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Tough Choice - Stop working or keep taking meds?

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24

Comments

  • Chronic pain is perhaps not conducive to the working environment and although we will have days when attending is not possible, we go to work in constant pain that for many they would find unacceptable. On that basis we need some support and encouragement. I have been at home unable to stand for many years and now back in employment the psychological benefit of feeling part of society is something that I will not let go.

    Although your health is important, 12 hour days and chronic pain is unsustainable in the long term and we have to be honest with ourselves when the better part of valour would be to restrict our hours before imposed physical restriction mandates that change. The financial aspect does impact on our lifestyle and those around us and it is not easy.

    Taking medication and working is a new experience and we all develop individual strategies in how to perform in a similar manner, we are not infallible and who else could do the things that we try to do, it is about compromise and finding a manageable situation, your employer is supporting you and showing empathy in your desire to keep going in difficult and challenging circumstance.

    Pacing is one element that you do have some control and that in itself may extend your longevity in the working environment, our performance does suffer and we should be provided “reasonable adjustments” that enable us to decide as individuals the importance and reality of trying to sustain employment.

    Good luck and take care.

    John


  • I agree with the psychological benefit of feeling engaged and vital in the workplace. You are right that I can do things to limit my working hours and I probably should have addressed this before it got out of hand.

    My manager is pleading with me, supposedly for my own sake, to not go back out on partial disability. I'm not sure I understand why he is doing that. I think he is actually crossing the line in trying to discourage it. On the flip side, if he is truly trying to help me, I would be very foolish not to cooperate with him when he offers to offload some of my work. However, now I have a new form of guilt -- dumping my work on my colleagues who are already working too hard. That part is very hard for me to do because it doesn't seem fair to them.

    Maybe he is simply doing what you are suggesting -- striking a balance that will be sustainable.

    Thanks again,
    Dave
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  • Dave,
    We should not feel guilty for having pain that has been impacted on us, it is not of your making and you are and have been doing the best you can, you are working in difficult and challenging physical circumstance that you have kept to yourself and perhaps exceeded the point where it may have been prudent to limit your hours, you are working twice as hard for a reduced output and presenting that positive and achievable outlook. Managing pain is about constant change and finding what works for us as individuals; it will take time and patience.

    Have you asked your manager why he has that proposal, I know changes sometime move at a fast pace.

    I worked for a large company where the HR department become involved in my reducing hours and reasonable adjustments to assist me in sustaining employment, what benefit or protection would partial disability give you and would it give some authenticity and take that pressure off the need to work long hours while partial disabled eligibility or defining your status and might it help financially now or in the longer term, you may need some independent advice on this.

    Keeping working while the constant changes are imminent is never easy, as the future is developing and indecisive, the decision we want to know never seem to coincide with the time when we need them most and that disparity is frustrating and disjointed.

    We all hope your improvement goes as expected and a plan B is always helpful.

    Take care and good luck.

    John


  • Reformed1 said:

    My manager is pleading with me, supposedly for my own sake, to not go back out on partial disability. I'm not sure I understand why he is doing that. I think he is actually crossing the line in trying to discourage it. On the flip side, if he is truly trying to help me, I would be very foolish not to cooperate with him when he offers to offload some of my work. However, now I have a new form of guilt -- dumping my work on my colleagues who are already working too hard. That part is very hard for me to do because it doesn't seem fair to them.

    Maybe he is simply doing what you are suggesting -- striking a balance that will be sustainable.

    Thanks again,
    Dave
    I have gone through this whole mess and on the other side it can still be a bit discouraging.
    If your manager is offering to help, give it a try.
    My boss has arthritis that started when he was about 47, he understands my predicament fully and lets me do as I am able. My job description is supposed to get rewritten, but that hasn't happened.
    My medical management papers seem to have disappeared into the mass of Human Resources never to appear again! Since last November! They simply stopped calling, talking, emailing!!!
    My boss lets me do what I can and he does not care what Human resources does or does not do.

    I get paid twice a month, same as before. The guilt slowly resolves, slowly.

    The kick in the butt is the fact that on work days the most I manage to get done at home is a few menial tasks as work uses up my get up and go. I have to wait for weekends to tackle anything resembling a real task.

    The meds I take wreck my short term memory, but the majority of my job I have been doing for a while and the stuff I forget I try to write down.
    Sometimes I just wait till I remember. Kind of frustrating there too. Knowing you want to do something and not being able to get a handle on what it is. Worst is doing physical tasks, it hurts and my memory has me constantly losing the tool I need to work with ~X(
  • i stayed working full time for 18 months, all i can say is that i was so committed to the job and my boss that i could and would not let the job down.
    i was a fool, boss never made any allowances for me other than i could lie down for 5 mins every 2 hrs and do my stretches.
    when pain meds or pain made me lose concentration and i made mistakes i got told off in front of the rest of the staff, everyone else was given a quiet word !!!
    i came to realise i was just a number when he told me i was not able to cut my hrs and that he was running a business.
    i thought he was a friend ha ha,we had worked together for 8 yrs, when he left his first job as manager he took me with him to the new job.
    my pain has gotten worse with time and even though i am no longer working my meds have increased, i really believe staying at work added to the pain and my own stupidity at believing i was a person and not a number was wrong.
    it has been a wake up call, i was a number !!!
    no one from work ever calls to ask how i am etc etc etc, all they are worried about is if i will sue them, never gave me a chair the right height for me, never lessened my work load, i never took time off unless i physically could not walk,
    the hospital has told me i can go back to work for 2 hrs a WEEK as long as i have regular breaks, guess what, boss said what a joke, i would spend more time on the floor than doing any work.
    this is only my story, but i would never give my all to a job again, my health is much more important.
    i hope you work out what is right for YOU, we are very easily replaced at work, your health could suffer more than your wallet
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  • Well, my NS sort of forced my hand. He made it clear that he wanted to reduce my narcotic medication to roughly half of what I am presently taking. I was incredulous upon hearing this because my pain is worse than ever. So, I am officially back on partial disability -- working no more than 6 hours per day.

