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Clumber

(human) MRI result... sucks

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Clumber

Haven't really been in much of a mood to post here, or any of the online forums I haunt.  I apologize in advance for the "poor me" tone of this post, and please feel free to ignore it.  It is building up hard inside me, and when I try to talk to my IRL friends and fam, they try to convince me I am wrong, or try to fix it, or otherwise make me feel shittier.  So am taking advantage of the "y'all don't really have to give a damn about me" aspect of the intertubes.  It is long, I am sorry.  It has been building since I got the news Wednesday.

Short version: I thought that my year-long back injury was on the way to healed and over with, and instead just got an MRI that shows that the injury may be something entirely different from the original diagnosis, so have to start rehabbing ALL OVER now. Anger and depression in equal amounts.

Long version:

A little over a year ago now, I was injured at work when we were deploying around 212 new computer systems at one of the vet homes.  We had hired a temp to help out, but he vanished whenever there was any work to be done.  I was deploying a new pc to a nurses' station - a very old style counter built long before anyone thought that new fangled electricity thing would stick, so threading cables from top of desk to floor/outlet required some creativity.  I couldn't find Tempguy, so decided to try and just sorta' reach around and under the desk.

Just as I made an off-balance grab for the cables, I heard and felt a POP!!! And immediately my right leg began tingling. I realized I was in trouble fairly soon, since back injuries never hurt right away... but this one did. OMFG my back hurt.

Eventually the occupational injury Doc diagnosed a dislocated SI joint (this is the joint where your spine connects to your hip.  I had never heard of it before either.) that managed to "nick" or tear some nerves on its way out.  A lot of pain pills, muscle relaxants, forced days away from work (I hated abandoning my crew in the middle of deployment) PT, steroids, relapsing, and more pain pills later... and I pretty much had the pain managed.  This was about 8 months post injury.  My Occupational Injury claim was closed as the Dr. felt that I was as healed as I would ever be.

2 months after that, huge terrifying relapse - couldn't sleep, pain was crazy bad again, and again sending burning needle-like pains down my leg.  Tried to re-open my claim.  Original Occ. Dr had moved on, new Doc decided that i was too fat (her words) and had a back that would always be subject to injury - and she grudgingly ordered x-rays.  Xrays showed a VERY OBVIOUS pair of lower vertebrae pinching and with almost no space between them. Swollen soft tissue could even be seen around that pinch. She then announced that she would still deny the claim since the previous Dr. never took xrays, so she couldn't say for sure it was the same injury.

So anyhow, that was about 3 or 4 months ago.  In the meantime my primary care physician changed again (this is my 4th pcp in my 3 years with this health insurance) and after initially suspecting that I was a "med seeker"  she became more and more concerned because I have an almost predictable cycle now of getting to where I can manage the pain without meds, then sudden horrible relapse of spasming that will only be tamed with 10+ days of steroids, and then another 3 or 4 weeks of gradually reducing the pain and getting it manageable again.  Lather, rinse, repeat.  So she ordered an Xray... which showed the same thing as before.  The pinching discs made her curious...  and then the next visit I was in the throes of a new storm of spasming and after basically trying to tie me into a pretzel, she announced "Congratulations - you have won an MRI!".  The MRI was done Sunday morning.  My Dr. contacted me Weds night to tell me that I have a herniated disc, L5 S1.  And it was probably the original injury, though the SI dislocation could very well have been there too, just tag-teaming.

So after a [expletive] year of rehabbing for a dislocated joint, I find out that none of it would actually have helped the herniation correct itself other than temporary reduction in pain.  I have been fighting like hell for a YEAR for nothing.  And now I have to start over completely.  Some of the treatment (massage therapy for instance) probably aggravated the disc, and if you look backwards and compare spasm storms with massage therapy appointments guess what?  Yep, the spasming seems to come on about 3 days after massage.

