Welcome, Friend!

It looks like you're new here. If you want to get involved, click one of these buttons!

Veritas-Health LLC has recently released patient forums to our Arthritis-Health web site.

Please visit http://www.arthritis-health.com/forum

There are several patient story videos on Spine-Health that talk about Arthritis. Search on Patient stories
Protect anonymity
We strongly suggest that members do not include their email addresses. Once that is published , your email address is available to anyone on the internet , including hackers.

All discussions and comments that contain an external URL will be automatically moved to the spam queue. No external URL pointing to a medical web site is permitted. Forum rules also indicate that you need prior moderator approval. If you are going to post an external URL, contact one of the moderators to get their approval.
Attention New Members
Your initial discussion or comment automatically is sent to a moderator's approval queue before it can be published.
There are no medical professionals on this forum side of the site. Therefore, no one is capable or permitted to provide any type of medical advice.
This includes any analysis, interpretation, or advice based on any diagnostic test

Let's talk feelings

Winch526WWinch526 Ottawa, Ontario, CanadaPosts: 13
edited 01/11/2016 - 8:26 AM in Depression and Coping

I've chimed in on another couple of threads, but wanted to start a new conversation here.

Realizing that we all have completely different injuries that share some common attributes, I wanted to move away from discussing our actual injuries and talk more about how chronic pain makes us feel.

I'll get us started.

I've been dealing with lower back pain since about 2002. There wasn't a particular injury, but being a military member basically just caused wear and tear over the years. I noticed a real change around 2009, when I had my first real flare up. Ever since then, I find that anytime I do anything slightly rigorous, I would feel the tension the next day and occasionally, it would be debilitating.

I'm a pretty fit guy (or at least I used to be). I always loved running, and I used to run anywhere from 10-15km at a time. Admittedly, I wasn't always the best at stretching before or after my runs. My inability to bounce back after each run started to get me down. Running was really my favorite way of keeping in shape, and I was pretty against giving it up. A lot of my problems might be attributed to pushing through runs when I probably shouldn't have, and also not stretching properly. All this to say that as my back pain started getting worse and worse, I started to feel crappier about not being able to do the activities I loved.

I have two small kids. As some of you may know, they require a lot of picking up, moving around, bending over, etc. As they get older, you want to be able to play with them, roughly at times. I was starting to notice that I would get back pain during any sort of rough play. Sometimes, the day after I would have assembled a dresser, played some games, moved some stuff around their rooms, carrying them for a long time, etc, I would be very tight and sore.

Blah blah blah....I'm sure this is stuff that everyone has experienced.

But I'm really finding my mood is starting to be affected. I've had a couple of nasty flare ups that have left me on the couch for a few days, heavily medicated with percocet and flexerol. I would lay there watching my wife try and get the kids ready for school, do the house work, take out the trash, make dinner, and other such physical things. When I watch this happening around me, I feel completely useless. Here I am, a 34 year old military member with a strong sense of duty and initiative, and I can't even help my wife get our kids dressed. You can imagine that this starts to weigh on your mind.

The hard part too is that my wife has issues of her own. She has emotional issues, she has headaches, insommnia, stomach pain and other such things. None of them, in my opinion, are as severe as when I have my flare ups that completely keep me on my back. But it does add problems of sympathy or empathy. I think after 8 years of marriage and two kids, we don't really have much time to give each other empathy anymore. I nod and offer a little pat on the back when she complains about her issues, and she gives me the old "well, that's too bad" when I complain about my back. I really don't think she understands how bad it gets sometimes. I think at times she likes to think that I'm just being lazy, the way you might see in a sitcom about the Dad that throws his back. In one scene he's on the couch moaning, but when everyone leaves the room he gets up, does a little dance, and sneaks a cookie. That lack of empathy really gets to me sometimes.

I also have a sense of hopelessness. Let's talk treatments. So far, I've had a chiropractor try and help, a three separate physiotherapists in three different cities apply manipulation, dry needling, racking, acupuncture, ultrasound therapy, stretches and heat. I've had a fitness specialist provide me with a detailed exercise regimen designed to build up my core and increase my flexibility. I've had a physiatrist (yes, a physiatrist, I didn't know what it was either, but apparently it's like a sports medicine doctor who can assist with pain management) prescribe me any quantity of percocet and muscle relaxants I'd like. Nothing has given me long term relief.

