Chronic pain, chronic depression, downward spiral

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Siddler
New Member


Date Joined Nov 2011
Total Posts : 10
   Posted 5/3/2012 11:50 AM (GMT -6)   
I've had 2 C5/C6 spinal fusions in 2009 and 2010 and I've been on oxycontin/oxycodone since 2010. Almost 3 years on pain meds and I'm not getting any better. I've seen a lot of different phys therapists and each one of them gave me an entirely new set of exercises. It seemed nice cause whatever I had tried before hadn't worked but now it makes me think that Phys therapy is just a crapshoot. Some of the exercises did help but after seeing 7 PT's it all runs together. My problem these days seems to be an ever-worsening depression which I know can cause pain in otherwise healthy people. It's also keeping me from taking steps to get better. I don't think anyone without depression can understand the helplessness involved in it. I so badly want to quit smoking and have made several earnest attempts in the past year in which I wrote a lot about my reasons for quitting, strategy, personal thoughts on it, tried hypnosis, and other things but to no avail. I've also descended to a point in which I'm not exercising/stretching but 2 or 3 times per week. I also want to improve my diet but I'm struggling to do that as well. It feels like in a way i just want to live my regular life and not bother to try getting better but then I think constantly about how miserable I am, what a weak person I am for not just pulling up my bootstraps and working to get better. So the depression, shame, and guilt really work in conjunction with my pain and especially my medications ( I take 5 psych meds on top of the 2 pain meds- trazadone, lamictal, lithium, zoloft, vistiril) to keep me in a really tough state which seems hopeless, feels hopeless, with no end in sight if I can't get my ass in gear and get to working on things. It's quite a catch 22 to be in such a life-draining situation but which requires active participation, hope, resolve, etc. I don't know where this can come from. I need to have a psychotherapist but my job hours and other appt's keep me from having time for it right now. Over the summer I should have some time. I have summers off work so I'm hoping that I can get more work in. We'll see....thanks for anyone reading my post, I know it's long. Thank you!!

Snowbunny21
Veteran Member


Date Joined Jan 2010
Total Posts : 3557
   Posted 5/3/2012 1:22 PM (GMT -6)   
I'm sorry to hear of your situation and that you are having a really tough time right now...

Just so you know...we also have a Depression Board that you can visit as well to get some other great advice and support there too...

I am certainly not a Dr....but it seems like perhaps you are on too many pysch medications...This can almost have the opposite effect and change your brain chemistry in the wrong direction...

Does one Dr. prescribe all those meds?

I would also encourage you to seek out counseling/therapy and not put that off...This is critical to dealing with depression...

Also...not trying to judge at all...but I would really encourage that you attempt to quit smoking. This could be one of the main reasons you are not healing from your fusion surgeries...

My Neurorsurgeon won't even perform this surgery on people who smoke because it puts the statistical percentage of recovery in the low teens...Smoking causes dehydration which dries out the disc/bone.....as well as they have now shown that people who smoke have a greater sensation of pain than non smokers and have a lower tolerance to pain medications...

My mom quit after 25 years with using the patch...It was so great for her to wean down gradually and she has never looked back!...

Another thing that can add to your depression and not healing well is by not eating healthy and exercising (as directed by a Dr.)....

I have eliminated all inflammatory type foods from my diet as well as I've moved to all Organic this last year. My energy levels have improved dramatically and I haven't gotten a cold/flu in years...My digestion...skin....and overall well being is improved...

Same thing with exercise...I walk 45 min. to an hour each day with my dog...I have had 3 cervical fusion surgeries....and walking is the perfect, low impact way to get some great exercise. This releases endorphins and helps my pain levels as well as my mood. I can tell a difference in just one day if I miss it...

Along with yoga/stretching and aqua therapy....All approved by my Dr.....these help keep the major muscle spasms from getting bad...As well as keeping my core strength really good to protect the rest of my back with having DDD..

I'm sure it seems insurmountable to do all of this but it's baby steps..Working with your Drs.....going to counseling....all of this will help your depression as well as your pain.

You say you don't have time....but really...there isn't anything more important that focusing on our health. We already have been dealt the bad card with having spine problems...It's important to keep other things that are controllable from happening...(Like emphysema...diabetes...etc.)...

Summer is a great time to get a plan in place with all your Drs...

And for our physical pain...it's important to know that a narcotic is only one small piece of the puzzle to help lower our pain...Living with chronic pain...the best we can hope for is about a 5 on the pain scale...

So adding things like the PT, exercise/yoga, aqua therapy I mentioned...along with massage, acupuncture, injections, TENS unit, ice, heat, counseling...

