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when do you just give up?

gaj399ggaj399 Posts: 270
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:57 AM in Chronic Pain
I'm not talking about life or killing myself. What I mean is when does it come to the point that you just can't face another surgery that may or may not help? I have at least two more major surgeries coming up. Shoulder replacement first, then lumbar (final decision on what surgery is still to come). Up until now I have let the pain decide or the possibility of being paralyzed.

These next two surgeries are for pain relief and possibly to regain some use of my arm. But I have to admit that I'm tired! I'm just wearing out mentally as well as physically. Shoulder replacement takes some very hard and painful therapy after the surgery, and I just wonder if I'm up to another bout of therapy.

At least I have quite some time before any more surgery, cause I have to fully fuse from my cervical surgery first before anything can be done with my shoulder. Maybe any doubts will be long gone by then.

I guess my question is for those who have had several(3 or more) spinal surgeries. Has it been worth it? Have your pain levels been lowered enough to make it worth it? Are you able to function much better? Were you able to have any better quality of life?


  • Yes I feel my quality of life is better, though I still have to "fight the fight". I am now managing myself medically with pain management. In order for me to endure all of this, I try very hard to remain in the moment, day to day mode. Forecasting my future only sets me up for anxiety and depression, detrimental to my recovery.

    Soooo....hang in there and persevere! I am definitely better than I was before surgery. Hoping the same for you....

  • I quit having surgery After the first one. Except the surgery to plant Scs unit.I can't see getting surgery after surgery. But that just me.

  • Heck, I've only had one surgery so far, and I already feel worn out. Part of me just wants to resign myself to a life of pain and pill popping. However, the other part of me wants to fight to have some level of normalcy back. I was able to function better prior to my surgery, and I'd at least like to get back to where I was.

    I am going for another opinion today, so we'll see what this NS says. I have two more scheduled, and part of me just doesn't have the energy to do this anymore. However, I owe it to my kids and my family to keep fighting. Fortunately I am still able to work, but some days it's extremely difficult getting through my shift.
  • Never give up! There has got to be some doctor, some pain med, some medical advance sometime on the future, so never give up
  • I've had 2 back surgeries (same level) and struggle daily with pain. There are moments that are pain free and I smile at what it would be like to have more of those moments strung together.

    That being said, yes, shoulder surgery is tough but could offer you relief. My father inlaw has torn both rotator cuffs and had surgery 3 times. He's told that if his one shoulder goes again, they would consider a replacement. So he is trying his darndest to be careful to avoid it.

    Now, none of this helps you but I have to say, surgery IS exhausting like Kim says but I do not want to live on medication. I am a bit of a control freak so medication makes me feel less in control. I'm a firm believer in try 'everything' you can to avoid the surgery but when your life starts 'closing in on you', it might be time for surgery.

    If I start declining dinner with friends and stop enjoying nice days and dread walking to my mailbox, I will know it's time for a 3rd surgery. Until then, I am continuing with non-surgical treatment.

    Not sure if any of this helps.
  • Hang in there Gary!

    I know it can be so overwhelming to in the middle of the pain cycle!

    I've never really had a choice re surgery if I wanted to able to continue walking. If I hadn't of blown out the level above my fusion shortly after my fusion, I would be doing great! The fusion gave me back the strength back in my legs, I could walk again! The siatica was gone and I was no longer falling.

    Surround yourself with a medical team you trust.

    Surround yourself with people and things you love. Lean on us, we are here to support you during your journey!

    Wishing you the very best!

  • I count my blessings, however, the pain cycle has been pretty tough since my last neck surgery. I think it's because of the position they put you on on the table. At any rate my shoulder and back have been in full blown flare since surgery.

    I have an appointment Thurday with my pain doctor and we have always been able to get things to a tolerable level, so I have much hope that my pain levels will be coming down a bit soon.

