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July 24, 2005, 10:11 pm CDT

Chronic Back Pain - Searching for Help

I am a 40 year old with a wonderful husband, 8 year old daughter and 4 year old  son. I have had bulging discs at the L4-5 & L5-S1 since I was 21 and was usually able to control my pain with OTC's, exercise, chiropractics, and massage until January '04, when I fell roller skating. I have been through going to Primary physician, PT, 3 orthopedists, 3 MRI's (showed I haved bulges at L2 thru S1 and C4 thru C7, degenerative disc disease, and spinal stenosis), epidurals, 1 myelogram, and lots of meds. In November '04 found out from myelogram that I had a ruptured disc at L4-5 and had a laminectomy on 12/06/04 removing a 3cm piece. I did really well until about 4 weeks post surgery when I started the walking and pt.  My back pain is close to the pain level that I had before my surgery and still have pain in my low back, buttocks (left side and sometimes the right), and into my left leg (sometimes the right), heel and foot.

My orthopedist that did the laminectomy would never listen when I brought up the neck problems and the pain and numbness in my left arm and hand.  Finally, had an EMG done which came up positive for moderate carpal tunnel (didn't rule out radiculopathy) and he gave me a cortisone shot. That got rid of the numbness in my fingers for a couple of weeks but never the pain. I have severe pain and numbness that gets worse every day, in my neck, both shoulder blades, arms and hands. I have a very hard time eating, writing, crocheting, typing, and anything that requires any grip & have muscle atrophy and scared I may have permanent nerve damage.    I was let go from my job of 10 years on March due to my health and have filed with SSD (was denied the first time and have an attorney on it and they are continuing the denial at this time).  At this point I have severe cervical and lumbar pain and am very scared I will be paralyzed and/or lose the use of my hands.

My last visit with the orthopedist on 6/02, he told me he couldn't do anything else for me (you know, no more insurance!!) and that "no one would help me for free."  He sent me back to my primary for pain meds and she sent me to a pain clinic.  That doc currently has me on Methadone 10mg 4x, Robaxin 750mg 4x, Neurotin 300mg 3x, Nortriptylin 25mg bedtime, Prozac 20mg morning, and Percocet apap 5/325 for breakthrough pain (what is breakthrough pain?--the constant pain I have regardless of all the other meds?).  Have also been on Vicadin, Valium, Darvacet, Percodan, Flexural and others.    At this time, I have no insurance and don't qualify for medical assistance and I need medical treatment very badly and am suffering from depression and suicidal thoughts.  I really don't know what to do.  I applied for disability in Feb., was denied and have an attorney on it.  Got a letter a week ago and SSD is continuing the denial for lack of info.  My orthopedist, due to not listening to me, put in my medical records that I was getting better (the actual disc that he did treatment on, not all the other problems that he wouldn't address!) and SSD says that I should be able to work full-time come 11-05.  There is no way I will be able to do this and need to at least get a consultation with a "good" doc, one that will actually listen to me.   I have called the ER close to me because I am having so much pain in my left arm I am that desperate, but we don't have a doc close to here that would be able to help me and they would only be able to give me pain meds.  Lot of good that will do.     All that I can pray for is that soon I will get in touch with someone that knows someone that knows of a program or somthing that I will qualify for and can get some help.  I am so tired of calling people to see if they will take payments for treatment, but, everyone wants full payment up front.  If I can get fixed and make payments, I will be able to go back to work to pay it off.  If I wait too long, I will be permanently disabled and no longer to even think of going back to a normal life and working.  I guess only God knows.  Thanks for listening!!    LisaB From Missouri (Misery?)

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