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    Old 12-15-2007, 12:01 AM   #1
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    Controlling pain AND anxiety

    Hi all,

    I posted recently, and I really appreciate everyone reading and responding to the best of their abilities.

    I've been having an extremely hard time with my back pain, and I think I've reached the point where it can be considered chronic pain. The doctor told me I have nerve damage, and no one is able to determine when or if it will ever heal.

    Up until a few week ago, I was dealing with my situation (missing school for this semester and possibly next, my general limitations in doing anything, etc.) relatively well from an emotional standpoint. I was obviously upset about it, but I do not have a depressed or anxious personality whatsoever; in fact, I'm very open minded and objective, and I try to take any situation I'm thrown into positively.

    Unfortunately, after I got the news from my spinal surgeon that it was pretty definite that I had nerve damage that may never heal, I've gone down a slippery emotional slope. It has taken a huge toll on me, and I've found that I'm almost completely consumed by my pain. I've never once in my life been this depressed, and I'm having an extremely hard time dealing with it.

    I'm still very open minded to anything to make me feel better, but I just feel generally unmotivated and upset. However, I do make an enormous effort to be myself around my family, especially my younger siblings. Without giving you a sob story, which I'm not trying to do at all, I broke down tonight worse than I ever have before in my life. I feel helpless, depressed, and just tremendously stressed out. I find that in addition to my pain, I am constantly tense, I get frequent headaches, and my chest tightens up whenever I begin to think about my situation. What do I do? How have you guys learned how to deal physically AND emotionally with your pain?

    Once again, my intention here is not to look for sympathy, but to seek out first hand information about the way people in similar situations deal with the problems that are affecting me. Just as a side note, since I found this forum several days ago, I've felt almost at home hearing you guys discussing things that I can relate to. Although my parents and family and friends are extremely supportive, they cannot totally relate to what we are going through, and I really do feel a connection to everyone going through what I am. So please, can anyone give me some advice with how to deal with this? Whether it's a medication, or a technique, or anything else, I really just need help. I'm going to see a therapist on Monday, which I think will be beneficial, but I'd love to hear from you guys how you have overcome these terrible situations that we are burdened with.

    Thank you so much guys. Feel better everyone.

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    Old 12-15-2007, 06:14 AM   #2
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    Re: Controlling pain AND anxiety

    I would imagine the biggest issue you are dealing with right now is the fact that you are young and may have this for the rest of your life. I am 43 and when my CP started almost 3 yrs. ago it was hard to take. I still consider myself very young and when i see people 15-20 yrs. older than me getting around better than i do, it used to frustrate the hell out of me. Sometimes it still does i suppose.

    Normally people who deal with chronic pain also have the added benefit of depression and/or anxiety. It is sad and very hard to accept. Please realize that it is what it is. It does not define you and it does not limit you. It simply changes the path on which you walk. This is something that we all have struggled with but i swear my CP has made me a better person. I am emotionally, mentally, and logically stronger than i have ever been. The only control you have with CP is following doctors, using common sense and making sure that you have the support you need to live with this. Other than that there really is nothing you can do. For that reason, accept the fact that you just may have to live with CP for the rest of your life. Once you do accept the reality of it, you will learn to cope and the anxiety will release it's hold on you. Anxiety is simply a state of panic when we have no control. DO NOT let it beat you!!!!

    You are young and there may be more options available to you than us older folks. Is your pain being controlled? Have you spoken to your dr. about your anxiety? If not, then please do. It is of the upmost importance to be honest with them about this because most doctors do realize that CP, depression, and anxiety go hand and hand. They can help you. A place such as this board is also an excellent way to vent and get the support that we all so desperately need from other people who ARE actually walking in our shoes.

    Please hang in there and BREATHE!!! Your body and mind will thank you. You can do this and someday you will be a supportive advocate for other people like you. You will be better and stronger for it. Trust me.

    ((((HUGS)))) and god bless you, morgy porgy

    P.S. Your post was very articulate and after reading it you sound just like i did in the beginning. I have a VERY VERY strong feeling about you and i really think you are gonna be fine no matter what life throws at you. It seems to me that you are in the recognition phase right now. The acceptance stage will come very soon and when it does, you will know. A weight will be lifted.
    God Bless everyone and pray for a pain manageable day. morgy porgy

    Last edited by morgyporgy; 12-15-2007 at 06:20 AM.