    I'm sure that I will be having the shoulder surgery as soon as I possibly can because I don't want to live with this much pain and lack of function in my right arm and shoulder. The grandkids just don't understand why grandpa can't pick them up and throw them around any more. Plus I have a new grandson due any day now so I'll have another one to play with.

    All of your posts have helped in your own special way(as they always do). Shari your post hit the point, I've surrounded myself with medical people I trust, a loving family, and just as important (sometimes moreso) the spine health family, who understand more than anyone what the life of someone in chronic pain is like.
  • 4 or 5 consultants told me to give up on surgey and just take my oxycontin and live out my life as and when ..considering i am on 45 i thought i had some moire left in me yet not ready to die! i have a wife and 15 year old girl .i would at least want to see her get married !! so i went looking for a consultant that may be able to help and after a lot of searching i found one ..i am due a ALIF this dec ..i don't know if it will work built i have to try as i can't go on as i am .life is for living and at the moment and for the last 6 years all i have been doing is sitting on my recliner taking drugs ..not good ..i think unless you have tried every thing available you must not give up .good luck in what every you decide ,,there are things that can make your life easier but they all cost money ..we have electrical adjustable beds /electric adjustable recliner /walk in shower/wet room .down stairs loo and various electronic pain killing equipment ..it all helps but i am still in pain .but like i say keep trying ,
    1997 laminectomy
    2007 repeat laminectomy and discectomy L4/L5
    2011 ALIF {L4/L5/S1}
    2012 ? bowel problems .still under investigation
    2014 bladder operation may 19th 2014
  • I am so glad for you that you have finally found the right one to fix you. Now I realize that fix may not be the right word, but I think I can say that we all hope that you will be able to live a relatively pain free life after surgery. That's all I've been hoping for with each additional surgery. I know pain free is not going to happen, but what I would like is to be able to function without debilitating pain at all times. I'd like to be able to enjoy the grandkids. And I have faith that a fix is in my future, just been a roller coaster ride the last few years.
  • dilaurodilauro ConnecticutPosts: 9,846
    For me, its not even an option - I will never give up.

    There are always several variables that come into play:

    - Doctor(s) recommendations
    - Quality of Life
    - Balance of day to day activities
    - Specific Medical situation
    - Support System
    - Other options (ie conservative treatment)
    - more and more

    I had my first spinal surgery in 1978 and my last one in 2000. I still have several herniated thoracic discs, but I can not forsee any surgical procedure in the future to deal with them. I believed my surgical days were behind me. Then in 2010, I had both shoulders totally replaced and in about 2 weeks, I will be having the first of two hips totally replaced.

    I have never regretted any of my surgeries. I know that without them, I would not be doing as well as I am today.
    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
  • My wife had one of her hips replaced right before my first neck surgery. She had put it off to the point where she could not walk with out a walker. After surgery she used a walker for 3 days, then switched to a cane, and threw that away shortly after her six week appt. She kicked herself for waiting so long and suffering for probably a year longer than she should have.
  • I completely know how you feel. I had one surgery which was horrible, blood pressure dropped, spinal leak so terrible headache, they gave me morphine IV even though I said I will throw up 3 hours after surgery (nurse was lazy) said that was all that was ordered, Umm I am a nurse call the doctor and get something else, but she didn't came in gave it to me and instantly I was projectile vomiting with a 3 hour old incision in my back, oh I thought I was dieing with the low blood pressure.
    Anyway a month later noticed in MRI I begged for that 3rd pedicle screw was in spinal canal causing severe pain. Surgery set for the next day to remove ( 1 month post op from first surgery)
    So when all this started in May of this year and they mentioned surgery I had severe anxiety, cried like a baby and said please I am done, I can not do it, I thought I was dieing with the first 2.
    I am like you and I guess when it is enough you will know it, but we are always looking for the greener grass on the other side, less pain more mobility.
    I am to the point where as long as I can enjoy my family without worrying about paralysis, once we figure it out I am done. I should of never had the first surgery because all the pain after is worse, but he did make the initial pain go away... go figure???
    Good luck you will decide when it is enough, even though we think today We have had enough we are stronger then we think ...
    Sheryl :)
  • Gary,

    Real simple, until you have a tag on your toe, you don't give up, period!!! Now can you get to where you no longer want surgical attempts/interventions maybe. We are all different, and our thresholds will be known internally.

