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Using a wheelchair to help control pain levels? LOTS of questions!

MsHumptyDumptyMMsHumptyDumpty Posts: 1,567
edited 11/11/2012 - 6:03 PM in Chronic Pain
I don't want to do the what meds have you tried list - so lets just agree to say I have tried a LOT. For different reasons only 2 were/are effective even some what. The Fentanyl 75 every 48 hrs. patch & Oxy tabs 5 mg. I have been on this mix for aprox 2 1/2 yrs now with "decent" success.

fast forward..... not any more. I am allowed to take 8 tabs a day & use to take 5 or 6 - now days I always take the allowed 8 but pain levels still are often high enough I am left gasping in pain & unable to do anything.

So Dr & I have been talking. I am 50 yrs old and hopefully will live at least another 20+ yrs ;)

We both know that at some point I am in all probability looking at getting a pain pump (pp). However we both agree we want to hold off on that for "down the road".

We also agree that we don't want to keep increasing my pain meds (pm) & use up all my "wiggle room".

Back up for a minute. Last March I had both my knees replaced at the same time. Thanksgiving Day of 2010 I was walking across my living room floor & went down. Both my knees "blew out". I knew they were bad and needed replaced but kept playing the - some day - game. I was in a wheel chair from that day until I got my new knees in march of 2011 - aprox 4 months.

Present day - so now we are talking about me voluntary going into a wheel chair. The thought being to save me from the pain that just normal every day walking causes me. As well as (hopefully) save me from some wear & tear on my spine and joints (I need 2 new hips). My muscles are screaming out at me daily any more! It is like they are now too short for my body and most moves I make causes me great pain.

I have a few issues with the wheelchair subject.

1. Once I go into it I know I am there for life. I fully understand what my muscles will do, as well as I know how "comfy" I was in my chair those few months.

2. I feel like if I go into a chair now that I have given up the fight.

3. I feel bad, as SO many people fight to get OUT of a chair & here I am talking about going into on voluntary.

4. I feel like a fraud. I CAN walk!

5. I feel like I will be viewed as a fraud. example: I am out shopping & can't reach something so I stand up & get said item & then return to my chair = fraud!

I am very aware that most of my issues are from a emotional response. ;)

I really would appreciate your opinions about my concerns & the idea of using a wheel chair for pain control ???
L1 - S2 "gone" useless in 1 way or another. DDD. RA. Bone Spurs. Tons of nerve damage/issues. Stenosis. Both knees replaced. 50 yrs old. I had a great fall (hence my user name) at age 41 and it has been a domino effect every since.


  • LizLiz Posts: 7,832
    No need to feel guilty, I used a wheelchair for the very reason you are describing, wheelchairs are not just for the people that cannot walk, I have often seen people pushing their wheelchair while shopping alone, it just means that whenever they need to stop they have somewhere to sit as suddenly they could find it gets all to much.

    when I used my wheelchair more frequently it was to help with pain control too, as long as I walked in my home and whenever I could so as to keep my muscles working as my joints still need muscles for their protection.

    When I am out shopping with my daughter she will sometimes say, lets get a wheelchair mum so I can whizz you round much faster, she will add 'and it will make it easier for you' but I know what she means LOL

    It is in my opinion all about getting it right for yourself, not what others think, I know I am not a fraud and that is all that is important to me, it is about coping and getting a quality of life whatever it takes.

    Liz, Spine-health Moderator

    Spinal stenosis since 1995
    Lumber decompression surgery S1 L5-L3[1996]
    Cervical stenosis, so far avoided surgery
  • charryccharry Posts: 5,657
    edited 11/11/2012 - 9:51 PM
    I have a walker rollator with a seat and a basket for shopping under the seat. I would try that before the wheelchair. I also use a cane. I was really sore well am everyday but force myself after a couple of hours to take a short walk and go to arthritis aquafit class in a warm pool and am pain free for one hour in the water. I know some people have no choice to use a wheelchair but really its hard losing weight. Too bad you didn't live closer, I wish I had a swim or walk buddy from Spine Health like you as it\s easier having a partner to do things with.

    Maybe See if your Dr. will increase Fentanyl or add another med for pain like anti-inflammatory or muscle relaxant. I know it's a tough decision and I was even pondering getting a scooter myself. I know it's not easy. Take care. Charry
    DDD of lumbar spine with sciatica to left hip,leg and foot. L4-L5 posterior disc bulge with prominent facets, L5-S1 prominent facets with a posterior osteocartilaginous bar. Mild bilateral foraminal narrowing c-spine c4-c7 RN
  • MsHumptyDumptyMMsHumptyDumpty Posts: 1,567
    edited 11/12/2012 - 7:34 AM
    scooter/wheelchair equals pretty much the same to me. 1 insurance will pay for (I already have it) the scooter they won't. He can & will increase med(s) but the point is we don't want to run out of "wiggle room" too early in my life and be forced to go with PP before we have to - ya know?

    I have walked with a cane full time now about 4 yrs. I can't (hardly) walk without it. I do have a walker rollator with a seat & basket too. But getting it in & out of my car is hard on my back.

    anti-inflammatory or muscle relaxant we have done that med game from A to Z ....sigh I either get nasty side effects and/or so sleepy I have NO life. I do take Flexeral at bed time.

    charry yeah the weight thing does really concern me! I would want to lose some before going into the chair. I wish you & I lived closer too. OMG! A SH real life buddy would be awesome!!!! :) :) :)

    Liz - really? wow! Do people look at you when you get out of chair to reach for something? I know I know - I just think I will be worried people will think I am a faker....
    I can still walk in my home pretty well - I have our furniture set up that I am rarely out of a arms reach from something to grab on to lol ;) So yes I would stay wheelchair free at home.

