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So… I went back to pain doc yesterday and it turns out we are running out of options. At this point he is recommending a Spinal Cord Stimulator. Essentially, it’s a device that would be implanted under the skin of my hiney which runs wires up into my spinal cord. These wires basically interrupt the pain as it’s traveling up my spinal cord to my brain and trick my brain into thinking that what I am feeling is a paresthesia and not pain.

Paresthesia is a tickly pins and needles type sensation that will take some getting used to. I’m cautiously optimistic as usual because I am always afraid to get my hopes up in case of failure. I have read a lot of stories where it is quite successful in patients with sacroiliitis. It seems to be a very good option for chronic pain that is not responsive to other methods. I have now had 3 sacroiliac injections, a radiofrequency ablation of the  nerves causing the pain, and lots and lots of meds. I have reached the point where my options are to have this implant put in or to have my pelvic bone fused to my sacrum which can cause low back pain and disc problems in the future. Seeing as how I have lived in chronic pain for 3 years now I am not a fan of trading one form of pain for another. So this is my next best choice.

So the process is that I have to have a 5 day trial implant which is required by insurance prior to the actual surgery. They will feed the wires into my spinal cord and they will come out the lower back and attach to a battery pack I wear on a belt. For 5 days I can’t take a shower but I get to trial this device. I get a remote control and can turn it on/off at times I need it and turn it up or down based on how much pain I am having at the time. After 5 days they will remove it and I will have to consult with a neurosurgeon who will schedule the surgery. A device the size of a pacemaker is inserted into my upper bum and has two wires that go up into my spinal cord. I will have a 24 hour stay at the hospital and then a few days to recover. I’m hoping to have the surgery on a Thursday or a Friday to minimize the days I need off from work.

Like I said, I’m cautiously optimistic. Keep your fingers crossed.

Pain is temporary. It may last a minute, or an hour, or a day, or a year, but eventually it will subside and something else will take its place. If I quit, however, it lasts forever.~Lance Armstrong

 

I had the dreaded discogram yesterday. I can’t even begin to describe it… I will try though.

So a discogram is a test that involves pressurizing each individual disc in the region suspected of causing your pain with CT contrast dye. Each disc is individual filled with CT dye and if the disc in question is causing your pain it will recreate the pain. I don’t remember which of the three caused the most pain but I do know that one of them caused me to yell out pretty loud and almost cry. The back pain was excruciating. Today I am still in horrific pain in my entire lower back area, which is surprising since my friend told me that the pain induced by the test returned to normal within a few hours. That has NOT been the case for me. I woke up this morning and my lower back hurt so bad I could barely walk.. I was taking shuffled little baby steps like a little old woman. I’ve spent the morning waiting on my Percocet to kick in and laying on a heating pad.

I am anxious to find out the doctors interpretation of the results of this test. I go to see my Neurosurgeon next friday. The discogram was a last ditch effort of sorts to find out why I have such severe debilitating chronic pain. I was upset after the test because it didn’t induce the severe left sacroiliac pain that runs down my leg. I did have an SI steroid injection just a few weeks ago so maybe that masked the pain induction.. who knows. All of my CT’s and MRI’s up until now have showed only mild degenerative changes and nothing that would seemingly be the cause of such severe pain. I am hopeful that something comes of this test and there is some sort of answers for me now. I am the kind of person that needs answers. I need to know  WHY I have this pain. While pain management is helping to diminish the pain slightly I don’t know how I can go through life not knowing what the underlying cause is. Being a nurse I have a never-ending need to understand the medical and anatomical cause. I don’t know if I can go through my life taking pain medication regularly for idiopathic pain knowing that there is nothing to do that will make it go away!

So now I wait anxiously for my appointment next Friday with the neurosurgeon to learn if there were answers learned from this test. I am going to be a giant ball of stress until next friday. I am already having major panic attacks just imagining that he’s going to tell me that we learned absolutely nothing at that their is NO known cause of my pain.. Especially since that is what I keep getting told. It’s so frustrating. I just wish I knew what it was.

Hopefully the answers will come.. sooner than later, preferably.