    I've now had 7 nerve surgeries, and thanks to a hematoma that formed, 4 cervical spine surgeries. 5 levels is very high risk for fusing. I'm gonna do everything *I* can do to heal on the first shot. My brain knows revision could easily happen at a level or more later - fingers crossed that all goes well.

    Just try to stay positive and work with surgeon's you trust. I also know I have at least 2 lumbar surgeries once the neck is finished....greedy neck! (G) I even get hugs now from my surgeon, and I am still a work in progress. Lol!!

    I know in just two days, my almost 2 years of feeling like someone has a thumb pushing my neck to the side isn't there anymore, and now I've had 4 solid meals, and NO choke outs! Over the last 2 years many a meal got cut short due to almost tossing as I choked. So just even that change - made this surgery worth it if that helps? 8> #:S

    PCTF C4 - T2, Laminectomies C5, C6 & C7. Severe Palsy left arm/hand.
  • Brenda I am so happy it is going good for you. I hope I can have a relationship with my surgeon like yours once I find one I can trust and am comfortable with.
    Have a great day
  • I know I loved what I read about him in my research (training, internship, residency, specialty training etc.) His track record is mainly reconstruction,revisions, trauma etc. - complex spine issues.

    He has a whole team involved, and they too make regular visit here to check me themselves! I thought this type of care was no longer with us!! I hope you find similar, it is so comforting knowing they are all approachable.

    Sorry for the hijack Gary. *HUGZ*

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

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  • I'll give you one hi-jack. I think anyone who has gone through the surgeries you just went through deserves just one. So glad to see you posting on here so soon, and you sound as upbeat as ever.

    I had some problem with choke out after this last surgery, but thankfully it only lasted 3 weeks(still have one once in awhile, but much better) I couldn't imagine having to live with that for months or years, it was awful. I hated to eat with anyone around me for fear of grossing them out. So you have a huge plus already.

    My last surgery was very sucessful, my arm pain and numbness went away, also my neck pain has improved alot in the last couple weeks.

    My pain doctor changed almost all of my pain meds today. Back on the fentanyl patches with oxycodone 10/650 for breakthrough. Upped my neurontin to 2400mg per day hoping to get the sciatica to let up some. And I go on the 27th for another shot in the shoulder, so I'm hoping with all the changes that a little lessening of pain will help improve my depression.

    My biggest problem is that the surgeon that I have had for all these years has decided that he is not comfortable doing any more lumbar work on me because of severe scar tissue, so now we have to change directions. I either have to find someone to do the work that needs to be done or I need to find a way to deal with the pain.(pain pump?) Anyway there is still a long row to hoe ahead for me.

    I wish you all a relatively pain free night.
  • To answer your questions:

    Has it been worth it? Not yet
    Have your pain levels been lowered enough to make it worth it? Not yet
    Are you able to function much better? Nope
    Were you able to have any better quality of life? Nope

    I know it all sounds very negative, but I think for those of us who are able to work, the jobs we do play an important part in our recovery and long term 'success'. For example, I work with very young babies/toddlers/children and continuously have to bend to be on their level! I've been off work since 12 September (only went back for one week) and, again, I'm going through the process of Welfare Meetings etc. It's so draining mentally and I just don't know how my employers will be able to help me now.

    On the positive side, I did go and visit my daughter in Pittsburgh, USA, in August. Unfortunately or fortunately (whichever way you look at it) we had to stay an extra week because our flights were cancelled (Hurricane Irene). I had planned to have a whole week to rest and recuperate from flying before I went back to work, but as it happens, I got home on Saturday and went straight back to work 2 days later (on Monday). I believe this caused my latest back flare-up - but I can't be sure.