    I guess this is a pride thing with me - worrying about what others will think :( Pride comes before a fall ;)

    Lots to think about... my thanks to both of you :)

    PS: also I would have to get chair out of car myself. So I do think that action alone would be hard on me.
    L1 - S2 "gone" useless in 1 way or another. DDD. RA. Bone Spurs. Tons of nerve damage/issues. Stenosis. Both knees replaced. 50 yrs old. I had a great fall (hence my user name) at age 41 and it has been a domino effect every since.
  • LizLiz Posts: 7,832
    I have used a wheelchair since 1995, also a cane since then too, since my early 40's. I have never heard or seen anyone make me feel uncomfortable or say I am a fraud, but if they did it would make no difference as the most important thing to me is to live my life as easily with as much fun as possible, whatever it takes to make that possible, but I realise we aren't all the same.

    Just tell people you can walk but find it difficult.

    Liz, Spine-health Moderator

    Spinal stenosis since 1995
    Lumber decompression surgery S1 L5-L3[1996]
    Cervical stenosis, so far avoided surgery
  • lstellerllsteller Posts: 1,428
    edited 11/12/2012 - 4:41 PM
    I can't imagine consigning myself to a wheelchair at 50 years of age. I do understand intense pain, believe me. Question: If you need new hips, why not get them done and see if that improves the pain in your legs? As my doctor and I have discussed, the fight for health is a battle every day. I'd hate to see you give in. I know the pain can be awful, but I think you're too young to throw in the towel.
    3 level spinal fusion, L3/4, L4/5, L5/S1, November 2008. Stiff, but I can walk.
  • Thanks Liz - yeah it's a "pride" thing - I don't want people to think I am a fake... I need to get over it! ;)

    Isteller - new hips can't happen for yrs now that hubby has dementia.....sigh I can't leave him unattended for that long & have turned over every rock I can to find help. I was suppose to get them done this winter :(

    Today my pain is so bad if someone said wheelchair would help I'd be thrilled to go into one ! We had a 40 degree drop in temp over night & I suspect that is behind this pain. I must do banking and 1 other errand today. Just want to go back to bed.

    Any ways back to subject pity break over ;)

    I know I feel the same way about doing this at age 50, BUT if going into a chair now safes my back and/or pain from getting worse sooner then it is something worth considering.

    L1 - S2 "gone" useless in 1 way or another. DDD. RA. Bone Spurs. Tons of nerve damage/issues. Stenosis. Both knees replaced. 50 yrs old. I had a great fall (hence my user name) at age 41 and it has been a domino effect every since.
  • lstellerllsteller Posts: 1,428
    edited 11/13/2012 - 2:44 PM
    you have circumstances that prevent you from taking care of yourself to the fullest extent. It's sad that women often put themselves last due to taking care of others, but I understand, it is what it is. I agree with you that it's the cold that really causes the spikes in pain. I've gone nearly all summer without much pain medication, but I've had at least one pain pill a day for about the last week due to the cold sinking into my bones (and freezing those rods and pins in my back!). I hope you can find some help to assist you and your DH. You definitely don't have an easy row to hoe.
    3 level spinal fusion, L3/4, L4/5, L5/S1, November 2008. Stiff, but I can walk.
  • BadbackrobBBadbackrob Posts: 42
    edited 11/13/2012 - 7:03 PM
    I'm really sorry to read your story. I've had 7 operations on my spine now (more steel in me than a modern car) and my pain continues. I'm on various medications, plus the patch (my one is 100mg) and I'm a 45 year old male. My 71 year old father has moved in with me (he has a steely type persona) and has also encouraged me to use a wheelchair when we go shopping.

    I refuse to, as its embarrassing to me (my legs still work, but my feet low up like a balloon some days). I use a walking stick when I walk anywhere, which isn't that useful in pain management. I only have reduced pain if I lie down. I've gone from having an active life and great career to being stuck at home most days due to pain. My last surgery was in September 2012 and it was to fuse L4 and L3. I've had L5-L4 fused previously and I'm also fused at C3-4 (I think, without reading the radio reports? This has been done twice). My surgeon advised that once you have a fusion, the areas above and below the fused area weaken over time and then that has to be fused also....

    My surgeon has suggested that I may need bolts inserted into my hips to support my spine next, depending how I go over the next 12 months, but, I'm hesitant.

    I really empathise with you about using a wheel chair. I struggle to walk sometimes, but, I guess with a steely resolve and gritted teeth, I walk and rest. I haven't had any surgery in my life, apart from the spinal drama that I now have. I'm also suing a surgeon, but, that's another story.

    If you can avoid using a wheel chair, then great. If you can't, then you can't.

    I'm really sorry again and I hope that one day, you feel a lot better.
    More titanium steel in me than a modern car.....
  • Ms. HD, you really should not consider what other people think, even though i know this is much easier said than done, but you have to do whats good for you. If a wheel chair will help you then go for it. Think of it this way maybe, use it on a part-time basis to start with? I wish you all the best!
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