    My current treatment includes:
    1. Reduced work hours/ reduction of sitting for prolonged periods
    2. Ongoing PT (helps core strength, sometimes pain disappears for awhile and I just lay on the floor and enjoy the temporary feeling of NO PAIN! It's sweet!)
    3. Walking (I got away from this, but have resumed it)
    4. Swimming (very carefully!)
    5. Icing my rear when the pain flares up
    6. Acupuncture (3 visits now with no noticeable benefit, but will continue for at least 6 visits)
    7. SI joint injections (trying to determine if this is a pain trigger)
    8. Epidural Lysis (to break up scar tissue around the L5 nerve root)
    9. Neuropathic meds (Just started Lyrica after giving up on Neurotin which wasn't helping)
    10. Muscle relaxer (Robaxin) to keep back flexible
    11. Anxiety meds (Xanax) as needed when pain seems out of control
    12. NSAID (Motrin to help with inflammation) which I just started since I am now 6 months post-op from my fusion. PM doc recommended Limbrel but this is not covered by my insurance.
    13. I read a lot of posts on this forum to learn from others.

    What have I left out? Oh, narcotics -- the one thing that clearly relieves my pain symptoms and the one thing that my NS doesn't want me to use. Based upon the list above, can anyone reasonably suggest that I am not doing everything within my power to resolve my pain? Regardless, I am cutting back on narcotics as directed. I have to admit that this is causing me a lot of anxiety because my pain level seems to be increasing, at least in the short term.

    Sorry, I'm having a bad morning!

    Thanks,
    Dave
  • I officially went back on partial disability on 7/21, working no more than 6 hours per day. My pain seems a little better now that I've cut back my hours (by half!) and am working at home. There are so many variables in play here, it's hard to know what is the one or two or several things that are helping. Until I can get off of narcotics completely, I'm sticking to the following treatment regimen.

    My current treatment includes:
    1. Reduced work hours (6 hours per day, max)/ reduction of sitting for prolonged periods (no more than an hour at a time)
    2. Ongoing PT (helps core strength, sometimes pain disappears for awhile)
    3. Walking (I got away from this, but have resumed it. Sometimes it feels good, and sometimes it doesn't. I stop as soon as I start feeling any hint of pain.)
    4. Swimming (very carefully! Breast stroke and dog paddle feel the best. Don't laugh!)
    5. Icing my rear when the pain flares up
    6. Acupuncture (5 visits now with no noticeable benefit, but will continue for at least 6-7 visits)
    7. SI joint injections (trying to determine if this is a pain trigger); Second injection is coming up in a few days.
    8. Epidural Lysis (to break up scar tissue around the L5 nerve root); second procedure in a few days
    9. Neuropathic meds -- Weaning off of Lyrica after two weeks due to severe Edema; also gave up on Neurotin which wasn't helping much and it made me terribly nauseas and foggy. I think Cymbalta is next.
    10. Muscle relaxer (Robaxin) to keep back flexible
    11. Anxiety meds (Xanax) as needed when pain seems out of control. Was recently prescribed Klonopin (Clonazepam) at bedtime for sleep -- have had two nights in a row of wonderful sleep!! I was previously getting 3-5 hours a night which is not enough for me.
    12. NSAID (Motrin to help with inflammation) I have resumed Motrin now that I am 6 months post-op from my fusion. PM doc recommended Limbrel but this is not covered by my insurance. I usually respond very well to Motrin, but it doesn't seem to be doing much.
    13. I read a lot of posts on this forum to learn from others.
    14. I have pushed myself to reduce narcotics despite withdrawal and despite feeling more "raw pain". Why? Because my NS ignored my pain level and said he wanted me to reduce it. Go figure.

    I can't wait for the next round of SI and Caudal epidural injections (seriously!). I'm also meeting with a REAL PM doctor on Tuesday after a long and difficult search. I have to say that I will be heart-broken if I hear once again that he "only does injections"...

    What am I missing? I can't think of any other treatment options except maybe massage therapy?

    Thanks,
    Dave

  • Wow Dave. You have really been through it. You are doing so much to help your pain and it's ashame that the doctor wants to wean you off of narcotics when they are really helping you and when you have clearly shown him that you want this pain gone and will do anything to help it.

    As for your appt. on Tuesday, how did you find this new doctor? Were you referred to him? Can you research him on the web to see if he only does injections? Sometimes, people say to call and ask, but I don't think that's a great idea.

    I hope that you find a doctor that helps you get your pain under control.

    Flower
  • Thanks for your response and for your thoughtful comments. I found this particular PM doctor through my insurance. He has a decent website and I read it thoroughly. It mentions "comprehensive pain management". I called the office and at first someone there told me that the doctor focuses on injections, but later on the nurse at the office called me back and said that he will manage the whole picture. I am just going to be cautiously optimistic that this will be more than injections. I just found it odd that they initially told me differently.

    Thanks again for your support!
    Dave
  • Wow Dave it sounds like you are very organized and are doing everything you can to get better. I am glad to hear you were able to reduce your hours it sounds like the longer hours were too much. I hope the appointment with the PM doc goes well. I didn't realize until recently that not all PM docs are alike. I can't imagine if mine didn't perscribe meds, I have done injections and for me they are not worth it. Unfortunately the only way to have a semi normal life is to take meds. I hate it but guess that is the way it goes. Good luck at your appt let us know how it goes!!
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