Posted on July 10, 2009
Luckily, the Pain Management Specialist (PMS), had a cancellation for today and I was able to get in for my consultation. The facts remain the same with a minor addition: I have arthritis in my lower back due to the wear and tear put on my joints. Previously, we thought it was just the last two vertebrae that were not fused by my previous surgery. Turns out there is an additional joint located under the spine, close to the hips, that ALSO has arthritis, and that is the joint that seems to be causing a majority of my pain.
So, he has put me on a different pain medication that is geared more towards easing arthritic pain (which means I can stop taking the medicine that made me sleepy! Yay!) Sadly, that was the expensive one, so there’s that money out the window, the new medication is just as expensive, and I don’t get to discontinue it until after I get the the injections (sigh). He also ordered an MRI, and was as surprised as I was that the orthopedic surgeon didn’t order it already.
Which leads me to the second part of his plan. He is going to do three injections, each two weeks apart, into the larger joint that is causing most of my pain. For this, I will be in a hospital, and be under conscience sedation (basically, I won’t remember anything, but I won’t be completely under.) Then we will reevaluate. If I continue to have pain, he is going to do a similar procedure to the last two vertebrae.
Happily, he didn’t see any reason why we couldn’t get pregnant after all of this is done. He did, however, warn me that my symptoms could flair up again during pregnancy, but most people’s pain eases after giving birth. So, there is still hope for baby #2!
That’s the plan. Its going to be kind of a scheduling nightmare because I cannot drive myself to these procedures, and so we will obviously have to get babysitters for Chloe. Luckily, several of my mom’s club friends have offered, so I am not as concerned about that as I am for poor John, who will have to drive me to all of these appointments. He really is a saint and I am lucky to have such a supportive and wonderful husband. He has to be to put up with all the crap that comes along with marrying me!
Posted on July 9, 2009
Yeah, this post is going to be whiny. Brace yourself. I just felt bad that this has been going on for five days now and I haven’t written about it in the one forum I have to let loose and throw myself a pity party complete with all the trimmings.
On the 4th of July, while waiting for the Kazoo parade to begin, I squat down to take a picture of Chloe in her stroller and did something to my back. I say something, because I still don’t know what I did. All I know is I moved the same why I have hundreds of times since I had Chloe, and this time something went wrong. I felt it immediately, but I had no idea how bad it was. If I had, I probably wouldn’t have participated in the parade. However, that’s neither here nor there. I did something, and it hurt.
And it continued to hurt. It finally got so bad, I couldn’t walk. Ellen and I had walked to Mainstreet for dinner, and on the way home, I just couldn’t even take a step with out a sharp shooting pain going up my hip and into my back. Add to that the muscle spasms that tend to accompany a back injury, and I was in agony. I have felt a lot of pain in my battle with scoliosis, but this is really the only time I have felt agony. We had to stop walking, and made Ellen’s husband, Dan, load her kids in the car and come get us. (John was home with a sleeping Chloe.)
John took a half day on Monday, and we went to the local Urgent Care. The doc prescribed me muscle relaxers and pain meds that work, but make me so sleepy I don’t feel comfortable driving a car after taking them. And I got more x-rays. I also put in a call to the Orthopedic Surgeon I saw in January. He had recommended a pain management specialist, but after struggling with insurance, and waiting a month for an appointment that never happened, I shoved it to the back burner and went on with my life. Well, his response for this injury is I needed to follow through with pain management before he will see me again.
Soooooo….back to square two. (I say two, because “one” was finding out what was initially causing the pain.) I called the insurance company this time, and found my own Pain Management Specialist (who is also conveniently local) instead of relying on a referral. But, again, they couldn’t see me for two weeks, and this is only a consultation. I have to assume, and the doc at urgent care agreed, that I will have to have a new MRI done before any real decisions can be made about my treatment. The Orthopedic surgeon, believes that the PMS can give me injections that are some what like an epidural that you will get while giving birth. It will have to be done in a hospital, however I think it is an outpatient procedure and will not require a hospital stay.
In the mean time, I can’t stand for longer than 10 minutes without a sharp pain in my hip. If I do stand for too long, or walk too much, my back starts to spasm, and I have to sit down in order to settle it down. This means I can’t stand at the sink long enough to do the dishes. I can’t vacuum, I can’t carry the laundry up and down the stairs, I struggle with bending down to pick up Chloe’s toys. So, poor John is working ten hour days at Vonage, then having to come home and pick up my slack with housework.