    Since my last hospital appointment, my medications have been increased (now even more now than before my fusion surgery last July!) and, more upsetting, is the news that I have to undergo yet another 'revision' operation. I just don't know when all this will end. More worringly, I don't know how my employers are going to react when they find out I'm on the waiting list for yet another operation.

    It also seems on the MRI that the level above (3-4?) shows degenerative signs - so who knows what the future will bring, I dread to think!

    My surgeon cannot/won't say if the job I do is exacerbating my condition, but I feel that it is. Oh, and I'm also being treated for depression - which isn't surprising knowing how much I WANT to work and feel a total failure who is letting EVERYONE down.

    After saying all this though, I still stand by what I say in my signature - I WON'T GIVE IN AND I WON'T GIVE UP!!!
    2 x Microdiscectomy 2005 / PLIFusion 2-level 2010 / revision surgery 2011 / NEVRO Senza spinal cord stimulator implanted February 2013. I WILL NOT GIVE IN / UP !!
  • jlrfryejjlrfrye ohioPosts: 1,110
    I will never give up or let my issues control me. Dont get me wrong I have said "OK this is it and no more" after a few of my surgeries. Ive had 7 spine surgeries and am in need of one more. Sure there are days where I am tired of all of it and think its time to retire, quit my job and let the pain win. But I always manage to pull myself thru the rough times and keep going. This is a fight I dont intend to lose!!!!!!
  • Candidly after 5 back surgeries, and still being in chronic severe pain, there are days I want to throw in the towel. However, I have hope, at least most days ;) ! Some days I just get terribly cranky and have to go back to my cave for a while.

    I won't have another fusion, as I have said, unless I am wearing Depends on a regular basis.

    There are many new options which are really exciting, in my opinion. The area of regenerative medicine is growing very quickly.

    As the western world ages, and back, hip and other joint issues become even more prevalent, companies see this as a huge growth market.

    Therefore they are dumping lots of money into research and development. And now there are government research grants available that were not available during the Bush Administration.

    Texas has just passed laws (Rick Perry did stem cell treatment with his spinal fusion and he is governor) which will pave the way to make Texas, in my opinion, a forerunner in research and practice of stem cell treatment.

    Mexico is also doing lots of research and treatments in stem cell regenerative medicine, mostly for cardiac patients, although treatment for spinal issues is still fairly new.

    I also think neurostimulators are going to become more popular and more advanced in pain relief.

    So I am keeping my eyes wide open, and doing lots of research on options, trials, and opportunities that give me hope that I will one day be pain free.

  • ive had 4 surgeries in 8years, and other than i couldnt sit cuz my sciatic nerve was kinked, i had no choice but to do the first one. well 4 later and 2 fusions, i find it apauling that there isnt a better solution in this great country!!!the surgeries have never made any thing better, cant do a fraction of what makes me happy, live in terrible pain 24/7, and as far as germany is concerned, were in the stone ages and i beleive them!!!! makes no sense to have to pay all that money that cant fix a toothache. i bet if somebody found 10 surgeons needing fusions, those guys would be on a plane there! to get disc replacements! life sucks dude, way worse for me anyway.
  • Last x-rays didn't show any fusing going on, and i'm over 6 months out. Pain problems are getting worse by the day and now it looks like I didn't fuse so here we go again. Doc says if he doesn't see any signs of fusion in the next few months, he will have to go in for a revision and use a bone growth stimulator this time. If life continues on this path I don't see any sign that I will have any pain relief for a long time. I'm already on some pretty strong medications, and they are barely taking the edge off any more. My life consists of bed, chair, bed, chair. This isn't a life any more, it's just barely existing. Deano74, your med list and mine are almost exactly the same. Our doctors must have went to the same med school!lol
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