So It’s rare that I have a day where I feel productive, relatively stress free, in control, and fairly pain free. Today has been one of those days.

Last night my son and I finished his most recent chapter book The Knight at Dawn by Mary Pope Osbourne. He is in first grade and is reading second grade books. I’m so proud of him! We had a mommy/son sleepover and he slept in my bed and we made plans to make a whole morning of fun out of taking his Accelerated Reading test on the book. We decided that we would get up in time to get Hardee’s for breakfast and then I would drive him to school and sit with him in the library while he took his test. So… I woke up with him this morning and as usual was in immense pain but forced myself to push through it and got up and started getting dressed to go with him. While in the bathroom I set my newest (i’ve replaced 2!!) Iphone on a towel and was brushing my teeth. Ethan excitedly grabbed the towel to wipe his mouth and my wonderful new shiney beautiful Iphone went flying into the TOILET!!!!!

Now.. Usually I would freak out. I handle stress very poorly and have an immensely irrational temper. I would usually scream at him inappropriately and freak him out. This morning, for some reason, I was able to jump right to grabbing it, rinsing it off, and throwing it into a bag of rice. I didn’t yell at him or anything! I mean.. It’s not his fault I put it there. Should he have been more careful? Sure. Is it his fault? No. So because I was able to find it in me to hold back my irrational anger problems and actually do something productive with my panic instead we were able to have a great morning and go on to do what we had planned.

I’m still super upset that my Iphone is possibly ruined, but I’m not having an anxiety attack about it like I usually would.

My panic and anxiety attacks all stem from my trauma and depression. I have always had a bit of a temper.. but I used to be able to control it. Since the marriage and the abuse in it I have found it almost impossible to control my anger. It’s something I am learning slowly. When I was running regularly I found my mood stabilized and calmer and my depression was minimal. I also did a lot of home fitness.. yoga, TurboJam, P90x, etc. I haven’t been exercising since my most recent injury and my depression and moodiness has been completely out of control. I have also put on 27 lbs since the injury (that’s in just 9 short months!)!!! I am finally seeing some relief from the steroid injections I have been receiving and I am hoping that VERY SOON I will be able to conquer my fear of hurting my back and start back with some yoga and Turbo (I LOVE Turbo!!!)

Also on my list.. a body bugg! I am super excited that I will be getting my disbursement check from my student loan and I am seriously contemplating investing in one. It’s time to put myself first. It’s time to start making consciously good decisions about my health and wellness. I have a physical next week and I am going to ask for a prescription for Chantix. I have tried multiple times to quit using patches but I always end up finding something that stresses me out enough to start again… usually within a few days of my quit date. That’s got to stop too!

If you don’t take care of yourself, who will?  It’s time for me to start living by that thought!

So I finally moved a few blog posts over from my former blog (which is located at http://www.anglcjen.blogspot.com)

I only moved three.. they seemed to be the most important to me to have on here.  As I have said in those last few posts, I am hoping to make this a place for people to come to see that there are other people struggling with the same problems and inner conflict as I have.

I saw my therapist last week and reported nothing but seemingly good news. My new antidepressants are kicking in and I am feeling about 50% better. I have noticed I have had less anxiety attacks lately. I was really feeling great when I saw her on tuesday.

… And then the week happened. It’s so funny how much what’s going on around you and in your life can directly affect your emotional status. The last two weeks have been rough. My best friend suffered a severe concussion on Christmas eve and I have been to the ER with her twice. The last time was this past sunday and she got admitted to the hospital. I spent the night with her there for two nights, got her home tuesday afternoon and settled into my house to recover. That night I got a phone call and had to go check on a friend who was almost 90 days sober. Unfortunately when I arrived he was very drunk and told me he had taken a lot of Klonopin. I had to call an ambulance and spent the night in the ER again.. This time all night I was awake, calming him down, keeping him from getting loud, etc. I got three hours of sleep that night.

