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Disability Retirement with Spinal Stenosis



  • JTEX53JJTEX53 Posts: 27
    edited 06/19/2012 - 10:47 PM
    Well it's been a year of various diagnostic testing, my COBRA health insurance will soon run out. Final results after a lower Mylogram with contast die( lets see if i can put this in laymans terms from Radiologist). I have severe problems with congenital deformities of several of the lower lumbar vertebrae and surrounding areas, I also have a Lipoma(fatty deposit tumor, not a malignant type of tumor buts needs to be removed pushing on nerves causing my severe pain .) Surgical procedure called a Laminectomy was recommend by the Neurologist I was seeing.. I don't know if I'll be able to get surgery scheduled before COBRA runs out, secondly, I don't know if I be able to cover the costs of the Surgeon, Anesthesiologist and the 2-3 day hospital stay(this will bound to be $2K-5K, since I'm close to my out of pocket expenses but still have to cover 20%. I'm getting very close to being totally bankrupt. Things have not improved in lower back att all, a trip to the grocery store has become a major event. All along, the last 2+ years and procedures nothing has worked to allievate the pain. Norco 10/325 help but doesn't do the job totally. Very frustrated doesn't even come close, to describing my psychological state. Take over 10 meds, that just make me more lethargic, has helped my B.P. I have stacks of diagnostic reports. Bankrupt and not still not having solved my back problem issues. With or without surgery, no gaurantees that it will work and for how long, it should but that's what I was told with epidurals and neurotomies. If I have to pass on the surgery(money reasons and apply for disabilty retirement) I'll again qualify for health insurance, if granted) Texas Teacher retirement disability. I have documentation that I can't physically perform my duties as a teacher anylonger. So is it time to submit my paper work and specialist's diagnosis'. I have other health issue also Series of TIA's in 2009, diabetes mainly because I can't do much more than sit on my butt. After a couple hours on the computer, it is time to go lay down and pain meds. I only take half of a half of a Norco 10/325- 50% of the time and a Flexeril tablet. So what you think, or is it time for a bullet in the head, I'm not joking!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Wish I was.
  • John, please don't say that. I know you must feel helpless, and i really can't offer much advice other than don't give up. I know that may sound foolish but its true, suicide will hurt your loved ones way more than you think it might, believe me, i know this first hand. If there's anything i can do, even if you just want to chit chat, send me a PM or e-mail, i will be more than happy to lend an ear, tell you a joke, send you a silly e-mail, anything to make you smile even if its for a moment. Take care and God Bless!
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  • JTEX53JJTEX53 Posts: 27
    edited 06/21/2012 - 1:38 PM
    Thanks for your concern. I'm educated enough, to see my delima. No family, my few friends live far away. I'm not going to lay this trip on my friends or get to the point of asking for loans. I may seek counseling again, after my TIA's(mini-strokes) back in 2009. The Therapist was a male in my age bracket in our discussions between health issues and employment problems due to my health issues, he thought I had a good grasp on my situation. I discussed depression and discussed the time, I attempted suicide but failed going through a divorce back in 1989. He was a great person to talk with, I had no problems opening up with him but I live 150 miles from him now. In my present physical state, I can't even do menial jobs due to my back pain after standing for a couple hours, walking makes it even worse, sooner. I have so much experience and job skills, a high school teacher(started late at 41), Dental Laboratory Lab Technologist, Petrochemical Lab Technologist, Professional Cook and I could go on but there's no reason to apply for jobs, I've lost 2 of the last 4 teaching positions due to excessive absenteeism due to my back problems.
    My situation comes down to economic survival. I've worked since I was 15. I know I'm suffering from Clinical depression. I'm 4 years away from being able to retire from teaching but it seems like it might as well be a 100 years. My age is also a negative, when applying for a job. Who wants a 59 year old man when they can hire a 35-40 year old person, with them same credentials and education level for less pay. If I'm honest about my my gaps in employment of the last 5 years, why waste my time and their time. Many "Baby Boomers" are going through the same issues as me. I had a nice little nest egg of $50K in savings, when things started going downhill fast, in 2009 with my mini-strokes, most was covered by insurance.It's down to half of that amount today. The best positive is that I don't have kids or married again, so I don't have anyone to drag down with me. Haven't been the same since my TIA's as far as my mental sharpness. Try to be a high school teacher, and you lose your train of thought and go blank, in front of your class of 25-30 students and you know the material/topic forwards and backwards but just can't retrive important portions of it, from memory at that paticular time. I can con my way through incidents like that while lecturing.
    I know I'm feeling sorry for myself and I need to sit down and start a list of things I need to do, as far as attempting, to procede with the process of filing for my Disability Retirement through my Texas Teacher Retirement pension fund. I think I'm just scared of another negative set back but all they can do is say No.
    I'm grandfathered where I could draw a retirement now but it will be cut in half for early voluntary retirement.

