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  • After 3 surgeries, what should I do next?

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    Old 07-01-2007, 02:01 PM   #1
    eddieJ85
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    After 3 surgeries, what should I do next?

    I guess I should explain my situation with as little typing as possible. My back problems began in 2003 when it was discovered I had several herniated disc and a pinched nerve which gave me back pain and pain down my left leg. Since then, I have had constant back problems resulting in 3 surgeries. I had two discectomy's, one in 2004, the other last october. They werent successful so in late april I had my most serious surgery to date, I had a spinal fusion and my disc's were completely removed and replaced. The main problem throughout my injury has been the pain caused by the pinched nerve. It would often cause me to limp and give me severe pain. I guess you could say I'm in the end stages of the recovery from the surgery. My other two only took a month to recover but this took much longer.

    Since my surgery, I had not had any left leg pain until about a week ago. It came back, and it came back just as painful as ever. Since then I've really been in a bit of denial. I'm only 21, I still live at home mainly due to the last two surgeries I've had. The thing is I haven't been able to maintain a job since my injury began and also had to miss school. Several months ago my father was laid off, since then money has been tight. To pay for my surgery, my mother got us on a type of insurance known as Cobra. The problem is she is telling me we are only covered until the end of July, and after that we can't continue. I'm not sure what to do, I haven't told her about my pain returning. We were told the surgery had an 80% chance of working.

    As I said I'm not sure about what to do. I don't want to burden my family anymore with bills and doctor visits. Yet at the same time, the type of pain this injury causes keeps me from going to school or maintaining a job so I want to get it fixed. I last saw my doctor on June 4th when I was still doing ok, i got x-rays done and he said I looked ok. He told me that if all is well, come back in two months for one last checkup. I actually think I should call on Monday and make an appoint for either later this or the next week, because of this sudden change. I've been in therapy about 3 weeks and although I feel a little more fit than when I went in, nothing about my back has changed. I guess my question is what would be the best way to go, medically speaking. Since for now I'm only covered until the end of July, I'm thinking of just asking him at the next app to get an mri, just so we can check things and see, then go from there. Yet at the same time, what else is there? What is there left for them to do to me? I've had three surgeries, could more help? I'm just not sure really what to do, it feels my life is out of control because of this back problem.

     
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    Old 07-02-2007, 10:19 AM   #2
    eddieJ85
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    Re: After 3 surgeries, what should I do next?

    Well I called today, but I couldn't get in until July 16th. However, I'm not worried about not being able to get an mri. Whenever I have needed one from them it has been scheduled within a day or two. I'm thinking, based on the mri results, that maybe an epidural shot before the month runs out might help. Or at least be worth a try before surgery.

     
    Old 07-02-2007, 10:24 PM   #3
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    Re: After 3 surgeries, what should I do next?

    Hi Eddie. Talk to your PT about any and all pain you are having. It's very normal to be flared up going through rehab PT after fusion surgery. It's very normal and you should expect some "bumps in the therapy road". I had them and some real big ones too!

    I was told to expect them, respect them, and move on from them.

    But also, in talking with your PT.. they might need to change what they are doing with you some to help you through this flare up.

    You are still on meds aren't you? If you are hurting and flared up, it will slow your PT progress.

    Good luck to you.
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    Old 07-03-2007, 06:30 AM   #4
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    Re: After 3 surgeries, what should I do next?

    Well the problem is, yes they told me to expect pain after the surgery. However, they said that after this long, I shouldn't be feeling the nerve pain if it was successful. I've felt the soreness from going to physical therapy, but this is a different kind of pain. As I side, it is identical to the leg pain I had prior to my surgery. That is what worries me, if the surgery didn't work, what is next? I suppose there are other surgery options I could do. Maybe since I've already had this major surgery it wouldn't take a surgery equally as major to fix. Who knows, I guess I'll have to find out next time I see my doctor, which is unfortunately not for 2 weeks.

    Also yes I am still taking medication, mainly Vicodin ES. However, I think it is too soon to get off the meds because my surgery was only 2 months ago(2 month mark was on june 28th) and they said it would take most likely the entire summer to be fully recovered. Plus I did have another surgery last october, and I was put on pain medication a few weeks before that. So I've been on pain medication this entire time, so they also can't just take me off them. I mean, I suppose my doctor *could* just take me off them, but I think it would be quite un-ethical given what would happen with withdrawal etc.

     
    Old 07-03-2007, 06:39 AM   #5
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    Re: After 3 surgeries, what should I do next?

    Eddie ,
    Like Tammy said , you only had surgery 2 months ago , I believe the surgeon inject some type of numbing agent that stay's in your body for a few months so the pain your experiencing may be your nerves waking up. Your way to early to think something is wrong. I had a total of 4 surgeries on my back , I have ton's of scar tissue ( you probably do to after 3 surgeries) a bulge and other stress problems below my fusion. I had the spinalcord implant to help with my leg/feet pain , but I realized no more surgeries is going to fix me. I'l live with back pain forever. Sorry you have to deal with this at a young age..I was 37 when I was injured.

     
    Old 07-03-2007, 08:01 AM   #6
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    Re: After 3 surgeries, what should I do next?

