Angry...Depressed...

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misterkatamari
Regular Member


Date Joined Jan 2011
Total Posts : 374
   Posted 1/20/2011 1:15 PM (GMT -6)   
Well I waited almost a month and I finally got to my appointment with a neurosurgeon. Drove an hour and a half to get there, felt like crap the whole way, and had to have other people drive me. All this to hear the same old lines and get the same lackluster treatment.

My lower back pain has been severe and debilitating for about two months now. I've lost my job and I've pulled out of Spring semester classes at my school. If I was on my own I'd be screwed, but I am lucky that I still live with my father who can support me. I can hardly do anything on my own now and the pain medications I am on take only the very edge off.

My primary doctor said there was nothing he could do as he wasn't specialized in this area, and so he sent me to a neurosurgeon. The neurosurgeon then proceeded to act like my original doctor was stupid for his recommendation and then proceeded to tell me things I already knew. I told him my thigh and groin was numb and he told me I definetly had nerve dysfunction...but then also stated that I shouldn't put faith in an MRI. The whole reason I went to this doctor was to more easily get an MRI or test to see what changes if any have taken place in my spine.

When I mentioned the report my doctor read to me about degeneration of the discs in my lower back and bulging that had gotten worse in 2007, this neurosurgeon acted like the doctor was stupid and that MRIs are unreliable and often give incorrect reports. It also deeply angered me that he stated that I was 'too young' and so the abnormalities on the MRI were unlikely. He said that MRIs can show false positives on people with healthy backs, and my point is--I didn't say this--but that I obviously DO NOT have a healthy back. I am in severe PAIN. So obviously something is wrong, and if I have nerve 'dysfunction' why wouldn't he want a test to see what is up.

So instead he wants me to come back and have an EMG or something like that, where they poke you with needles and shock to test your nerve function in extremities. Which I think sounds sort of redundant. He just came off as very dismissive of me and sort of cocky.

I'm so tired of being told I am young, and therefore somehow that means I can't in any way have this problem. I obviously have the pain so why run around in circles instead of trying to figure out WHY I have this pain. This doctor didn't even mention the medication I am on, and if I should keep taking it or if I could try something else. Do they not understand that my entire LIFE is on hold right now? That I am in pain all the time? I'm so done with being afraid of whining, and I am so passed feeling bad about this. Now I'm just angry and depressed.

I made a doctor's appointment with my primary doctor for the 1st. I guess I am just supposed to sit around and wait for all this. I'm glad everyone just assumes I have all the time in the world...

straydog
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Date Joined Feb 2003
Total Posts : 16787
   Posted 1/20/2011 1:47 PM (GMT -6)   
Hi Mister, well your appt was not a total loss, the dr recommends an EMG and if you have any nerve problem going on the EMG study can show where the damage is and how bad. So, your appt was not a total loss. And yes, the neurosurgeons do sort of live in a world all of their own, maybe I would to if all I did was surgery on people, it takes a special breed in my opinion. I am not defending the dr either when I make that statement.

I am assuming you are young by the comments the dr was making about what showed on your MRI Scan. Yes, that is what young people hear all the time from drs is you are far too young to have this wrong with you. You are not the first this has been told to and will not be the last either. I do not know why drs seem to think you have to be old to have something wrong with you. Pain does not have an age limit, only the limits set by drs.

As a rule a neurosurgeon will not get involved with giving pain medication to a patient unless he has done surgery on the person and then its very little and a limited time he will give a script for pain meds too. They do not want any part of the medication thing, they only want to do surgery if its needed, your PCP should have known this.

If I were you I would have the EMG study done and have a return visit to the neurosurgeon for the results. If you are still unhappy, then ask to be referred out for another opinion.

Take care.
Moderator Chronic Pain Forum

misterkatamari
Regular Member


Date Joined Jan 2011
Total Posts : 374
   Posted 1/20/2011 3:36 PM (GMT -6)   
Thank you so much, Stray.

I just sort of wish the guy had a better attitude. The problem is that I just don't get this weird aversion to MRI or other tests. They act as though I am the one telling them to do something, and I'm not. It's very frustrating to be ran around in circles, especially when I have to wait months for another test.

I have to wait until February to have this EMG at his office, and in between that I guess I am just supposed to deal with it. And then I just know that after this EMG he's going to putz around and give me some other crap and have me go somewhere else or see someone else and then they'll do the same thing.

