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Tough spot to be in

10 yrs ago I was diagnosed with stenosis, spondy, DDD where the two vert. look like they are close to touching one another, & cysts,all at the L-4, L-5 region. I was so active my whole life, that I typically did 2 (many times 3) activities every single day of either: Hockey, jiu jitsu, karate or weightlifting. I have persevered through about 50 solid injuries, 7 surgeries (none on the spine, so far), but this condition brought me to my knees and has dictated my life since. The Dr's told me I would most certainly need a fusion at some point and I should get it done sooner than later. But, I have been postponing it as long as I can ( mostly out of fear). I have managed my pain with any treatment imaginable, but I have noticed the progression of symptoms & the deterioration of my back over time. I started taking oxycodone which provided immense relief. The first couple of years I took 5mg as needed, not daily - but over time & now at the 10 yr. mark I have been on 10mg 4X's a day for the past four yrs now. In the past couple of yrs, i have finally been forced out of hockey completely, can no longer do martial arts at all, i can still lift weights abridged, but I am a fraction of who I was. Some mornings i can't  get out of bed. I have decided to go forward with the fusion  as I am losing my mind from the pain, the lack of activity, & the battle of benefiting from the oxy vs the risk they pose. I am able to take my pills sometimes like M&M's. I have developed a high tolerance. My Dr told me going above 40mg can be a slippery slope and has declined prescribing more than this amount. However, I find that many days I need more than 40mg, & take more. Many months I ran out early which was very upsetting on a couple of levels; mild withdrawls, feeling my raw back pain unveiled for a few days etc.  I got tired of that cycle & found ways in the past few months to supplement the amount I was prescribed. I have reached a point where some days I take 2-300mg. I have been dependent, addicted and rely on the pills heavily since i started taking them daily which was three years after I started. Sounds nuts to me because I clearly remember when one 5mg pill dissolved my pain. The lowest amount I can take on any given day is 60mg. I never minded acknowledging the addiction (dependency) so long as i was still able to perform at a high level & function well  in life. Well, since recently the medication has not enabled me to continue or resume my sports, and since I hate being so dependent on them, I have decided to finally go forward with the operation, which I have been very fearful of, but given the state I am in, it makes more sense to have it than to continue the direction I'm headed in. Truthfully I have no choice. Taking the pills & performing well was acceptable, but now I am taking the pills & am not able to play. It's addiction without benefit & that bothers me. A few weeks back, i ran out of the pills and experienced my first heavy withdrawls since i started taking higher levels of the meds. I am not one to show or complain about pain, stoic-not soft is how my Dr's & friends would describe me. I have on a couple of occasions finished hockey games and jiu jitsu tournaments knowing that what ever just snapped would require surgery the next morning, however nothing could have prepared me for what I went through. It was the single most painful, awful, miserable, gut wrenching day of my life. At one point, realizing how weak I had become (from thrashing around & expelling everything from within) I hadn;t the strength to  resist the pain of what was happening, I truly thought for a moment that i may just die from being overwhelmed. I felt myself slipping, & i thought I was headed for a coma and it was the first time in my life I called for an ambulance.I have driven myself to the ER on many occasions with limbs broken or dangling, but this time I could not drive, I could not walk, I could barely dial the 3 digits of 9 1 1 on the phone.I have always had a healthy respect and fear of the medication. Even though I developed tolerance and have been taking the pills foolishly haphazardly, I hadn't lost sight of their potential. At some point I went from vigilance & taking as few doses as i can-to eating them like tic-tacs. But, I got bit very hard this time and have made concerted efforts to reduce my levels especially since i will need the pills to work at their best after my surgery. I never thought something like that would happen to me. In the past I was always focused on the fact that I was taking much more than my Dr was prescribing and was mindful that i did not want to overdose, I never knew withdrawl could be as bad as it was. I hope that when I awake from surgery, I will be one of those that says, what the hell did I wait so long for the have this done.



  • I am so happy to have read this. I myself am in a similar situation. I also do Jiu Jitsu, and have been an athlete my whole life. for the last year and 1/2 I have been having back problems, and it has gotten so bad over the last few months and my training has taken such a toll, I'm literally going into depression.  I'm only 20 years old... been training since I was 13, and I gave up everything to become a professional athlete... EVERYTHING. I first noticed my back giving out on my, when I was at a Jiu Jitsu Competition and I was up on the mats. got into my stance ( I don't pull guard , lol) and felt IMMENSE lower back pain, in which I couldn't even stand in my stance, ended up losing that match because of it, and yes I know I could have easily beat him as he only won by an advantage. Keep in mind I have never stopped training because of it, I just ignored it. and yes I am regretting it so much now.  I know something is wrong with my L4 - L5 disc, I cannot sleep at night, My upper back is also messed up, I cannot even jog anymore without having to continuously stop because of my back, its so hard for me to get out of bed and want to start to the day of training because I'm constantly thinking if my back will give out on me. I cannot train, I cannot sit for long periods of time, there are so many activities I cannot even do anymore and I'm getting depressed... doctors tried giving me shots, pills, therapy nothing is working.. They wont give me an MRI and they are not taking me seriously... they probably don't believe me because I'm only 20 years old... I don't know what to do anymore, its really ruining my life... I know this wasn't an answer to your problem but I haven't really seemed to talk to anyone who is on the same boat as I am... so thank you, and I know your pain/frustration. 

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