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One Upping

So my close friends know about all about my spinal issues as they were the ones that took care of my family during my recovery ... but many of my new coworkers etc do not. I now look very normal (thank goodness! I know I'm lucky), but I still have restrictions (lifting etc.). Everyday (no seriously everyday) my back issues come up. I honestly don't like to discuss it because my recovery was very difficult and I don't like to relive it. Some times its people who either have back issues or has a close family/friend with back issues and are just looking for advice and support. They seek me out, and that's fine. It's so nice to give advise, to be a listening ear and to offer suggestions. And usually they just want to make a connection with someone that can understand and I welcome that. However way too many times I run into someone who I think literally tries to "one up" me and it drives me bonkers. I don't understand it. Yes, people have varying degrees of spine problems./pain... but it isn't a competition, or at least it isn't an event I want to participate in. When this happens I usually just try to smile and say hmmm... yeah... that sounds painful... but really I'm thinking, "what is wrong with you, what kind of person prides themselves with their medical issues, get away from me." They obviously don't know the extent of my problems, and even if they did/do, seriously it isn't a comparison. So I basically just try to smile/nod and leave. I know I'm not the only one here who has experienced this... I'd love to hear how you handle it. So basically, looking for some 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.


  • dilaurodilauro ConnecticutPosts: 9,842
    I get that way too often. Because we have chronic pain, most of the time we look normal. There isnt a clear sign of whats going on with us. Sure, when we are in a flare up, the limp, the extra slow walking, etc, but other than that we dont have a pain stamp plastered on our foreheads.

    Most people know I have had spinal problems since I was 25. But what is so strange is to hear when someone I know, family (not immediate) and friends talk when they have a back problem. Its like the end of the world. It could be a muscle strain or spasm (which can be painful) but they talk and tell everyone, that no one knows the type of pain they are in.

    I had one neighbor always talking about the two back surgeries he had. In fact with one surgery, he said that the doctor told him, they almost lost him and that he is lucky to ever walk again. Wasnt a fusion, wasnt a big lumbar surgery, but still any surgery is hard. In that same breathe listening to him tell us all the pain he is in, cant get up in the morning, difficult driving, etc... he was going on a hunting weekend up north hunting for elk. Talked about his tree stand for deer, how many miles he would be hiking, the gear he would be carrying. One minute he is almost a cripple, the next minute a semi superman.....

    Another neighbor, had a one day surgery on her back. My gosh, it came to be the end of the world. She told everyone how bad she was and that the doctors were amazed at how bad her back was , etc. (by the way, she was playing golf 3 days after her surgery)

    At a dinner party, she told everyone there how difficult it is to have spinal problems and that her surgery was so very difficult. She even went a step further and looked a me and said, you are lucky, because her surgery was so much more involved.

    In the beginning, I used to get mad, now all I do is laugh. Not at them, but too myself. No sense even getting into
    any argument with them. Most of the time, I just say to them Really, I guess back problems can be difficult
    Ron DiLauro Spine-Health System Administrator
    I am not a medical professional. I comment on personal experiences
    You can email me at: rdilauro@veritashealth.com
  • paininohioppaininohio Posts: 240
    edited 10/10/2013 - 2:00 AM
    I've been pretty lucky in that regard, the people I work with, the work they do, many of them have had neck/back surgeries and injuries, but I always ask them how they are, they tell me and out of mutual respect, they then ask me how I am. One guy was so funny, he came to the office to show off his stimulator and demonstrated how cool it was, and he was ready to go back to work. (heavy construction). Another guy had a 2 level neck fusion and was back to work in 3 months. Another guy had the same problems, but he was much older and he had to take a disability retirement. (Just for the record the 2 guys that went back to work were in their low to mid 20's and invincible - in their eyes). But I've never really had anyone try to one up me that I can remember, if i did I would probably just say the same thing you guys did.
  • I can't believe you know that many people with spine issues. I know one person with lower back pain who won't have surgery- they took away his narcotics when he declined surgery. I know another woman who had back surgery, went back to work and reinjured herself. And one person my husband works with had neck surgery a long time ago. I have nobody to "one up with" lol.
    MY husband loves to talk about his surgeries with coworkers and random people. If you talked with him you would probably think he is being competitive. He has never had spine surgery though, he just likes to talk about his medical hx. Some people are like that. I tell him be quiet, he can talk about that in his 80s. Me, I don't like to talk about it at all. I don't think anyone who hasn't been there understands. That is why I came here.
    I think by you xray, you would win the 'prize.'
  • Not really a "one up" but an older gentleman that I go to church with had back surgery last year and he and I kinda lean on one another talking about our pains and the such. My boss told me one day that the only problem I had is that I need new shoes.
    5 MRIs since 2010 | Severe DDD throughout entire Lumbar Region | Facet Arthrosis throughout | Spinal Canal Stenosis | Herniation L4/L5 | Broad - Based Bulging L1/L2, L2/3, L3/L4 - but still kicking - just not very high. :)
  • When my husband was 19 he had part of his lung removed.
    The young guy in the next bed croaked " hey mate, what are you in for?"
    My husband replied telling him he had part of his lung removed.
    The young guy said " you're lucky, I had my tonsils out "
    You've just gotta laugh!
    DDD. Married,Mum of 2, Age 45: 2007 & 2008 L5/S1 Discectomy
    April 2013 L5/S1 Anterior Fusion
    & L4/L5 Artificial Disc Replacement
  • Thanks everyone for your comments... and yes, I do know tons of people with back issues, mostly "mild". And Hybrid, that's pretty funny about the tonsils. But to be fair, your husband still has lungs left, that poor patient has no more tonsils... lol.
    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.
  • You said it all metal. You've just got to have a laugh.
    DDD. Married,Mum of 2, Age 45: 2007 & 2008 L5/S1 Discectomy
    April 2013 L5/S1 Anterior Fusion
    & L4/L5 Artificial Disc Replacement
  • mickkrmmickkr Posts: 166
    edited 10/12/2013 - 7:56 PM
    I suppose it all depends on what your life experience has been thus far.

    If you have never had surgery, then any surgery will be a massive life changing experience, whereas if you have undergone major surgery, or multiple surgeries then you will have a whole different perspective, just as a person in the third world whose life has been constant struggle for survival may puzzle over someone fortunate enough to live in the advanced world, griping over how long they had to wait at a supermarket checkout, for example.

    If you employ a third world maid (sorry, Home Help), bear this in mind when you pour your heart out hoping for sympathy!

    I'm not young enough to know everything - Oscar Wilde
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