    Old 12-15-2007, 06:21 AM   #3
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    Re: Controlling pain AND anxiety

    It really saddens me to hear from someone so young dealing with this curse. The only thing that helps me get through is God. I'm sure if I wouldn't have turned to God a few years ago I would not be here today. He helped me deal with my wife's lung cancer and my pain. Now He's helping me deal with the fact that my son, who's in the AirForce serving in Germany, has not answered my letters or e-mail for more than 3 months. This is totally out of character for him. But with God I can make it through anything! Fred

    Old 12-15-2007, 06:32 AM   #4
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    Re: Controlling pain AND anxiety

    It is hard, I to deal with both including as well depression. Some of my meds are dual acting like cymbalta it is for depression and anxiety and chronic pain and nerve pain. Also I take topomax for nerve pain, it also helps with the anxiety but you probably couldn't take it if you are going to school, cause it greatly effects your brain, or it does mine.

    I take meds for anxiety and meds for pain.

    Its hard, its really hard to deal with all of it. I think we are all trying to find a way to deal with it. The best thing though is to make sure you are taking an anti depressant for sure, and to try to find a support system. I know its hard when our familys and friends don't understand, our friends disappear and everything else. this board has been a lifeline to me

    Hang in there. Keep trying to think positive and fighting for yourself, FIght throught it.

    Old 12-15-2007, 06:58 AM   #5
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    Re: Controlling pain AND anxiety

    My heart just broke reading through your message. I agree with Fred in that if God was not in my life I do not know what I would do. Having God and people at church who are praying for me is a big plus. I would hope that one of your doctors could give you something to help with your pain and that you would be okay in taking it. I have a daughter in law who has depression and I am so glad at 22 she is able to continue to take her medication because it does help her so much. I understand pain is different but with pain many times comes depression. I will be praying for you. God Bless.

    Old 12-15-2007, 07:00 AM   #6
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    Re: Controlling pain AND anxiety

    Hi Zach - Welcome to the chronic pain family - I really enjoy meeting the new people who find their way into this website. Everyone has had good advice. I, for one, would like to know more about your situation - how did you injure your back, have you had any interventions yet (epidurals, nerve blocks, physical therapy, etc.)? I guess I should go back and read your initial posts - so I'll do that after I finish up here. Although you say that you are a pretty adaptable kind of guy, I would also guess that you are most relaxed and on an even-keel mentally when your life is going according to YOUR plan and things happen in a very organized and predictable way. I just get that feeling about you....perhaps you might call yourself a perfectionist? Is that right or am I off totally? Everyone likes to have as much control over their lives as they possibly can. Most folks get a bit nervous when things become unpredictable. You've gone from a life where I bet you had all your ducks in a row, pehaps had a 4 or 5 year plan as to what you would be doing or where you'd be in your life after school. Now comes a great big elephant called pain....stomping through your life, your plans. You've lost the ability to predict from day to day how you will feel and whether or not you can get to class. Add to this the fact that nobody in the medical field has given you an accurate and definitive diagnosis. Saying you have nerve damage is a diagnosis I guess...but what's the reason for the nerve damage? Is there a disc bulging somewhere? Is there a narrowing of your spinal canal that is pinching nerves? Do you have a small compression fracture somewhere? I'm hoping your doctor has or will run more in-depth tests to determine the cause of your pain. I think that once you have a real diagnosis your anxiety level will go down a few notches. Dealing with the unknown is so stressfull!! I would like to suggest that you either go back to your doc and get some answers or find a new doctor and get a second opinion. I would also try to get a referal or the name of a good therapist who deals specifically with the type of depression and anxiety that go along with chronic pain. They are out there and can often be found by asking someone at a doctor's office where they treat chronic pain. You can even call a hospital that has a University medical school connected to it and ask for the number of the pain managment department. They should be able to help you. Finally Zach, I think you should continue to come to this site and use it as a place to vent and to ask questions. There are quite a few posters here who are on the younger side and who've voiced the same concerns that you have. I know they will be along to help out. Don't give up! And although you probably will have to accept that your life now has a pain component to it, that doesn't mean that you've lost all control or that the pain will become bigger than you are as a person. You have many, many options. All the best - sorry this is so long - Memere (Kath'Mac)

