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At the end of my tether, advice would be greatly appreciated

Hello, i've been a Police officer for a little over 12 years. About 5 years ago I was bending over to pick up laundry when  I got a really sharp pain in my back followed by agonizing pain for weeks after. MRI revealed ruptured disc and bulging disc, I was able to control the pain with meds and I continued in work. In 2017 I was admitted to hospital for an emergency discectomy as a scan revealed a central disc bulge. I recovered fairly well after surgery and returned to work but found that I had lost some power and sensation in my left leg and foot. A few months later the same thing happened so back into hospital for another discectomy. Again, recovered fairly well and returned to work but noted a little less power and sensation in my left leg and foot. A few months later...you guessed it, another discectomy. I returned to work to desk duties but had to go off sick after about 5 days due to extreme pain when sitting for any length of time. Over the course of the next year the pain got worse, bad pain down the back of both legs, my left foot is numb and the left side of my leg, i've also got a little numbness in my groin area. I spent a fortune on physio, nerve root injections etc but nothing works. The meds i'm on take the edge off the pain but thats it. I've pain when standing, walking, lying down, basically any movement is painful. The worst is the cramps which usually come at night, either in my left hamstring, calf or foot. The pain is absolutely agonizing and i'm only getting 3-4 hours sleep a night. 

I'm a little over a year since my last op andI had an MRI scan a few months ago, at l3/l4 i've a disc bulge touching both traversing l4 nerve roots, also the spinal canal is narrowed. At l4/l5 i've another bulge touching the l5 nerve root. I've also got scar tissue (granular tissue) around and within the l5 nerve root. The lower three discs are all degenerate. Pain wise it's in both legs, though the left leg is by far the worst. The cramps stop me sleeping, with the pain I can't even walk my dogs let alone work...

So now, my force has medically retired me for lumbar disc disease. My problem is that they've given me the lowest possible ill health pension (around $500 a month) because they reckon that at some point in the future I may recover enough to get back into full time employment. Of course i'm fighting it, i'm seeing a consultant next week but the stress of this is killing me. I get little enough sleep because of the cramps and pain but now i'm worried for my future as with that amount of money i'll lose my house.

So I guess i'm asking what do people think, i've read that scar tissue around a nerve root can't be treated, is this true? Is it "likely" that i'll recover at some point to be able to work full time? It's such a dirty move to screw me out of a living pension, I mean when am I meant to be able to work full time? 6 months? 6 years? 20 years?

Sorry, this has turned into a bit of a rant, i've just been so depressed and worried that i'll lose my house and family, i'm in a pretty dark place, just hoping at the consultant gives me a good report next week so I can appeal the pension decision.

If you made it this far, thanks guys :)

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13

Comments

  • memerainboltmemerainbolt IndianaPosts: 5,923

    Hi dredd1981!
    Welcome to Spine Health
    All new members should take the System Tutorial

    Thank you for your service as a police officer. You would think after all of those years getting in and out of your car and no telling what else, it took a load of laundry to start this. I am so sorry. And I hope your consultant comes back with good news about your pension, that just isn't right. It's ok to rant on the forum, we do it all the time.

    What is your doctor saying about further options, such as PT and /or injections? Or are they talking surgery again to fix the disc to get them off of the nerves? Your questions will have to be answered by your doctor. On your next visit to him, write down all of your questions and concerns and talk to him about it. Have you thought about filing for Social Security disability or unemployment? Maybe talk to your consultant about this.

    Hang in there!! Try to stay positive and fight this with all you have. Don't give up!!
    Take care and keep us posted.

    Sandra
    Spine-Health Moderator
    ---------------------------------------------------------------
    Please read my  Medical History
  • Sandra took the words out of my mouth: the thought “disability lawyer” came into my mind while reading your post. 

    Because $500 a month is way below the poverty level if you go the disability route and win you might end up with $1500 to $2000 a month to live on, as opposed to $500. 

    Each state is vastly different when it comes to how hard winning disability is. Dilauro can attest to this. 

    States in the Northeast like Connecticut, New York, etc. are notorious for being difficult, whereas some southern states have a lower bar or expectation.

    Based on your user name I’m guessing you’re 37 or 38 years old. That’s still pretty young.

    If you were 47 or 57 instead of 37 then if you go the disability route it might be easier.

    However it definitely sounds like you have much medical evidence to prove a moderately high degree of disability.

    The consultant can probably talk more about this. 

    Good luck and please keep us updated.

