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I feel so hopeless

Back in May, 4 months ago, I was in a really bad car accident and broke my L1 vertebrae. I'm pretty much missing half of it now.
I have 2 rods and 7 screws.
My hips and lower part of my rib cage always hurt so much and I wake up every morning in so much pain. My mattress is super soft, slept on a harder one last night didn't help much.
I'm a side sleeper, I can't fall asleep on my back at all, ever. Sleeping on my side causes more pain.

I'm only 25.
I don't make crazy amounts of money to buy a new mattress right now and I've tried everything, a pillow behind my back to keep me from rolling, one between my knees. I've tried a lot and nothing works.

Is the rest of my life going to be like this?


  • dilaurodilauro ConnecticutPosts: 9,842
    edited 09/05/2014 - 6:57 PM
    I tell so many members the same thing.

    If you are willing to work hard, never giving up and always keeping a positive outlook , then the rest of your life will be fine.

    If you do nothing, just sit back and have pity parties, then your future life can be as dark as it seems right now.

    The point I am trying to make is that in order to enjoy your life from today on, you need to make sure you do all
    the right things, follow the restrictions and requirements set out by your doctor. Then you go beyond that, but still
    in safe limitations. And every day you wake up, you say this is going to be a better day. You get out of bed, into the shower and see all the things you can still do.

    Don't let spinal problems/alignments/surgeries stop you from enjoying life....

    I also wont be foolish enough to say that be doing all of the above, is that going to eliminate your pain? NO....Will you still have some restrictions? YES But you can go forward.

    I'd love to hear back from you in a couple of months to see how you are doing..... I know you will be good, just believe in that.
    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
  • L333777LL333777 Posts: 109
    edited 09/06/2014 - 2:43 AM
    Hi Swoosh- I'm sorry that you are in so much pain. I was always a stomach sleeper. I couldn't fall asleep in any other position until I had my pregnancies & I had no choice once I got too big to sleep on my stomach. I then learned to sleep on my side, but on my back was out of the question. Of course, after my pregnancies, I could sleep on my stomach again, but when I hurt my back, I had to go back to sleeping on my side. Sometimes, I would wake up with my lower back & hips hurting, even though I slept on my side with a pillow between my knees. At that point, I had to learn to sleep sometimes on my back with a pillow under my knees. During the last few months before my surgery (8/28/14), there were an increasing number of mornings that I would wake up, after having slept on my side (with a pillow btwn my knees), that I would nearly collapse when I got out of bed, as the pain in my lower back & sciatic pain was so bad. A friend of mine suggested that I try sleeping with a pillow under my lower back & 2 pillows under my knees. That helped tremendously. Pre surgery, I still had a lot of pain when I first got vertical in the morning, but it wasn't so bad that I thought I would collapse or couldn't use my left leg for several minutes. I'll admit that sleeping on my back took some time to adjust to, but I was eventually able to do it. I think there were times that I was so tired, I could have fallen asleep standing up, so that may have helped me get used to it. I still prefer to sleep on my side, but I know I cannot do that all the time even after the surgery. Maybe you could try this suggestion, at first, when you are awake and reading or watching tv, just to get you used to the position. In any case, I hope you find something that helps with your pain.
    8/28/14 Discectomy, Laminectomy, Foraminotomy L5-S1
    9/15/15 Surgical Debridement of infected surgical incision & drain seroma; wound vac applied
    10/21/14 L5-S1 Osteomyelitis & Discitis; 10/23/14 Bone & Tissue Biopsy = MRSE
  • The rods and screws don't bend, and flex like our spines did before the surgery, so it is important to find a firm mattress. You may want to try putting a large sheet of plywood under your mattress to see if that helps to ease some of the pain.
  • Hi Swoosh,
    I had surgery in May also. Due to a couple of morons, I had to wait to have neck surgery for a year and a half. It was hellish nerve pain in both arms and shoulders. I felt like I had ants on my upper back at the base of my neck. They waited so long that I got stenosis in my spinal cord and now have hip and leg pain. I notice it is especially bad in the mornings. I just feel like I got hit by a train. I get three 7.5 hydrocodone a day and I try to ration myself so that the entire day is covered. If I could, I would probably double up on the hydrocodone and find real relief. Sometimes it seems like if a person can hit the pain with a baseball bat at first, then the rest of the day requires much less medication. I was hoping t not need any after my surgery and thought I would be fixed. NOPE. Six months to a year. Though your situation is different than mine, it seems like most doctors have a mantra of six months to a year for nerves to recover if they are going to! It's just so darn slow and it is very hard to leave an active pain-free life and find ourselves in this chronic pain situation. So many things change! But it is true that with every new victory of living life a little more normally, a person begins to feel a little better about life. I thought I would be walking my dogs by now. Disappointed. But I CAN drive them around and get a coffee to go with them! So we still have our outings, but things have changed FOR NOW. I HOPE that in a year, I will be more mobile and have less pain. I hope the doctors are right about six months to a year. But with every bit of improvement, there is more hope. It's just so darn slow with nerves. Hang in there. It's amazing how many of us are in similar situations. I get discouraged every so often, whine awhile, shed a tear, and then keep going. We don't have much choice. Sadly, I find that the hydrocodone helps me a lot. I didn't want to have to take it every again! But for now, it helps me function more normally and that is what I desire more than anything. We all want our old lives back! In time, I hope many of us can do that.
  • Since you were in a car wreck, you may be entitled to benefits from your or the other drivers auto insurance. I'm not one who likes to tell people to lawyer up, but there could be the opportunity to get a new bed and medical coverage you may need the rest of your life.