    HI Eddie,
    I'm so sorry your in such pain. As others have said 2 months is just the tip of the iceberg of recovery. It takes 12-18 months to fully recover from a fusion, then you will know what you will be living with permanently. Did the doc tell you if you were fusing? at 2 months post op it should be way to soon to tell. As Shawley said your nerve pain can be just them waking up from not being compressed any longer. You may want to ask your dr. about a nerve pain med like neurontin, vicodin won't touch your nerve pain at all. I would think that might be your next option. If your fusions was a succuss and there is no other option to "fix" you then the neurontin should be a big help to your problem, and it's one of the $4 drugs so you won't have that big of an expense even without the ins. I know for me the neurontin was a big help with the permanent nerve damage pain that I have.

    I do hope you get some relief soon, it's tough when you have to work around ins. I went without ins. several times over the past 5 yrs. but you work thru it and end up ok even when you don't think you will. Hang in there, it will all work out.

    God Bless

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    Old 07-03-2007, 08:58 PM   #7
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    Re: After 3 surgeries, what should I do next?

    It is way to early to be thinking that something must be wrong. Nerve pain is to be expected at this stage so early in your recovery. Back fusion surgery can mean a long and slow recovery with it's ups and downs and it can demand some patience. Surgery for back problems is not an sure cure and mutiple surgeries do leave you with scarring which can also be the cause of some of your problems. Right now you need good pain management and perhaps an anti seizure medication like lyrica or neurontin to help you deal with any residual nerve pain. The last thing you need at this stage is more surgery. So please be patient and give your body time to fully recover.
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    Old 07-08-2007, 10:05 AM   #8
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    Re: After 3 surgeries, what should I do next?

    Sorry I haven't checked this board in a few days, but I have question: Given the type of surgery I had, and the fact that I had it on April 27th, when do you think would be a good time to go off the pain medication? I still feel pain, and I still notice the only thing that truly helps is the vicodin(as I constantly try stuff like ibuprofen and other stuff like that)

    I just want to make sure it isn't abnormal for me to still be requiring pain medication, since it has been a little over 2 months since the surgery(71 days total) Obviously I am not taking nearly as much as I was in the time directly after my surgery..sometimes i only need 2 a day, and on really bad days sometimes I go through 6. I mean my doctor continues to give me refills and hasn't said anything like "we need to get you off them soon" but I'd just thought I'd ask other people who have had similar surgeries.

    Last edited by eddieJ85; 07-08-2007 at 10:07 AM.

     
    Old 07-08-2007, 10:12 AM   #9
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    Re: After 3 surgeries, what should I do next?

    I had a fusion on April 30th and am still on pain meds. Do not push yourself, if you have pain and need the meds, take them. Didn't your surgeon tell you not to take anti-inflamatories like ibuprofen for the first 3 months? The NSAIDs interfere with bone growth and can hinder your fusion. I have significant arthritis (need knee replacements) and have a minimum of 1 more month without my ibuprofen.

     
    Old 07-08-2007, 12:11 PM   #10
    eddieJ85
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    Re: After 3 surgeries, what should I do next?

    Might I ask what type of pain meds you are on exactly? I am currently taking Vicodin ES(7.5/750) I'm just curious to see what someone else with the same surgery is taking at this junction.

     
    Old 07-08-2007, 02:25 PM   #11
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    Re: After 3 surgeries, what should I do next?

    Eddie, i had my surgery 17 month ago and i still take my Percocet, Zanaflex, Neurontin... Percocet i don't take as others, just when pain is bad, i try to be careful about narco med at this point. But 2 month after surgery and 9, etc. month after surgery i was on it constantly. Don't worry about take it when you in pain, since pain can prevent your body from heailing.
    You are still in a very early stage on your recovery, so pain will be with you for a while and even in a future you will have better days and worse days.
    No good answer for your question how long people take pain meds: some of them for life, some of them 2 month - everybody is different.
    You give yourself a chance to heal, takes time, honey, just be patient.

    Also, about your medical insurance: are you on disability or not? I know that when you on disability for 2 years - they offer you Medicare insurance. Maybe they will have some sort of other State help if you are still a student and can't work?
    Best of luck on your recovery - come and talk to us, will help you a lot.

     
    Old 07-08-2007, 05:46 PM   #12
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    Re: After 3 surgeries, what should I do next?

    Eddie,

    I am really not the right person to ask on what pain meds, because I am allergic to most. I can't take morphine, oxi, hydro, etc. I am taking Darvocet. It really doesn't do much more than take the edge off. I have to do a lot of "grin and bear it". Please do not let it worry you that you are taking a stronger med, as I would be if I could. The last time I talked to my surgeon, I had a reaction to Ultracet and she told me that I better be careful, because I was running out of pain meds.

     
    Old 07-30-2007, 07:33 AM   #13
    eddieJ85
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    Re: After 3 surgeries, what should I do next?

    I just thought I'd give an update on what happened.

    As I said before, I made an appointment with my surgeon for July 16th. I saw him then and he told me pain at this juncture was still completely normal, even the leg pain I described. He also said that we don't need an MRI because it wouldn't show us anything. He basically told me to just give it time and see if the pain disappears, then prescribed me more pain meds.

    Well, it has been two weeks since that appointment. Since then, the leg pain has lessened. However, my lower back pain has increased, mainly around the area where my incision was.

    Now the problem is my surgeon is reluctant to give me any more pain meds and asked me to go see a PM doctor. The problem is my insurance is out and I simply can't afford it. So I made an appointment with my GP instead because it is less expensive and I am hoping I will have to go there less than I would a PM doctor, but the appointment isn't until August 8th. So I am very nervous that my doctor won't give me one last refill until then, he has never let me down before but you never know. I guess I'll find out in a few hours.

     
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