Recently, after three months without pain relief and three months of undertaking the physical training program, I was starting to feel like I was making progress. I no longer had any real pain in my lower back while stationary or sitting at my desk. I was doing deep stretching and foam rolling every single day, and although my legs would get sore from the PT, I did not feel tight in my back. I felt so good, in fact, that on an unusually warm Christmas Eve, I decided to try a short run. I was told by my trainer that as I regained flexibility and core strength, evetually we would re-introduce running since I loved it so much. I was feeling so good that day that I went ahead and ran without any approval. I ran the slowest 5 km in my life, walked for about half of it, every conscious not to go overboard. I stretched extensively both before and after. I rested and applied heat. The night of 25 December, I reached over to pick up a a light object off of the floor, and my lower left back tweaked and knocked me to my knees. I was barely able to stand up, and still had to walk for 10 mins to get home. I could barely do it and I almost called a cab since it was late and everyone at my house was asleep. The next day I was unable to move. The following day I had to report to the ER (as the military hospital was closed on Sundays) and received a shot of anti-inflammatory, and a small prescription for percocet and flexerol.

Once I was able to move again, and after a road trip to see my family, I returned home to a snow covered driveway. I know what you're thinking: "Nooo, don't do it!!" But I had to. I had to contribute to the household and shovelling was always my job. After about 5 mins I tried to lift the scoop and again in the exact same spot, it tweaked again. I threw my back twice in a one week period.

Of all of the times I felt low or blue about my feeling of uselessness, this felt much worse. How could I have been feeling so good, with some optimism that this was going to get fixed, and then without any warning suffer two of the worst flare ups I had ever experienced. The pain I felt was 10/10 and the worst it ever was before. I actually think I might have damaged the disk on that side of my back but I won't know until I get some X-Rays and possibly an MRI in February. I've been on narcotics since then and although I have full movement when I am on them, as soon as they wear off I can feel it getting tight and sore again in that same spot.

I feel very depressed now. I can't see how I will ever be back to normal again. I'm 34, and this is only likely to get worse as time goes on. I feel like I'm 80 years old. I know I'll snap out of the rut eventually, but right now I want to give up. I want to eat everything I see, I want to lie in bed all day, and I have 0 motivation to be a good employee, father or husband. Funny thing is, hugs from my kids are the only thing that makes me happy these last few days.

What am I looking to get out of this? Well I don't want pity, and I don't want advice. I just want to vent and hopefully see posts from others that are in the same or similar situation. I'd like to know it gets better, and if it doesn't how some of you have managed to still have fulfilling lives with chronic pain. Right now I feel like my kids and wife would be better off without me. She should leave me and go find someone else that is fit and filled with energy. My kids deserve a Dad that can play with them, run around with them, and pick them up without injuring themselves. I wouldn't blame her if she left but I know she won't.

If you stuck this out and read the whole thing I thank you. I know it's hard to find time to do that so I appreciate it.

Hopefully I'll find one or two people who have a similar story and I'll have someone to start sharing my feelings with. I live in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada by the way.



