Jan 16, 2011
I am a 31yr old chronic pain patient, wife, mother of two, daughter, sister, & friend. Strange thing I think is I identify as a chronic pain patient first & have been since sometime in 2000. My pain began in my lower lumbar spine from the very beginning. I started out as a patient with a Primary Care Physician with a diagnosis of degenerative disc disease, stenosis, & sciatica. I was working in a call center where I sat for 10 hours a day plus. I was in a true living hell and felt like no one understood. I felt so alone for a very long time. I was prescribed Lortab and they didn’t work at all. Then I was prescribed Percocet 5mg tablets. I found only the brand name was beneficial and helped manage the pain. Percocet made life bearable but eventually my dose had to be increased to the 7.5mg tablets and then to the 10mg tablets.
Percocet worked well for me until 2003 when one night I had a flare in my lumbar spine that felt like someone hit me in the back with a sledgehammer! It was later found to have been in my facet joint. This landed me smack into the ER. They gave me Percocet tablets and later a shot with a combination of Dilaudid and some other anti-inflammatory and still I was hurting. The next day I was scheduled at an Ortho Center and met with a surgeon. He determined that I would benefit from their pain management program because I was too young for spine surgery. The next day I was introduced to the doctor that I still have today. He scheduled for a procedure to do an injection into the facet joint the next day. I was scared to death. I am scared of needles… even tiny ones. Have you seen those spinal needles? I almost fainted when I checked it out online and found out what it involved. Still scared I felt better about things because I felt most importantly my new pain management doctor addressed my pain and medication. He changed me to the Duragesic Patch 50mcg which was my first saving grace. I am allergic to the generic but I had great insurance along with a coupon for $50 off that I could print each month took care of my co-payment. Over the next period of my treatment I went through McKenzie Physical Therapy for ankle and spine. My Duragesic patches were increased to 75mcg and then to 100mcg. I was given Oxycodone 15mg and Dilaudid 8mg (6th month intervals) for breakthrough pain.
I also went through a Medical Branch Nerve Block for pain behind my shoulder blade that went down into my arm. It caused weakness and was a very sharp, shooting pain.
After the nerve block the pain behind my shoulder blade never returned. I have had numerous facet joint injections, epidural injections in lumbar & lower thoracic spine and cortisone shots (in ankle before surgery in 2008).–
In 2008 my right ankle was fused with 8 bolts, a rod in my leg and what they call a “nail” in through my heel to connect everything. It was the result of a not at fault car accident in 2006. A lady looked right at me and pulled out in front of me anyway. I was only going 35 before I started to stop and it still totaled my car and my ankle broke… snapped in ½. I had an open compound fracture causing me to walk with a permanent pain. For the first 2 years I walked on the ankle after they put it back together. It kept getting worse and worse as time passed. I ended up with a cyst in the joint, bone spurs that the ligaments and tendons rubbed against when I walked. My ligament never tightened back up correctly. One night I got up to go to the restroom and ended up in the floor. I had avoided it until it was impossible to avoid any further. I was scheduled for surgery the next week. The surgery resulted in an estimated disability rating at 35% by the surgeon one year after surgery (2009) while it was still healing. I go back in January for an evaluation for a new rating. My hardware is permanent but I am having problems with one of the screws. My pain doctor believes it is working itself out on the outside of my ankle. Again I am scared to even think for a second I might have to have surgery again. The worst pain I ever felt was when I woke up from the fusion surgery. It felt like they forgot the pain medicine… and I had on a Duragesic patch which made no dent on that pain! Now, I can walk for short periods of time and have a huge limp which has causes my back to become more painful. After my last spinal injection in 2010 I asked to have my breakthrough medicine reduced in ½ (it had been doubled after surgery in 2008) and I couldn’t walk so the doctor changed it back. I was then diagnosed with Complex Regional Pain Syndrome
Approx a year ago the brand name Duragesic patches which were the ones with the well of medication become no longer available… after going through withdrawals from the new type of patch I find they have changed not only how the medicine is made into the patch but also the way the patch dispenses the medication. At this point my doctor changed me to MsContin 60mg every 12hrs instead of the patch. It didn’t last the entire 12 hours and seemed to wear off after 6hrs. I explained this with a pain diary and chart and he decided to change it to every 8hrs. That worked ok for me for a few months until I got a new job sitting most of the day in this horrible chair. Even after a new chair I was miserable. The next change was to the 100mg tablets, still three times a day which is every 8hrs. And for breakthrough I still take Oxycodone 15mg tablets, two tablets three times a day. Together I finally feel like a person again… I honestly find a few times in my day where I can say I do not hurt at all, ankle or back.