Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Y'all have said it better than I ever could

I haven't blogged much lately, even though I've been reading all the blogs I follow and commenting once in a while. Everything that I would have blogged about has been covered by most of you and y'all have done quite well, so anything I would have said would have been along the lines of "What she said!"
I'm getting an MRI done tomorrow (Thursday, 21st) for my migraine headaches (finally), but my doctor won't order an MRI for my lower back pain. She says they only do those in the case of a pinched nerve that needs surgery, but that's not what my knee doctor told me (no way do I want to have surgery on my back). She seems to think it's muscle spasms (even though flexeril doesn't even begin to touch the pain I have in my lower back when I have to stand for more than 5 minutes). She poked along my spine, from my neck to below my waist, and while it didn't hurt until she got to the middle of my back, when she poked my spine from about 3" above my waist to 4" below my waist, I almost cried because it hurt so bad. I told her I can't sleep on my back because I end up in so much pain, I have trouble getting out of bed. I can't sleep on my right side for the same reason, so 95% of the time I'm stuck sleeping on my left side (and at that, I still only sleep for about 4 hours and then I have to get up for a half hour or so and sit in my chair, then go back to bed and hope I can get another couple hours of sleep). If I stand for more than 5 minutes, the pain hits me and if I don't sit down right away (or, if I'm walking, don't find something to lean on, like a shopping cart), then my legs get numb and I get weird shooting pains in my buttocks (yeah, probably TMI, there), then I practically collapse when I can sit down. Funny thing about it all, though, is that once I'm sitting down (or leaning, bent over at my waist), the pain goes away almost immediately. That doesn't sound like any muscle spasms I've ever had before (like the charley horses I get in my calves or my feet). So she's referring me to physical therapy for exercises to strengthen my back muscles. I'm hoping that will work to fix this back pain, but I'm just not sure how much it will help, if it's not a muscle problem to begin with. And then if it doesn't work, I've wasted my co-pays and the insurance companies' money on something that didn't work (but if it's not a pinched nerve, then I'd waste that money on an MRI, maybe). I don't know, I guess I'll go to physical therapy and see what happens.
I did go in for the cortisone shots in my knees, but the doctor I saw for that said that he thought the rooster comb shots might be a better way to go, since the cortisone shots only worked for a couple of months when I got them last year (the rooster comb shots are supposed to last for a year). It's a series of 3 shots, I got one last Tuesday, one this Tuesday, and the last one will be next Tuesday. DH is getting them for his knee too, but his doctor isn't so sure they'll help him much, his knee is bone on bone, no cartilage left there at all. If the shots don't work for him, he's looking at a knee replacement. One of the doctors he saw said DH is too young for that at 53, that the replacement will wear out and have to be done again. But the doc he saw today said that knee replacements last about 25 years now, so DH would be almost 80 before he'd need it replaced a second time, and he doesn't see a problem with doing it now if these shots don't work (don't you just love how doctors see eye-to-eye on treatment options? And these are doctors that work for our government, at the Veteran's Administration Medical Centers, tell me again how government running health care is going to be really good for us).
So that's what's been going on with us the last couple of weeks, and one of the reasons I haven't blogged about anything lately. Right now, I'm feeling too old, too fat, too tired, and in too much pain to really give a shit about much of anything. Hopefully, that will improve soon. It can't last forever, can it?


  1. *hug* I'm no doctor but it sounds like a pinched nerve to me. I hope you feel better and get the help needed!

  2. I have had you on my mind lately. Now I know why. SO sorry you are having pain and not getting the help you need. Not getting sleep will make you feel like crap least it does me.

    I have had a lot of back trouble so I know how you must be suffering. It got really bad at one time. I could barely move. I saw an osteopath/DO and he fixed me right up. DO's are hard to find, but if you can find one I bet they could help you.

    The one I saw DID mention my weight and I was really pretty thin for me, but he wasn't mean or fussy about it. He at least believed some folks had a genetic predisposition to be fat. He got me better though and never mentioned it again.

    Don't see how you are doing as well as you are with migraines AND back trouble. Hang in there. I'm an email away if you need to vent some more.

  3. Like the previous commenter, I'm no doctor but you're listing the classic symptoms of a pinched sciatic nerve. I've had it for years--from a fall down a flight of stairs. Think back to when this started, then think back to 3-6 months before that. You probably injured your back without realizing it. It can take a few months before the symptoms of a back injury show up.

