Posted 8/29/2010 6:41 PM (GMT -6)
Thank you both very much for the welcome Flower and Screaming Eagle. :)
I did kind of slip in under the radar, but it takes me a bit to get comfortable, and now I am starting to feel more comfortable posting here and sharing my experience and knowledge with others.
I enjoy helping others with their situations, as I understand how lonely it can get; and I feel that as someone who has faith, that helping others is something I should be doing. Even though most of us have 1 or 2 friends in a similiar situation, I also know a lot of my friends can only try to understand what I go through. I also know that being younger (30), that having multiple conditions can really create problems as we want to live our life to the fullest (not to say its an age thing by any means, just that 20-40 years old is when people are most active). I know others have probably felt what I am going to say: "this must be all in my head". I think acceptance is one of the hardest things to deal with, and its something I still struggle with. I do have a career as a government contractor, and before that I was ex military. I have a wonderful and caring girlfriend, and friends that care. I have faith in God and I do think I am blessed. The acceptance challenge comes in when it comes to admitting my conditions while still knowing that I have a sucessful life. I want to think "this is all just temporary", but I know in time that my conditions could get worse, and that this could have a more significant impact on my life. Knowing that I will possibly be on medications for the rest of my life, and that the surgery (though very minimally invasive) coming up on september 8th is possibly just the first of many more to come.
As a formality that I should have done (instead of slipping in under the radar, hehe), I will give a background on myself, which I'm sure that many of you will relate to.
As a child, I grew up with ADHD, so I was constantly medicated throughout school. Ofcourse I kept wanting to come off the Ritalin, and whenever I did, my grades dropped, so I stayed on it pretty regularly until about 9th grade. At that point I refused to be on it anymore. Nowdays, I do have Adult ADD and this was a bit hard to accept, since I'm not hyper active like I was as a kid, but I still have concentration and memory issues. I'm on a very low dose of Adderall (7.5 mgs as needed) currently, and I stopped taking my medication a few times out of disgust of not wanting to be on it. However, it really helps a lot, even at a low dose, and I've finally accepted that its a neccessary evil in my life.
I don't have them as frequently, but I have a condition called "adult night terrors". This thankfully has improved with time, and a low dose of klonopin (0.5 mgs) near bedtime helps, but dose not cure the condition. Honestly, the best medication for this disorder is actually getting enough sleep, however with a busy life schedule, this can be hard to accomplish. There are childhood events that resulted in my adult night terrors, for which I've went to counciling for. I do believe that one day, this condition will completely go away.
The above 2 conditions only have a limited effect on my life and I'm not too happy about taking medication for them, but others around me become affected if I don't take my medications (for example, my girlfriend will have to deal with more frequent night terrors), so they have been main stays.
The 3rd condition is the one that really has taken the most life from me: Chronic Pain. I had a rappeling accident in 2001 in which I sustained what I thought to be a minor back injury as I recovered quickly. However, with military life, you constantly put stress on your bosy so sometimes something minor turns into something major. In 2006 while I was deployed to Kosovo, I started experiencing low end moderate back pain on a constant basis. I was placed on a physical training routine and given anti inflamatories and a mild pain reliever, tramadol. As time went on, the pain was consistantly reaching the moderate severe range, and on a few occasions it crept into the severe pain level. I tried to keep the pain managed with low stregnth pain medication (darvocet, tramadol, and latter on hydrocodone) and I went to physical therapy 2 to 3 times a week. I was still in extreme pain a lot though and often I would come to my barracks in tears at the end of the day. Eventually, an MRI was done, and it did discover a herniated and bulging disc, but it did not appear that any nerves were affected by the bulge. One accident, I ended up running into the anetheiologist who could tell I was in pain and we ended up talking. He set up for me to receive 2 epidural injections. After the second injection, I was in significantly less pain for about 5 weeks. After I got home from the deployment and returned to National Gaurd weekend status, I was determined to get my pain under control now that I wasn't in a deployed stressful enviroment. For a short time I was still covered under tricare, so I was being seen at Walter Reed for a short time. That soon ran out and I had just gotten a job, for which the pay wasn't that great and not really enough for health insurance.
