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PccstudentPPccstudent Posts: 103
edited 06/11/2012 - 9:02 AM in Degenerative Disc Disease
Hello everyone,it has been a while since I logged in,I have some new developments.First I am a 57 year old male and have been on Disability since 2005. I need a second spinal fusion ,this time involving the l4 vertebre.I had been having trouble (trouble meaning pain and inflamation)on my neck and imaging shows degenerative disc disease at 3 levels and numerous bone spurs.Both my "sites" hurt quite a bit and I am pretty limited in movement. The doc says surgery at my neck also.I already had a surgery for a herneaited disc at the L5-S1 level before the disability started.

My question,I will have had 4 surgerys and have been off work for 7 years now.How reasonable is it for me to really believe I can go to work again? I was an auto mechanic,so that is out,I can work on the computer but only for 3 hours (with breaks) and then I must lie down to work on the computer.I do not really see too many jobs where they let you lay in bed. I ask,is my work career over and I should just try and be happy on disability and live out what life I have left? In order to go to work I would have to get my pain med addiction cured (or more correctly ,cure it myself).Taking pain meds for this long involves addiction,no matter how strong your mind is.Thanks for looking over my situation.Every answer will be appreciated even if it is not exactly one that raises my spirts.


  • dilaurodilauro ConnecticutPosts: 9,856
    But what kind of work, that really is what is important.

    My first question would be regarding your disability status. I know that each state handles this somewhat differently. I live in CT and have been eligible for disability, but I have not accepted it only because I know I can still work and want to work. On disability, I would only be allowed a certain number of work hours, and so for me, at least now is not the path

    You already know you cant go back to being an auto-mechanic. Working on computers, well, that can be one of the biggest strains and no-nos for people with spinal problems. I spent over 35 years working with computers daily, at times up to 12 hours a day.
    There is no question that type of work added to my spinal problems.

    I know at the rehab center I go for physical and aqua therapy, they have support groups and action groups that help people find new careers. They can help you in the different directions of work keeping in mind your physical condition.

    Of course, you always need to discuss this with your doctor. They would be the ones who would say, Yes, you can do that type of work, No, you cant or Depends.

    I retired 3 years ago and was lucky to step back into a part time job that I did before I was with computers. I am basically a wine consultant, today at the retail level. The place I work knows I cant lift cases, cant do a lot of physical work, but they hired me to sell and that I can do in a heartbeat.
    I still have to remember my condition and limitations, so I do not work more than 20 hours a week.
    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
  • diluaro, I would accept work that allows me to be self sufficient.I know this statement is probably getting a good laugh as there are people 30 years younger than me,totaly healthy,and they cannot find work that allows them to be self sufficient. Here in Tucson the latest figure regarding self sufficiency looks to be around 32,000 per year,around 14.00 per hour,and a full 40hr week.This figure does not leave 1.00 for something like eating out.So my answer (and question) is how likely is my disability going to be a factor in me finding self sufficient work? Should I just give up on work and keep pinching disability pennies?

    I have a Associates of Sciences degree (emphasis on Network Administration).The only activity in my early job search indicated that employers want people with Bachelor Degrees, I said noting about my health issues.Bachelor degree is another 50K and it may not be allowed if they see no or little possibility of me returning to work,why train a man that is not going to use it?
  • Self sufficiency vs self worth.

    There are so many of us on here that absolutely cannot work a full time "self-sufficient" job. It isn't a matter of choice of whether the job pays enough; it is a matter of physical inability. I just would be thankful to have the physical ability to work for $14 per hour, $32K per year.

    In my situation, I have taken a very small $300/month job that I can work from home on the computer. This keeps my brain active and helps me to have some feelings of self worth and that I am contributing a little bit. I feel like at least I am trying.

    Can you return to working a full time job? Your statement that would accept work that would allow you to be self sufficient makes me inclined to think that it may be possible for you. I would say if you think you can work, that is a positive factor.

    Not many employers are willing to accomodate for our disabilities, but there are some out there who will, at least to a degree. I only work maybe 10 hours per week, and I wouldn't be able to do that without a sympathetic employer, but I did find one.
    Surviving chronic pain one day at a time, praying for a reprieve because living another 40 years like this doesn't sound too fun!
  • @Cindy,Hello Cindy I enjoyed your reply.In regards to if I can go back to work.My feeling is it will take the two surguries (second fusion at the lumbar spine level) and a new fusion at the cervical level (I have my "better look" MRI with contrast on April 17th)With this better look the doctor will be able to tell me what he will fix and how he will fix it.I will need to recover from the surguries,get reconditioned from being off work for 7 years and finally deal with my pain med addiction.If I am sucessful with all of these tasks I can start a job search.Will my surguries make it so I never had the problems? we all know the answer to that is "No" but all I have listed is the minimum that has to happen for me to go back to work.Naturally like most everyone else I would like to pay everything myself each month and be totally in control of my life.Lets see how the image on Tues goes.The doctors response from looking at the x-ray was one word,that word was "dramatic".Thanks for all
  • In regards to my Doctor playing a part in my job selection,if I said I was taking a job with the circus as a high wire aerialist my Doctor would tell me to "go for it' as long as it got one more person off disability,one way or another.I came to my current Doctor already on disability so he sees it as his job to make me take a job,no matter what it does to my health or no matter how hard (or painful) it is for me to do.Lucky for me my "Doctor" is not my pain management Doctor.

    Every Doctor I have seen in regards to pain had a "OK prove it" attitude,except my pain management Doctor,he believed me from the start.When I bring my pain Doctor documentation about my condition,he reads the report and then tells me "you know I do believe you when you say you are in pain"
  • Just got the results of the MRI being used to diagnois my neck pain.Due to disk degeneration at multiple levels and bone spurs that are putting pressure on both the cord and the nerves running off the cord my suregon is calling for a fusion from the bottom of C2 to the top of C7.He says there are so many bone spurs he will have to do two seperate operations to "fix" my neck.One surgurey from the front and one from the rear.He states my surgery is "complicated".Any idea about recovery time (just the neck?)

    This is on top of the extension (up one more level)of my lumbar fusion and more nerve root decompression at the L4 level.I will be fused from S1-to L4 and my entire neck. I really had no idea my neck was in such bad shape,sure it hurt quite a bit but I did not know it was littered with so many bone spurs.I ask is this just too much to go through and still think of working,rather that just living a bit more comfortably? Sure seems like a lot of surgery.
  • Hello everyone,I have been looking over some posts on other forums and people are telling some real horror stories about cervical fusions.My lumbar fusion did not help much at all and of course I am worried about comming out worse with the cervical.My main worry is that I have so many bone spurs (he already says it is a 2 step operation,in from the front and in from the back)I do not have arm problems yet,just neck,shoulder and upper back. I certainly know I will not heal myself but perhaps it does not get any worse and I would be jumping the gun with surgery.Any comments will be appreciated.
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