You have some serious nerve compression; have you seen a spine specialist? If you haven't, or if you have seen only one, I would urge you to get more opinions on what kind of treatment might best treat your problems.
Nerve compression will not get better thru pain management...they can only treat the symptoms and after a while the bandaids won't help any more as the nerves become more compressed. Damage can become permanent.
I'm not a doctor nor do I have formal medical training...but I do have a lot of personal experience. My last surgery took place almost 2 years after I began having symptoms. I went to pain management trying hard to avoid surgery again; finally, the pain became so severe, that I gave in and went to see my orthopedic spine specialist, had a myelogram/ct scan and it was found that I had several areas where nerves were being compressed badly. Unfortunately, I probably waited too long and will most likely never have complete recovery of my left leg weakness. Much as I want to avoid surgery, I learned a lesson. Pain management can be wonderful and I certainly will continue to use it when needed, but I will not ever ignore symptoms of nerve compression again.
Please stay in touch and let us know how you are doing.
Lumbar surgery x 7 over the last 30 years.
cervical fusion...2 levels
medtronic pain pump implanted
Last surgery Oct, 2010, 3 levels
Thanks for your reply Carol, I appreciate your input.
Yeah..Permanent nerve damage is definitely a concern. I have seen 2 spine specialists, and just had a myelogram done which shows the nerve compression. So, yes I need surgery (fusion), but, I really can't afford it at this time. When I say I can't afford it, I don't mean monetarily, I cannot afford the 3 months it will take to recuperate. My wife's parents are elderly, my father-in-law is 90 and my mother-in-law is 84 and they are in need of so much help and care, that I cannot just lay the entire responsibility of helping them off on my wife. She has sisters, but they all live very far away and can only visit for a short time, which doesn't really help us. My in-laws are great, and they know I need the surgery, but I made a promised that I would help them. So, I figure I will only have to put the surgery off for a couple of years at most. Once I can concentrate on my recovery, I'll have it done.
To try and hold off on the surgery, I've done 8 rounds of ESI's/Facet injections, 2 rounds of physical therapy, chiropractic care (big mistake) and even tried a naprapath, but these did very little to alleviate my back and leg issues. In all honesty, the pain meds did more to help my pain than all of the above mentioned. I refuse to complain about my situation, there are people way worse off than me. I have days where it's tough to get things done and make it through the day, but it's only pain, I'm not gonna die from it.
Anyway, thanks again Carol for your input, I do appreciate it.
I do understand that you feel you have more needy obligations; however, you must also try to consider the future. Two years is a long time to have severe nerve compression and you risk permanent damage and life-long pain....not that there isn't the possibility that surgery won't "fix" everything, but it would decompress the nerves.
While it is true that you would be restricted for some time following surgery, in a couple of months you would be able to do things like run errands and help in other ways that wouldn't compromise your recovery. Of course, no one can make this decision for you, and I respect your concern and caring for the family. Please do also consider the fact that you are limited now in how much you can do to be helpful. It's quite possible that in a few months, your help might be needed much more than it is now and that by then, you could be well on your way to recovery.
The other thing that comes to mind is a medication that would help with the nerve pain.....neurontin, Lyrica, or topamax can help mask the pain. One of those, along with pain medication, could make you more comfortable.
I sincerely wish you the very best of luck no matter which way you decide to go.
Lumbar surgery x 7 over the last 30 years.
cervical fusion...2 levels
medtronic pain pump implanted
Last surgery Oct, 2010, 3 levels
I would definatly explore the option of surgery - it could preventfuthur damage, and also perhaps free you from your pain and pills.
If you do go down the surgical path, start taking a multivitamin, zinc and vitamin c a month before surgery and continue for 3 months after, they can greatly speed healing.
Re your medications, some people find that adding amitriptyline, at a dose of around 50mg at bedtime (start off at 12.5mg and increase to 50mg over 2 weeks) can help increase the releif they get. it is safe, non addictive and cheap.
A single daily dose of meloxicam 15mg (an antiinflamatory painkiller) can also give an extra measure of releif, it isnt habitforming and unlike most antiinflamatories, it doesnt cause ulcers or stomach irritation. Both of these drugs are $4 prescriptions, and would be well worth a 4 week trial to see if they can enhance the releif you get from your narcotics.
The desire to take medicines is what seperates man from the lower animals - William Ostler
I must say, 5 years on the same dose of Oxycontin is a long time without an increase. I think when I started taking it, I was upped 2-3X over the first couple years. It's one of the problems with the drug and fortunately I've been able to stay on the same dose these days for the past 2-3 years, maybe more, I don't remember. Best of Luck to you!
Just remember, it could always be worse!
I have learned the hard way that somethings cannot be let go.
Like Carol I went approx. 2yrs with a spinal herniation, but in my case the doctors stated it was not severe enough. My surgeon found much more in there then he bargained for & I ended up with nerve & muscle damage that I will have the rest of my life. Its a tough decision & surgery holds no promises. At the same time you do not want nerve damage for the rest of your life. There
God bless you as you have all good intentions but before that time is up you may be the one needling care & that is something to consider.
Is there anyway you could have someone come in & help with your in-laws if you have surgery?
Really you should ask your doctors what is the chance you may have more problems by waiting, they should be able to give you the best answer.
