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Hi There, Herniated L5/S1, left leg Radiculopathy

Hi everybody,

I came to this site because every time I looked up an issue, the answer always seemed to come from here.

I originally hurt my back, in 2011, while working at a gas station. The place changed the rules, that we could not dump our big industrial mop bucket outside. Instead, you had to take it to a laundry sink that was high off the floor, and as the night shift folks often worked alone, you had no help to lift it.
One night, when emptying the bucket, it started to slip from my grasp, and as it fell I twisted to catch it. I felt a large "POP!" in my lower back.... and my life was changed from that moment on.

My back pain would come and go at first, getting better, and then coming back on suddenly. This went on through 2011-most of 2012... but by the fall of '12 it was becoming more on than off. My doctor sent me to get an MRI and that is where they found a fully herniated L5/S1 disc. The kicker is, at the time of my diagnosis, I was only 29 years old.

I then began the maze of doctors. My regular family physician referred me to a neurosurgeon, I looked forward to the appointment, knowing that now a real plan to treat this was going to be put in place. I got to my appointment on time, they took me back, I waited in the treatment room for about an hour, when the nurse walked in and said "your insurance won't cover this visit... do you have $200.00? otherwise the doctor cannot see you today." I was crushed and in shock.... they should have told me this days, even weeks ago. I had been on a waiting list for over a month.... yet no one could have looked this up. I have extremely limited finances, so her asking for 200 may as well been asking for 2000... I told her I didn't have that much money, she then asked me to leave, I burst into tears and went home defeated.

My regular doctor was as puzzled and mad as I was... and quickly referred me to a new neurosurgeon, and got me rushed in to see him. This doctor was wonderful, he saw me, examined me... and set a course of treatment. He sent me to a Pain management/Spine specialist To carry out his treatment plan. I was to do ESI injections, and get on a course of medication to help my pain.

The first injection series was like a miracle... combined with the pain meds, I was myself again... I could clean, and bathe, and do laundry, and housework without having to sit down... or go crawl in the bed without pain. I had been out of work since march of 2013, and I thought... wow I can finally go back to work! Four weeks later. the shots wore off, and I went back in for another round... these were done differently (the first were TFESI, these were just ESI) I went back in over and over again trying the injections, but they helped nothing like that first round.

In the midst of this, it was discovered I had cervical cancer starting to grow, and so I had a hysterectomy this past march of 2014. My medication switched from being in the care of my PM doctor, to my Gynecologist, She thought I was being abysmally under medicated, and so upped my doses (went from two hydrocodone 5/325 a day... to 1-2 hydrocodone 5/325 every 4-6hours) I was still going to PM doctor for injections during this time though. I had a UA done during one of my injection appointments... and I still kick myself, my sample was not marked in any way, and they made me set it down next to another unmarked sample. It would come back to haunt me...

So my Gyno released me after healing well from my surgery, and I went to a follow up with my Neurosurgeon. At this point I have severe left leg radiculopathy, Below the knee I am so numb that I can't hardly wiggle my toes, above the knee is constant electrical fire. My doctor decided he wanted a Discogram to set up a surgical plan. No one told me what a Discogram was... my neuro just said it was a test. So I looked it up, and shivered at what it really was.

The day of the discogram (which was to be performed by my PM doctor) I was due to refill my medication. So before they took me back I asked doc about refilling my medicine. I then had the nurse come back in and tell me the exact following "The doctor won't refill your medicine because your last urine test showed you were positive for THC" I stopped her there, I know my rights on my contract (I have a right to retest before any action can be taken against me), and I know I didn't do any weed, or even know anyone who did it.. I said "That test is wrong, I haven't done anything, retest me, right here right now!" She replied "Well we would have to send it out, and that takes time... but since your other doctor is most likely going to do surgery, you would be going under him for your medication anyway" I then said "Even if my other doctor were to schedule me for surgery, that could be weeks from now. He does not do medications until during or after surgery..." she said "well we won't refill them... (she then smiled ear to ear as she walked out the door)...be back in a minute to take you in for your procedure!" They did that barbaric discogram on me... inflaming my pain to epic proportions, knowing I had nothing to make it stop.

I called my Neurosurgeon's office out of desperation, and the head nurse there told me it was patient abandonment. That it was against the law, and that I should go to the nearest ER. I did as she said, went to the ER, and the ER doctor told me the same, that it was patient abandonment... he also performed a blood drug test... which, surprise surprise! was clean as white linen. I see my Neurosurgeon tomorrow for test results, and my neurosurgeon also rushed me into a new PM doctor... I am glad at least one doctor is sticking up for me. And so here I am in limbo, waiting on the next steps in my back pain journey.