    Old 12-15-2007, 10:28 AM   #7
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    Re: Controlling pain AND anxiety seem like such a wonderful guy who simply wants to feel normal. I, too, have felt like you do...figuring out you have a condition that could last forever, and that you must learn to cope with. I will promise you this: it will get better. I don't mean physically, because I don't know the extent of your damage. I mean emotionally and mentally. You will dig deep inside yourself and come out of this stronger than ever! You know that old saying, "what doesn't kill you will make you stronger." Well, back pain may make you feel like you're dying, but it won't kill you, and I just KNOW you'll be stronger because of it!

    You will find ways of coping. It may take meds, counseling, and of course the Lord, but you will find many ways to live with this pain. I'm a firm believer that prayer changes things, and I'll be praying for you, my friend. Don't give up hope on your dreams and goals. I believe you'll meet and even exceed them in the months and years to come! This is a hurdle you must hop...a bump in the road...and you will overcome.

    Keep us posted, and know we're ALL here for you!!

    Old 12-15-2007, 04:58 PM   #8
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    Re: Controlling pain AND anxiety

    I'm seeing a therapist on Monday, which I'm looking forward to, and right after I'm going to see the PM doctor. I'm really hoping to get onto an LA medication and then a breakthrough medication, in addition to a muscle relaxant and an anti-depressant. I've done a lot of research on different medications, and how they affect people who seem to have extremely high tolerances. It sounds like Kadian is a really good medication, although I have never tried morphine before. Percocet worked for me for a while, but then stopped entirely. However, perhaps a high dose of OxyContin might work well for me? Any suggestions are welcome. It also seems like Valium might be a good idea for me, as it has anti-anxiety and muscle relaxing properties. I think I'm going to suggest this to my doctor. Also, a lot of people have recommended Cymbalta to me, and it does sound like a good idea in combination with a higher dose of Lyrica. I'm also getting in with an acupuncturist sometime this week, which I hear good things about. I'm really open to any alternative treatment, as long as it MIGHT get me better. All I want to do is control my pain, because getting rid of it seems like more and more of an impossibility. My chances of getting back to school next semester have become very slim, and that's a very, very sad fact for me. I need to be immersed in my college life, because I absolutely love it. I'm a very social person, and I know all of my friends miss me tremendously. On the other hand, I know deep down that if I go back to school in the state I'm in right now, it wouldn't be a good thing at all. I'm having so much trouble relaxing, and I find myself on the verge of panic attacks, which is something I've never experienced before. And this is on top of my pain. Again, I'm just venting here, I'm not trying to get sympathy, although I do appreciate everyone who gives it. I'm just not the type of person who has ever been depressed, and I don't normally get stressed or anxious, and I'm just not used to it. Someone said earlier that they got the feeling I was a perfectionist; I'm not REALLY like that. I'm a New York kid who goes to school in California, and usually I'm laid back and open minded, but still very assertive and personable. That's who I am deep down, but that part of my personality has been significantly changed.

    What do you guys think? I know this is EXTREMELY long, but I've been having such a hard time, and relaying my story is a good way to vent for me. Some of you asked for specifics of my situation, so here it is. I thank anyone who read to this point for going through my whole story. I know a lot of it is repetitive, I either said it in my OP here or in my post from the other day, but there are obviously a lot more specifics here. So thanks SO much for reading through all of this, it really does mean a lot to me. I actually just noticed the "Stories" section on top of the board, so I'm not sure whether this belongs there, but I am new here, so let me know in the future if that's where this kind of post needs to go. Again, I'm just seeking advice all around; alternative treatments, medications, and ANY way I can control my pain and bring my level down from an eight to a three or four.

    Thank you so much for listening, and I will be checking back constantly. Happy holidays to everyone, I hope they can bring you all joy despite whatever pain everyone here is in. Feel good all.