And other meds like nerve pain medications and muscle relaxers when needed. I have also found that getting a good night's sleep has been a HUGE benefit. I am prescribed Ambien....but there are many natural things as well. But this also is a big help with mood, fatigue and pain...

Anyway....we all can empathize...It's a tough life getting adjusted to living with chronic pain but it can be done. We can still live a great life....but it takes work on our end for living as healthy as we can...

Welcome to the boards!
SB and "the pup who snores loudly" 
 
ACDF C5-C7, (no hardware), with autograft bone Nov. 2001
(reabsorption of bone 2 years later...still lost in body..expect to burp it out at anytime..haha")) 
ACDF with hardware, allograft bone Nov. 2005 
Anterior and Posterior CDF, allograft bone with BMP, removal of old hardware, use of titanium plates, rods, screws, & kitchen sink (lol) Oct 2006
 
 

straydog
Forum Moderator


Date Joined Feb 2003
Total Posts : 16795
   Posted 5/3/2012 2:27 PM (GMT -6)   
Hi Siddler, welcome back, its been a bit since we have heard from you. I am sorry to read that you are struggling so with your depression. I have to wonder if its the medications not doing their job. Have you been on these meds for quite a while? Sometimes we do become tolerant to our meds whether its short term or long term usage. What about getting back in to see your dr and see if there are some other antidepressants that can be tried to help get you out of the hole. I think it may be worth a shot of trying that.

First off you are not a failure, you surely are not weak by any stretch of the imagination. It takes a very strong person to live the life of what a chronic pain patient lives. And think about it before all the surgeries and all the pain, look at what you have been through with all the major changes in your life. Yes, it takes a very strong person to survive this life. I know we do seem to be tougher on ourselves than anyone else, I guess that is just part of our makeup. I totally understand where you are at wanting to make changes like the smoking issue, exercising and such. Here is my suggestion, get your depression under better control before tackling the smoking issue, listen thats a tough cookie to cut without any side problems. My pulmonary dr told me he thought trying to quit smoking was harder than an addict trying to get off drugs, he was serious when he told me this too. Right now you have so many distractions going on, you just need to get yourself in a better place before taking that on. Sometimes if we are not careful we can set ourselves up by trying to take on too much at one time. Keep up with your exercising the best you can. Next, I would get myself a good psychologist and get some help. I was under the care of a wonderful psychologist and cannot tell you how helpful she was to me. I was in that dark hole like you and so overwhelmed with life that I was beyond struggling. Had I not found her I am sure I would not be where I am today. Even now there are times I wish I could get back in to see her. She does not take Medicare and I just cannot afford the total cost. I had never been to one before and did not know what to expect and it took me a couple of sessions to get comfortable.

I looked back at some of your previous posts and you were thinking of changing pain mgt drs. Did you ever find a new pain mgt dr? I hope you were able to get in with a new one.

I also live in Texas and its really warm out there today. It seems like we had no spring because suddenly I am running the AC awful early in the year. I am not about to sit and sweat because of an electric bill, that for sure, lol. So, I guess I will be cool inside and paying for it.

I hope you can get some help and get yourself back on track. Keep us posted on how you are doing. Take care....Susie
Moderator, Chronic Pain Forum & Psoriasis Forum

T-pain
New Member


Date Joined May 2012
Total Posts : 4
   Posted 5/3/2012 4:52 PM (GMT -6)   
Hello everyone, my name is Tiffany and I have been in pain for 9 years now. I have tried everything under the sun to help and I have found one thing that has helped. It is called the Calmare Treatment and is a machine invented in Italy. After 10 treatments, my nerve pain was gone. It did come back, so booster treatments are a must. I do not have one by my house and am trying hard to get drs in my area to get one. If you suffer from any kind of pain, please check out http://www.calmarett.com/. For now, I suffer because traveling is too expensive and very hard on me.

This is not a paid adversitment. I am just a regular person who knows exactly how all of you feel.

I wanted to write because I too am in a very dark place. This pain has so many layers and effects all aspects of my life. I am 43 and I live at home with my mother. I am truly grateful to her, but my life is so far from normal. I feel stuck, physically and mentally. I have seen about 4 different shrinks and all of them had no idea how to treat me because they have never been in pain. My motivation is gone. However, I did quit smoking, I swim a little at the gym and I eat very well, thanks to mom. But I just feel as if my hands are tied and think about dying every day. I know I won't do anything drastic, bc I would hurt my mother so much as well as my friends, so I feel like I am alive bc of them.

If you live in the east coast or other areas where there is a calmare machine, please please try it. The mayo clinic are doing studies, it is FDA approved and our government just bought 6 machines for our vets.