    The only thing keeping me from suicide is that, I'm a Christian and made a promise to my Lord Jesus to never to attempt this again. It's so easy to get caught up in negatives, I've given them to Jesus to deal with for me and that is what he wants. So I just have to keep the faith but it's not easy.
    Prayers would be welcomed.
  • BlueSkiesBBlueSkies Posts: 59
    edited 06/25/2012 - 5:12 AM
    John, I am so sorry you are going through this tough time. I won't patronize you by showering you with nice words that don't help, but what I will do is tell you what has helped for me.

    First, I am sure a lot of people can attest that when you are stressed, your back hurts worse. It becomes a vicious cycle. You need to start eliminating stressors one by one. I could be wrong, but my belief is that as you reduce these stressors, your pain will lighten and become more manageable.

    First, you have financial difficulties. It sounds like you aren't going to be able to increase your money. The disability claim sounds like it isn't going to work (from what I am hearing from you), and you are going to find the process of fighting for it extraordinarily stressful. You can't teach because it is, again, very stressful and also the physical challenge of being on your feet all day hurts your back. The other job options sound unmanageable too, cook, medical tech, etc. because it sounds like physically you can't work, and honestly, you sound like you need a big break from the world to ease your stress.

    So if you can't earn more, you need to spend less. Do you have a home? Consider selling it and buying a condo or garden home. First, the equity in your house may be enough to pay for the condo in full and secondly the yard and maintenance would already be done. If you rent, then consider taking a roommate. You can make a hobby out of living for less. There are all sorts of people doing it out there. Google "couponing" or "preppers" or "living off the grid" or even "tightwads". It will be a good stress reliever for you, will give you a means of measuring success (penny by penny!) and will truly over time relieve your financial burden. Make it a hobby to spend as little as possible and get the most for your dime. I am blessed financially and still find great pleasure from using coupons for free pizzas and canning my own salsa from homegrown tomatoes. Use every means at your disposal to save money. It's a fun hobby and extremely satisfying.

    Secondly, I really encourage you to engage in some of those touchy feely positive thinking methods. I am trying to wean myself off hydrocodone, and I spent last week using a meditation CD, and maybe it's psychosomatic or something, but I felt better all week, despite the reduction in my meds. I am a Christian also, and I have found my faith to be very helpful when meditating. The CD says to think of a light coming in your head and lighting up your body, healing, and I have found that if I think of that spiritually and actually have a prayerful heart when I do that, my faith is strengthened and I find even more peace. Additionally, try not to say things like "I can't even do menial jobs", and just say things like "Menial jobs are challenging to me". It sounds silly, but you would be surprised how much that "self talk" has helped me.

    Finally, consider - just consider - your medication regimen. I am not suggesting you completely go off medication or that medication is evil or anything else. All I am saying is that for me, I have found this past week very challenging but kind of affirming. Several months ago, I was taking 100 mg of hydrocodone a day to deal with my pain. I decided that was too much and I reduced it over time to 45 to 60 mg daily, and then last week I had a conversation with my doctor that prompted me to make my own decision to try to get off opiates completely. Last week, I used only 15 mg a day interspersed with a few tramadol (I hate tramadol), and I got by. I am hurting, no doubt, and I am feeling withdrawal symptoms, but I have used patches and ice/heat and stretching exercises and positive self-talk and meditation (and I'm off to get a massage in an hour) and lots of ibuprofen and tylenol (and even a muscle relaxer once or twice, which I also hate). It has been challenging but I feel very validated. I see myself as a strong, capable person whereas I had come to believe myself as a damaged person. For me, that, coupled with some other revelations I've had recently, has changed my perspective a lot. I feel in control whereas I felt out of control before. And that has helped me.