    Last edited by zach88; 12-15-2007 at 05:02 PM. Reason: Wanted all three posts to read sequentially. Thanks!

    Old 12-15-2007, 05:02 PM   #9
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    Re: Controlling pain AND anxiety

    Ten days later I went for the second shot. My parents wanted to speak with the PM doctor afterwards and discuss other options, and I wanted to talk to him about potentially prescribing me a new narcotic. When I woke up from the shot I had a nurse get him for me, and he brushed me off quickly telling me that my medication and pain relief was the shot and nothing else, and that they "don't prescribe narcotics." He also wouldn't give my parents the time of day and speak with them at all. Obviously, we were all very disturbed.

    I went through the same hopeful process of waking up every morning following my shot, but I still found no relief. Another call was put into my surgeon, and I was able to make an appointment with him two weeks from that day. This meant two weeks of a lot of pain and nothing to help me with it. Tramadol was not cutting it anymore, I did not want to take the Darvocet, and Soma, which was the only thing helping me, had run out. My mom actually called my original orthopedist, who was as nice as can be, and he was able to call in two weeks worth of Soma and Vicodin for me. So I was set until I saw my doctor.

    I went to see the doctor, and basically, he told me a third shot would be unproductive, and my choices were to go ahead with a discectomy, or wait it out and hope that maybe in three years I'd feel better. The choice was pretty much clear. This was the end of July, and we scheduled surgery for September 13th, rendering it impossible for me to get back to school. I was very sad, but knew it needed to be done. My doctor was great from that point on about prescribing me meds. He put me on Percocet (5/325) and Soma. After three weeks I was getting concerned about my Tylenol intake, so he happily wrote me a script for Oxycodone 5mg, just without the acetaminophen. When this stopped working, he recommended Dilaudid 2mg, which worked for about a week, and then become ineffective. I found myself getting progressively frustrated that every time I started a new medication, my tolerance would build up so incredibly quick. When I went to see him before surgery, he renewed my Dilaudid, and also gave me Vicodin just to alternate between the narcotics. He completely understood my tolerance issues.

    I was almost looking forward to my surgery. I couldn't wait to start feeling better and getting back into my normal lifestyle. I was very hopeful and optimistic, and this kept me from becoming depressed at all.

    My surgery went great, I wasn't nervous at all beforehand. Everyone involved was as nice as could be, and my doctor made me feel incredibly comfortable. It was really such an ideal situation for such a serious surgery (at least it was in my head).

    The night in the hospital after my surgery was not so great however. I was relaxed and calm, just in a lot of pain. I bled a lot more than I should have, and no one was concerned, but my bandages were changed frequently. I was on a Dilaudid pump, and in retrospect, I think I should have requested Morphine. It did nothing but make me itchy, make it very hard to urinate, and make me overall out of it. I was in a lot of pain. I got no sleep that night, but my mom stuck it out with me and was so very supportive. For the past ten months, my parents have been so supportive and wonderful, and I don't know what I would do at this point without them being there for me.

    All I wanted to do the following day was leave the hospital. The pump wasn't working anyway, so I had them take me off of it, and they gave me either Percocet or Vicodin, I don't remember which, but I told them that I was feeling better just so I could go home and get some rest. My doctor left me with scripts for Oxycodone 5mg, Vicodin 5/500, and Soma.

    The next couple of weeks went well. I was so happy everything was over with, and I was really optimistic about getting better. A lot of my friends came home to visit me, my grandparents came to visit from Florida, and everyone was great. My pain did not get any better, but I think because I was so happy and optimistic, my overall well being improved, and in turn I felt a little better. I started physical therapy, and I was very into getting back into shape, because I hadn't exercised in almost seven months. Again, my doctor was great about continuing my medication, and he started me on Norco 7.5/325 and Elavil (50mg) for nighttime, and I continued with the Soma. Throughout anything, Soma has been the only medication that I feel has really helped me. It doesn't relieve my pain, but it loosens me up to the point that I'm not tense. If I'm not on Soma, I'm very tight and tense, and every move I make I anticipate pain. This is not good for the way I move, and in turn for my pain and stress. Soma enables me to move around better and relax my entire body, although it does not cut any of the pain.

