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Thursday, May 6, 2010

Long Update- Grab a Cup of Joe!

I just wanted to let everyone know that I've been holding up ok.
And so is kitteh, as evidenced in her new hangout spot within my houseplants!

Since early March, I've been plagued with a back spasm that just hasn't let up or given me any relief. After seeing my PCP, and her subsequently telling me that she wouldn't give me the combination of medications I know would have cleared this up... I had to resort to making an appointment with a neurosurgeon.

Needless to say, don't trust the fancy name unless you know someone that has seen them before and can provide an excellent reference. It took me nearly three weeks to get in to see this doctor, and after being poked, prodded and made to do move in ways that I had already explained were extremely painful for me. His recommendation for treatment was "Heat/Ice Therapy, Chiropracter, Physical Therapy, Narcotics, Tens (electrical stimulation and ultrasound therapy), Accupuncture, Giving Up, Some Fine Surgery".

Giving up?
Seriously? A doctor, a neurosurgeon, told me to give up.
I'm certain some of my readers here have dealt with pain... And some even with chronic pain... Would you for even a moment think of giving up????

I left his office empty handed. No medications, not even prednisone which in my case would have been used as an anti-inflammatory which was badly needed. I made sure to insist I had an order for an x-ray, and MRI. Symptoms thus far had been the back spasm, on my spinal column, radiating out toward just above my right hip. From here, the pain radiated upwards a little bit, but the majority was the shooting pain, numbness, and pins and needles that would go right through down my hip, bum and all the way down my leg and out my toes. Random times I'd fall. Just be standing, then boom- on the ground. Go to stand up from a sitting position, boom, right back down on the floor. Kneel down, attempt to bend, it could be anything. Boom... Falling on my knees, bum, side.... It didn't matter.

I had the X-ray done. Then the MRI. Refused to go back to the "neurosurgeon".

The second doctors I got ahold of, the "Orthopedic Specialists" who took me another two weeks to get in to see them told me they didn't see anything wrong with my back. Not from the MRI, not from anything. He sat there, asked me questions, checked my reflexes in my knee.... And that was the end of my appointment. The audacity of this doctor that got me the most was that he said this was all in my head. And obviously I have a nerve problem.
I thought this was a little silly- so I questioned him... If there's no problem, why are you saying there's something wrong with the nerve in my right leg. Particularly the sciatica. His response was to promptly get up and leave.

His assistant was kind enough to come back with a prescription to refer me to yet another specialist- to have a nerve test done. I didn't need that- I needed my back fixed. I was only at that point able to broach the subject of taking short term leave from work to get my back issues sorted out, diagnosed correctly, and fixed. The assistant left, then came back and told me it would be $175 for this new doctor to fill out the paperwork. Three pages. Two hundred bucks. I was appalled. I questioned that- cried in the office, I was so hurt at this point. In this amount of pain, no medication, driving myself to the limit because things needed to get done and I was the only one I could rely on... I was having a mini-break down.

That doctor popped his head into my waiting room and simply said "I won't fill this out for you. You need to see the neurosurgeon you had initially seen to get this done. Have a nice day."

I broke down. Took my records, didn't give them any further paperwork, and informed them I was not going to be back ever- nor refer their practice to anyone else.

So started the Emergency Backup Plan.
14 days, turned in to 7. I packed up some of my things, made an emergency call to my parents- and said I need you to come pick me up. They drove down to VA to come get me... Packed what I needed, and scooted me back home. Now my doctor up here had all my records before I had seen him- which is what I planned.

A good piece of advice for anyone with back problems- see first an DO- Doctor of Osteopathy. My doctor here has helped me through this since my first two injuries- my car accident in 2007, then falling down the stairs right after Christmas that same year. I've had flare-ups since then- but nothing this severe or long lasting.

Over the last week, he's helped me more than both those other two nuts did in two months. I have medications- muscle relaxants, and a pain reliever. He was appalled that all I've been taking was Excedrin Back & Body for the amount of pain and spasms I was literally hunched over with. My first appointment, he couldn't touch me- I was too bound up. This was when the pain meds and muscle relaxants were called in. I also had a steroidal shot in my rear end that would bring down the inflammation. Waited two days- and had to see him again. Not much relief- which not only was he surprised at, but he could feel in my back as well. He couldn't touch me for fear of hurting me.

So last week, he put me on an oral dose of steroids in addition to the rest of the medications. Today marked the day of the time passed, and I went to see him again. I had fallen twice this past weekend. Once on Saturday on to pavement (of course, the one day I venture out) and this morning, coming down stairs. That wasn't so bad, as I made myself push back and just sort of landed on the stairs sitting down hard. Diagnosis from me? Pain is alleviated to manageable, but the spasm has not let up. He felt as much as well. On the table, he had me relax as best as he could, then moved my right leg around. Excruciating in most positions.

