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A new chapter, I am moving forward

At least part of my chronic pain will shortly be a thing of the past. Tuesday, December 3, 2013 I had surgery on my spine from L2-L5. Surgery is a trying experience and I am sure there are more challenges that I will have to face going through recovery. Many of my pain symptoms that are related to my lower back are gone. I have the normal surgical related pains. Hopefully with time and doing the right things, I will recover and get a large part of my life back. I still have neck issues and issues with my right shoulder. So I will still have chronic pain, just not the xx!@! that I have been going through in the past year as a result of my lower back problems.

So sometimes there can be light at the end of a chronic pain tunnel. My wish for everyone else that suffers much like me, that they can find the right medical help to get real solutions for their issues.

In one sense it is good that I am putting this one chapter behind me. My insurance just informed me that they are no longer covering the pain medications that I have been using in the past year. In all fairness to them, they did propose a different solution. I am glad to say that I don't have to care if the alternative would have worked. I think we should figure out as a chronic pain community a way to document changes to the medical care that we receive. Our documentation should be accurate, non-political, complete, as specific as legally possible so that we can put together a database to document our collective experiences. Let the data talk! I am sure there will be both good stories and bad stories. If people are getting treatment that previously folks were unable to get, that is a good thing and a large collection of data can tell that story much stronger than individual statement. Likewise, if there are those loosing care or aspects of their care, good data should be able to tell that story.

My thought that a forum structure is not the best format to collect that data. So I would suggest that people not start responding with that type of data. We need a way to collect the data and than analyze it. I can help with the analysis of the data, the collecting of data would be the hard part for me.


  • Congrats on your being past the worst part of surgery. Now just do all the things the surgeon has asked and hopefully your lumbar issues will be something of the distant past. Expect to have some set back, but that is okay, as long as you keep the positive attitude I am sure this will be all something of the distant past.

    I understanding as to what your saying with the data. But there are so many variables that go into that. For example the medication that has been helping you, may not have been helping me. Being that we are all unique individuals what works for one might not work for someone else as a method of treatment. While many of us are loosing things that were once covered by the insurance company, I am not really sure what can be done. Most insurance companies make decision based on financial reasons. For example my doctor prescribed a medication they thought would help me, but I was denied the medication and I quote I was to young for the medication. I think the bigger issue of concern to me, is the fact that a insurance company or anyone gets in the way of the doctor patient relationship. First off they except the doctor as a treating doctor, and the issue then becomes if you except and pay for the doctor, then the treatments they doctors order should be covered. Now if your going to a doctor the insurance company doesn't approve of, I could see that. I actually think the data that should be collected is the amount of prescribed treatments that are turned down by the insurance companies. Typically the people turning down payments for treatments are just paper pusher with no medical degrees whatsoever. While you can appeal and then it ends with a medical doctor looking at it, my issue is with a non medical person turning down treatment to begin with.

    You are correct the forum is not a place for collecting data. The sad thing is your insurance companies already own this data, but would never make any of public, of course unless it was under some type of court, process.

    Anyway congrats on being on the other side, and keep up the good work, and the positive attitude.
  • Great news
    May God contunue to bless you with a quick recovery and complete healing
    And thank you from the bottom of my heart for your Service to our Country.

    I admire you and send you thanks and hugs

  • Congratulation on coming out the other side, and I , for one , hope that things continue to improve for you after all of this. I also agree with both of what you and Tamtam had to say.
    I think that we all will find that some things that our doctors think should be part of our ongoing treatment are going to disallowed by our various insurance companies and the decision making process should be left between our caregivers, and ourselves, not necessarily to the whims of any insurance company, unfortunately, I am not sure how to accomplish putting our healthcare back into the hands of the physicians we pay to do that.
    Financial concerns on the part of the insurance companies and stockholders are paramount it seems........
  • Hi Jim hope this works for you and you can move on. Being realist about collecting data I have written surveys for Defence and in truth they are an art in themselves, and need good protocol, if you want to extract useful information and a good survey takes an enormous amount of time to put together if it will be any use. You also have to decide at the beginning what type of data you need i.e failed spine surgery against successful spine surgery eic.

    If the survey is well written with the outcomes you want to assess in mind - then the data analysis and extraction is easy. I think one of the only ways you could get someone interested is to look at a University or Med student who is interested in spine research. Survey's used to have about a 5% response rate so that is difficult as well. I find it interesting that there are many charities for paraplegia and quadraplegia but don't seem to be any for people who are disabled from spine but can still walk - in Australia at least.

    So I'm happy you are moving forward and thinking of ways you can help so don't mean to put a dampener on your idea - but the practicalities of surveys are extremely complex. If profit is involved data can be easily skewed to get the outcome the company requires - it is about how you ask the questions. Great idea Jim, just stating some of the practicalities involved, but hey if we have been through this we are strong determined people so there has to be a way to implement the idea.
  • I want to thank everyone for the encouragement. I am continuing to make good progress, but also am having to be more realistic about my recover timeline. I was a bit over optimistic, that is just one of my traits. I hope to start back to work sometime in January.

    I like the idea of a survey. I also thought it might be helpful to set up a form that can ask appropriate questions and collect the data. I am not in a position to drive that part. I can help with the analysis since a large part of what I do professionally is work on pre-sales technical tools that are used to analyze big data. I understand the technology and also have a data science background.

    I know the insurance companies do collect much of the data that could support the question that I raised above. The issue is if I have insurance A and I switch to insurance B, how do I put this together. With the new Affordable Care Act there are a number of people going through a major change in how they are covered. At lease for the next year, most people will keep their employee provided health insurance. I know that I am. However, there are changes into what and how things are covered.

    Maybe we can approach the an insurance industry trade organization and get them to help out. I think getting the right data and getting good answers to the questions that we raised are in the best interest of insurance companies as well as those of us in the chronic pain community.

    At least these thoughts are the best that my drug impacted brain can come up with. I certainly am not firing my thoughts on all cylinders. I was watching a news program two days ago, and a vision of my wife's face showed up in one of those boxes for a media pundit. I know it was not her. I will be happy to get to some meds that are a little less potent.
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