    About three weeks after surgery, I essentially plateaued. I wasn't feeling any better, and I began to get discouraged. My doctor told me that this was normal for some people and I just needed to be patient. He said I would start feeling better most likely within a week or two. I continued with physical therapy, and then one day the therapist came over to me and asked me how much pain I was in. Apparently it was very evident to him from the way I was moving that I was still in a tremendous amount of pain, and he told me to take it much easier than I had been. He told me if I wanted to come in, they would just give me heat, ice me, and massage me. It worked out, because I was going to Florida to visit my grandparents for a week, and he advised me to simply walk back and forth in the pool. I hoped that a week in the sun and in a different environment would maybe make me feel better. Although I had a great time, I was still in so much pain. As each day passed, I would become more and more discouraged and upset about the situation I was in. I didn't understand; I was under the impression that once the nerve in my back was relieved of the pressure the disc was putting on it, my nerve would begin to heal and I would feel better. I began to think that this wasn't the case, and that potentially I had something else going on.

    From the end of September to the end of November, all I was taking was Soma and Norco 7.5/325. Although it's a weak narcotic, it did provide minimal relief for me, but it only lasted about thirty minutes. I didn't seem to build such a tolerance to it either, which was a good thing I supposed. I stopped taking the Elavil because it just wasn't working and there was no point in continuing with a medication like that. I went to see my doctor again, and he was concerned that I was still in so much pain. He ordered another MRI, with and without contrast. This time, the MRI showed that my L5-S1 disc was protruding but not compressing the nerve. There was also significant scar tissue. He recommended that I go back to the pain management center I had gotten my shots at, and try another epidural shot. He though that because the disc was no longer herniated, the anti-inflammatory might work on the scar tissue.

    We didn't want the same PM doctor, so we were able to make an appointment with a new one. Although he seemed like he was on cocaine, and I only say this because he talked a mile a minute, he was really knowledgeable and I much preferred him to my last PM doctor. He wanted to set me up with another series of three shots, and "max me out" on different medications. So, I made appointments for three shots, three consecutive Fridays in a row. He said he didn't like Soma because it metabolized into Miltown, which I was a little upset about because it was the only medication that had been helping me, but I was very open to his new suggestions. He put me on 8mg of Dilaudid four times a day, 4mg of Zanaflex three times a day, 50mg of Lyrica three times a day, and 7.5mg of Mobic once a day. He felt that this regiment of medications would really provide relief with me in combination with the three epidurals.

    I went for my first epidural at the very end of November, very excited about making some progress. I had been on the new medications for about ten days, and they weren't doing ANYTHING at all, but I was hoping that maybe they just take time to work, and that maybe he'd have more recommendations when I went for the shot. The epidural went flawlessly, but he told me then that because I had had two shots over the summer, I could not have the other two epidurals in the series of three until at least January. This was very discouraging, as I was hoping that the series of three would really work well. He also told me to keep taking the medications exactly as he prescribed, and when I saw him a month later we'd talk about something else.

    Well, a month later is Monday. I saw my spinal surgeon this past Monday. The epidural shot did absolutely nothing, and again, I woke up every morning hoping I would feel some relief. My doctor was very sympathetic and concerned for me. He felt that at this point it could be several things:

    1. I'm just healing incredibly slowly from surgery, and I could start to get better on my own.

    2. A second epidural shot may work a lot better than the third, and this would be that the nerve is still very inflamed, most likely from the scar tissue.

    3. I have temporary internal nerve damage. He didn't really explain specifics on this, but what he said was that the actual inside of the nerve was damaged because the disc was compressing it for so long.

    4. And finally, he said that this internal nerve damage could be permanent. Granted, he said it was worst case scenario, but not something my parents or I wanted to hear.

