, who said to stop the steroids (I was near the end of the steroid taper anyway). They called in a prescription for Motrin 800 mg, which is all I had been taking. They had prescribed it as every 8 hours, but I was taking it closer to every 6 hours.

    I only started taking the Oxycodone and muscle relaxants again once this new left-sided pain started. Last night the pain literally incapacitated me. I could barely get up the stairs into bed. My husband ended up having to help me up the stairs. Once the meds kicked in, I was out cold. I woke up at 1 am and the pain meds had finally kicked in, so the pain was manageable again.

    I woke up this morning feeling pretty decent again, so now I'm just taking the Motrin. We'll see what happens later tonight. I have a call in to the doctor's office, though, just to be on the safe side. If the pain gets that bad again, I will definitely be going to the ER.

    I decided to stay home with the kids today and just focus on relaxing. The boys (10 and 8) are helping with the girls (2 and 1), so it's been a very easy day. Pain-wise I've only had to take one Motrin so far, but I want to stay ahead of the pain, so I'm going to keep the medication in my system. So, we'll see what happens as the day progresses.
  • Kim,

    I worry for you.
    Ron is giving you great advice and I think you are starting to understand that 'severity' of the surgery you had but only you can really decide what risks you want to take.

    I respond/watch for your posts b/c I want your surgery to be a success.

    So my words of wisdom:
    1- you are not even 6 weeks out of a major back surgery. once again, the words 'minimally invasive' do not equate to minimal surgery. back surgery is MAJOR surgery. Consider it just as risky as open heart surgery

    2- you shouldnt' be out 'living life' just yet. I'm not saying stay home in bed b/c that's not good either but what I do suggest is
    a) limit your time in a car. Being in a car jostled your back around and puts you at risk because you twist so you either get sore b/c your muscles have to work extra hard to protect your back or you hurt b/c your muscles aren't strong enough just yet to hold you in place so you get inflammation
    b) Do not sit for long periods. You should limit 'sitting' to no more than 20 min 3-4 times a day. Save it for meals or to watch a quick cartoon with the kids. Sitting puts additional load on your back that you just do not need right now.
    c) Drink water, stay hydrated.
    d) Walk...on flat surfaces. Not 2 miles at once. Break it up into 3 or 4 walks a day of about .25 miles (15 mins). It keeps scar tissue from adhering to your nerves.
    e) Do not panic every time you have a pain. Listen, I have pain from time to time and sometimes it's pain that makes me worry that "oh shoot, here we go again" but I go back to basics when this happens - rest (lie on back with pillow under my legs), no bending, no twisting, no lifting, limit my driving, walk, do my PT-certified stretches, tylenol for pain and ibuprofin if I think it's more inflammation related, and if I'm having spasms that OTC meds don't help, I do take a muscle relaxer to help.

    f) try keeping a journal of what you are doing and then how you feel at breakfast, lunch, dinner. You might start to find a correlation between certain activities and your pain. But this will only be as accurate as the 'honesty' you put into the journal

    g) If your child is having a temper tantrum, tough. Let them cry it out in their room. You cannot risk getting kick or worse yet, moving your body the wrong way. Kids are very strong and very bendable. Darn, they amaze me with their ability to hurt adults just through a tantrum. You are not a bad mom if you do this.

    h) Trust all of us when we tell you that this will be 3-months of recovery before you even START to be able to consider living a 'normal' life. And, normal will need to be redefined. Do you want to be Super Mom or Smart mom? I would vote smart mom. You will do yourself and your family more good if you start thinking about how to change up some things to keep your back safe during the next few weeks of recovery and for the future to ensure you stay 'recovered'.

    i) Remember, you will NEVER be 100% again. You now have to make trade-offs on the risks of doing something vs. not wanting to give something up.
    Example, I have moved running to the bottom of my list of priorities. Why? Well, because it's not worth risking another back surgery. I don't move it off my list b/c let's face it...if I were being chased, I would run. So in a way, I didn't have to give it up...I just had to prioritize it further down on my list

    3) Keep your positive attitude. You seem to have such a zest for life...use it to put an action plan together before you act. People that have a zest for life are so inclined to hop back in like you are doing. It took me a long time to re-pace myself. Toughest lesson I learned, hardest thing I had to do, and hardest thing I still do on an on-going basis. But I've made it a challenge to find safer ways to enjoy life. There are things I really had to give up that took away a piece of my heart/persona but I work very hard every day to find replacement things to do/love/fill the gap.