The worst is I can’t pick up Chloe, and she loves to be held. Her favorite game is “chase” and I can’t run after her right now. Luckily, I discovered if I am careful, I can still push the swing on the playground, which is good. However, she has started complaining about her own aches and pains so that she can fit in with mommy. She understands that Mommy’s back hurts, but she doesn’t get that kissing it won’t make it better, and going to the doctor won’t make it better. Sigh.
To add insult to injury, John and I had decided to have another baby, and now there is no way I can even think about pregnancy. I keep telling myself “not never, just not now.” Let’s hope I can stick to that because I really want to have another baby.
So, feeling a little blue. I don’t really want to talk about it, because it just brings up too much disappointment and frustration, but I need to get some of it off my chest.
I do feel a little bit better knowing we have a course of action. Instead of just waiting for the next episode and hoping it doesn’t happen, we are taking a more aggressive approach to fix it. It kind of sucks that I see a long road ahead of me, but at least I do feel there is an end in sight.
Posted on April 8, 2009
I fully accept that I live a charmed life. I have a loving husband, an adorable child, and we are living a comfortable life. I get to travel the world, and stay home with my child. Not something very many people can say.
But, there are definitely times when the reality of day to day living gets to be a little too much.
Last week, I found out the the doctor I was waiting to see to give me the pain relieving shot in my back is no longer accepting ANY patience with my insurance. Of course, my appointment just for the consult was supposed to be on the 8th. So I waited two months for an appointment that was canceled a week before it took place. Sigh.
I have decided at this point that I am not going to follow up. I am actually not doing to bad these days, certainly not bad enough to deal with trying to find another doc and deal with the insurance. So, I think I will wait. Unfortunately, while I was waiting previously I completely stopped exercising. Which, of course, means I have been putting on some serious weight. Which means I know have to go back on my diet, and start exercising every day until I can get back down to where I should be.
All this being said, I am HUNGRY! And that makes me a little mean.
Then, on top of all this, Chloe has regressed again with potty training. I totally take responsibility for this one. When Tabby was in town, I put her back into pull-ups because we were spending so much time in the car, and I didn’t want to deal with wet pants and washing the car seat cover. Well, she has gotten lazy again. Yesterday, she had three accidents, two of those during nap time. (She woke up wet and dirty, I had to go change her, strip her bed, then put her back down again. She woke up again two hours later wet.) I understand that this happens, it is just so frustrating!
In addition to that, I was in the process of doing laundry, and her accidents added two more loads. And, its nearly impossible to get laundry folded and put away while she is awake. She tries to “help” and she unfolds all the laundry I just folded. Then I am yelling at her, she’s crying and it just gets chaotic.
So, my house is a mess, I have ten loads of laundry I need to do, a sink full of dishes, and a whiny two year old. And if that weren’t enough, both she and I are SICK! AGAIN! I swear, I cannot keep this child healthy for more than a week. It is so frustrating! And all I want to do is sleep.
Which I did last night, I went to bed at 9:00pm. I just gave up, I figured it would be better to sleep then to take it out on poor John.
Posted on February 17, 2009
I am pissed.
And, I have no where to direct this anger, because it’s NOBODY’S fault. And yet, I feel betrayed, frustrated, and generally angry.
And, yes, this is in regards to my back.
I finally sucked it up, and called the doc to get the magical shot that is going to make all of this go away. Three complications:
1) They (of course) don’t take my insurance.
2) They can’t see me until April, and that is just for the consult. Then, when I actually get the shot, I have to have somebody with me because, apparently, I will be sedated.
3) If I happen to get pregnant (and yes, we’ve talked about trying for #2) I can’t get the shot anyway.
I just can’t seem to win.
None of this was supposed to happen.
When I had the original surgery, it was supposed to “fix” whatever was wrong with me. And, yeah, things could be worse. But, seriously! Nobody ever said anything about the long term. Nobody discussed with me the idea of arthritis and more surgery. I WAS SUPPOSED TO BE FIXED. And I am not. And it sucks.
And I don’t want to deal with it. I just want to pretend that none of this is happening and go about my life as if I didn’t know. But I do. And it’s only going to get worse. And that sucks.
But, I can’t let it dissuade me from living my life. I know what I want, and I can’t let this get in the way. The reality is: If I decide to take the “suck it up” approach to back pain. Then I actually have to do just that, suck it up. And, most days I can do that. But there are days. Oh, there are days. I can’t stand for more then 15 minutes, can’t sit for more than 30, can’t lie down in ANY position and fall asleep. I can’t pick up my child. I can’t pick up my child’s toys. Just thinking about it makes me shake my head.
But, this is my reality, and I cannot escape it.
And, apparently, I can’t change it any time soon.
So, that leaves me with what? Sucking it up, and feeling sorry for myself. Sigh. I hate this.
