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How do you cope?

I just wanted to reach out for some opinions:

what do you do when you are in a situation where your life gets turned upside down, having to deal with daily pain caused by and injury that never actually gets better. And all your told is that you must make sure you exercise daily, take your medications as prescribed, and try and get some decent sleep, what they seem to leave out is that your quality of life is gone, and now you are supposed to start a new one just like that. A new life that is full of sleepless nights, and having to watch your significant other struggle to have to pick up the slack for things that you used to be able to do, you can be looked down on by people who think your pulling this huge scam little do they know that you are trading your good life for this new life, also you cant leave out the social isolation that comes with your new life the only company you get is from absolute strangers because nobody comes around anymore.

How do you guys get back some form of Quality of life I feel like it is constantly taking, it has me so frustrated now a days, which leads to me being so irritated and angry. I wish there was even a little light at the end of the tunnel, I could use something positive everything seems to be a fight now a days.

I hope this gets easier someday.


  • I've been in chronic pain for 3 years. So far, the best therapy I've had is psychotherapy. I know it's taboo and not necessarily covered by insurance, but it has helped me more than anything so far. Being angry is not beneficial for you or those around you. My therapy has helped me sort out some of the reasons why the pain IS so bad. This can even be from your childhood that is unresolved, or your resentment with your spouse, etc. We all have stress from life and if you have chronic pain, it just makes it unbearable. If your insurance does cover this type of therapy, you have nothing to lose!
    2011 ACDF C5-6 for Spondylosis with Myleopathy
    2012 L4-5 herniated disc and hernated disc at C4/5 2013 Taking Amitriptyline for headaches
  • Hi Joey,

    I have to agree with Lili. I am glad that I see a therapist because it IS damn hard. Our qualities of life are compromised by the chronic pain, and it took me a long time to accept the cards I have been dealt. Do yourself a favor and give therapy a thought. It could be the best thing you do for yourself and your family.

  • You may be surprised by how much working with someone about these issues may help. There are the options to see someone one on one or possibly in a class like setting. You could learn meditation or some relaxation techniques which help your mind ignore the pain (somewhat). Have you talked to anyone on a regular basis? I've had sessions and have brought in my husband and then two sons, because this sort of pain effects the entire family.

    People very on their opinions about antidepressants but if your severely depressed, they may be the best tool in the drawer right now. I've suffered with depression my entire life but once chronic pain was added, its a whole new ball game.

    I also check into this website at least twice daily, this too is a form of support. No where else that I know of are you going to get to talk with as many people who are suffering just like we are.

    Would you mind, what causes your pain?
  • My pain was caused by a fall at work which lead me to over a half dozen epidurals, then to a discectomy, the pain just never got better, I am dealing with constant nerve pain and numbness and tingling down my left leg this has been going on for over a year and a half now, I am just feeling emotionally and physically drained.

    Also in regards to anti-depressants I am on two, and therapy I have my visit once a week I do my part trust me...... its hard to get a handle on depression when I cant seem to get a handle on the pain its a horrible cycle.
  • I had such a hard time when we changed my antidepressants this fall, she finally had me tested for low vitamin D. I guess that if this is low, the antidepressants will not work as well as they should. Have you had an overall physical lately?

    I wish there were an easy fix. I finally am now after ten years getting some relief from the spinal cord stimulator. I havent yet returned to work, so we will see how well it actually works then.
  • I have had intense pain for 7 years, it is getting a bit better for the first time, because my physio found the pain source is different from where my spine is crushed. She is now working on the disk and ribs above and it is giving me some relief.

    Yeah. Have done the psych thing and she just sat there and didn't try and work out the pain - she could see I was in pain and it wasn't in my head. Worked through some other stuff though.

    I've tried every therapy possible both Eastern and Western and none of them worked. Tried hypnosis - learnt it but they don't like using it for pain as they believe pain is your bodies way of telling you something is wrong. It's interesting Erickson promoted it because he had extreme back pain. Eventually I gave up on the battle not to get addicted to medication because I couldn't handle the pain. I found after long searching that if I took muscle relaxants and painkillers at the same time it worked. The strong painkillers by themselves didn't work. It took 6 years for someone to work this out. I've been to some dark places in my head, supposed to be character building??? Right?? When I'm really bad I try and distract myself in any way possible. Must have watched every movie that has ever been made.

    Pain sucks, you do lose friends, but you find out who your real friends are. I won't take anti depressants especially SSRI's. I'm allowed to be depressed. I eventually had to give up my job and my former life. It still really sucks. Laughing helps if you can because it makes your serotonin levels higher naturally.

    Trytophan also helps with sleep and it's natural.
    Sleep is really important and I take a low dose of amitryptaline for sleep which helps sometimes with the pain (it also can be an antidepressant), I do notice when I don't take it, but it helps me to sleep. It's not very strong but sleep is your bodies way of healing so you really need to get some sleep.

    I take everyday as it comes. I was a really active person. I have learnt not to be so hard on myself. Everything doesn't have to be perfect. If you read others stories on this site, there are people who must be in a whole lot of pain and I am sure some are worse than me. I'm not paralysed for a start.