    Why? Because I have a family that wants me to not be in pain. They yell at me when I do stupid things for my back, I used to get mad. I don't anymore because they are my support. They remind me that I don't want to be bound to a wheelchair at such a young age. So I have a 'team' that continues to help watch me and motivate me to try other things.

    I wrote a long paragraph b/c I genuinely want you to do well. I think Ron is doing the same because we care.

    I hope the Medrol (saw your other post) helps.
  • I'm on a tapering dose of Prednisone (pharmacy auto-subbed for Medrol pack because they were out of it), and I seem to be doing better today. I only took three doses of Motrin 800, which is a MAJOR improvement over the past few days. I took it easy today and rested for much of the day. My mother-in-law took the kids for most of the day, and I took a 3-hour nap. It felt great to get a much-needed nap, since the last several nights I haven't been able to sleep very well. My sister came over and spent the day with us, and I drove her home (the NP gave me permission to drive as long as I'm not on the narcotics). When I got home, I was a little extra sore from being in the car, but once I was back to sitting on the couch, I felt better. I got up to take my last Motrin for the day and decided to straighten up the kitchen table, and just that little bit of extra work caused some increased pain. So I sat back on the couch and am fixing to go to bed.

    Overall I'm happy with the progress I'm making. I definitely don't expect any miracles, and I realize it's going to take time. But it's nice to see little improvements each day. Baby steps, right? I'm debating whether I should take a muscle relaxant before bed, since I'm a bit more sore tonight, but I was really hoping to get by with just the Motrin today. I think I'll give it another half an hour and if the pain is still bad, I'll take the muscle relaxant.

    So, that's it for now. Tomorrow should be another relaxing day. We're taking the kids to my cousins house so they can play in the creek, but I'll be sitting in the shade, listening to the sound of the creek. They live out in the middle of nowhere, and the creek is literally in their backyard. They have this deck upstairs that overlooks the creek, and it's just so peaceful. So I'm looking forward to a little getaway. After being cooped up in the house for days on end, it's nice to get out every once in a while.
  • Day 3 of the steroids and today was a tough one. I'm finding that as long as I'm sitting/laying on the couch or in bed, the pain is minimal, if anything. If I am up and about even for a little while, that left-sided pain that wraps around my rib cage and to the front gets really bad. I took a lot of motrin 800 today, probably more than I'm supposed to, and I just took my oxy and muscle relaxant. I have 3 more days left on the prednisone, and i'm really hoping it helps. Not sure what to do if this pain doesn't let up. I've been adhering to my restrictions and have spent the last few days really resting. We went to my cousin's house today, but I sat the whole time and got up periodically to stretch. The car ride was a bit rough, as they live 45 minutes away. But I use a pillow behind my back, which makes it a little easier.

    My question is, at what point do I become concerned about this left-sided pain? It initially seemed as if the steroids were helping, but tonight I'm not so sure,
  • Kim,

    Sorry, but like Ron said, once you are bouncing around an 8 the ER is ON the radar scope, and most likely in the windshield of my car!! Sorry, 8+ many can't even keep food down! And you are saying you are at a 10. I've been at a '10' only a very few times in my life, and yep, I passed out the pain was so bad....

    If your pain is concerning you so much, you need to get with your surgeon to be sure nothing has changed. Additionally, you also need to judge your changes by weeks, not day to day - that will drive almost anyone nuts!

    Now given your surgery, I don't understand why you would have pain around your ribs, but I am obviously not a doctor, just another spiney like yourself. Again, something your surgeon will be better at assessing. I hope you have answers soon.