  • Hi there, I have read all your post. Your right, everyone has different injuries but what unites us, I believe, is hope. Reading other people's posts and hoping that they have had a good outcome, I believe, draws us to these forums. Wanting to know we can be 'fixed' at the end of all this pain and worry.
    (I'm suffering from a herniated c5/6 and c6/7 disc with left sided nerve pain. Suffering for about a year , which has been dibilitating since July 2015)
    I am not in the military but was a military dependant all my childhood and into my adult life as my husband was a serving member of the British armed forces. In a lot of ways this has made me the person I am today. It's made me independent, strong and above all hopeful. Qualities that the military thrive on.
    I work for the U.K postal service, my job is very repetitive and extremely active. I so much want to return to work as I love my job and find it very rewarding.
    Like yourself I am into sport in a big way, before this injury, I enjoyed road running and was representing GB at 70:3 and ironman triathlons. As a part time job/hobby, I am a qualified personal trainer/running and triathlon coach.
    Now to the point, my feelings and how I'm coping....
    The first time I realised something was really wrong , I was stood beside a river in a wetsuit about to start a triathlon. I was thinking 'My neck and shoulder is really painful, do I really think I can start, never mind finish this race,don't be stupid, don't do it'. The 'will' was there but the pain was stronger. I didn't race that day and felt guilty and mad with myself for not doing it.
    From then the pain got worse and to cut a long story short, I got a diagnosis and started meds and treatment.
    Work has been difficult to deal with, they think a week off with rest or 'light duties' for a couple of weeks is enough and your fixed. Ive felt pressured into returning to work with dire consequences, I'm now worse than I was to start with, as I felt pressured to return to full duties and over Christmas, we get extremely busy.
    I'm now off work completely and have been instructed by my care team that I won't be returning for a while. It's finally made me realise that this is possibly life changing. I'm angry about this at the moment but channeling this energy into more productive things.(see further down)
    I'm trying to maintain a normal family life and with the help of a cleaner coming once a week, I'm keeping on top of daily chores.( they take me such a long time to do though) I had to to learn to use my other hand to iron etc.
    My boys (18 and 12) think it's hilarious as the meds I'm on (Zapain,robaxin and gabapentin) make me really chilled and they seem to want to spend more time with me, which I have been loving.
    I do get down when I think of the future but try not to dwell on this because I don't know what the outcome will be yet and am still hopeful.
    My husband is also in sport and represents GB at triathlon and because I can't do, I try and support him, wherever I can and able to.
    like most atheletes, my husband understand what been injured means and is very supportive and understanding. My friends from my running club are also great and one of them picks me up and takes me to club night. I can't run obviously but we have a walking group. This weekly outing keeps me sane.
    My other coping strategy is again around sport, I never seemed to have time to coach when I was competing. Now with this huge gap in my life I have been able to dedicate more time to my coaching. Though my atheletes I've been able to share my passion and carry on something that is a big part of my life. It keeps the demons in my head at bay.
    The one thing that really gets to me is friends asking 'how you are?' British etiquette would be to say 'I'm fine' or 'I'm getting there', when really you want to be truthful and scream ' how the hell would you feel, if you were in this much pain?' However typical British stiff upper lip prevails lol
    Sorry this has been a long post but it feels good to 'talk'
  • I am so glad you started this thread. It is what every one in chronic pain needs. I am new to this forum, and not great with the computer, so I apologize in advance for that :) I recently had and MRI for symptom progression. Not only the results have me feeling down and perplexed, but really looking at my life because aside from my husband, there is not one person in the world who cared enough about me to know that I was more hurt, or wanted to hear the results, etc. My back issues are old news, a new MRI, a deepening disability, loosing more function just doesn't affect them.

    But, enough of that. I want to move on to figure out what a new "normal" will look like.

    It seems to be a common thing to plow through, in the hopes of retaining all the things in life that make our lives what they are. And in the process, doing more damage and moving farther away, not closer to what we used to be.

    One thing I am no longer confused about is that the medical community will not be the place to find these kinds of answers!
    My injuries started at work. I am a pediatric nurse, who ended up being one of only two people trying to move a 500 lbs woman. That blew the first 2 discs in my neck. Then 2 episodes of a twist, bend ,lift maneuver that were 6 months apart that blew out the lower 3 thoracic and L23. So at first it was a work comp issue. Through my own naivety, I believed Occupational health was there to help employees be healthy, and was perfectly satisfied with all the reassurances that would let me get back to the job I loved.

    Next I fell off a cliff. There was a death in the family and I inherited 3 young children. I wanted to get them away for fun that first mother's day, so we went hiking on Lake Superior. This was my first MRI. Ironically,my supervisor at work sent me to the ER, who said "do not come back until you have had an MRI. Of course , my primary MD wasn't available, so I saw a NP, who was rude and intimidated by the fact that I was already on pain meds. She reluctantly ordered the requested MRI, but never any X-ray or CT. I recently learned that you need that to diagnose fractures. I have since had 2 consults who ask about the old healed fractures. Instead she ordered a "spine boot camp". A program of extreme excersize. They said only the best, motivated people that want to heal will complete it. I certainly was that. I refused to quit. They kicked me out 75% of the way through,saying "it was doing more harm than good" It was. My neck went out the very first day, It aggravated that fracture(T5), and made T9=12 so much worse that it took a 2 month course of steroids before I could stand upright again.