    The doctor said he was pretty confident that it was internal nerve damage, just because nothing I have done has helped me get better after surgery, and because I've been on Voltarin and Mobic, and had an intensive shot of cortizone, and that would've most likely helped the inflammation of the nerve go down. This was very upsetting news. Either way, his recommendation was to really find a way to control my pain. This is what brought me here, and brought me to the conclusion that I actually am dealing with chronic pain. The past week has taken a tremendous emotional toll on me, like I said earlier, and I find it really hard to relax myself at all. The pain in my leg is still always there, and with any movement it shoots down all the way into my toes. I'm really at a loss, as I said before.

    Old 12-15-2007, 05:05 PM   #10
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    Re: Controlling pain AND anxiety

    This is very long, so I'm going to post it in segments. Sorry for the length and if I should’ve posted it elsewhere, but I posted it as such so it would read sequentially:

    Thank you SO MUCH to everyone who has responded so promptly. I can't express to you how nice it is to have people who are not only here for me, but who can relate to my situation too.

    I'm sorry I didn't go into specifics of my situation in my original post. I had just come out of my parent’s bedroom actually where we had a several hour long discussion about everything, and there were tears and arguing, etc. etc. So, I'll happily go into it now; I'm in a better frame of mind today, and my thoughts are not so all over the place. I'm sorry if I end up writing an entire saga, but it's nice to have everyone completely informed regarding what I've been through, what I've done medically, etc.

    I live in New York, but I go to school in LA. Sometime in the middle of February last year, I woke up at school one morning (probably at 2 or 3 in the afternoon), and I went to go visit some friends on another floor. I went to the bathroom in their room, and as I turned to leave from washing my hands at the sink, I essentially collapsed onto the floor. Now, I'm a pretty big and bulky guy, and I have never lost strength in my legs to the point where they buckled and prevented me from standing). I spent the next two days in bed, because whenever I got up, even if it was just to go to the bathroom, I could not handle the shooting pain down my right leg. It was like nothing I had ever felt in my life. Finally, I was able to get out of bed and walk around slowly with a limp. I got over to the university's health center, which is renowned for not knowing what they're doing and misdiagnosing most students that come in. Anyway, without telling you what I've done on a day to day basis between now and then, the health center told me that I was having muscle spasms and most likely had sciatica due to a pinched nerve. I wasn't really sure what that meant, but I shrugged my shoulders and tried to learn how to walk with the shooting pain. They sent me away with 800mg of Advil (4x a day I believe) and a bunch of Flexeril. I took the medication and got no relief, but I had to continue with my studies and my life at school.

    Two weeks later I flew home because I still was in the same amount of pain, and my parents wanted me to see my own doctors at home. I went to see my family doctor, who recommended that I go see an orthopedist, or maybe a chiropractor. My family happens to know a chiropractor in my neighborhood, so we made an appointment for the same day and went over there. Not such a good decision. He did electro-therapy, or whatever it's called, on my back, and began stretching me out in ways that were pretty painful. Before I left, this guy told me I needed to come back everyday, and he'd have me fixed in a week. I left very sore, and my mom and I looked at each other and both agreed never to go back. Good decision. I stayed at home and relaxed the rest of the week, icing my back, and switching over to Aleve, Still, I was in the same amount of pain.

    I went back to school and tried to distract myself with my life there, continuing to take my NSAIDs and Flexeril as needed. I was still in a lot of pain, but I had become accustomed to it at that point. Two weeks later I came home for spring break, and I got in to see an orthopedist. He x-rayed me and told me that from my symptoms, I most likely had a disc problem. He wrote me prescriptions for Prednisone (which made me absolutely nuts; everyone in my family has really weird reactions to that particular drug), Skelaxin, physical therapy, and an MRI. I only had a few days at home, so the MRI was not even an option. I went back to school, switching back to naproxen because the prednisone was no good, and I was able to make an appointment with my school's physical therapy office, but the first appointment I was able to get was not until mid-April (this was already the end of March, and school ended the beginning of May). I continued with the Aleve, and didn't even bother with the Flexeril because it didn't do anything. All I was able to do was go on with normal day activities, and I figured if I pushed through the pain, perhaps I'd get stronger and feel better.