    Oh, as to taking more meds than prescribed, you might want to let your surgeon know your pain is not well managed based on your present status. He can then adjust as necessary for you. None of us should go "past" what we are prescribed without our doctors endorsement....

    PCTF C4 - T2, Laminectomies C5, C6 & C7. Severe Palsy left arm/hand.
  • You know what they say...nurses truly make the worst patients. As a nurse, when I assess my patients for pain, I ask them to tell me between 0 and 10...0 being no pain and 10 being the worst pain they've ever had. Well, I use the pain from my gallbladder attacks (prior to having my gallbladder removed) to judge that, because that was definitely the worst pain I've ever had. It was worse than labor pain, in that it was constant and didn't let up. At least with labor pain, I'd have a couple of minutes in between to catch my breath. Although, it's a close call between that and the headache I developed when I had post-partum pre-eclampsia and my BP was 201/102. I felt like I was seriously minutes away from having a stroke. But even then, the pain in my head was excrutiating...never passed out and never threw up. Just screamed in pain.

    I'd say my pain last night was probably about a 7 at it's worst. But when I took the oxycodone and muscle relaxant, it brought it down to a more manageable level. The problem is that if I were to run to the ER everytime my pain level hits an 8 or 9, I'd be there constantly. And really, what are they going to do for me anyway? Typically if the pain gets that bad, once I take my stronger meds (oxycodone and valium), the pain eventually begins to lessen. Remember that right now, for the most part, I'm managing my pain with only Motrin, along with the tapering dose of Prednisone that the doctor prescribed. So there are many times I let my pain get pretty bad before I'll take the stronger stuff. I'm stubborn...it's just how I am. I have 3 kids to take care of, and it's not easy for me to find a babysitter and a ride to the ER. So I'd much rather just pop my narcotics and go lay in bed and wait it out.

    As for measuring the pain in weeks, not days...you are totally right. Looking at the overall picture, things have improved A LOT! The incisional pain is nearly gone. The pain that I'm struggling with that gets to be an 8 on the pain scale when I'm too stubborn to take anything is that left-sided pain that wraps around my ribcage. I spoke with the NP at my NS office on Friday, and she seemed to think that I have some inflammation that is causing the pain to radiate, which is why she put me on Prednisone. I have two more days of the Prednisone left, and if after that is finished I am still having the pain, I'll definitely call.

    Just a little clarification on the pain, though. Now that we all know that I'm stubborn when it comes to taking pain meds, so it's not uncommon for my pain to hit an 8 or a 9. Do I go to the ER AFTER I've taken my stronger meds, if the meds do not work? Often times when I say my pain is an 8 or 9, it's before I've taken the stronger meds. As for the Motrin, they prescribed 800 mg 3 times per day, but sometimes I'll take an extra one, because I've read that the max dose is 3,200 mg per day. Again, nurses make the worst patients! lol

    Sorry if I'm all over the place this morning. I didn't sleep very well last night, and the kids are in rare form today.
  • Okay, so I have 1 day left (tomorrow) of the Prednisone, and I'm still having this left-sided pain that wraps around my ribcage and to the front. Also, the past couple of days I'm having shooting pains in my left arm and left leg. It could be completely unrelated, though, so I'm not getting too worked up over it. Other than that, the incisional pain is nearly gone. In fact, if it weren't for this left-sided pain, I probably wouldn't need to take much in the way of pain meds.

    Today I have a bit of a dilemma. I'm home alone with 3 kids and the pain is really bad. I've taken several doses of Motrin 800, but I'm literally nauseated over this. I called the NP at my NS office to see what to do next. I mean, what happens if the Prednisone doesn't help? Do they typically do another round of steroids?

    Also, as I've mentioned previously, we know there is another disc that is herniated, T7-8, and it is herniated to the left. My husband is flipping out because he is convinced that it is this other disc. I keep telling him that it's too soon to jump to conclusions, being that I just had surgery 3 weeks ago (tomorrow).

