It is so nice to at least know Im not alone.
My screen name is for my pets (Sugar Gliders), most of which I am trying to rehome due to my inability care for them due to my back. Anyway, me in a nutshell, sort of:
I'll try and make history brief, if you can make 21 years brief... First work accident happened when I was 23 (and a young mom...kids are grown now) and a couple hundred pounds of steel fell on my back. It took out the L3-S1 disks. Ive had over 30 sets of nerve root blocks (10 on the 3 levels, none helped), and on L5-S1 a Laminectomy, discectomy, rhizotomy, and finally an ALIF after it put me in a wheelchair for a year. Since then I have been in two major car accidents. One was a head on by a 16 yo with a new licence on the wrong side of the road, who hit me at around 50 mph by the officer's estimate...the other a woman who ran a red light and hit me broadside in the driver's door going around 40 mph (which broke my pelvic bone in 5 places but luckily didn't break the fusion)...they did destroy my neck, however.
But because those neck injuries did not show up on film for over a year, and then took time to diagnose, it was not covered under the auto insurance.
Up until 3 years ago I had health insurance through my job, and had pain meds, etc. Then a coworker ran over my leg with a cart, and partially tore my achilles tendon. I could not work for 8 weeks. The work adjustor assigned to me was on vacation, and they would not help until 12 weeks out. By then I had lost my apartment and my job. I moved and got a new job, but the day they handed me my Insurance packet my Mother called to say she had brain cancer (I am an only child), and when I went to take care of her for 9 mos lost that one as well. Since then I have struggled to find something full time with benefits while my back has gotten worse and worse, and I have constant headaches.
Currently I am divorced, make $10,000 a year, with a car payment (started before I lost my job the first time), horrid credit (because when I lost my job all payments had to stop and they refused to work with me), can't afford a doctor, have no insurance, no meds but advil and an ice pack, and am in constant agonizing pain that has me almost unfunctional and going out of my mind. I am 43 yo
I managed to get a donated CT and MRI a few months ago, (March this year, 2012) current issues:
CT neck: " trace retrolisthesis of C5 on C6. Mild intervertebral disk space narrowing at C5-C6 with anterior and right marginal osteophyte formation. There is a posterior disk osteophyte complex eccentric to the right at C5-C6 with bilateral uncinate hypertrophy, right greater than left. This results in probable mild spinal canal stenosis and moderate right lateral recess neural foraminal stenosis."
MRI neck: "Redemonstrated is grade 1 retrolisthesis of C5 in reference to C6 as seen on previous CT where there is also disk space narrowing and loss of normal disk signal suggesting dessication. Posterior disk osteophyte complex is identified which asymmetrically indents the midline and right paracentral thecal sac. There is some effacement of cerebralspinal fluid between the cord and this abnormal material, and there is mild flattening of the cord at the level of the disk space. More pronounced disk bulging is identified posterior to the osteophyte and right paracentral location at and slightly below the disk level. There is extension into the lateral recess creating moderate right foraminal narrowing. Mild uncovertebral facet arthropathy is noted, more so on the right, at this level."
Thoracic, CT: Mild multilevel intervertebral disk space narrowing suggestive of mild degenerative disc disease.
Lumbar CT: Post Surgical changes are noted at L5-S1 with interbody spacers in the L5-S1 disc space. Mild multilevel intervertebral disc space narrowing suggestive of mild degenerative disc disease.
Lumbar MRI: Postop L5-S1 fusion with interbody fusion cages. Minimal degenerative changes including mild hypertropic changes of the L4-L5 facet joints.
There is minimal loss of height and signal intensity at the L3-L4 level. Mild concentric disc bulges are identified at the L3-L4 and L4-L5 levels, Minimal posterior annular tear is also identified at the L3-L4 level. Mild bilateral L4-L5 neural foraminal stenosis is seen.
All I can say, since every attempt at a doctor, or a referral to one I can afford (ie one that doesn't take $300 of a $400 biweekly check to walk in the door) has failed, with refusal after refusal to treat due to severity, I have constant headaches, frequent migraines, severe pain in neck and down arms, numbness and loss of use of hands periodically (esp. the right), horrid pain across my low back, hips, down front and back of legs (sciatic has left me alone pretty much since the L5-S1 fusion), and once again numbness/tingling in my feet and tripping. I also have massive muscle spasms through my shoulders and around my ribcage that leave me struggling to breathe. Advil is the only med I can get (and doesn't help). I have applied for medicaid without much hope. If I stop working, I become homeless and lose my car (I have no family, and my sons are not stable) so I keep working, although I dont know how much longer that will last at this point. I hurt all the time and Im down now to a few hours sleep a day. I just spent an entire paycheck for a Dr. Visit for Bronchitis and meds $370.00, and another refusal to treat my back. ('Oh, you need a specialist!'...no kidding....really? and all 6 "referrals" worthless...most of them took 'insurance only' which I don't have and they knew it) And I wish I had found this site sooner!! Look forward to reading more. From what I have so far, at least it doesn't sound like I'll get "Oh just get over it" like I do from my so called 'friends'. Thank you for a place like this!
L3-4 tear, L4-5 herniation, L5-S1 ALIF Fusion; T 10-12 degeneration; --C5-6 retrolisthesis, osteophyte, degeneration, stenosis