They want to poke some huge needle into my spine now, that I apparently have to be awake for and that they have to do some sort of live xray because it is dangerous to have a big needle next to my spinal cord.  Sounds lovely, huh.  And I would trust their plans now , why exactly?  They call it "minimally invasive" but I bet that's only b/c it isn't their own spine.

Plus of course now I need to file some sort of complaint/petition to the state L&I (worker's compensation) to reconsider the denial of reopening.  Lucky for me, my spouse Jeni is actually a claims manager at L&I (not for the same county we are in, so no direct access to my files, as it should be!) so she knows the ropes better than anyone and what I need to do.  IN fact, I am scheduling a phone appt for Jeni to talk to my pcp about what we need from the pcp in order to properly submit the form(s).

...  I am so depressed and angry about the whole thing.  I don't want to be injured another year.  I want to get back into shape, gym work, get back to my 'fightin' weight and attitude, and be my normal self again in time for the '09 hunt test/hunting seasons !!  When I asked my Dr and later my physical therapist what exercises and conditioning I can do without injuring my disc (or SI, or whatever...) and before I could finish my question, each of them interrupted me with NO NO NO nononononoo... we have other things to deal with before you can do that!"  I have never imagined I would have so much trouble getting my health care people to let me lose weight and improve my conditioning.   I already worked hard their way for a YEAR. In fact, more like 15 months of their way, and for nothing.

I may very well just start anyhow and not tell them.  I dunno.

Thanks for letting me vent.  I would have put this in the "whiny luser poor me self-pity category" but I couldn't find it. Sorry.

~tracy

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Shotster

Tracy,

Doctors, and politicians should both commit the same mantra to heart..."First, do no harm". But alas, not the case. Second opinions are almost as valuable...as thirds. You are going to need to look deep inside...the strength will reveal itself to you, and you will deal with it. Think about how our dogs have dealt with pain we can only imagine...that image is a "focus point" for our sympathetic nervous systems to respond to, hopefully.

The point is...you have a home here, and even though we have not had a "face to face", I am pretty sure that "We hear you", and will pray for relief to come to you very soon. Meanwhile...did any of your "medicos" suggest cold packs? I have a wonky lower back...arthritis in the pelvic/spinal interface...and a cold pack works some kind of magic. It won't do damage, and "It couldn't hurt".

To being better,

Shotster

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bobman

DO this it worked extremely well for me and I had been dealing with the problem for years. I was in so much pain I could not climb the steps to get into the house.

It took about three or four sessions before I got any relief then about 95% of the pain went away by session 7 or 8 it was totaslly gone and has not returned. A lifesaver.

spinal decompression link

My insurace didn't cover it so I negotiated wtih them and got the treatments for about 50% of what they would bill the insurance co for by paying cash.

IF this works after you are pain free get the book "treat your own back" and do the exercises

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Briarscratch
You poor kid.  I wish I could help.

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welshie_man

Tracy,

So sorry to hear this.

Karen has been liviing with spinal difficulties for the past 9 years. She's had 3 surgeries in the cervical area and right now is looking at a 4th for L5S1.

Unfortunately her cervical fusions were done in a neck forward position which results in considerable neck pain from the muscles trying to pull the head back into a more normal position. Since she's already fused, the Dr's are reluctant to make any changes and pain management looks like the only relief she will get from this.

After countless consultations with neurosurgeons all over the DC/Baltimore area she finally found a place that may be able to help her with the lower back. If you are interested in speaking with her about this, please contact me offline.

I sincerely hope you get the relief you're looking for. I see the struggle Karen goes through every day.

Kurt

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dshazel

Tracey,

Stay strong, stay the course, and do what needs to be done. Yes it is a shame, but if all goes to plan you will be hunting by next September.

I wish you the best!

Cheers,

Scott

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rprovines

Sounds lovely, huh.  And I would trust their plans now , why exactly?  They call it "minimally invasive" but I bet that's only b/c it isn't their own spine.