I'm not against or for anyone. I'm not even looking to prove him wrong, I just want some kind of answers to my questions and some relief. Yet these doctors seem more intent on picking on each other's diagnoses and refuting previous tests than they are about getting me any help.

misterkatamari
Regular Member


Date Joined Jan 2011
Total Posts : 374
   Posted 1/20/2011 3:38 PM (GMT -6)   
Also, I never expected the neurosurgeon to prescribe anything...I just thought perhaps he would be able to shed some light on the medications. Especially since one of the medications was written by an ER doctor and his directions contradicted the bottle's. I just thought, seeing as how medication can have a large affect on things like this, that he would have at least mentioned them.

Tirzah
Veteran Member


Date Joined Jul 2008
Total Posts : 2317
   Posted 1/20/2011 7:45 PM (GMT -6)   
Mr K-
Susie's right. Most NS's seem to have tunnel vision and the personality of a rock. They like looking at films & telling you whether surgery would help you and if so, what surgery they recommend. They DO NOT like doing anything else (I think even with the shouting that might be an understatement). Why didn't your doc send you to a neurologist? That's who would usually order tests. They also usually administer the EMG. The MRI findings can be something called "incidental findings"; that is, not related to your initial complaint. That may have been the "false positive" the NS was referring to. Also, sometimes the radiologists do not read the films correctly. Neurosurgeons are the best people out there to read films of the brain/spine, so if he said the findings weren't right, I'd tend to believe him. You could always ask another NS for a second opinion if you're not comfortable with the skill level of the one you saw. Just keep in mind that NS's don't usually show much concern for their patient's discomfort. He IS trying to help you. They just don't show much emotion.

purplereading
Regular Member


Date Joined Nov 2010
Total Posts : 108
   Posted 1/20/2011 11:45 PM (GMT -6)   
The reason they keep telling you the MRI is not the end all for reports, and thus diagnosis, is that "false Positive", whcih means that if you take 10 people aged 40=60, for example, 8 of the people might have disc degeneration, etc,  but only 2 or 3 might have actual symptoms that correspond to the compressions, or degenerations, or tears, etc.  People who have the most significant mri findings, will not necessarily be the ones who have the worse symptoms. So, in essence, the findings, and the symptoms do not necessarily correlate. COULD they, YES, but not always, and there are so many incidental findings on MRIs that do not cause symtoms, some drs do not put any faith in MRI findings. This does not necessarily mean that yours would turn out that way. but drs. tend to like to replicate, or see the deficits, in other ways.

misterkatamari
Regular Member


Date Joined Jan 2011
Total Posts : 374
   Posted 1/21/2011 9:31 AM (GMT -6)   
Frances_2008 said...
Mr K-
Neurosurgeons are the best people out there to read films of the brain/spine, so if he said the findings weren't right, I'd tend to believe him.


Thanks Frances,

The Neurosurgeon I saw actually did NOT see my film. In fact, he didn't even read the past MRI report because for some reason his office had trouble finding it. So in other words, he was telling me that the MRI was bogus as he was walking in the door without even looking at the MRI results at all. Somehow, I sincerely doubt he is such a good neurosurgeon that he can interpret MRI results that he didn't even see without even looking at me. lol!

It just felt like he had some kind of attitude against the doctor who referred me. I have no idea, it was rather bizarre.

My point is this: This started due to severe back pain. I went to my general doctor and he went over my medical chart which showed that I had DDD and bulging in the lower back in an MRI taken in 2003. Then another MRI in 2007 showed that the DDD and bulging had progressed. Now I have this horrible lower back pain and my thigh and groin is numb, and so my doctor's general idea was--hey, why don't we get you a new MRI and see if this drastic increase in pain is related to the progression of the DDD and bulging in your lower back. It makes sense to me, but apparently that reasoning is something the neurosurgeon wanted to spit upon. I have no idea.

I've tried to read up on all this. One article stated that the downfall of MRIs is this 'false positive' in which healthy asymptomatic patients show up as having DDD and bulging. They still have these conditions, but no symptoms. I would say that this is sort of irrelevant, because in my case I DO have the symptoms. My doctor saw my symptoms, actually LISTENED to me, where as this neurosurgeon didn't even see my MRI report but decided that my doctor was apparently incapable and his diagnosis ridiculous. I don't care which one of them is 'right'. All I care about is finding help. I can't just keep going to physical therapy and taking muscle relaxers which do nothing and hoping to somehow get 'fixed'. I've been doing that for years now with no results. I'm tired of just getting the same apathetic responses, and I'm VERY tired of hearing doctors talk down each other instead of treating me. :(

straydog
Forum Moderator


Date Joined Feb 2003
Total Posts : 16787
   Posted 1/21/2011 3:36 PM (GMT -6)   
Mister another thought for you is having your PCP refer you to a pain mgt dr for a consult. Pain mgt drs can order MRI's and any other test they may deem necessary. At least with one of them they are use to hearing people say they are in pain. They treat it and usually understand it. But, keep in mind with PM drs, there are two kinds, one does injections and procedures only & will not write any scripts, the other of course does the same thing but will give scripts for medications if necessary.

