Here is my story:
I hurt my back on the job in June of 2008. Classic symptoms - Lower back pain radiating across the back and down the left leg to my toes; Burning / aching pain constantly; Leg weakness. Went through the standard Worker's Comp mess of seeing doctors who where in the insurance company's back pocket. Was told that I had a herniated disk at L5-S1. Took almost a year to even get into physical therapy. Due to my pain level, PT discharged me stating that I had made little to no progress, despite putting forth effort to complete all exercises (their words in their written report). Doctor reported to the insurance company that I was at MMI (maximum medical improvement) at that time. After months of being in pain, thinking I would get no better, I went back to him to get a referral to a pain management dr. He told me he WAS pain management and said "I guess I didn't do so good of a job huh?"
At that point I retained an attorney, and petitioned the Industrial Commission to see another doctor (and won). I started seeing a Physiatrist that specializes in pain management for back issues. After numerous ESI's that did nothing but make me hungry, pain meds (to up to and including Morphine 120mg per day which was useless) and PT for 10 weeks, I was referred to a surgeon to see if I was a candidate for a SCS. Now, understand that this surgeon has a reputation of fixing patients and getting them back to work ASAP. The surgeon explained to me that I was experiencing two different issues. The mechanical issue of my back - L3-L4 and L4-L5 severely degenerated and L5-S1 herniated and affecting the Sciatic Nerve Root on my left side. The Neuropathic issue in my left leg and foot resulting from several years of the nerve root being compressed (which has most likely led to some extent of permanent damage). He told me that the fix for my back's mechanical issue was a three level fusion (L3-S1), and that it alleviate my back pain but would likely not change my leg pain. Since my pain is worse in my leg than my back, he suggested that I try the SCS for pain relief. I had the psychological eval and evidently passed as my trial was scheduled. I loved it...I had an immediate pain decrease of about 70%. So, six weeks later I had the permanent SCS implanted and was at a 70-80% pain reduction for almost a year and a half.
Several months ago, the pain in my leg started becoming stronger than the stimulation sensation. I had Vicodin for break-through pain, but it never really did much. My original pain management doc had moved out of state, so I went to the same clinic but saw his replacement. Nice guy, but I feel like I am starting over, as he gave me a Z-pac and said he wanted to try injections again. Then maybe a CT scan to see if things in my back have changed. So, I go back next week to let him know I am NOT taking any more shots since the other four I have had did nothing, so we need to move on to the CT scan.
Ok...enough back story - now to my question. I am already under restrictions of sedentary work only, no lifting over 20 pounds, and no repeated flexion or extension of lower back. I can not sit or stand for any length of time, and if I walk more than about 45 minutes, I am so nauseous I can't stand it. I am wondering if anyone out there has had a three level fusion like the surgeon described, and, if so, how has it limited your mobility and ability to perform the daily functions of living? I already have to have my wife do anything that involves any point below my knees as I can't bend to get there (shoes & socks, showering, etc.) Also, what medicines are commonly used in a pain pump, and how do they effect your cognition?
Sorry this was long, and thanks in advance for your input.