Nice, a bit of humor injected, so to speak. Sorry, bad pun. I have some disc issues too, certainly no fun, have put off surgery. But at least I'm not in a continual state of spasm.

Good luck whatever course of action you decide on, hoping you get some relief and life gets back to near normal. Don't expect to ever get to pre-injury levels of activity, your body can't ignore this, it'll let you know what works.

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Guest

Sorry to hear about your situation.  I have a medical condition that the doctors couldn't figure out for years.  Originally the doctors thought I picked up something in China.  Then they said it was MS.  Finally after many trips to the ER and hospital stays genetic testing confirmed the actual condition.  I have a neuro condition that I am told will result in my loosing my ability to walk, speak clearly and feed myself over time.  I have also been informed that there is no treatment.

Believe me I understand the frustration of trying to find out what is really going on.

All I can say is hang in there.

Aside from the traditional medical approach I have worked with a lady who does shiatsu massage and has me do yoga and over two hours a day exercise plus supplements.  Whatever she is doing it is helping greatly and I have been doing much better over the past few years.  The doctors are very supportive of my approach and tell me to keep doing what ever I am doing.

What ever you do, keep trying and don't give up.  Stay as active as possible.  Fresh air and sunshine helps any condition.

Dave

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frak

As an Internet friend, let me say that you have our thoughts & prayers from Atlanta.  In the meantime, and although I am not an MD, my Rx is a big hug to Briggs.  I can guarantee it will bring instant relief.

frak

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Greg Hartman

Tracy – sorry to hear of this.  Can’t offer much in terms of medical advice – just a sympathetic ear.

I can offer some non-medical advice, however.  My wife has lived with serious limitations and an incurable, progressive disease (MS) since she was in her 20’s.  She is the bravest person I know (and I’ve known some damn brave people in my life).  Why? Because she never to this day let her condition take over her life – she has remained genuinely cheerful and optimistic in the face of some pretty awful stuff, including blindness; and takes advantage of every precious minute she has.  Deal with your problem, but don’t let it smash you down.  I know you can!!

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RookieEP

Tracy-  Some levels of depression always follows these types of conditons.  It is normal.  The bad news- it took a long time to get a correct a diagnosis, thus making recovery longer.  The good news- w/ the proper diagnosis in place a plan can be made to tackle the problem.  Notice I didn't say cure.  Once significent degeneration has occurred in the spine it will always be there.  Now don't think we have to take you out to the pasture and put ya down.  W/ proper treatment, education, YOU following through- the type of condition you have can be managed so that you don't even know it is there.  You are going to be the biggest key in getting better.

Things to know:

1. Injections under flouroscopy are done very routine.  People have the done all the time w/o any complications, but there are risks.  The lowest risk trmt for your condition is PT and chiropractic.  Also the injection won't fix the problem.  The injection is a pain mangament tool, the disc will not regenerate to when Tracy was 18.  I've had cases where injections helped A LOT and some where it didn't do anything.  My problem w/ injections is that if the person feels much better they do not perform the necessary rehab stretches and exercises- no lifestyle changes.  It is kinda like giving the Pro football a shot for broken ribs so they can play w/o feeling the pain.  The ribs are still broken but they don't feel em, putting the person in jeopardy for the future.  

Over time the body eventually cleans out the herniated disc material impinging on the spinal cord- this is a lonnnng process.  

Things you can actually do to help the healing process.

1. If needed lose weight, nothing crash diet, slow and steady is the way

2.  Avoid bending forward at the waist as if your life depended on it.  Picture a deep cut on top of one of your finger knuckles. Every time you bend and flex that knuckle you reopen that wound. These types of disc injuries are the same.  You must use your legs for all lifting and bending your knees for every simply task such as picking up a pencil.  