    I guess my question is, let's assume this pain IS caused by this other disc? What do they typically do? Do they have you go through all of the conservative treatments again, such as PT, injections, etc? I see so many people who say they've had X number of surgeries in 2 or 3 years, and I swore (and still do swear) this surgery would be my first and last.
  • Sorry Kim, I don't have any answers for you but wanted to let you know that I'm thinking of you and really hope that this lefthanded pain will fade away very soon.

    After spinal surgery, it can flare up so many pains and symptoms that worry us. Quite a few of them fade away into the past, which is where we want them.

    I hope that this will be the case for you.
    I have been following your surgery story with interest, as I also have some problems in my thoracic spine. Hopefully I will never need surgery, but I like to be informed!!!

    You are young to be having all this trouble, but hopefully once you are recovered from this, you will be able to get on with your life again.

    Be very careful how you handle your children. There is a lot of healing that needs to happen before you are ready to get back to 'normal'!

    Feel better soon >:D< >:D< >:D<

  • Thanks! I'm still waiting to hear back from the NS office. I'm thinking I might be taking a trip to the ER. The pain is getting worse and worse, particularly the pain in my left arm and leg, and my left leg numbness is really bad. I've just been laying on the couch and getting up to stretch every 20 minutes, so I'm not overdoing it today. Hopefully the NS calls back soon. Not sure what to do.
  • I just want to reach out and tell you that I am thinking of you and hoping that your pain will be getting better very soon.
    Sounds like you may have had to make that trip to the ER. I am just glad to hear you are trying your best to take care of yourself!

    sending you gentle hugs!
  • I finally spoke with the NP, and she is calling in a script for a lidoderm patch, tramadol, and flexeril, since that worked better than the Valium. She wasn't too concerned about the leg/arm pain. So my hubby is going to pick up my scripts from the pharmacy on his way home. Yay! No ER! If it gets worse or the meds don't work, then I'll go.
  • If the lidoderm patch doesn't help, maybe at least the flexeril will help you sleep. I don't know tramadol. I'm sending good thoughts your way.
    4 level ACDF C4-C7 5-2-11, laminectomy & discectomy L4-L5 1/26/12, ALIF L4-5, L5-S1 12/10/12.
  • Thanks a bunch! She said the tramadol (aka Ultram) is supposedly a narcotic-like medication, but it's a lower dose so it doesn't have the side effects that regular narcotics do, particularly the drowsiness. Being that I'm home alone with the kids all day, I need something that doesn't make me tired, so we decided to try the Ultram along with the lidoderm patch. The flexeril I'll only be able to take at bedtime, because that really knocks me out. So, we'll see what happens. I figure I'll give it time. If I'm still having this left-sided pain by the time my appt on 8/23 comes around, then I'll be a little more concerned. But for now I'm chalking it up to the normal healing process.
  • Surgery was a little over 3 weeks ago, and here's what I'm noticing. As long as I'm sitting or laying down, the pain is minimal, if any. I've been taking the Motrin 800 mg three times a day, as prescribed. She also ordered Ultram every 4 to 6 hours as needed, which I take in between the Motrin if I need it. And I've been using the Lidoderm patches, but, to be honest, they really do nothing.

    What I'm noticing is that once I get up and start moving around, that's when I start feeling that left-sided pain. It starts out as a slight aching pain off to the left side of my back. The longer I stand/walk, the more intense it gets, and it begins to wrap around my ribcage and to the front. As I said before, it truly feels like a mirror image of what I experienced on the right side before my surgery. Since the surgery, I've had very little right-sided pain. Just a little when I'm up and moving around. The NP still says it's most likely inflammation/muscular pain, which makes sense. But my husband is panicking that it's that other disc, T7-8, that is herniated to the left. My plan is to wait until my follow-up appt with the NS on 8/23. Hopefully by that time, if this pain IS caused by inflammation and is muscular in nature, it'll be gone. If not, then I'll discuss it more with him at that time. The pain, when I'm standing/walking is only on my left side, which is odd because my surgery was on the right.

    On a good note, other than that left-sided pain, I have very little pain. If it weren't for that, I wouldn't need to take anything. The incisional pain is nearly completely gone, and the original pain that I had before the surgery is minimal as well. So in terms of the surgery, so far I feel it was successful.