    Might be worth a try.

    Several Epidurals, L4-S1 360 ALIF, Numerous Facet Joint Injections, RFA x2
  • Ron is so right. After getting the post surgery pain under control I found that exersice helps alot. I had back surgery in 08 and now I'm having another fusion next month. I hope this is the last one cause I'm getting too old for this!!

    Had PLIF in 2008 and a Laminectomy. One level fusion, L4-L5.
  • I can sympathize with anyone who has had back surgery. I am new to this forum but can tell you, I have been through some pretty bad stuff. I was diagnosed with breast cancer at age 38 so had a bilateral mastectomy, got infections in my chest and went through more surgeries before I could finally start chemo. At age 41 I was having excruciating pain to my neck & low back- especially at night. I couldn't even turn over in bed without pain & could hear 'cracking' in my neck/skull. After more thorough testing, it was discovered that cancer had spread to my bones. 50% of my C1 vertebrae was consumed with cancer to the point the vertebrae were broken and unstable. Same for my L3, L4 & L5. My Neurosurgeon said one false move, and my skull could have popped right off my spine- that's how bad it was. I was rushed to emergency surgery where a cervical fusion was performed to stabilize my skull to my spine. One month later the same thing was done to my lumbar spine. Then I got infections to my lumbar spine and ended up in surgery again one month later. I was on IV antibiotics for 6 months. I was SO sick from all the treatment and lost 60 pounds in 5 months. I couldn't keep any food down and was so sick from the pain meds. It was horrible. This information I am sharing doesn't even cove half of the complications I have experienced since my diagnosis at age 38. I am now 44 and cancer has spread from my spine, to my right shoulder, right hip (acetabulum & SI joint)), left femur, and sternum (over my heart). I have been through lots of radiation treatments to these various places. My right hip is so full of cancer, I was told 2 years ago I need a total hip replacement, but that they can't give me one because there is no stable bone to put the screw into. They said I would end up in a wheelchair. But you know what? I continue to live every single one of my days walking and talking & I keep going. Looking at me, you would have no idea that I am sick/terminal. I have 3 little girls (6, 8 & 12) and a wonderful Husband who keep me strong & going. I am told my spinal tumors are growing slowly and I go for shots to try to slow the cancer down, but I live with pain every day. But I refuse to let this stop me. I keep the most positive attitude I can, and by the grace of God, I live each & every day to the best of my ability.
    Since my neck surgery, I am severely restricted in my range of motion- I can't really turn my head left or right and can't look up. But I have learned to live with it- what other choice do I have? My docs want me to take stronger pain medication but I refuse. My body seems to reject any narcotics and I end up so sick. So I take Excedrin & sometimes Flexeril for the neck/shoulder stiffness. I deal with pain every day- but again, I won't let it stop me. I want to live my life to the fullest while I can because that day might come when I can't walk, or can't drive, or worse.
    I can very much sympathize with anyone who has had this kind of pain!!! I wish you peace and hopefully resolution too. Stay strong and may you find some joy in each & every day!
  • You have been through a lot, maybe this is why you have empathy for all others who are dealing with pain, and difficulties in recovering from surgery. You sound like a strong person with a strong will to live. It is reassuring to know that you have a nice family and a wonderful husband to support you. I admire your positive attitude despite your adversities, keep on fighting and try to appreciate every moment, after all that is what life is all about. Wishing you the best,

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