- Age 35-54
- 127 lbs
- 5' 3"
- Atlanta, Georgia
- Injury Status In Pain
- Physical activity per week 0-4 hours
- Chronicity 18+ Months
- Repeat injury? No
- Doctor/Care Giver Pain Consultants of Atlanta
- Additional Diagnosis/Symptoms Sciatica (pinched nerve, radiculopathy), Osteoarthritis (arthritis), Spinal Stenosis, Degenerative Disc Disease, Herniated disc (bulging disc, disc protrusion), Facet Syndrome/Sprain, Spondylolisthesis
My family suffers from bad backs in various forms. I am the youngest of eight and somehow ended up the worst of us all. The only time I can remember hurting my back was when I was in my 20's and fell off a horse. Never played any sports or gymnastics either. I can remember my last childbirth in 2001 was quite painful as the baby did not turn and came out face up. My tailbone hurt for a long time afterwards. After living with lumbar pain, sciatica and right thigh pain for a few years, I was diagnosed in 2005 with bulging disks L4/L5 & L5/S1. Spinal nerve blocks and epidurals were tried many times over the years and non proved successful for me. I lived on Neurontin and pain killers until 2007 when the pain became unbearable, so I underwent my first spinal fusion that year. I was told by the surgeon that physical therapy would not help me and that he just wanted me to build myself up to at least walking a mile before I could return to work. I was able to walk a mile within one week of my surgery and returned to work after one month. The surgery was successful but most of the pain lingered. I continued on the same meds and in 2010 I tried the Spinal Cord Stimulator Implant. It seemed to help at first, but after a few months at night when I turned off the stimulator to sleep, my legs would continue to feel the vibration which aggravated my leg pain worse and did not allow sleep. I was not able to stand the stimulator after that so I had the battery removed that December as I read they go bad after a year of non-use. The one item that I found to help me was a 4" memory foam mattress topper. It gave in places that I needed it to give yet supported other places. Made lying down a little more comfortable. I continued to live on the same meds until 2012 when I tripped and fell up a flight of stairs. In one week I was in such unbearable pain that I could not stand or sit for more than 30 minutes without finding myself in tears. After a myelogram, it was discovered that my L3/L4 showed a bulging disk compressing my spine. I was put to bed rest and all was somewhat bearable until I stood up or went into a sitting position. It took about four weeks for the insurance to approve my surgery and two more weeks before I could be scheduled at the hospital. Since having the implant of the Spinal Cord Stimulator prohibits any future MRI's, I asked the surgeon to remove the lead from my T11 level also. My insurance did not approve coverage of a brace to be worn post surgery, so I purchased one from a local drug store that had lumbar supports. I wore it for several weeks and after that only when my back was hurting. Two weeks after the surgery, I began experiencing a burning skin sensation like I had a bad sunburn or even of skin tearing. It was unbearable to wear anything but extra, extra soft clothes with hardly any seams as they aggravated my skin. Even a crease in the sheets I was lying on would hurt. Taking a shower also hurt my skin if there was a lot of water pressure so we ended up changing to a rain water shower head. Even a fan or wind blowing the hairs on your arms will hurt. I was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia and given Lyrica to try. It takes 2 weeks for it to get into your system but I did not receive any benefit from it. I then tried Cymbalta and was finally relieved of the pain that I have read described as "hell in your own skin". I second this description by the way! I was able to return to work but sitting long hours became impossible and the medicine kept making me sleepy behind the wheel and at work. Also, the T11 level began hurting if I sat at a desk, washed dishes or performing anything that requires you to stoop over. It finally came to the point in 2013 that I could not sit or walk for more than an hour. Another MRI showed that the last level I had surgery on still showed a stenosis of my spinal cord which was causing my pain. It was their opinion that I was inoperable. Work became impossible and the doctors agreed; so the wait began for Social Security Disability. I filed in January of 2014 and was denied my second time in November of 2014. An attorney was hired and an appeal was requested. Today is March 21, 2016 and I am still awaiting to be assigned a judge and a hearing date. Georgia is the worst state in America to apply for disability when you are diagnosed with back diseases. You wait 6 months to file, then they make you wait another 12 months before they will assign you a court date. Even my Congressman couldn't help me. So, I am waiting. and waiting, and waiting. We have found ourselves this year unable to afford insurance coverage and the medicine was too costly. I've had to come off of the Cymbalta and try other drugs. I've noticed the skin sensations slowly coming back. I'm hoping I will be able to withstand the pain as even the generic medicine is over $350 per month. I'm told by doctors that once you have a level operated on, the next level up has to take up additional workload as the other levels can no longer move. That level will eventually need surgery in the future and so on. So, when asked, would you do it over again? I say that it comes to a point where you are not able to do anything due to the pain you suffer. When each person reaches that level, you will opt to try to get rid of the pain. All we can do is try. But, I do think all of this is why we call physician's work as practicing medicine. Wishing you the best!