I've had my 2nd consultation with the pain management consultant today. The first one, 3 weeks ago, he changed my medication and today was a review of this and the diagnostic medial branch block I had.
My medication had to be upped by my GP after a week because it wasn't touching the pain. I'm on Zomorph - and what with being on Mirtazapine at night because of depression, the combination of this, together with Zomorph, completely zonks me out. Suffice to say I can hardly keep my eyes open most evenings. He said today that he'll write to my GP to change the meds yet again!! If, after trialling about 3 different medication combinations, I feel that the original Butrans patches were more effective, then I can go back on them. My question is: Why couldn't I just have increased the Butrans patches in the first place? Of course, I'm no doctor, so what do I know?
The second thing we discussed is the Spinal Cord Stimulator device. He was extremely optimistic about the new developments of a completely new device that was being developed to deal with back pain only. However, today he said he wasn't so optimistic because the "paper" hadn't come out yet. The evidence, he said, seems too good to be true and, because the publishing of the 'paper' (whatever that is) hadn't been forthcoming as quick as everyone had anticipated, he felt that the results would not be as good as projected. He sounded disappointed by this and didn't want to give me any false hope about this new device.
He also thinks that the pain in my buttock is not, in fact, coming from my S.I. joint - it's from sciatica (as it also goes down through my leg and sometimes into my foot). He talked to me about the 'normal' SCS device - which I don't know much about. He is arranging for me to speak to someone who deals specifically with answering people's questions, showing me the device, explaining what it does and what is involved. If after chatting I decide I want to pursue this, then he may take me on for a 'trial' - or, of course, once I know more about this, then I can discount it if it is not right for me.
As for my new job............ I got passed 'fit for work' by the occy health nurse on Monday so I will now be waiting for my letter of appointment before I hand in my resignation. This is a big gamble because this new post is only temporary until March 2013 (not for one full year as I was lead to believe), but it's working with adults - which will definitely help my back situation big time. However, my current job involving working with babies/toddlers (on the floor) is not possible for me any more because of my back problems and, to be fair, they have made lots of adjustments for me to return to work. I am very grateful for all their help and feel like a traitor getting this new job - it's almost as if they've had the very worst of me for 2 years and, now that I'm trying very hard to sort myself out (pain-wise), some other manager will get the benefit. My manager was not very happy about the new job when I told her, for obvious reasons. But sometimes you have to think of yourself and be totally selfish (because nobody else will).
Come September, when the new term begins and I already have a welfare meeting arranged, they will want me to resume ALL of my normal duties by then. But, when they get the occy health doctor's report, they will see that he states that if my present pain levels have not improved then they should consider all the adjustments to be permanent. I do feel they will then pull the plug on me and I will lose my job anyway, because they've been more than patient up till now. Taking this new temporary job, whilst it's only until March, still buys me 6 months more of paid employment and my Union man says it's a 'no brainer' and that I have no choice really but to accept it. I am keeping my fingers crossed that maybe I can make a good impression in the new job, build up some professional contacts, provide the training they want me to to lots of different departments, get great feedback and then, when they go for review in March, they will extend my employment even longer. Please G-d!!!!
I am due to see this lady on 9 August to fully go through the pro's and con's of the SCS device and will make a better informed decision then about it. If the SCS device reduces my pain and/or allows me to reduce my pain meds, then that has to be a good thing. At the moment, on the meds I'm on now, I wake up in the morning feeling worse than before and it's like I am ready for a nights' sleep. The quality of sleep I do have whilst it may be longer in length does NOT refresh me, like before. I need to have a clear head when I return to work (whatever job it might be).
As for my leg pain being sciatic and not S.I. pain, i don't know. The reason he said this is because I did not get enough improvement in pain from the diagnostic trial he did into the S.I. joint space, which he expected.
I am also due to see my surgical team at a different hospital on 8 August - so it'll be a busy week.
So that's where I'm at right now. If you've got any comments, I'd be interested to read them (about work, SCS machines, anything in general, good or bad, all comments would be welcome!).
I hope everyone is finding ways to relieve their chronic pain in some way and wish you ALL well.
PS - I'm loving the Olympics - COME ON TEAM GB!!!!
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 !!