I put my surgery off for a couple months for the exact same reason, I was caring for others & it was the holidays so I felt my family needed me. It backfired & if I had to go back I would not put it off for even one day.
As far as the meds that is a long time with no increase, some doctors are hesitant because they feel your body just becomes immune to the meds. I have not clue whether this is true or not but you don't hear of a lot of doctors offering increases much even when patients are on lower doses.
Like you I was on the same dose for years. You may want to take the advice of others here & ask if he will try adding something & if that does not work ask for a raise in your dose. Its up to you of course & you would not be out of line asking for an increase after all this time.
I wish you the best of luck & God bless, Sammy
You are truly a good SIL. My hearts fills with love when I hear of someone like you. I too, am one of those who put off the surgery. EVEN THOUGH my mother had had back surgery and told me she was sorry she put it off for 10 years. I put mine off-even cancelled the first one. My surgeon had an EMG done and told me that if he found nerve damage my time was up. Yea, you guessed it nerve damage in my bad leg and the start of it in my good leg.
I scheduled my surgery and it was a nasty one. Instead of 3-5 hours it was almost 9. Had three discs replaced, rods pins screws etc.etc.etc, The next day when they got me up that first time my back broke above the fusion, but nobody would listen to me. They got me up to walk 2x a day with a broken back, unremittant pain and no one would listen to me. My surgeon was at a conference that he was hosting and didn't see me until a week past the surgery. He ordered an xray and I ended up in surgery for another 9 hours. I am now fused from T9 - sacrum. That turned into the makings of a horror movie. A month in a nursing home, learning how to walk again, MRSCR, DVT with clots to both lungs. I have since told my hubby that if I had to do it over again I wouldn't do it.
I, like you, had (they have both passed) parents that needed help. My Mom had Alzheimers, my daddy had an AAA. I really would have done better to be well when I was dealing with their issues. I was on the east coast and they were home in Minnesota. My walker was racking up so many miles that she almost could have had a free ticket! I needed the surgery, but for the heartache it caused me I often wonder if......as you say it is only pain you aren't going to die from it (although there are days that we wonder!).
Not to harp or to add anything more, but what bothered my surgeon most was the chance of permanent damage. Nothing in life is permanent, but I have permanent damage from putting it off too long. The funny thing is that my good leg is now my bad leg...and the damage is dead areas up and down my leg and my hips and across my back and has affected my married life as I am numb in other areas ..this being a family board.....ahem. It has also made sure that I can't pick up my grandsons and am under a weight limit for lifting.
You might want to think about it before you are the one getting the car such as I am now....and those who have spoke before me. sometimes you need to do for yourself so you CAN do for others.......you're a good man. Hang in there...
Hi everyone.... Thank you all for your advice and for sharing some of your own stories.
Well, since my last post, my father-in-law became very sick. He was vomiting all day last thursday, mostly watery fluid but later in the day to the point that he was throwing up blood. He also aspirated when he was vomiting and now has pneumonia and his right lung is closing up on him. At this time I have had no time to worry about myself, my wife and I have been stretched thin, with full time jobs and then the majority of our free time spent helping her mom and worrying about her dad.
I fully understand where everyone is coming from with regards to my own health, and hearing some of your own stories about putting off surgery really does help to open my eyes to the dangers of putting it off. I obviously can't really think about the surgery at this time, not until her father gets out of the hospital and even then I'm not sure it will be an option for a while. I am planning on taking some vacation time when he gets home to stay with them to help my mother-in-law. She is extremely worried that she will not be able to handle him on her own. I will spend the days with them and my wife will spend the nights there. To answer the question about getting others help, like I mentioned in my other post, her sisters can come and visit and help for a short time, but this is not a short time thing. All of my in-laws friends are elderly (obviously) and all of our friends have their own families and parents to take care of, so it really does fall squarely on my wife and me.
Anyway, sorry about getting off topic, this wasn't supposed to be about me taking care of my in-laws, it was about my back problems and pain issues, and others who have similar issues. I will be going to my first pain clinic appointment shortly. I have sent all my records and am waiting to set the appt. date. My plan is to ask about possibly getting some more ESI's and my pain meds increased. I don't know why, but I hate to even mention an increase in my meds, I've been made to feel like I'm taking so much already, but I've gotten to the point where I think an increase is warranted. I'm hoping to bridge the gap from now til surgery, with minimal nerve damage. Hopefully I can get some relief until I can get surgery. Thanks again everyone for your advice and experiences, I'll let everyone know how my appoint goes.
Well I wish you the best of luck.
When I mentioned bringing someone in I meant someone who deals with home health care or cares for the elderly. Usually its finances that keep families from doing this & that is completely understandable. This was my line of work at one time & we did this with my MIL just for a few hrs here & there when everyone was obligated or exhausted.
As far as PM & injections Ive had some luck there. My last set of ESIs was the most successful yet & the difference was I had them do bi lateral, inject both sides. I went through some with very little or no relief but gave it another shot after my surgery & they actually helped. There are a lot of factors involved I think but I am glad I did not give up. I almost felt normal after the last set. In fact I was shocked at the relief & wish everyone could get the same results.
Its wearing off but I'm all for going for a second set & third if I can.
I truly hope you get the relief you need.
I know you've probably heard this by now but do everything in your power not to lift anything heavy.That is what did me in.
Let us know how your appointment goes.
god bless, Sammy