I would also have the EMG study done to see what it shows. When you see your PCP again, I would be sure to let him know how this dr behaved during the appt and his attitude in general. Just a thought I wanted to pass on to you.
Moderator Chronic Pain Forum

Tirzah
Veteran Member


Date Joined Jul 2008
Total Posts : 2317
   Posted 1/21/2011 3:37 PM (GMT -6)   
Got it. The MRI findings still could be incidental if, for example, they showed disc problems at S1 and you had pain in your arm. That would almost certainly not be the cause of the pain. So, in theory, he could have been correct but I've personally been given the run-around by one NS. My first (lousy) PM said he was referring me to an NS to talk about non-surgical options. That sounded bogus to me, but I went anyways. The PM has already basically given the NS a script of exactly what to say to me (I know b/c I am a linguist & the doctors were from two different countries. So fun to hear a Russian-American speak like someone from India. How on earth did they think I wouldn't figure it out?!). So the NS appointment was a waste of time.
I have had great NS appointments with other NS's but usually they still want a pretty clear idea of what's wrong before they will see you. I have to wonder whether your GP didn't somehow sink that appointment for you.
If it were me, I'd go looking for a really good neurologist. Once the neuro has a pretty good idea of what's wrong, you can always have an NS look at your films for more details & to see what surgical options might be available to you (ask the neuro who's a good NS; usually they are pretty good at picking out the ones that aren't lazy or worthless). Sadly, it will probably take a while to get the answers & treatments you're seeking. I know how discouraging that can be, but just try to keep your head up, keep posting here & find yourself some good, caring, knowledgeable doctors. Unlike NS's, neurologists usually take plenty of time with their patients. Often you have to wait for weeks to get in, but ask to be put on their cancellations list & try to ride it out. It's worth the wait to get someone who will sit down with your for 45-60 minutes, review all your info, set up a game plan & write up very concise letters to any additional specialists you may need to see. At some point, it may be a good idea to also get in to a pain clinic, but the good ones usually want to know that everything has been ruled out, or something major has been diagnosed, before they will treat. If it's easily fixable, usually the PM's won't see you -- as least from what I've seen here in the MW.

good luck!
francs

misterkatamari
Regular Member


Date Joined Jan 2011
Total Posts : 374
   Posted 1/22/2011 12:52 AM (GMT -6)   
Thanks everyone for your helpful comments.

I'm keeping the EMG appointment. I also made an appointment with another doctor at the clinic I go to, so I can get his opinion on what I should do. If this neurosurgeon ends up helping me, I can deal with his aloofness. I just wish he had been more clear. I had to look up the EMG stuff at home to understand what he was even talking about. Oh well, I guess I'll take it slow and just try and get some help and advice. It isn't too much longer until I go back anyhow, and for all I know the EMG may help in detecting something.

straydog
Forum Moderator


Date Joined Feb 2003
Total Posts : 16787
   Posted 1/22/2011 4:40 PM (GMT -6)   
Mister educating yourself about your condition is one of the very best things you can do. Just don't scare yourself by reading too much, that can happen. It will help you understand things a lot easier. Glad you looked up the EMG study.

Take care & have a good weekend.
Moderator Chronic Pain Forum

Chartreux
Veteran Member


Date Joined Aug 2006
Total Posts : 9664
   Posted 1/22/2011 8:01 PM (GMT -6)   
Since you've been given some good advise, I'll just say that I hope
you keep us posted as to how things go and maybe look at getting a
second opinion from another NS or Neurologist. Hope you
can get a low pain day soon...
I also look young and get double looks, where the doctor will
look at my chart then look at me and so on, it can be very frustrating
((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((MisterKatamari)))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))
Healing Hugz and well wishes
**********************************************
* Asthma, Allergies, Osteoarthritis, Spinal Stenosis, Degenative Disc (Lower Lumbar S1-L3 and Cervical C5,C6, C8 and T1), Fibromyalgia, Gerd,
Enlarged Pituitary Gland, Sjogren's, Ocular Migraines, mild carpel tunnel, ect.... "Would be nice if we could use the edit button in real life"...

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