    At this point the Occ. MD., in charge of the boot camp, diagnose me with fibro. Not knowing about the break, or considering how much pressure all that movement put on the cord, he didn't want to blame his "new " 3 million dollar program, or mess up his great data. He also didn't take into consideration that I was grieving a death, and the loss of my beloved profession, he saw tears of frustration and outrage and assumed I was depressed and that fibro diagnosis has only added to the confusion.
    A rehab specialist said all he could offer was a breast reduction, a second one said it was all about my posture, The residual function tests went over what I could do, but no answers as to what was safe to do.
    I thought being a nurse, that I knew how to manage chronic pain. Go slow. Make modifications, Stay positive, be grateful, live each day, and I do that. But gardening makes me worse, blueberry picking took out more discs, I also have scoliosis , arthritis and facet hypertrophy at many levels. I only have 4 areas left in my entire spine that doesn't have something pushing on a spinal nerve or the cord. This last one took out the use of my right arm. The daily pain isn't even as bad for me as the daily struggle with trying to just get basic needs taken care of. And yet to find some way to meet daily needs, have a little fun.....and not hurt something else.

    I didn't think my post would be so long either. If you stuck with it, thank you! To the post above me, coaching sounds like a great solution for you....congrats! I would love to hear how others manage to go on with their lives and not become hopeless or discouraged.

    Thank you! Jen
  • dilaurodilauro ConnecticutPosts: 9,848
    edited 01/11/2016 - 8:28 AM
    to a category that is more appropriate for it.

    I think this is a very valuable discussion and the more people that get involved the better.

    I will be moving it to: http://www.spine-health.com/forum/mind-body-and-spirit/depression-and-coping/lets-talk-feelings

    If we get enough activity on this thread, I might make this a sticky thread to make it easier for everyone to see it.

    Winch526, thanks for starting this and thanks for everyone elses input.
    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
  • Its good to hear from the side of the pain. I hope you don't mind, I have a question. You mention that you would like more empathy, this is something my husband has said as well. I'm not sure how ya'll would like that displayed. My husband has asked me for more compassion as well, and outside of rubbing his back an hour every night, caring for the children, making sure the house is kept up, taking on all the chores and financials in our life. I'm not sure how else to show that empathy.

    This is not meant to be un-empathetic, I do get he / you are in a lot of pain - I truly am just looking for what ya'll need to "feel" our support. I think as spouses, we really don't know what to do to make ya'll feel you have our support.

    Merideth Evans
  • SavageSavage United StatesPosts: 5,427
    Using the search on this site, upper right on page, you might find it helpful to read....a letter to normals, written by someone in chronic pain.
    And also the spoon theory. It may be under how I discovered the spoon theory.

    Those were a couple of posts that helped me to put into words what would be helpful to me.
    I would not use the exact words with my people, but the concepts, so I'd tweak it to my individual needs and personality.
    May sound silly, but I had to learn not only to ask for help, but what I needed.

    As I explained to my close friends and family, they were able to see things differently...like.."I never thought of that."
    In fact, couple of them will even ask me if I have enough "spoons" to do...whatever. :)

    You may find it helpful as you hear from these posts of chronic pain members...the needs and or description of their situation, that they were able to put into words.

    Personally, I also ask my family and friends to keep me in the loop.
    I like to talk to them, without mentioning my pain, and hear what is up in their lives. Ex...how are the kids, work, their health, hobbies...

    Some of my people have mentioned they hate to complain to me because of my chronic pain condition.
    I have reassured them and actually encourage them to share their difficulties, struggles,..their life with me.
    Often times they tell me they appreciate my input, or perspective, understanding, encouragement......

    Of course, that helps me to feel useful....sharing lives with others.