    I won't give up trying to find an answer because I've had other pain during this time and it goes away, so I know it's not in my head. I also log into this site and it really helps. It's great to know I am not alone and I'm not ET.
  • Thanks for the advice I think that at this point any advice is good advice, and as for the Elavil (amittryptaline) I am at 200mg to even get to a point where I might be able to sleep, I find that sleep is hard to come by these days.
  • Just wanted to say Welcome. I agree with the advice above.... you expect the physical pain but you don't realize how emotional it all will be, and neither does family/friends. Hang in there and take some of this advice.
    33yo mom of two. My surgical history...preadolescence scoliosis, kyphosis, and a hot mess.... 5 spine surgeries and lots of items added I wasn't born with (titanium, peek, surgical steel). Guess cremation is out. TSA loves me.
  • Hi Joey,

    Welcome to Spine Health, I'm new here myself (1 week). I have found that the interaction with others with similar issues to be very helpful.

    I have had disc issues since I was 15, at age 40 I had three disc rupture simultaneously. I could not walk the next day and had my first spinal surgery within 24 hours. I was only married for 4 months when this occurred. Since then I have had 4 spinal surgeries, at least a dozen epidural and steroid injections, 4 scs implants and 3 RF treatments, also 2 cancer surgeries.
    I was able to work for about six years after the first surgery.

    I am 61 and other than my back problems and the constant pain, am in relatively good health. I have at times felt that I am useless and a burden to my wife (46) and daughter (20). There is no easy way to deal with this feeling, I do take an antidepressant and use a form of meditation but still feel inadequate. The best help I have found is in my family's strength and love. I am very fortunate with them as my support system. They understand my good and bad days, days when I can maybe help with laundry, cooking, dishes and very infrequently even vacuum. Also the days I can barely get to the bathroom on my own.

    They remind me that for six months I was in a hospital bed and spent a year in a wheelchair.

    Please talk to someone in your family about how you feel, help when you can where you can if you can. It's not easy and sometimes its hard to explain chronic pain to someone who hasn't experienced it.

    I guess to answer your question, one day at a time realizing that we really don't have much of a choice. My outlook on life has become that "I had a bad day once (the day I was injured) and it was no fun so all I have now is good ones !" Positive mental attitude , mind over matter; easy to say, hard to do when you are in so much plan; but we have to try; for our loved ones and ourselves.

    Good luck and better days.

  • Hi Joey - you must be in excruciating pain. Did the doctor tell you to take it 4 hours before you want to sleep?

    It didn't work for me at first either, and I actually went off it as I thought it wasn't doing anything but it must have a long uptake time and now I think it helps me sleep. I notice if I forget to take it.

    If you take that much Amitriptyline and still can't sleep I would talk to my MD and tell him. You have to sleep, it's really important to function and for your well being.

    Sleep deprivation is used in torture so that is how much it effects you.

    Maybe ask him for another medication for sleep. Some medications don't work on all people. Also check the contra indications of the medications you are taking. Your pharmacist should be able to do this because maybe the other meds are interfering with the Amitriptyline uptake.

    Look after yourself - do your own research - just try and get through everyday and distraction like movies does take your mind off the pain. The total distraction method works for me.
  • never worked for me. i was on 200mg each night a few hours before sleep and dont think they done a lot to be honest. if you feel your getting no help from your gp try someone else. do not accept the response that "you have to accept it" as an answer. i am still only half the person i was a year ago and am still struggling to overcome my problems. how do you cope? the truth is you probably don't cope. you just keep going. i can relate to everything you say. everyone gets things put in front of them at some time or another and its happening to us now. its very difficult to be a bystander of life and hugely frustrating but you have to keep going. if you do not think your surgery has helped then you have to consider further surgery. do not let your gp tell you that your situation is ok it is not. you owe it to yourself to fight for whatever is needed to get past your situation. keep going back to your gp and get them to refer you to a specialist, and if they do not give you help then ask for a different specialist. if you are still in constant pain it is not correct or acceptable. living in pain is a huge strain on you physically and mentally but you must not give in to it. what point are you currently at with your situation. i am 3 months post op and still struggling with my recovery after having years of pain which eventually resulted in microdiscectomy. if you can tell us some more about your timeline of your situation maybe you can get some reassurance from peoples past experiences. keep strong
  • I like your post and can relate. I will tell you my story briefly and what I found out today. I am 44. Had a large tumor removed from In side c3 c 4 and c5. That was in 2009. I have never ever felt the same since. Told me I would have to be on opioid therapy just to function . I bad the best neurosurgeon in the world thank God. I can walk. The drugs are tough a d always will be. My body metabolises them very fast. Two years later spondolelethesis l5/s1. Fusion. Keep in mind after the tumor surgery I have only been 75% of who a d what I used to be. The fusion took out another 10/15% of me for good. I suffer from severe pain and problems from my tumor. My emg says it all. For the past two years after the fusion I felt good for maybe 6 months. I use the term good very loosely. Now today we see my l4l5 is worse than the first spondg(sorry that is the hardest word to spell.). So I have to go through it again. Not me or any doc can tell you your pain levels and where they are at. I have finally come to ACCEPT my pain and reasons this has happened to me. At first I asked why for years. Let the fighting of the pain go. No one anywhere can tell you how long it will take for u to feel better. WE ARE ALL DIFFERENT... SO hanG IN there and I am always here cod you. God bless ..
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