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When being "Tuff" is not enough...

LowsidrLLowsidr Posts: 17
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:58 AM in Pain Management
This forum has opened my mind as well as my hopes.

I was recently injured in an automotive accident and suffered a major herniation at C6/7 along with damage to my left knee, sprains etc.. My knee since surgery is getting better and better. What is not improving is my neck, it's actually gotten much worse since the accident. The pain in my neck, shoulder and down my arms is unending and excruciating and is affecting my life in very negative ways. For the first time in my life I am giving up because I have realized I cannot tolerate it any longer. Factor in that I may have a lesion on my T2 cord, that my low back (w/accompanying severe sciatica etc.) is in even worse shape than my cervical and thoracic spine and my prognosis is looking pretty grim.

Here is my catch 22 and where I need some advice. I have no health insurance, the auto accident funds available to me are not sufficient to cover cervical spinal surgery. My Neurologist is done with me in a couple of weeks, he say's he can do no more and I NEED a Neurosurgeon. The problem is no Neurosurgeon will see me unless I pay 100% out of pocket.I am self employed and have not been able to work at all so where do I get the money for that? The combination of the cervical, thoracic and lumbar protrusions etc. have left me largely incapacitated so I wouldn't expect anyone to hire me when I cannot sit, stand, walk, lift, concentrate etc. for any length of time. I am officially a liability and a huge risk for any insurer.

FYI: For almost 20 years since my L5 laminectomy, with my back getting progressively worse, I suffered through everything 99% of the time without narcotic pain medications. A couple trips to the ER and a couple hand-outs from friends withstanding I have always been narcotic drug free. I actually prided myself on that but I'm starting to think I may have suffered in vain.

Anyway, my Ortho gave me some Loritab (7.5's) after knee surgery. He will not re-fill and I am now out, I am officially done with him as my knee has had surgery and it is recovering. My Neurologist gave me Percocet (5's) a total of 60 and a promise he would not re-fill them because he is NOT a PM doctor. The Neurosurgeon he referred me to will not accept my auto insurance claim because I do not have private health insurance. The Neurologist refuses to refer me to someone who would because he doesn't get involved with "that". The pills I was prescribed had very little effect in helping with the nerve pain/sciatica etc.. They do help with some of the burning pain but it's nothing close to making a real difference. The only sleep I get is from Ambian 10's and even with their assistance I cannot get comfortable and only get a few hours of sleep a night, I have about 10 of those left then I go back to being an insomniac.

I love my wife, I love my kids, I actually love my life all things considered. What I don't love is feeling useless and a liability. I'm not trying to sound like a whiner because I know many people have it worse than I but I have reached a point where the pain truly is unbearable, trouble is I don't know what to do about it. The icing on the cake is when I have asked for something stronger the physicians act as though I am drug seeking. I hide the pain pretty well and look good on the outside, I think that works against me. I don't think I could "fake" pretending to be in more pain when I already am in severe pain anyway....if that makes any sense?

Please, any advice on medications, how to see a PM doctor or what I should do next would be MUCH appreciated, I'm lost and suffering.

Thanks for listening...sorry it was so long winded.


  • dilaurodilauro ConnecticutPosts: 9,848
    Welcome to Spine-Health. This site has a wealth of medical articles and videos that cover almost every condition and treatment regarding spinal issues.
    There are also many other areas in which 'post-op' patients can get a leg up on.

    This side of the site , The Forums is where you will read other members posts and get to understand what others have been through and hopefully have some meaningful dialogue.

    For a second, put a second your insurance situation.
    What has been the actual recommendation from the Neurologist ? Without actually meeting with a Neurosurgeon, I have to assume the details of any surgical plan has not been discussed yet.

    There are many, many conservative treatments that are always considered before looking at surgery. The list goes ,so it would be easier just to look at the main site menu tabs for more details.

    Now back to insurance. You can read up on other members insurance problems. There are options. I know of several people who have had surgery, without any insurance plan and have negotiated both with the hospital and doctors regarding payment plans. So, basically, not having insurance can not be a major stumbling block when it comes to your overall medical condition.