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  • My heart goes out to you and I too thank you for your service! I can't offer much advice although I sure can relate to your symptoms, have they given you muscle relaxers? They have helped my cramping leg and help me sleep. There are so many caring knowledgeable people and good information on this site, please keep us posted and as Sandra said, rant if you need to but face this head on a day at a time. I have to tell myself often, you can't change yesterday and can't yet live tomorrow so I will just do what's in front of me today. And also remember, you are not walking this road alone. Stay positive and don't let yourself become a victim, you've got to be a strong person body, mind and spirit  to be a Police Officer, draw on that strength. My grandson is applying in several different states and doesn't show any signs of giving up. It saddens me that they are not treating you fairly. One more thing I can offer you is prayer and I sure will be praying for you and that meeting! Keep us posted. 

  • Thanks for the replies and kind words guys, I was feeling pretty down this morning but then a consultant I had seen previously sent me a letter to use in my appeal. He states that more surgery would have less than a 20% chance to improve my symptoms. Since PD are claiming it's likely i'll improve over time (presumably with surgery as ddd doesn't just go away) this goes a long way to proving that I likely won't improve....I really doubt they believe i'll improve, it's just bs to get them out of paying me a living pension, which is a shoddy thing to do to anyone, let alone someone who put their life on the line for over a decade.

    Thanks Joanne, I hope your grandson finds success, in my experience people working in sheriff departments seem to be a lot happier than those working in a big metro dept, maybe something for him to think about <span>:smile:" alt=":smile:" height="20" /></span>

  • memerainboltmemerainbolt IndianaPosts: 5,923

    dredd
    Thank you for the update. Try to stay positive, this fight isn't over yet.
    Please keep us posted on what happens and how you are doing.

    Sandra
    Spine-Health Moderator
    ---------------------------------------------------------------
    Please read my  Medical History
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  • Hi Dredd,


    I wanted to reply and offer my support to you. I also have DDD, have had a fusion as well (cervical) and my L5/S1 is really acting up now, the Sciatica is killing me. I am being sent for another MRI and then a follow up with my neurosurgeon for the "good news" about whether another fusion is in my future. ; )

    I can totally understand your worries about getting enough money each month to cover everything. $500 a month is not enough, so I hope your appeal goes well. That's really great you have a consultant helping you out too.

    I have just decided myself to file for disability, I too am relatively young, but I have been unable to work now for awhile, so I think I should admit that I will not be able to work again. Hopefully I won't be denied the first time, but if I am I will appeal as well.


    Please keep us updated and know you're not alone.


    Hugs and support.

    Missy.


    Missy, 1 level ACDF 
    Degenerative Disc Disease.
    Sciatica.
    Chronic Pain.
  • Hi Missy, thanks for the hugs and support :) After that letter I got yesterday i'm a lot happier, I was in a pretty dark place there for a while, I had to get my wife to lock my gun away. But now i've a lot of confidence that I can beat it. I'm seeing a different consultant next Monday, i've seen him before and he was also pretty pessimistic about my chances of a recovery with more surgery. But when the time comes I think i'll go for it, a 20% chance is better than no chance. I don't know about you but the worst thing for me is the cramps. Previously, sleeping was my escape from the pain, but several months ago the cramps started, mostly in my left calf, one minute i'm sleeping and the next i'm screaming and rolling around on the floor as my calf just explodes with pain...and of course that's me awake until morning, it's just horrible.

    Had you a  discectomy before your fusion? I had bad sciatica for a couple of years and then one day in work when i'm bending over to put my boots on I get a real bad pain in my back and down my leg. I controlled it with meds for a few days but when I started going numb below the waist I went to hospital and the next day I was having an emergency discectomy.....so i've now had three of those and a fusion is apparently my only realistic option now but i've been warned that theres a low probability of success and I might be worse after. He mentioned foot drop and also my leg could become paralyzed...which obviously isn't great. How did you do after your fusion, how long did it take to "recover"? 

  • dilaurodilauro ConnecticutPosts: 13,168

    Here is some information that I think you should look over

    Discectomy Surgery

    Recovery, the most important phase

    Ron DiLauro Veritas-Health Forums Manager
    I am not a medical professional. I comment on personal experiences 
  • Jerome001Jerome001 Cocoa Beach, FloridaPosts: 282

    During my last fusion surgery, my surgeon removed some of the existing scar tissue from previous fusions. Personally, I think it helped me a lot. I did 20 years in the Marine Corps and I understand the consequences of the demanded physical exertion. With your injury I would be very surprised if you were ever cleared to return to full duty what with the amount of equipment you wear and the other physical demands LE has on your body - unless you are cleared for desk duty only. Is it the department or the insurance company that determines your percentage of disability?

  • It's the dept, they're trying to claim that i'm not medically fit for pd or a regular job at the moment, but it's likely that i'll improve in the future and be able to work a regular job.....but in the mean time they pay me peanuts! The letter I got the other day saying more surgery would have less than a 20% chance of being of benefit is a big help. Seeing a consultant on Monday who'll hopefully agree that it's unlikely that i'll somehow be miraculously cured. I'm really annoyed that I gave those sob's the best years of my life, when you break you expect support, not to be kicked when you're down!

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