Enter The VA. The Veterans Adminstration is the worst medical organization in the world. After being evaluated by them I was called a liar and told that the pain was "all in my head". I was a victim of PTSD and I needed to be on anti physcotic medications. Needless to say they put me on risperone (they believed the night terrors and chronic pain were connected, and that I was delusional due to the PTSD). Well the medication had an extremely bad reaction. Having ADD, I already likely had atleast mild dopamine deficiencies (I didn't realize that was part of the suspected cause of ADD at the time) and risperone decreases the levels of dopamine produced in the body. Now like an idiot, I latched on to the VA doctor's words and the risperone caused pre sleep halucinations, extreme anxiety attacks, a feeling of hopelessness, and caused some exceptionally bad night terrors. I finally convinced the VA to reffer me to ortho. There, they "tried" to set me up with an epidural injection, but my appointment kept being moved, changed, or cnacelled by the VA and it never happened. Furthermore, when the ortho doctor reffered me to pain management, the pain management clinic reviewed my records and refused to even see me. The lead doctor of the pain management clinic was absolutely heartless! She actually called me to tell me that I was a liar, a fake, and that I only wanted drugs so that I could abuse them. She said she seen me walk "just fine" and she said I need to go back to mental health because all my issues were immaginary and in my head. I cried so darn hard, because it hurt so bad to hear those words. Slowly I started believing that it might all be in my head. As time went on, I was starting to have periods of reduced pain, which made me think that atleast 50 percent of it was in my head.
Finally, I landed a great job, and went under a very good health care insurance plan called Cigna Pro Plus open Access. However, my experience with the VA had terrified me to a point that when my pain levels were too much to manage, I would just goto an urgent care clinic, and they would prescribe me 20 Vicodins, or 30 Demerols, or 15 Darvocet, essentially a short supply of medication to manage pain for about 1 week. However around Jan of this year, my pain levels became less managable and to the same point they were when I was deployed. I finally got a refferal to pain management, specifically a spine center. Well my first visit there I was very worried. I kept telling myself "I don't belong here". Well I was very relieved after speaking with my doctor, as he believed that the condition was real, and he set me up for another MRI. He also prescribed me Nucynta at a 120 count, which worked better for my pain than the usual vicodin that was given to me at urgent care. Well I got the MRI done and it was discovered that my bulging disc was shriveled up and badly dehydrated, with the bulging material "TOUCHING the nerves". Finally the first genuine reason of why I was in pain. I was given 3 sets of epidurals and they did help me, although only temporarily. It was then speculated I might also have Athritis. They did test injections with a Lidocaine like medication and it provided significant temporary pain relief. Futhermore, during one of the test injections, a jolting feeling of electricity went into my knee, which indicated possible joint inflamation. With that being discovered, I am now set up for a radio frequency nuerotomy to "burn off" select nerve endings in hopes of stopping the pain signal. If sucessful, it could reduce my pain significantly for about a year. The medication Nucynta has also proved to be a huge help in controlling the pain. Unfortunately, the medication does have strong side effects when taken at the maximum dose of 150mgs, but it does kill the even severe pain at that dosage. at the 50 to 100 mg dosage, the side effects are minimal but with my pain venturing into the severe category more often, I'm finding that I regretably have to use the 150 mg dosage and just kind of sit there and take the side effects. This medication works better for me than oxycodone or hydrocodone, so its not in my best interest to switch, not to mention this medication builds tolerance and dependancy slower, not to mention its less addictive (as proven by its undesirable effects at higher doses).
So where I stand right now is hoping that this minimally invasive surgical procedure will be the next success in my pain management. I already feel the hardest part of my battle has been fought and won.....finding a good and caring PM doctor that specializes in spine/nerve pain, and that my insurance covers both the medications and doctors visits.
I hope this gives a little background on me. Perhaps it explains some of my extensive knowledge of medication, and I really do hope I can help others when they have concerns about medications they take. Hopefully by sharing my trials I can let others know they aren't alone :)