    Continue to browse around the site, get familiar with the different sections. The more you can get details about your situation, action plans, insurance, etc, the easier it will be for you.
    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
  • SavageSavage United StatesPosts: 5,427
    ..that brought you here. But welcome, and hope you can find some info that can assist you.

    If I read your post corrctly, you are unable to work. Have you considered Disability? That can be short term or long term..so if you improve with time you can return to work.

    In the meantime, you would have some help with income for you & your family. I used an attorney & was accepted within 6 mos. and attorney fees are paid via Social Security money...not out of your pocket.
    So, for me...I tried to work through everything, but had to quit working..applied that week.

    Two years later, I have Medicare to help with my medical.

    Also, as Ron stated, there are always ways of getting the financial aspect of your situation settled so your health issues are addressed.

    Re' Pain management doc, my primary doc wrote script for referral and I was treated and found some relief immediately.

    Taking care of yourself is like a full time job.
    It's good you're proactive. Feel free to post anytime.. even if just to vent. It can be frustratting, but just a step at a time.

    Good luck!
    Spine-Health Moderator
    Please read my medical history at: Medical History

  • Thank you for the courteous and prompt response Ron.

    I will continue to peruse the site and gather information. There is much to offer here as you say.

    As for my Neurologist recommendation? He didn't really give me one, just said that he was more concerned about the possible lesion on T2 but that he has done what he can for me in regards to that and he is actually treating me for the herniation of C6-7 and for that I must see a Neurosurgeon at this point. I specifically asked him if I needed surgery and he said I should speak with the Neurosurgeon and if he recommended surgery and I didn't want to have it I obviously didn't have to do it.

    As for the lack of insurance and getting treatment, I have had difficulty getting help. The problem is the Neurosurgeons I have contacted thus far want payment up front or personal insurance in order to even see me. I'll keep working on it, someone has to be willing to work something out, I just haven't found that yet.

  • Hi Savage, thanks for the reply.

    I wasn't 100% accurate when I said I couldn't work. I should have said I own my own business and I haven't been able to do what I did before. I have done a few small low physical impact jobs, a few hours at a time pacing myself and being very cautious. With that said the arm and sciatica pain killed me afterwards, I paid for it but I don't think I injured myself further by doing the activity. I have jobs lined up that I know I cannot physically do without suffering big time....I have no choice though.

    Disability won't pay my bills, I wont even bother trying because even if it destroys me I will continue to try and support myself, it's just how I'm wired. I probably should consider disability but at just 46 years old I would like to believe that I still have something to offer myself and my family aside from disability. Medicare would be a godsend though.

    I have never done PM or seen a PM doctor. Any doctor can write a referral for that? Are you addicted to narcotics now?


  • SavageSavage United StatesPosts: 5,427
    ...my primary doctor who wrote a referal for me to see Pain Management doctor. I'm not sure if one is able to go straight to PM doc.

    I've been on narcotics for about two and half years now. I do know that at times I am impaired where as I do not drive.

    As for addiction, I don't think so. I never feel a high and the meds only take the edge off. There is always a degree of pain..always.

    My doctor will change the med periodically so I do not build a tolerance.

    I am also working with an impaired brain from my strokes...so difficult to say if meds play into some of my confusion..difficult to concentrate..forgetful.

    Back to addiction..I don't know..but I am at least not in the ER every week trying to control this unrelenting pain. And I am impaired somewhat. But I'm at a controlled pain level. It's not ideal, but my new way of life.

    Spine-Health Moderator
    Please read my medical history at: Medical History

  • Thanks for the info Savage. Sorry to hear about the strokes, that is a very scary thing indeed. I'm personally struggling with my blood pressure right now and stroking is a big concern for me, I hope whatever is causing that is under control for you now.

    Sounds like you have a compassionate PM doctor who is looking out for your best interest. It's great to hear that you don't think you are "addicted" or having to get robbed at the ER every weekend.

    I like how you say your new life may not be ideal but at least the pain is controlled. Sounds like there might be some light at the end of the tunnel for me, even if it's just taking the edge off and making it bearable it would be amazing.
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