    On another good note, I start my new job in 11 days, and I'm so excited!! It's a desk job, and seeing as I feel better when I'm sitting down, I'm not too worried about the long hours of sitting. Plus, they are completely fine with me getting up and stretching as needed. Honestly, I think I'll be better off at work, because I'll be doing less physical work. When I'm home, I've got 3 children to take care of, which is a lot more physical work than I'm really supposed to be doing. I just can't wait to start earning money again. We really need it! I seriously might frame that first paycheck! lol.
  • The pain is so bad tonight. Granted, I haven't taken much of anything today as my stomach has been upset. I finally caved and took an oxycodone and a flexeril. Right now it's not even the back pain that's the worst of it...it appears to be sciatica in my left leg. It hurts so badly; I can barely walk. I just don't understand why my body is failing me. I understand that recovery from surgery is not easy, but why do I feel like I'm going in the wrong direction? The original pain I had prior to the surgery is gone, and the incisional pain is minimal. I feel like I've traded one pain for another. I pray it's all related to the normal healing process. And I pray that my meds kick in soon. I'm almost contemplating amputating my own leg (no, not really).
  • You're still so early in your recovery! Granted the ACDF surgery I had takes longer to recover, you will feel pain and often a return of pain you thought was gone for good. This surgery is so much worse than my 2 C-sections.

    Overdoing it is so easy to do. I often forget and suffer the consequences later. Now I have a couple of bulging discs in my lumbar after this fusion that is bothering me on top of the pain from my fusion. I have kids, too so I understand that it's tough to not overdo it. I can't take pain meds due to gastritis so I just have to live through the pain cycles. Good luck and try to get help from family or friends if you can! :)
    2011 ACDF C5-6 for Spondylosis with Myleopathy
    2012 L4-5 herniated disc and hernated disc at C4/5 2013 Taking Amitriptyline for headaches
  • Hi Kim, good to catch up on your recovery.
    It seems you are watching pain hour-to-hour and at most day-to-day.

    Have you kept a journal?
    It sounds like you have a mental one b/c you are learning that the more activity the more pain. IF you keep a journal, you can see which type of activity creates more pain and how much time and what things/actions help you get your pain back down.

    I have been traveling for work and honestly, my pain has been going up. I get really worried that another disc is shot or if I move wrong, I'll rupture it. But then I remind myself to take a breath and think about what I've done. Typically I realize travel, how I carry my laptop, how I sit too long on the plane, etc. really impact my pain. So when I travel, I have to alot time to walk every day to get my pain to go down, drink water, stand if the meetings are too long. I also bring motrin, tylenol, and prescription meds with me but remember I have to take my motrin/tylenol regularly to stay ahead of the pain. I also gave up and slim down how much I pack and always check my luggage.

    The other thing, if you aren't stable, stop driving. I don't mean to be rude but cleared or not, you know you are hurting. Master the basics before taking on activities that jostle you.

    1 - limit time in the car
    2 - don't drive unless urgent/emergency. The kids are just going to have to deal
    3 - Pain can fluctuate, it's our body's way of telling us to 'slow down'. Remember with back pain, it just might show up 'after' you have done too much.
    4- ice? have you spoken to your doctor about icing 10 mins a few times a day?
    5 - water
    6 - think about the activities.
    7 - Ask your doctor when he will have a concern over the other disc.

    It does seem like both you & your hubby are just 'waiting' for that other disc to go. While it is a legitimate concern, you may both be hyper sensitive to it. So if you ask your doctor about a re-MRI at the 6-week or 10-week mark, you may alleviate your worry with regard to that.

  • Yeah, I'm definitely learning my limitations. The thing is, some times there seems to be no rhyme or reason to it. Last night I was just laying on the couch watching TV, when the left-sided pain started. Then it turned into what felt like sciatica. The sciatica was the worst of it and is what led me to finally taking something for the pain. My stomach is very sensitive to meds, so I went most of the day without taking anything.