Bless all of you who suffer. We are strong and we can make it, but reaching out is what I thought would help me today.

Thank you so much for reading this.

Tiffany

Tiffany blush blush

EyeLoveBTVS
New Member


Date Joined May 2012
Total Posts : 2
   Posted 5/4/2012 4:57 PM (GMT -6)   
I'm so sorry for your depression and pain. cry I now exactly what it's like to be in severe depression and nothing feels worth doing. I have been in awful periods of not even showering or brushing my teeth for days at a time (and I'm a hygeiene freak, normally). The blackness in depression I would not wish on my worst enemy. Are the psych meds not helping with your depression? Maybe you could try different antidepressants. I just recently started getting better by adding Seroquel XR to my Prozac and Xanax (I also take MS Contin and Norco for my back pain) and the Seroquel has literally saved my life. I don't have insurance so I applied for their prescription assistance program and was approved and had the meds for free within 3 weeks. I know I will still have bouts of depression because it will never truly leave me but at least I am semi-functioning now.
As for your pain not getting any better after 3 years, perhaps it might not ever get better and you'll just have to take pain meds for life. I think I am going to have to take mine for the rest of my life just like I need to take my psych meds for the rest of my life. I hope you can find what works for you so you can get out of the black hole and I think you did a great job just by posting here for help. Just knowing there are other people who feel like you do helps a little, right? It is already helping me and this is my first day on this forum. hang in there and just keep making it through the next minute and the one after that and it will get better.
Psych Dx: Borderline Personality Disorder
Pain: Undiagnosed back and neck pain until I get insurance and can get some x rays and further tests.
I like helping people and talking with others who suffer like I do so feel free to email or message me any time.

Post Edited (EyeLoveBTVS) : 5/4/2012 4:03:38 PM (GMT-6)


straydog
Forum Moderator


Date Joined Feb 2003
Total Posts : 16795
   Posted 5/5/2012 7:04 PM (GMT -6)   
Hello EyeLoveBTVS and welcome to the chronic pain forum. I am sorry to read all of the problems you are having dealing with chronic pain. It just stinks is about the best way to sum it up in my opinion. It robs us of so many things, I am afraid if I started a list I would be here for quite while typing up a storm. At least by coming here to Healing Well we do not feel so alone with our pain. Every one here has pain of some kind.

If you don't mind I am going to ask you to start your own intro post so that everyone can see it and give you a proper hello and welcome aboard. When posting on another persons' thread sometimes not many people will see it. Maybe you can cut, copy and paste what you have written above,

Look forward to getting to know you, take care...Susie
Moderator, Chronic Pain Forum & Psoriasis Forum

EyeLoveBTVS
New Member


Date Joined May 2012
Total Posts : 2
   Posted 5/5/2012 8:09 PM (GMT -6)   
sure I'll do that soon. :)
Psych Dx: Borderline Personality Disorder
Pain: Undiagnosed back and neck pain until I get insurance and can get some x rays and further tests.
I like helping people and talking with others who suffer like I do so feel free to email or message me any time.

Siddler
New Member


Date Joined Nov 2011
Total Posts : 10
   Posted 5/5/2012 10:24 PM (GMT -6)   
Snowbunny21, I really appreciate your feedback.  You "tell it like it is" and that's something I need to hear.  You are right about the smoking, it's so important and even though I've heard things about spinal fusions not healing well with smokers, I am still smoking.  I think seeing a psychologist would perhaps help with understanding my mentality regarding smoking and why I still smoke even though it's really hurting me and ruining my chances at recovery. 
 
I also am an alcoholic/addict.  Been sober 5 years, but I do have a tendency to get addicted to things.  So that could be part of my trouble with quitting smoking.  It's also upsetting to me as a recovering addict that I've had to stay on pain meds for so long.  As you said, I could try other meds like muscle relaxers, nerve stuff, etc but I have tried a lot of different ones already and most of them either don't work or I get bad effects from them.  I could surely try more but I think focusing on the healthy activities, foods, psychotherapy, etc would be the most helpful at this point.  Unfortunately I don't have a lot of money nor do I have a car so that limits me as to what I can do in terms of getting to appts, going to phys therapy, massage, etc.  I would love to do all those thing but only so much is possible.  Do you have anything you could tell me about anti-inflammatory foods?  I'd be curious to hear what you eat.  I really appreciate what you've shared, I wish I had time to respond to all the things but trust me you've given me some good ideas, reminders, and a soft kick in the ass.  Thanks!       
 
