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Trying to figure it all out and need help

Started by Mamaplease on 04/04/2011 11:24am

I'd like to start by saying thanks to anybody who responds to this thread. I am trying to make some very hard decisions and I need some input from people who have been where I am right now. I don't have any insurance, and my husband is on Social Security disability and doesn't draw a whole lot from there. My son draws off of my husband's social security, but since I work right now, I don't. Money is very tight.

Two years ago my chronic sciatica got to the point where I couldn't stand it anymore. I had lived with the pain off and on for 10 years, but it got to the point where it was all day every day. My internist sent me for an MRI which showed a 2cm herniation at L5/S1 and a 1cm herniation at L4/L5. After trying many different pain relievers, we finally settled for 100mg of Morphine every 12 hours plus 800mg Ibuprofen every 8 hours. After a few weeks, the pain was under control for the most part and only got really bad about 6 hours into my work day. My days off were relatively pain free.

About 3 months ago I noticed that the pain was staying with me almost all day. I didn't see my doctor about it because he already said that if this combination didn't work then I would need to see a pain specialist. It steadily got worse until last week when I ended up in the ER because I couldn't walk. A CT scan showed a "bone spur" poking into the nerve bundle in my lower back. They gave me a shot of dilautid (sp?) and sent me to bed for 3 days with steroids and muscle relaxers and scheduled a follow up with my internist.

At the follow up, he ordered another MRI and I got the results today. My 2cm herniation is now an 18cm herniation completely mashing my spinal cord. Every other disc shown is also herniated to some degree and there is evidence of severe degeneration of the remaining discs and vertebrae (possibly osteoporosis). My reports are being sent to neurosurgeon for evaluation and recommended treatment (note: the neurosurgeon does not take non-insured patients without first looking at the MRI because he is $460 just to walk in the door). The ER doctor and my internist have advised me to file for Social Security disability. They say I shouldn't have any trouble being approved and that my work life is over. I just don't think I am prepared for that to happen. While it is true that I have great difficulty doing my work now, I can still do it, I just don't have any other quality of life except work. When I get home from work I go immediately to the bed just to try and relieve the pain in my leg. Often I cannot get back up because the leg goes dead. I am also having some issues with the cauda equina being compressed and can no longer tell when I need to use the bathroom.

My question is: surgery is obviously not an option for me, but if he recommends injections, do they really work? Even mild relief would be worth the money for me. I plan to go ahead and file for my social security because I know in my heart that I won't be able to keep working for much longer - it's just so difficult trying to get up and get dressed in the mornings. Sometimes it takes 3 or 4 hours for me to be able to get into the car and go to work, so I have to get up at 4am every day just to try and make it in by 8:30!

Any input whatsoever is greatly appreciated and thank you for listening.

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3 Responses


Correction: mm not cm. Report says: L5-S1: There is disc space narrowing, disc desiccation and an 18mm disc herniation evident. This is extending cephalad to the mid-portion of the L5 vertebral body. It is exerting significant mass effect on the thecal sac as well as the exiting bilateral nerve roots. Neurosurgeon appointment is for next week.

Thanks for any help.


Hello, my name is Jan and I live in Ohio. I have had Exactly what you are discribing! By the time I had surgeery for the herniated disc, it was to late. The material inbetween the disc is like a poisin and spreads to all the nervers. That can cause severe pain. I had it all cleaned up but the damage was done. I had epidurls when I had my 3 kids and then 2 more with the back pain, which didn't work. On my 3rd. epidurl the Dr, finally looked up my mri, because I suggested he shoot me up in another location. When he saw my mri he was furious to say the least. He said you have ARACHNOIDITIS. He was mad because my pmr dr. knew better than to send someone with this disease for an epidural. (Lawsuit) You are having trouble with the cauda equina and YOU need to look up arachnoiditis this very minute. I have ddd. arthritis, now scolosis on top of everything else. As far as disibility, Arachnoiditis is at the very top of the list and then arthritis etc... PLEASE mamaplease, look up the word Arachnoiditis before you do anything else. Keep me posted on what you think. It covers everything you are going through.


Hi, sorry to hear of ur issues, but I must respond to suggest ( I KNOW U DONT WANT ANYMORE SURGERs)...But I highly recommend addressing the caida eqina issue, im not a doctor,by no meens, but I do knoe n have herd w that condition, if not addressed can lead to total loss of bladder/bowel movement issues ,of not being able to control.. Hope u feeel better, good luck. :) :)