    Spine-Health Moderator
    Please read my medical history at: Medical History

  • Lily2014LLily2014 Posts: 84
    edited 01/12/2016 - 5:30 PM
    I have read all of your posts and there is so much which probably resonates with so many of us. The depression, guilt, helplessness etc eat away at you over the years and it is extremely difficult to try and remain positive and get through each day.

    This may be of no help...but I will say anyway. I can't imagine what it must be like to have kids which you'd like to play with, pick up etc but can't. But, I know that as a young woman without kids, I fear never being able to actually have them. I've worried for years about whether I could have children and after many discussions with my Dr's , I know that I will be taking a big risk if I ever get pregnant. By doing so, I may cause irreparable damage to my back. What I am trying to say is that I would do anything to be in the situation you are in where you have children and have had back problems after having them. I'm not in any way trying to take away from the difficulties you have with your children, but if hugging them brings you joy, hug them everyday as much as you can.

    It also seems to me that one of the worst feelings which we all experience is fear. Back problems seem to flare up out of the blue, just when you think you have it under control. I read something somewhere on this site which talked about how to cope with back problems. It has stuck in my head. It said that the first thing you should always remember is thay you've had back pain/surgery/herniation etc. Now this doesn't take away from your problems, but it helps you to live a life which is mindful (but not ruled by) of your weaknesses. I think I've come to expect that I will always have some type of back pain which could at any moment flare up and leave me on my back for weeks. By living life as best as I can, but being mindful and always remembering this, it helps to reduce the fear of what might happen and the disappointment/upset when things go wrong.

    In terms of empathy, it's so hard. I put another post up about helping others to understand and I'm not sure I've got a clue really how to encourage empathy from others. I've sent the 'letter to Normals' to important people in my life and it's helped some of them to understand the nature of chronic pain. In terms of showing empathy, I think it's about trying to understand how it feels to the person in chronic pain. It's more than doing the physical things. It's about understanding the feelings which come with it - the guilt of watching your partner do all the chores, disappointment of feeling lazy, desperation of being in pain all day/not getting sleep etc, fear of being told there is no cure or way of fixing it. I think that to be able to "feel" empathy, it's helpful to feel that someone wants to and tries hard to understand. The one thing which people keep reiterating is that it is about communication between people. By asking how someone feels, talking about how you feel and learning what triggers negative feelings, I believe as a spouse, family member, or friend you will have a better chance of empathising with someone with chronic pain. To be honest MEvans, the fact that as a spouse you are on this website and trying to understand how to help your other half, you are head and shoulders above a lot of people and obviously really care and want to help. I think your motivation to show support is the most helpful thing you can have and your partner is very lucky that you are so willing to help.
  • I go into the office every day for 2.5 hours, then work from home. I am hyperventilating by the time I leave and have a bad headache. I used to breakdown by the time I got home. I fear that I might get laid off if my performance drops, but so far, I am doing OK. I feel like I have been discriminated against a couple of times already by my company, which didn't promote me. I am becoming a recluse at home and at work, preferring not to speak very often. At home, I am worried about my family and that my wife picks usp too many household chores; also, I haven't been good at discipling my children, as I have a real fear of confrontation. My back tightens up, so I leave that to my wife and I think she hates me for it. Has anyone dealt successfully with these thoughts? Help would be appreciated.
  • gfishggfish Pittsburgh PAPosts: 158
    edited 02/03/2016 - 4:07 AM
    Its not that i'm a cry baby at all. But with any back issues it hurts and drains you mentally and physically. Especially if you had any procedure done or with hardware. All I hear from my family is, suck it up, whats the problem, whats taking so long, shouldn't you be better by now, when are you going back to work, So and so had this done and is fine. I could scream! Just once I would like someone to say..Hey, want to talk to me about it. It wold be nice. Because some of us don't have any answers. Or don't know what the future will be like. Depression can easily set in on a person. We are still the same person, And still have feelings.
    Greg fisher
  • SavageSavage United StatesPosts: 5,427
    It may interest you to read some of the previous, and or current threads, about relationships while in chronic pain.