Posted on February 5, 2009
I went to a specialist today for my back and received the following explanation:
If you look at the above xray, you can see that the rods in my back don’t come down to the last two vertebrae. They did this because I was twelve when I had the surgery and they wanted to make sure I still had some flexibility and some room to grow (although, they were pretty sure I wasn’t going to grow much more, they didn’t want to take any chances.) As you can see from the xray, I still have a curvature which wasn’t corrected by the rods because of this decision.
Well, those two vertebrae have been acting as a fulcrum for the rest of my back, which is putting undue stress on them, and the discs in between these two vertebrae are breaking down. This is causing premature arthritis in that area of my back. (The doc says, “Everybody gets it, sooner or later.”) For me, its sooner. The last two vertebrae are, on occasion, “separating” which is what is causing the sharp pain I am feeling in my hip.
Sooooo….my options at this point are:
1. To do nothing, deal with the pain, and try to strengthen my core muscles (means working out, probably joining a gym.)
2. Get an injection into the area that is causing me pain, which will help numb that area for a limited amount of time. And during that time, hit the gym and strengthen my muscles, and hopefully hold off #3 for awhile longer.
3. Surgery. They will put two pins on either side of the vertebrae essentially “fusing” them together which will stop them from sliding and hopefully put an end to the pain. Now, I will have to do this eventually. But, the doc feels that since my pain isn’t debilitating that this would be premature. But, he did caution me that I will have to have it done eventually.
And, that’s where we’re at.
I will make a call to another doctor to get the injection, then start hitting the gym and try to stregthen everything up. And then its just a waiting game.
Posted on January 30, 2009
Okay, so I am pretty used to having back pain. I am so used to it, in fact, that I stopped taking pain medicine for back aches years ago, and when I wrenched something 6 months ago while shutting the back door of my car, I gritted my teeth and just tried not to move that way for awhile. About two months ago, my hip started popping out. Its excruciatingly painful, but it pops back in within a couple of minutes, so my plan of action was to just deal.
Well, when the first day we toured in Rome we left the stroller back at the villa, I ended up carrying Chloe more than I have for awhile. It got so bad, I had to just tell her no. That’s why in most of the pictures Chloe is riding on Daddy’s shoulders. But, again, I just thought I would let it rest up when we got home, and it would probably go away.
Last Monday, I was in the grocery store pushing the shopping cart and my hip popped out. It hurt so bad, I literally had to do some serious deep breathing to stop myself from crying. After that, I thought to myself, “Okay, this is not normal, even for someone with rods.” I have a pretty high tolerance for pain (you have to when you have scoliosis and chronic back pain) but this was too much for me.
So, I took a big girl pill and started looking into getting it fixed.
Now, unfortunately this has happened to me before. The last time, the doctor told me that the ligaments in my hips were stretched (and ligaments aren’t supposed to stretch) because they were compensating for the inflexibility in my back. I went to my primary physician through Kaiser, who referred me to an orthopedic surgeon. I drove 50 minutes to a different office, then waited for an hour in the waiting room, for him to look at me for 5 minutes, tell me I needed xrays and an MRI, and referred me to a physical therapist to deal with the pain. While I was making the appt with the PT, I heard the doctor dictating notes about the visit. He said, “Its degenerative, I don’t think there’s anything we can do.” I decided at that time that I would do the PT till I felt better, but I wouldn’t follow up with the doc. I didn’t see the point.
Now, 7 years (or so) later, I am right back where I was.
I called the specialist, who insisted I go to the primary care physician first. My doc said I would probably need PT, but wanted a specialist to look me over to see what exercises I should do. The specialist won’t see me without xrays, so I got those done. Then I called them to make an appt, they don’t take my insurance. There isn’t ANYONE in the area who takes my insurance AND works with scoliosis patients. Another phone call to the insurance company, they kept me on hold for 20 minutes, then told me that before they can “make an exception” I have to have an appointment because they need a physician’s name. Another phone call to the specialist. They tell me that I have to find out if I have “out of network” benefits. Another call to the insurance company. Another 15 minutes on hold, then I find out I do indeed have out of network, but we have a $2000 deductible. Call the specialist back. FINALLY, they make an appointment, but I am going to have to pay for the visit. Sigh.
Next week I will see the orthopedic surgeon for a “consultation.” My hope is he’ll look at me, say I need PT, then I can go to an “in network” PT and fix it. My worst fear is, of course, more surgery.
Luckily, getting the xrays was painless, covered by insurance, and actually kind of fascinating. I used to joke to my kids all the time that their teacher was actually a cyborg. Here’s the proof:
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