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Back Problems board

Hello everyone -

This is a little long but I hope it helps alleviate some of the unknown of what can be a scarey test for anyone who is going through it. My husband will have some thoughts at the end as well...this is a copy of the update I sent a family friend...thank you to all who posted advice to me these last 2 weeks.

HI Jerry

Well, it is over now and thank God but this is what was up…

Bill had to have a test called a discogram. I did not want him to have it because I had gone on the net and studied it and also joined a few health sites where people with back problems talk to each other and found that 100% of the people and even doctors said it was an excruciating painful test that the pt. had to be completely awake and receive no pain meds while going through.

The point of the test is to see which discs are bad in a persons back and how it is done is horrible. They put the pt. on an operating table and use lidocaine to numb the skin. Then, for as many discs as doc orders, they put large needles into the spine into the center of the disc. They then insert dye into one disc at a time to pressurize the disc. That is when the real pain hits. If the disc is healthy, the pt. feels only pressure. But if the disc is bad, it is supposed to be very painful.

Well, the nurse at the clinic who I questioned at length ahead of time admitted a pt. usually is at a 10 or slightly above in pain during the test. She said the test was at least 1 hour long. The people on the internet…100% of them I kid you not, had horror stories about the pain being so unbearable that grown men talked about screaming and crying through it and ladies said they were crying and it was worse than the pain of childbirth.

I was freaked out. I argued with Bill for 2 weeks that we needed another doc and do not do this test. I couldn’t sleep or eat and I had a nervous breakdown last Thursday just scared to F***ing death that Bill would not be ok through this test. I talked frantically to everyone who would listen about why we had to find another doc and I called every Neurosurgeons office within 6 hours of here, including in Denver and Wyoming…
I was so scared!

Well, the test was yesterday at 3 pm and I was angry by 1:30 and was ready to fight for Bill to cancel the test. I even called the clinic and told the nurse we may not come. I called our pastor and he came over at 1:30 and sat with us, listened to me and to Bill, prayed with us and just hugged me. We had to leave at 2:30. I fell apart on the way and just argued to not do it and when we got to the clinic the nurse was very calming and told me that during the test, after a disc tests to be painful they will inject a numbing solution in it so the pain would decrease or disappear. That still didn’t quite help because I was over the top at that point but she was kind and gentle and understanding anyway. The doc was not happy with me but when I asked him how long Bill would be laying there in that terrible pain, he said not too long. I didn’t let him get away with that…I asked how long…1 minute, two minutes, what? He said a few minutes.

So then they took my husband away…

But it was in a room right across from the chair I was sitting in. I could have watched through the peephole. I kept waiting to hear him scream or yell and he never made a sound. And during the test, our church’s parish nurse came and sat with me, she held my hand and talked me through the whole thing…you would have thought that I was getting the damn test…lol.

But about ½ an hour or 45 minutes later, a bell went off over his door and the nurse whisked me in. He was still on the operating table and bleeding badly with the drapes still on him but they let me go to him. He lifted his head and grabbed my hand from under the tent and said it wasn’t what we had thought. He was so calm and he said it did hurt at times but it was all ok. I started crying and shaking but the nurses and doc showed me all the pics of his spine on the moniter and they all assured me that he really was alright during the test.

The cleaned him up and I helped him sit. He couldn’t get up Jerry. He did nearly start to cry in pain. I was so scared for him but he said it was really ok. They gave him some Toradol in his IV and I got to help him get to his wheelchair and go to CT scan and stay right by his side during his CT. When we got home last night, his pain was pretty high but I doped him up and am still doing that every 5 hours with 10 mg of Vicodin at a time. It brings his pain down to about a 7 he says and he can tolerate that with ice on the area.

Right now, he is sleeping on the couch. And I never thought I would live through this nightmare. I know I worked myself up to a frenzy but I so desperately believed that he would not be ok.

Now, things are not over…the test proved he had two torn discs in his back and one was so bad that the dye they used leaked all the way into his spinal canal, and you can see a streak of dye all the way up the spinal canal. The outcome of this is that he will end up needing a 2 level fusion and we will be seeing the Neurosurgeon again on the 18th of this month. I expect that within the week after, Bill will be operated on.

But, after what I put myself through these last 2 weeks, even though the rest is scarey and I am nervous, I know it will be ok and I am ready to just help Bill through this. I had prayed and prayed the last two weeks and actually started hating God because nothing to stop Bill had come about. I figured prayer was useless. But I was wrong and it was prayer that actually got Bill through the test so well and brought him out of it without the crazy stuff we had expected. And prayer, even though I had lost faith, pulled me through too.

So that is what was happening. Its over. I am alive, (though I thought I would die), I survived extreme panic and fear, and I didn’t take a single drug to get through, though many said I should go to the hospital and see a shrink, I did it without that. I even thought I should take one of the 10 mg. Vicodins but I didn’t and I am glad. Bill got through and survived the pain and is right here with me and I am very happy.

I actually slept all night except for 5 minutes when I set the alarm to give him his pain med at 2:30 am.

I hope nobody ever has to go through what I went through.

If I could explain to you how it feels to have people we have only known since August (from our church), be more loving and caring and supportive than my own family has ever been my whole life…I would. But that is where I think the blessing and prayer came into the picture and why I believe that even with no faith of my own, God took care of us and especially of my husband.


Thanks for listening. All is well and I am good. I hope all is well for you guys and that you are settling in nicely where you are at.
Give us a call anytime.
Take care Jerry and say hi to Janet.
Love you,

My hubbys thoughts:

He says he prepared mentally and concentrated on what his pain was. He was made to feel comfortable and confident by the docs and the nurses.

He wants to let people know that what sounds scarey and horrendous on the net was made tolerable by knowing what your pain is and having a skilled doc preform the test helped. Even though he thought maybe that he would be hurting too much to tell the difference, you can tell the difference in each level.

His pain itself started as slight pressure that built to the pain level to where he was in his usual pain and then he was asked to rate the pain and how much was your usual pain...then he injected a numbing medicine that alleviates the pain but your mind still remembers what that was. So going to the next disc that wasn't his usual pain, it was uncomfortable but not his usual pain. Your mind tells you it is still pain but he felt in control enough to know what the difference was.

In conclusion, the test is painful but...his level of preparedness and the skill of his doc and staff and his faith and family ultimately got him through. It may not be the same for everyone but he hopes someone can take something from his experience to ease the anxiety over this test.

for him, he had 4 discs checked...2 were painful and the others he just felt pressure.

This may not be everybodys experience but he wants people to know what helped him and that it was made a tolerable procedure in the end by learning definitively what and where your exact problem is.