Friday I had a steroid injection into my SacroIliac joint. This was my second injection. The first one was a month ago and when she gave it to me she told me there was a 24 hour numbing medication mixed in it to help keep me comfortable after the injection. I had a few good weeks where I was taking less meds than I usually do and then it quickly switched to extreme pain the week before my next shot appointment. Unfortunately it didn’t go so smoothly this time. I got my shot friday morning and spent the rest of the weekend wishing I could just rip the whole joint apart to somehow make it stop. I described it to my dad tonight perfectly. It felt like she took a 5 inch needle that was 1 inch thick, shoved it in between the sacroiliac joint, jerked it around trying to tear stuff up in there, and then injected a half a cup of lead into it. All weekend every time I would stand up from a sitting position I would have this severe tearing sensation in my bum and SI joint. It was very odd and very painful.

So to return to my original point…

All of the events of the last week have really taken a toll on my emotional health. I am feeling a big surge in my depression and I have been very anxious lately. I am definitely hopeful that it will pass and I will soon be back to feeling better. I have been nursing my sick friend 24/7 lately as well and I have gotten on her sleep schedule from her meds. She has been sleeping until 12pm because of the medications she takes at night and then she is up till after midnight since she slept all day. Since I have been with her every day for the last two weeks and sleeping in the same bed it has made my sleep schedule follow hers. I am certain that the crazy sleep schedule is also attributing to my depression surge. I need to get that sorted out soon too.

This post was originally written on 11/13/2009

Yes.. It is indeed 2 am. I am wide awake, currently calming down after a hysterical crying in pain fit. I am tired. I’m frustrated. I wish my life wasn’t all about pain and misery all the time.
So I’m laying here thinking that if I can’t do much for myself right now maybe I can help other people. I realize I’m a nobody and it’s probable that no one will ever read this blog. Hell.. I have had it for a while and have 0 readers. I am not a professional writer, I am not an overly interesting person, I’m no one special to most people, but I do have many things in my life I feel other people could benefit from. Last night I had a talk with a friend who had suffered a rape many years back and while I was crying, telling her about things I go through, she said “oh honey.. that’s perfectly normal.”

NORMAL!!!

Do you understand how life altering it can be to realize that the pain you feel, the reactions you have, what you are going through is actually ok?! It took my breath away.

So I am going to start this blog from scratch for the most part. I am going to delete alot of old non-issue posts and I am going to concentrate this blog on my life as someone who has survived sexual abuse at the hands of her spouse, as someone who has been dealing with severe depression her whole adult life, and as someone who is suffering from severe debilitating chronic pain. I know that there are many many people in the world who would have the same sigh of relief as I did last night knowing that someone else can understand what they are going through.
The first three blogs on this page detail my story of sexual abuse and difficulties with relationships after. It’s sorta a “introduction” if you will. I also have suffered from chronic pain for 2 years in my lower back but in March of this year I was injured at work and I have been incapacitated for the most part ever since. I was denied workers comp, my job let me go, I can’t get unemployment, I have no income, and my son and I have had to move back with my parents because of the whole ordeal. I was scheduled for surgery on my back on October 8th but three days before it my surgeon got word that the insurance company was denying the procedure for red tape BS. He appealed their decision and was again denied and rather than chose to continue to fight them he gave up. He even told me in the appointment that he “had made himself look bad in the eyes of the insurance doctors because they didn’t agree with his course of treatment.” I’m appalled at the fact that an insurance company has that much power over physicians. It’s sad really.
I am a 29 year old single mother and I am a registered nurse who has specialized in trauma, orthopedics, and neurosurgery. I loved nursing and it’s very hard for me not to be practicing my profession right now. I miss helping people so maybe this can be my way of helping. I am struggling with weight issues now too. Since the injury I have become mostly sedentary and I have gained a LOT of weight. I am embarking on a journey to help myself conquer my use of food addiction to feed my loneliness, physical pain, depression, and stress.
I will try to write a blog regularly. I have not decided on a schedule yet but my goal for this week since it is already almost friday will be to get one more in this week. I hope to find new readers and people who are interested in learning more about the subjects that have effected my life.
I am going to start making goals for myself. It’s hard to see the sunshine through the clouds sometimes.. and I have had many clouds in my life.. but I am going to start seeking the sunshine. It’s all I can do!

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