    I started physical therapy, and I was extremely sore and back in a lot of pain after the first two sessions. I went into the health center again to see if they could give me anything else for the pain. Surprisingly, without even negotiating or asking, they gave me Vicodin (5/500) and Soma, which I'd never heard of before. The only other time in my life that I had taken a narcotic was when I was thirteen and had an awful inner ear infection, to the point where I could not fall asleep because I couldn't stay in one position for more than five minutes. I believe I was on Tylenol 3 then, and I just remember the two times I took it that it knocked me out. My parents told me to really try to hold off on using the Vicodin unless I really needed it, so I let it sit in my room for a week before I took it, and I took one Soma every night before I went to sleep. I continued with physical therapy when I could, but I had five finals and papers to write, and I could not prioritize anything regarding my back. One night, my shooting pain flared up and I decided to take the Vicodin with the Soma, and I got very buzzed, which I suppose distracted me enough to not think about the pain. I started taking two Vicodin and one Soma every night until I came home. I went to physical therapy in LA for a total of about seven times, and every time I left, I felt very sore.

    So that's essentially my beginning story of how my back pain started. I'm sorry that went on so long, I just kept typing. It's very frustrating though because I can't exactly pinpoint what exactly hurt my back, and I probably will never be able to. Anyway, I'll try to make the rest of my story concise.

    I came home and went back to the orthopedist, and explained that I was still in the same amount of pain. He urged me to go get an MRI, and he tried me on a five day steroid pack, I'm not exactly sure what it's called. It didn't make me crazy like the Prednisone, but it didn't do anything. He also refilled the Soma for me, but I had no painkiller.

    I went and got a standup MRI, which was not a smart idea in retrospect. The report came back and said that I had spinal stenosis, bulging discs (not sure exactly which ones, but the three above L5-S1, and a herniation and nerve compression at L5-S1. I went back to the doctor, and he told me to do physical therapy again. Sometime in between, I put a call into the doctor and he prescribed me Tramadol, which in combination with the Soma made me very euphoric, but really provided no relief. I continued physical therapy for about a month, and again felt like I was in pain every time I left, and every time I came back I told them that I felt like it was hurting me.

    I was able to get into see this renowned spinal surgeon on Long Island. Many, many people recommended him and said he would definitely fix me. I went to go see him and loved him right away. He looked at the report and dismissed most everything on it, and told me what I had to worry about was the spinal stenosis and L5-S1 herniation with nerve compression. He told me that's what was putting me in so much pain. He also let me know in looking at the films that it looked like I had degenerative disc disease, which would most likely be something I'd have to deal with forever. He had me stop physical therapy right away, and subsequently, the physical therapist told me that I should stop and I was probably a good candidate for epidural shots. That was a little discouraging to hear from a physical therapist. But anyway, he told me not to worry about surgery or anything else, and he had me go into a pain management office to go get three epidural shots. He was very open to prescribing me medications, and when I told him the Vicodin didn't really relieve much pain, he gave me Darvocet, and again continued with the Soma. He also gave me Voltarin, just as a supplement to the shots.

    At this point it was the end of June, and I was very hopeful about the shots. I took the Darvocet a few times and really did not like it at all. It buzzed me, but also made me feel out of it and very hazy, if that makes sense at all. So I stopped the Darvocet and went back on Tramadol, which wasn't doing much, but I could function better on that compared to the Darvocet. I went to meet the PM doctor, who came off very arrogant to me. He told me that, "For sure, three days after my first shot I'd feel 80% better." My mom was very pleased with him, and I hoped to god that he was right. At that point, we didn't even discuss medications.

    A week later I went for the first shot, which they put me out for (I think it was twilight). I was very apprehensive about the anesthetic, just because I hadn't had any kind of medical procedure since I had my tonsils out when I was three. Everything went fine though, and I left feeling kind of sore, but very optimistic and happy that I was potentially on the right path to recovery. The next five or six days I woke up every morning thinking that this would be the day I feel better. Before I got out of bed, I'd straighten out my leg and slowly lift it, hoping that there would be some dissipation of pain (this is how I typical determine my pain level). Obviously, this was a huge let down. I felt no relief at all. But, I was still not discouraged, and hoped that a second shot would do the trick. I was still in so much pain though, and it was seemingly increasing. I called my new doctor (the wonderful spinal surgeon) to try to get something stronger to relieve my pain, and after having much trouble getting in touch with him, he told us that although he'd love to help me, I was under the care of the PM doctor currently, and it would be unprofessional for him to give me anything.