    I haven't been driving for the most part. In fact, I think I've only driven once since the surgery. And when I'm a passenger in the car, I make sure to keep a pillow with me to make it more comfortable.

    Yup, hubby and I are definitely hypersensitive to this other disc. Just knowing it's there is keeping us on edge. I'm trying to remain optimistic and think positively, but my hubby tends to be a pessimist. And when the doctor told us that the surgery for this other disc would likely be more complicated, I think that scared him even more. So now all he can think about is what if this pain is from that other disc and I end up needing to have this surgery, and it'll be more time out of work, etc, etc, etc. His mind is constantly racing with these thoughts. I try not to even talk to him about the pain anymore, because I don't want him worrying about it. I have my follow-up with the NS on 8/23, and I'm sure he'll want to do additional testing if this pain is still there.

    For now, as I said before, I'm just trying to remain positive. Afterall, while my health isn't the greatest (my back, my heart, my thyroid, etc), at least it's nothing terminal. AND, I'm about to start a great new job! AND, I've been blessed with wonderful family and friends. AND, since the surgery, my faith in God has been stronger than ever. I feel His presence and I know He is watching over me. I have a lot to be thankful for, which gets me through the tough times. I refuse to let my health problems get best of me. There are so many people who have it much worse off than I do, so I count my blessings for every day I am alive.
  • Still having this left-sided pain. Called the NS yesterday and spoke with the NP. Things had been going pretty well for a couple of days over the weekend, but the kids were at my mother-in-law's house for most of the weekend, so I was able to lay/sit down for the entire time they were gone. I told her that this pain gets very intense, to the point that it makes me physically ill. It is a mirror image of the pain I had pre-op on the right side, except it's much worse and it's on the left. They want me to continue taking the Motrin 800 three times a day. If the pain is no better by Friday, I'm to call back. And if the pain worsens, if I develop increased numbness/tingling/weakness in my lower extremeties, or if I experience loss of bowel/bladder, I'm to call immediately. The pain is really bad tonight. I've already taken all my pain meds (Motrin, Oxycodone, Flexeril, Valium, Tramadol, and TWO Lidoderm patches) and the pain is still a 7 or 8. The meds are making me very sleepy, so perhaps I can sleep it off. But should I consider going to the ER?
  • Well, my NS wants me to go for a repeat MRI and CT scan, both with and without contrast. They are now concerned about that other disc. ::sigh::
  • I haven't spoken to the doctor yet, but I have a call in to them and I'm hoping I'll hear from them today. I had a copy of the report sent to me. It states:

    "There is multilevel facet disease. Prior right hemilaminectomies at T9-10 examination tissue in the epidural space encasing the T9 nerve root, which does not appear to be impinged. Tiny residual/recurrent disc protrusion in the right paracentral location which indents the ventral cord surface. No spondylolisthesis."

    First of all, there is no mention of the T8-9 level, which I also had operated on. Secondly, this still doesn't explain this God-awful left-sided back pain that I'm still having, which wraps around my ribs to the front. Plus, I was told while I was in the hospital post-op, that a repeat CT scan showed T7-8 had actually worsened since the last CT scan in May, and there is no mention of that either. In addition, the previous MRI I had done in November 2010 showed multiple t-spine herniations from T5-6 all the way down to T9-10. How is it possible to have all of this pain without an explanation? Or is it possible they didn't scan my entire t-spine? Under "procedure" it says thoracic spine w/wo (meaning IV contrast), so I'm assuming they would have scanned the entire t-spine.

    Under "technique" it says MRI of the thoracic spine was performed with sagital T1, sagital T2, sagital STIR, axial T1 and T2 weighted images. Following constrast administration, sagital and axial T1 weighted images were obtained.

    Ugh! I fear I'm about to be told they don't know why I'm in so much pain. Dear God, I hope not.

    I have an appt on Sept 14th to see a rheumatologist, since the previous NS I had seen had said that I may have ankylosing spondylitis, but I have a feeling nothing will come out of that other than a $50 co-pay and more bills I can't pay.
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