    The only thing that's different from me (because mine is much milder than yours) is that lying down does usually make it go away. On the days it doesn't I lie on my back on the floor and put my legs up on a chair. That lets my lower back flatten out and takes pressure off the nerves.

    Physical therapy and exercise will help--at least, it does me. strengthening the back AND abdominal muscles (as long as you don't strain) usually will help with back injuries by helping to support the spine better. If you don't want back surgery (and I think you're right to avoid it unless you're desperate) physical therapy is the best way to go.

    But I'd keep at it about the pinched nerve diagnosis, because I really think you have a pinched sciatic nerve.

    Good luck.

  4. I had an MRI done several years ago when I had a resurgence of back pain (I was in a minor car accident years ago and got whiplash). It takes patience and you have to be perfectly still -- two things I am nearly incapable of doing. Hope yours goes smoothly!

  5. I am a doctor and I just saw a patient yesterday with the exact same back symptoms. We did an MRI and he had a herniated disk.

  6. Hi there! Sorry to hear about all the trouble and pain you've been having; hope you get a diagnosis and treatment for the problem right quick. The comment you made about the pain resolving when you bend over struck me. My dear Grandmother, when she was alive had the same symptoms and was ultimately diagnosed with a condition called "spinal stenosis". Reading this website:, it appears as if you might have some of the symptoms. Perhaps worth a chat with your Dr. if you haven't already ruled that out.

  7. I wondered what happened to you Vesta. Sorry fortune's throwing you some arrows, I send healing thoughts to you. Well, who knows?

    Also, there's no-one else like you, and what others voices are to you, yours is to others.

    Hope that makes sense!

  8. MigiziNse-ikwi - thanks, I'm hoping that the physical therapist will have a better idea of what's wrong with my back and what's needed to fix it.

    Kat - thanks, this has been going on for at least 15 years now, and steadily getting worse every year (the back thing, anyway). The migraines, well, I've had those for as long as I can remember, and just suffered with them (but I'm tired of dealing with pain all the time, so I'm finally demanding that something be done about it).

    geogrrl - I'm not sure when I messed up my back. It could have been when I got hit by a car back in 1972 (fractured my pelvis in 3 places), or it could have been when I worked at the drug store in 1982 and had to unload the truck when our weekly order of merchandise was delivered (and I couldn't lift things properly because of the arthritis in my knees). I know it's been a problem for a long time, but it's really been bad the last 15 years. I'm going to try the physical therapy and see if it helps (I hope that's all I need to do).

    Rachel - The MRI today was a was pretty easy, I didn't have to lay down for it, I was seated and then reclined a bit. There was a cage to help hold my head still, and I napped through the whole thing. I did get squished a bit as I'm wider than the opening to the seated MRI machine, but with my arms straight out in front of me and crossed, it wasn't too bad. And my hips got really squished going in, but once they lowered the seat, I was fine. 50 minutes later, I was done. I wouldn't mind doing that one again for my back if it's necessary.

    dr-kat-nd - I'll keep that in mind if the physical therapy doesn't help, and pass that on to my doctor as a possibility.

    Lisa - One of the diabetes lists I follow had a gentleman who was describing his back pain, and it sounded a lot like mine, down to getting immediate relief when bending over at the waist or sitting down. His diagnosis was spinal stenosis, and I asked my doctor if that could be a possibility. She didn't say yea or nay, that was when she did the pressing on my spinal cord thing and then recommended physical therapy and exercises to strengthen the muscles. So who knows what she thinks the problem is (other than the fact that I'm fat and if I'd just lose 200 lbs, I'd be fine and dandy).

    wriggles - Yeah, those arrows have been coming pretty often here lately (I think I got hit with that old curse - "May you lead an interesting life", I think I'd settle for dull and boring for a while). And I'll accept any and all healing thoughts, every little bit helps and who knows what does and doesn't work for sure anyway?
    And yeah, what you said about voices makes sense to me :)

  9. Ditto to the sciatic nerve thing.

    I pinched mine about six years ago now I think and I still have some insane issues with it on occasion. I hope you get some good treatment. It's hard to live with.

  10. Nudiemuse - Yeah, it's insane all right. I'm hoping the PT will help. But if it doesn't, I'm going to insist on an MRI to see if it's a pinched nerve, and then go from there as to what needs to be done. I'm tired of living in pain and tired of not being able to do everything I'd like to do (a lot of sightseeing is out when DH and I take short trips, simply because I can't walk very far without nearly collapsing). So we'll see.............


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