3.  You truly are what you eat.  If you truly want to get well as quickly as possibly.  Become a poster child for the most healthy eatting individual in the USA.  Anti-oxidants clean the body, think of the disc material pinching your cord like one huge oxidant.  

4. Do not sleep on your stomach

5. Activity is strictly regulated.  Ask when you can start a walking program.  Your docs should not have any issue w/ a walking program.  Every walk/exercise/stretch you perform is for a set time or reps.  I don't care how well you are feeling at the time you do not go over the set allowed time or reps.  Activity to the lower back is like baking a cake you increase one aspect of the recipie that is not called for and everything gets ****** up.  I can't tell you the number of people who had major set backs b/c of how well they were feeling "At the time".......  

6. Lastly combine PT w/ chiropractic for cripee sakes. Find a chiropractor from your circle of trust.  Make sure the chiro performs some type of decompression or flexion/distraction technique.  

Remember this takes time and there will be set backs.  But w/ time the set backs are smaller and you get over them quicker.

7.  Knowledge is key, do your research!

8.  I'm a chiropractor if you have any questions or concerns feel free to PM me.

When I worked in Appleton, WI this is the neurology group we referred to, read this article,

http://www.neurospinewi.com/articles/lumb_disc_hern.html

and check out there other articles as well.  

Baby is up and needs feeding I gotta go- I wish you luck.

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John

as far as the whole crappy mess goes Im sorry for you....

but you can diet, reduce your caloric intake and you will loose weight with out exercising more.

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jmooney

I'm sorry to hear about your troubles Tracy.  I know the depression and anger that goes with dealing with an unknown/misdiagnosed illness.  

You are strong and can get through this.  We are here for you and are pulling for you.  Just take it one step at a time, follow your treatment program and you'll come through.  If you get mad or depressed, sit down and pet one of your puppers have another go.

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Clumber

Holy crap... a ton of wonderful replies to my whiney little snot post.  Y'all are awesome.

Couple replies :

Bobman - I replied in a PM as well.  I think my PT has a decompression machine available and will ask her about it at my next visit. THANK YOU.

'Scratch - you are helping.  truly.  THANK YOU.

Welshie_man - My thoughts to your Karen.  Given any sort of choice, I would pick almost anything instead of back pain.  A few years ago I ruptured my right calf in a softball practice.  It hurt like crazy BUT there were things I could do that would let me ignore the pain.  Broke my foot once, same thing.  But the back?  There is no way to avoid back pain short of medding up to "don't care" levels.  THANK YOU.

dshazel - i know I am going to get thwacked for this & probably deserve it, but I haven't really curtailed hunting much since the injury.  Oddly enough - even tramping up steep slippery dirt hillsides I just don't notice my back hardly at all.  Watching/following/admiring my dogs working is the same - I just don't really pay attention to the pain.  Of course a few hours after is a different kettle of fish...  I did have to bow out of a few handlings of my dogs in hunt tests, though, and that about killed me.  The problem there is that if I med-up enough to manage the pain, then my dog-training timing is fubar.  I try to wear the TENS unit sometimes, but that thing tends to make me exceptionally short-tempered.  We nicknamed it "ole' sparky". THANK YOU.

rprovines - At this point I would be happy with not knowing EXACTLY where my pain meds and muscle relaxants are every second of the day.  I long for a day when I don't have to do that inventory 'just in case' the spasm storm heats up. THANK YOU.

bwannaDave - Wow - that truly sucks.. not just the chasing of the diagnosis, but with the final (?) diagnosis.  A good friend of mine is in that WarZone of MS, and my thoughts are with you for fighting your condition.  Keep fighting!  and THANK YOU.

frak - you are 100% accurate.  Especially lately as Briggs and the new puppy ECS have become buddies, and Gambel likes to have Briggs "tickle" his belly and he makes a noise I can only describe as "giggling" as Briggs tickles him, he giggles and scoots across the floor on his back.   THANK YOU.