    I will be sending good thoughts your way, and, since we're the same faith, I'll be praying too. Please stay in touch. I am brand new to these boards, but I will be interestedly watching your posts.
  • One more thing, I think you should sell your gun. If you are having down moments when you think about suicide, there is just no reason to have it near you. I would also encourage you to consider having a friend or family member keep your medicine at their house where you can go get some any time you need it, but if you get in a down moment, you won't take too much. All the best, Angela
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  • JTEX53JJTEX53 Posts: 27
    edited 06/26/2012 - 3:24 AM
    I've started my, to do lists. Since I am a public school teacher in Texas, I still am a membe of TRS and haven't touched any of my retirement funds. With TRS, the disabilty board is comprised of 3 doctors. Once the get your application and medical records, it's not nearly as stringent as SSI. 2 out of the 3 drs. must concur that you can no longer perform your job at the position you held when health problems started interfering, with your abilty to perform your professional duties. This will still take a month or so to get all record from drs. and hopsital that I was hospitalized at for my TIAs. I'm going to go for it, I have nothing to lose, plus I can get health insurance again. I'd still like to work a little part time, to pay for the health insurance, if possible. I'm going to start seeing a Psychologist, for counseling. I have no problems getting psychological counseling, would prefer a male doctor though! I don't care if I have to eat beans and rice and go one food stamps. I will not return to the classroom, enough is enough. Thanks for your caring reply.

    I'm really happy for the school bus monitor in N.Y. state, that was being verbally harrased, by students on the school bus. She's 68 years old and they have raised over $500,000.00 for her. Time for her to enjoy life. Tough lady to put up with that type of abuse. The public school systems in our country is a broken system. Not financially but the way it's run and operation priorities. Kids go to school to get educated. Here in Texas, you would not believe how much of a high school budget goes into athletic programs. Coaches are the biggest single waste of taxpayers money. You can still have P.E. but not the 15 other coaches.
  • JTEX53JJTEX53 Posts: 27
    edited 07/20/2012 - 12:54 PM
    I have to at least try this procedure, it also call a decompression. The lumbar vertebra (not sure how to explain from Drs. dictation notes) are abnormal and I have a Lipoma(fatty tumor) that's pressing on nerves along with the deformation of my lumbar vertebrae. I have a couple more questions to ask my Orthopedic surgeon and will have surgery in early-mid August. What's bad it's going to take a month to recover, so there's no reason to apply for a job until I'm healed up(that is if surgery is sucessful). I just don't think I'll be able to cover COBRA premiums of $450 per/month. If I could get the disability first, I'd qualify for Heath Insurance permanantly.
  • lbritt64llbritt64 Posts: 91
    edited 07/30/2012 - 4:45 AM
    you might try hill-burton. my last surgery in 11/11 was covered by them. i have a cervical laminectomy on wed 8/1/12 and i have have medicaid since the first of 2012. hiilburton https://www.hrsa.gov/gethealthcare/affordable/hillburton/ also i had the lawyer firm edited get my medicaid and it only took them a few week's to get that. both of those have reps in some hospitals, they did in mine in wv.

    link removed, solicitation not permitted
    post edited by the spine-health moderator team
  • cjp1986ccjp1986 Posts: 42
    edited 08/25/2012 - 3:33 PM
    Hello JTEX53, I had both knees injected in February of 2012 and got Shingles for the first time in my life. It was not a pretty experience. Then in June of 2012 I got a spinal injection of cortinsone, and 3 days later got the Shingles AGAIN. So now my ortho and spine surgeon know not to give me any more cortisone. Also im a diabetic and it raises my glucose levels sky high.
    Good luck to you.
  • Today is 3 weeks after the Laminectomy Surgery. The first 10 day, was I wasn't prepared for the pain of moving(even in bed). The 4-5 inch incision is starting to heal and in some areas not much pain. It's way too early to judge, how succesful the surgery was but I'm walking w/o too much pain but still prolonged sitting or standing, lower back area pain require me to lie dow. Initially lots of pain in areas, you wouldn't think would be affected(down in to my groin area) also, if I wait to where I really have to urinate, when I stand, I'll have difficulty holding the urine back(I don't urinate on myself severly but it's visible on the front of my pants) I'm going to wait until October to see if I think I can work but I'm going to go ahead and get my doctors documentations and apply for a disability as a teacher. I see him this Wednesday. Most Orthopedists will tell you, you'll probably other complications down the road, I have problems in my C7 area and right shoulder needs an operation.At least taking out COBRA, enabled me to have, what is at least a 6 figure cost for about a $1,000.
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