Straydog, thanks for commenting on my story again and thank you for your kindness and understanding.  I will talk to my psych next time I'm there about reducing or changing my meds.   It's tough cause I've tried several times to get off the Lamictal but I just really start degrading immediately.  The vistiril I take is for panic attacks that started only 6 months ago or so but my doc is hoping the zoloft I added just 2 weeks ago will eliminate the need for it.  I'm really hoping the zoloft will lift me up and give me the chance to get my motivation back.  I will start going to a psychologist at the end of the month.  I'm hoping this will be a good one as I've not felt satisfied with most of the psych's I've seen before.  I hope I can get someone like you had.  Sorry to hear that you can't see her anymore.
 
I think that quitting smoking may be a good thing to hold off on while my depression is overwhelming me, but it also seems like something that is so key to my recovery that it just needs to happen, like I gotta make it happen.  What Snowbuny 21 wrote above about the success rates for smokers having a spinal fusion, and how they dry out your spine, really scares me, though I have heard it before.  I need to find a soft approach, maybe need to cut back slowly and use some nicotine gum. 
 
about the pain mgmt dr, I still have not gotten someone new and it's still something that needs to happen.  They just don't care very much.  It's another of those simple things that I could do but don't.  Even as I'm typing this it feels silly to say that, like it would be so easy.  I need to make a list of those kinds of things that I can do to help me get better.  I really need a personal attendent (haha).  Anyway, thanks again Susie, hope you're staying cool.  It was blazing hot in Austin today.  Take care!
 
Tiffany, that machine sounds really cool.  I'll definitely look into that.  I can relate to your situation.  I lived with my parents off and on throughout my adult, until about 5 years ago.  I had major drug and alcohol problems so I would invariably get to a point where I couldn't pay rent, needed rehab, etc.  It does feel shameful to be an adult but still need your parents help and home.  I always desired that above anything, and it was important to me b/c I couldn't have a lady come over, wouldn't want to ask her to!  so I know where you're coming from.  You sound like you've got some good things going also quitting smoking, going to the gym, eating, etc.  I guess we all just need to recognize the good things we have but work to our best ability to take care of those things that are not so pleasant.  I hope you are able to finally find a shrink that works for you.  Best of luck and thanks again!
 
EyeLoveBTVS,  glad to hear from you.  I can relate to not having good hygiene, I've got that problem going now and have not had it in the past.  Even in my times of using a lot of drugs I could still manage to keep myself clean.  So that's rather unsettling to me that now I'm having trouble.  Mostly with showering but sometimes I only manage to brush my teeth once a day.  I now go 4-5 days or even longer.  Fortunately I don't have an oily kind of skin and hair so I don't reek as much as some other people who haven't showered.  But it's still gross and is not good if you are depressed.  Don't mean to rub it in at all, just saying I know what you mean.
 
As for the meds, I tried Seroquel and had bad side effects, I can't be prescribed benzos like Xanax b/c of past with drugs.  Funny that I can be given a load of narcotics but not Xanax!  Oh well.  I know that, in a way, we'll always be depressed (or bipolar for me) but I know we can become mostly free of the symptoms if our lives get better, healthier.  Maybe you'll find that better psych med. I had tried a lot of meds over the years and nothing worked quite as well as lithium.  They had always tried to give it to me but I rejected it cause it has such a stigma, I thought it was basically for "crazy people".  But after I was on it for a while I was basically cured, I had never in adult life had the clarity it gave me...this was all before my pain symptoms got so bad.  I was amazed with it, couldn't believe a drug could work that well.  Then I had to get off it after my first surgery.  I finally got back on it 6 months ago and it helped me for sure.  I had been having crying spells daily, some pretty bad.  Anything could make me sad.  But the lithium took that away.  It hasn't brought that cure it did before but once I get my pain under control and don't take narcotics, it will hopefully have the same effect.  But yeah,  I know the pain nor the depression will be gone completely.  I don't know what your pain situation is exactly, sorry that you are undiagnosed.  I know how that feels too...I know I have undiagnosed problems with my shoulder/scap area and in my hip, have asked several dr's and always get back that they know exactly what the problem is and how to solve it.  And invariably they don't! 
 
I've just started taking Tai Chi classes in the last month.  I was hoping that they would immediately make my pain better but there's quite a learning curve.  It's coming along though and I can see the potential for great things.  It does feel good to hear about others issues and get understanding, ideas, etc.  One more thing, I bought a Theracane for $35.  You are supposed to use it in accupressure points and it feels amazing on your back.  The cane part helps you get around to your back, hips or whatever else spot you've had trouble in.  Well, thanks much for your encouragement, sorry for the delayed response.  Peace to you!
 
 
 
 
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