    You should be able to find by using the search on this site, upper right on page.
    Spine-Health Moderator
    Please read my medical history at: Medical History

  • Winch526WWinch526 Ottawa, Ontario, CanadaPosts: 13

    I admit, I checked back a few times after I posted this and there were no answers, so I've been delinquent in replying. Sorry!!

    I'm so impressed with the honesty you've all shown and truly can't wait to keep sharing so I can keep reading replies!

    There was a lot of discussion around empathy, sympathy, or maybe a combination of the two. What is it I need? Let me first say that some of your spouses seem way more giving than mine. It's not that she's unkind, but I really think that in her head, she's got enough problems to deal with and just doesn't have for me. I'm not needy, but the occasional offer to grab a heat pack, take a bath, etc would be really helpful so that at least I know she cares if I'm better or not. 

    I recently discovered a support group for chronic pain sufferers in Ottawa which I'm going to try and attend. I think it will help. But I still like this format too because it's anonymous and international!! It's cool to compare health care in our different countries. 

    On a positive note, I've made a few mental decisions the last few weeks. I decided to stop dwelling so much because I'm all honesty, a flare up will come whether I'm positive or negative (whether I'm being inactive or active) and I can't predict it. I might as well get involved with my kids, take part in activities, and see what happens.

    I started shooting hoops at the Y when my kids are in their programs instead of sitting and looking at Facebook. It's not intense, but it's activity. When I'm leading my son's Beaver colony, I'm starting to join in the games instead of sitting off barking things at them. Again, more moving around.

    I've been at the gym 8 times in 10 days and it feels great. I'm not running, I'm not doing intense circuit training, and I'm not really losing weight, but it feels good. It's low intensity stuff, but at least it's not crippling me. 

    Unfortunately it's still led to pain, and as I write this, I'm hopped up on Percs, but I'm not bummed about it because honestly it could've happened even if I was inactive. It's not a bad flare up, but enough that it was hard to sleep and work,

    The scary part is that my specialist, after receiving my email asking for some, gave me 90 tablets!! Imagine the look on the military pharmacists face!

    It's not that I'm an addict. I can go long periods without them and don't obsess. But narcotics really are the only pain meds that hit the right spot and numb it out. If I have 90 tablets in a jar in my cupboard, then I'll probably use them even when the pain isn't severe. Then they disappear quickly, and when I do have a debilitating flare up and have to ask for more it looks suspicious. But how do I tell him I only want like 30 tablets? If I gave him this reason he'd start worrying I'm a junkie. Anyway, not sure if you guys have had similar experiences. I'm just so shocked that he gave me that many.

    So, how am I doing overall? Much better than January 1st, but I'm still scared. I'm scared I'll eventually be kicked out of the Forces, or do some serious damage to my back. Luckily for me, it was deemed service related which means I'll get covered for any treatment related to it for the rest of my life through Veterans Affairs. But I'd still rather be healthy, agile and energetic!

    I want to say thank you to the lady who mentioned wanting to have children. You brought a smile to my face as you reminded me how very lucky I am to have these two kids. They love me no matter how crappy I feel (for now at least).  I hope things work out for you and you're able to experience the same joy and pain that only parenthood can offer. 

    Let's keep this thread going!!



  • Thanks to all for sharing so much.  It is so nice to feel I am not alone in this.  Lately, the mental aspects of recovery have been as bad as the physical.  I am semi-young, and miss out on so much with friends, life, etc. because of back pain - first, pre-surgery - now, the recovery which seems never-ending.  I hate feeling like such a burden on everyone. I am so scared my surgery didn't help.  I am not performing up to my fullest potential at work, which makes me anxious.  I just didn't know everything would get so hard.  My surgeon said I'd feel great after 2 weeks after my fusion - so I think the lack of mental preparedness for recovery has played a big role.  I am nervous for the future - and can't stop obsessing about the pain, surgery outcome, etc.  Anyway - sorry for the rant.  It's just tough feeling like my life is on hold pending feeling like a normal person again.  I appreciate the support and information of this community so much.  My parents have been great helping me do things (i.e. Errands/groceries/etc.). I am isolating myself from friends and it is a lonely place.  Good luck to all who are going through the same and worse.  It is really hard not being able to relate to people, and fearing everyone is judging me.

Sign In or Register to comment.