  • to not provide narcotics to a patient....while the urine test results may have been mistaken, no doctor is under any obligation to provide opiates to a patient, and especially when there is a failed urine screen. Most PM doctors do not allow for a retest, and even if they did , a month later or two weeks later may not show the same result as the first urine screen.
    It is important that any patient undergoing urine testing, make sure that the sample either has their name on it, or they hand it personally to the nurse and ensure that it is handled properly to avoid mixups.
    I am confused as to why your doctor would order a discogram for a herniation? A herniation is obvious on MRI and there is no need to find out if it is the pain generator, which is why the discogram is done and to check for tears in the annulus.
    Why on earth would your gyn take over your pain management? That is done by the pm doctor, and if you needed additional pain medication outside the hospital stay, it should have been handled by your PM doctor, not your gyn. She was out of her scope of practice to increase your meds for your back pain.
    THAT , coupled with the failed urine is most likely the reason that your PM refuses to write for narcotics at this point.


  • I had the discogram done to look for other pain generators..... which after monday, I was told not only my L5/S1 is completely trashed, but my L4/5 is also destroyed, and my L3/4 is significantly degenerated. Confirmed by the dye injected seen on CT scan. My PM doctor has a policy of only one doctor prescribing at a time.... The PM himself told me I had to go through my GYN during my surgical period, which I dutifully followed. My contract states "If my urine screening results come back showing any substance forbidden by this office. I have a right to retest, and no disciplinary actions (stopping narcotic medications) cannot occur until I have had a chance to retest and the new results seen" That was in my patient's rights section.... correct me if I am wrong.... but that is THEM breaking their contract..... Once again, my PM doctor has a one doctor prescribing policy.... and by my neurosurgeon doing that discogram they assumed I would be doing surgery immediately, on top of the drug screen results. I have been informed by a lawyer that what they did, not prescribing my medicine when I was clearly a cooperative patient, with a history of excellent compliance... is very much patient abandonment. when he took me on as a patient, his sole job was to treat my pain.... he did not.... therefore he abandoned me, and furthermore he abandoned me at a critical point of care.
  • of what your PM doctor meant by the gyn taking care of your pain post op........most PM practices have a policy that in the event of a surgery, the surgeon, ( in this case) the gyn is responsible for providing your ACUTE post op pain medications.....usually this is for the first 30 days or so, but your PM doctor is responsible for your CHRONIC pain medications. Under no circumstances should your gyn been treating you for chronic back pain.....nor should she/he increased your medications for that condition.
    What a lawyer tells you and what is actual patient abandonment are usually two different things. If I were you, I would attempt to resolve this situation without involving lawyers. It sounds more like a big misunderstanding on the parts of you and the PM doctor, than one that litigation is going to resolve. In fact, that may make things far more difficult .

  • TriXieGreeN06TTriXieGreeN06 Posts: 6
    edited 08/16/2014 - 6:00 AM
    quaterbunny I have no advice for you, I am just in amazement that we have almost identical problems. My L4-L5/L5-S1 are both herniated w/ protursion , Lumbar Ridiculapothy down my left leg (lyrica has brought my leg back to life) & I coulndt bathe, or do anything to take care of my new baby at the time. Then March of 2014 I too has a hysterectomy, well I had everything but my left ovary taken out. I am going to my first PM appointment tomorrow and I was naughty & smoked a little about 3 weeks ago & I am so scared they will not even see me before even starting PM. I have flushed & flushed but I dunno if it will work. I dont normally smoke MJ , I was sick from some stupid zanaflex & had pulled a muscle & caved in & smoked looking for relief, but it did not mix with my pain meds at all & I never wanted to do it again. I pray I am clean now. I never do anything bad with my meds, i dont sell, share or finish them too early. I dunno why you were treated like that but the office needs to take ownership for the way they treat patients & NOT labeling samples with you that once, probably is something that happens frequently & other people have probably been accused & mistreated by that office due to their error & someone needs to put checks & balances in place for that. I pray it all works out for you & I would still follow through with an attorney & pursue that PM office so they will NEVER [b EDITED
    ]someone over like that again. No doubt its not just you that been mistreated by them. Good Luck & prayers.

    Post edited by Sandi- the use of foul, obscene or vulgar language is NOT permitted on Spine Health.


    2 Herniated Disc L4-L5/L5-S1
    Lumbar Ridiculopathy
    Several Osteophytes
    Spinal Stenosis
    Degenerative Disc Disease
    and more...
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