Greg - Doing my best, and I am certainly not brave in the least.  I admire your wife, and my thoughts are with you both.  As I said earlier, I have a good friend fighting MS, and it is just awful.  THANK YOU.

RookieEP - WOW.  Thank you for some awesome advice and all the time you graciously took to share it with me!    Yes, I definitely need to lose weight.  Typically in my past I would do this by running - my favorite exercise.  However, the calf rupture took that away since sometimes (still) the calf will just drop me on my face without any noticeable warning.  Switched to stationary bike, but so far no one will clear me for that.

PT wants me to do more walking and more regularly, and I plan to start that yesterday... though I was still in my pity-party yesterday and couldn't be bothered to actually take any constructive steps.   :<img src=:'>

I hesitate to mention this but will... I had a very very bad experience with chiropracty almost 20 years ago and swore off off the profession forever.  Even reading the word still makes my stomach tighten up and go nauseous.  I am not against it in general, just for me.  I am not even against non-traditional  treatments - one of the only things that will absolutely for sure give me days of relief is acupuncture.  I tell my guy with the stabbing sticks to just never tell me if it is a placebo, since I have no problem with placebos as long as I never find out.  heh heh   I sometimes need Jeni to drive me home from a acu-visit as I am so relaxed and loose that I can barely stay vertical.  Once home I will crash to sleep (longer depending on how I have been sleeping or not previous) and when I am up again, pain is virtually gone.  So go in like a steady 8 on the pain scale, leave w/ 3 or 4.

Your description comparing bending forward with a knuckle injury is fantastic!  I am much happier understanding the functional aspect of what is going on ... I still can't get a good answer for my wondering if the part of my disk 'sticking out' is just a swelling of the disc, or is it like ruptured open and spilling?  My PT told me to visualize the bulging part of my disk sliding back into place with a couple of the stretches she gave me, but I am still unclear what needs to happen to get it back in there.

thank you SO much Rook! and I will probably take you up on asking more questions.  I am still sorta' in the after-effect of the new diagnosis so not sure what questions to even have.

John & jmooey -  THANK YOU.  I am trying to re-gather my fight... I was totally 100% certain the mri would show nothing of interest.  I had a bad feeling when the Dr left a voice mail that she wanted to talk to me TONIGHT and then called me at like 8pm to tell me the results... didn't bode well.

All - I was raised to be more of a "walk it off, ya' wuss.  Rub some dirt on it and get back in the game!" type.  The past year has not only been physically painful, but mentally exhausting because my usual motto is "If it is worth doing, it is worth OVERdoing".  All of this lay flat, be cautious, don't do this or that....  has already driven me nuts.  

Take damn good care of your back, folks.   When it is injured, there is just no stiff upper-lipping out of it.  People who barely know me can tell when I am in the midst of a spasm storm... I hate this because I am a private person and don't like being a whiner - even if only my perception.  Apparently I lose all color in my face, my eyes get dull, and my right hand (during a really bad storm) will swell and become noticeably blue-ish.  I wish I could get some biofeedback control over that so I can go about my business without blipping on anyone's radar....  Part of the problem is that I work around a lot of healthcare professionals... lol

I hate this, but clearly hating it does no curative good at all.

Thanks again to everyone, and another apology for posting it at all.  I was at a weak point last night... spasming wouldn't let me sleep and well, sleep disruptions tend to make me crazy.

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bntsetter

Tracy - I want to add to Rookie's post about Chiropractic.  They have come along way in the last 20+ years but there are still some really good ones and some really poor ones out there.  IF YOU CHOOSE to go with Chiro be sure it is someone you trust (much like your PCP?!?!)  My younger bro went to chiropractic school in upstate NY and I can tell you he got allot of medical training in addition to the crack and stack training. ;)

I also want o add to rookie's post about following through with the stretches etc.  I know from personal experience that when you slack off on the stretches things go to H*LL quickly and remember to bend with you knees...

Keith

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