    Old 12-31-2007, 04:29 AM   #11
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    Re: Controlling pain AND anxiety

    Hi Zach,

    The surgeon is right. Most pain doctors have a narcotics contract where you agree to not take scripts from any other doctor. This is to protect them from prescribing to abusers (not legitimate pain patients like yourself), but it can be a crap shoot if you are with a PM that will not prescribe pain meds.

    Sadly, there are alot of "pain specialists" out there that only do these procedures. They sell them like they are the Holy Grail of pain relief, when so many, including you and I, get NO relief from these procedures. Then they won't prescribe meds? Guess why? Didn't they say that they would guarantee pain relief? Ha! Now the problem is you, not them. I am sorry you are dealing with this, but you need a new PM doctor.

    Any doctor that treats with one modality only, (especially when it is the one that makes them the most $$$$) is suspect in my opinion. PM is most effective with there are many approaches; meds, procedures, PT, therapy, anti-depressants, nerve pain meds, ect. All of these treatments are not necessary for all people, but it's the fact that a doctor is willing to try all of these things to help you achieve optimum pain relief and a better quality of life that is important.

    To keep from looking like you are "doctor shopping" see only one doctor at a time, and accept scripts from only one doctor. It sounds like you have a good relationship with your surgeon, and you could have him prescribe until you find the right PM doctor. But NEVER take scripts from both, or more than one. The last thing you need right now, is no doc willing to prescribe to you because your behavior is suspect. It is sad we have to tip toe around like this, but that's the way it is these days. Always end a relationship with a doc before moving on. If this PM does not work out for you, make sure you tell them that you are going somewhere else, and that you are no longer a patient of theirs, BEFORE you find another doc who prescribes anything.

    As far as the meds, that buzzed feeling will go away and quickly. This does NOT mean that it is not working. Your body simply adjusts and all you feel is pain relief. This is what you need anyway, simple pain relief without feeling buzzed or high. Many people think the "buzz" means it's working and keep upping their doses and looking for that buzz again. This is a dangerous and slippery slope. It is perfectly normal for your body to adjust and not feel the buzz any longer. You still get the pain relief however. Just something to be aware of.

    I wish you all the best, and I am so glad you found us here! There are so many wonderful people that will help anyone in need, in a heartbeat. Keep us posted and stay strong. This too, shall pass.


    Last edited by butrfligirl28; 12-31-2007 at 04:36 AM.

    Old 12-31-2007, 10:37 AM   #12
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    Re: Controlling pain AND anxiety

    Hi Zach,
    You story sounds alot like mine except that I hurt my back catching a falling IV pump in the ICU. So I'm on W/C. I herniated L5-S1 and also broke a piece of the disc off which was totally compressing the nerve root. I had a laminectomy in June and I'm still dealing with nerve pain. My EMG shows permanent nerve damage and with me being 7 months out it is unlikely that I will improve tremendously. I've had 3 steroid epidural injections and one sympathetic nerve block and none of them did any good. I'm now on Neurontin and Cymbalta. You may want to try the Cymbalta. When I came to the realization that this was probably the best I was going to be...I went into a major depression. I cried all the time, especially if anyone asked me how I was. It took a while to get used to the Cymbalta but I feel it has helped a lot with my mood although not so much with the nerve pain. Good luck to you. I'm sorry you are having to go through this and you are so young. Hopefully 2008 will be a better year for you. Keep us posted.


    Old 12-31-2007, 04:08 PM   #13
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    brianpain33 HB Userbrianpain33 HB User
    Re: Controlling pain AND anxiety

    I am only 33 years old and have been dealing with chronic pain for almost 5 years now. I don't know if I am to the point where I have accepted the chronic pain completely but I know that it is something that I need to do. I will only cause myself more anxiety and depression (which I had even before the pain).

    Use all the support you can and we can do it together what we can not do by ourselves.


    Last edited by Administrator; 06-10-2008 at 09:46 PM. Reason: do not copy and paste from other sources

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