Then he says, there... That's it.

What's it?

He said "You've got a severely torn ligament on the right side of your spinal column. This makes sense- it wouldn't show up on the x-ray or MRI, but I can feel it slipping. Your disc is slid out. This is the reason for the amount of pain you're in."

Me "Oh. Great."

Doctor "Well, you're young... You'll heal... But this will take a while, and you need to stay absolutely quiet. I need to do a procedure on you to help this give you relief- is that ok?"

Me "Yes. Anything, please. I don't want to hurt."

Doctor "On a scale of 1-10, right now where are you?"

Me "Between 9-10."

Doctor "High threshold of pain?"

Me "Yes. Usually why I end up hurt more than I should by the time I get to the doctor."

Doctor "You need to not wait that long from now on, ok?"

Me "Ok."

So.... Today.
Two nerve blocks, with more steroids. Let me tell you.... Having it done wasn't as bad as it seemed it would be. My doctor has magic hands- he really does. Told me there may be a slight chance of bleeding, or infection to the injection site. It would hurt- the medicine going in. It did... But only for a moment. And in that moment... Relief. Pain level went from 9-10 to 7 in 5 minutes. Level 5 in another 5 minutes. Here I sit tonight, and I'm at a level 4. Manageable. Didn't think I would feel this kind of relief for a while, nevermind by having my doctor suggest this as an alternative.

As it stands, I have to go back in another week for a checkup with him. As I'm making progress more slowly than he'd like, and I'm going a little stir-crazy in the process, whatever it takes to get me back to semi-normal would be just fine with me at this point. I'd be quite thankful. If this block lasts for at least the next week, that means he'll be able to help me more and we'll have at least some sort of idea at a treatment plan. However, if things backtrack- it would mean that other options- including surgery- would then have to be discussed. But when that time comes upon me... I shall do so.

As things look, I'll be working sporadically. I'm not used to sitting around and being idle.... But I'm also having some trouble making my jewelry since my hands are still shaking. I think I'll try to make some tomorrow- but we shall see just how well I progress along. I'm also home amongst my scrapbooking stash- which makes me rub my hands together and grin! So many stickers and embellishments... I don't think I'd have room for another shop on Etsy! Perhaps I'll just make them for my friends and family... Who knows.

My sincere apologies for ranting and raving on and on to everyone... But I wanted to let everyone in on what's been going on, and why I haven't had the chance to be online much at all.


  1. Wow lady! I am so sorry you've had to go through all of that for some relief, but I'm so happy you have some relief now. I really hope this is your fast track to healing! Isn't it disgusting what we have to go through these days to find a good doctor who's willing to actually HELP the patient...grrr

  2. Keep the faith Amanda! I know back pain all too well and mine is also from a car accident back in '89. Took years to get worse and not walk before anybody would do anything to really help.

    Once I got the help, it was then up to me to keep it in shape by keep weight off, walking and stretching. For the most I have been pain free now for over 5 years except for the occasional muscle spasm but that is due to not stretching as much as I should or really really overdoing it. I may have a spasm once or twice a year now but that is better in 2-7 days with heat, stretching and staying active to loosen it up. I have learned what works and what doesn't work in not only keeping the back healthy but nursing it back to normal.

    I had a herniated disc and two other bulging discs that were pushing on the sciatica causing numbness and needles and the occasional leg give out. There was also a time when stretching a stiff back that I felt a ligament in my hip/lower back area snap or pop and it was intense pain and could not move. Could barely move and ended up going to ER for xrays only to be told there was anything showing up so they gave me vocodin and said take it easy.

    Anyway, keep your spirits up and things will get better!! I am a good listener if you ever want to talk.

    Take care!
    Steve Kennedy (Sk graphic design)

  3. Thank you both Wendi and Steve!

    Your kind words of encouragement are just what I needed tonight :)
    It's difficult to keep positive, but now that I'm finally being taken seriously and having relief- it's a breath of fresh air that I can finally relax a little in to.

    Even though I'm not out of the woods yet, things are looking more positive than they had before- and for that... I'm so very, very thankful.

    Steve- What kind of stretches do you tend to do?
    I have some that at times work, and others make me worse... There haven't really been consistent ones that I can do- which makes it rough because it's not knowing first if I'm hurting or helping myself until it's too late.

    I'm sure glad your back is doing better- and I hope it stays that way for you as well!

  4. Here is a link to most of them except the hands and knees one and refex.


    Usually 6, 8, 9 and 12 on thses.

    I bend and stretch as far as possible and each day it gets better becuase it is loosening up and becoming more mobile allowing to stretch further. Do whatever you can though at your own pace!

    Take care.



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