I am posting this first time to say a number of things that seem important emotionally. I have a herniated disk at the T7-T8 vertebrae, and I had an injury to my back while in the Army, that caused muscle cramping to start very easily due to scar tissue there.
The effects of my pain are not daily, always. I have a high threshold for pain, perhaps due to my Type 2 Diabetes and a life of rough labor till I got my computer career started in 1991, so the daily pain level 3 to 4 (ignorable but there = 2, not ignorable but tolerable = 3, cannot ignore, need medicine = 4) is something I can work through, but my problem is that the herniated disk somehow causes the mid back muscles to cramp where I was injured. When that happens I cannot sit for more than about
30 minutes or stand for more than about
an hour without serious pain from cramping in my mid back between the shoulder blades of my back. So 1 or 2 times a week I get serious cramping that lasts a couple of days usually, pain level 6-9 (6 being I cannot concentrate well, 9 meaning I absolutely must take medication and cannot drive). Driving makes it all worse.
Last August 2, 2013, I awoke with severe muscle cramping from my shoulders to my posterior. I could not move hardly at all without serious pain. I laid on my back on the floor at the top of the stairs and let my legs hang down and that seemed to relieve most of the pain. After about
an hour my family took me to the hospital and they diagnosed me with Osteoarthritis and suspected disc degeneration and told me to get an MRI and strongly recommended my current surgeon. The MRI's in the lower back and upper back showed mild disk bulges in L5-S1 and L4-L5, if I recall correctly, and the real devil, the T7-T8 herniated disk.
Since then my frequent back pain became daily, not just a few times a month. The most severe cramping comes after I sit at the computer with my hands actively reaching around and doing things on my desk. If I can keep my hands heels to the table I can last a couple of hours maybe before the pain becomes intolerable on days that my back is prone to cramp. The pain usually starts after about
30 minutes, but I feel the tension build before that. If I had a long drive to work, it doesn't take even 30 minutes for my back to start hurting to the point that I need medication. So my career is over, since I cannot work a full 8 hour day, at best 3 to 4 hours if I worked from home, but not on a bad day.
My mental state is rough, and I cannot discuss it with my family. I have Autism and Hypomania and my family has had to deal with my moods for years. I just cannot tell my wife how badly I see myself now. I have always had a job since I was 14, and this daily sitting at home trying to keep busy is destroying my sense of self worth. I feel like a leech on everyone. Thank God for letting me get my company disability which is 60% of my old pay, and we reduced our expenses enormously so we do not hurt financially now, and I have been blessed with a strongly committed, tolerant wife who seems to truly love me and is so helpful, but I have always thought of myself as a contributor to society, not a taker. And that shames me more than I can explain.
Coming here I was looking for people's experiences to see if anyone has the same troubles I am having with the industry, where most treatment is of the lumbar or cervical spine. Thoracic herniated disks are rare, like 1% of disk herniations, and the T7-T8 is the most rare of all, one in a thousand of Thoracic herniations. The MRI shows a mild pressing against the spinal cord which straightens out on that side of the cord, but it is not pushed out of position. So the net result is that, though I do get these radial burning pains and occasional electrical compression pain at the herniation area, 90% of my pain comes from the back cramps. I have this dreaded fear of developing cramping in my entire lower back that I have read some people get, and frankly I would rather be paralyzed than have constant unrelenting cramping and effective paralysis.
Coming here has really helped my mental state in one way because I see people here with far worse symptoms than I have. I don't mean to offend anyone, but I feel so fortunate that I am not hurting as bad as some, I can walk forever without back pain, twisting hurts on occasion but not usually, and I can bend over as far as my pot belly and bad knees will let me. But I am no where near as bad off as a lot of the people that post here, and that in a twisted way perhaps, makes me feel better about
The doctor tells me surgery is out of the question, because my symptoms simply do not warrant it. But I cannot work at my career, and at my age (56) I can roll over to Social Security disability. I really don't have to bring in income because my wife makes enough for our needs, but it is worse to think I contribute absolutely nothing to our family budget and it feels totally unmanly. The lawyers say I should get SSD, but I can live without it financially, it is the emotional loss of having a single thing I add to help the budget that would be worse, so I would push a broom part time, but with the bad economy, my bad back and poor work attendance I feel I have little chance of getting a job.
So I am getting chiropractic treatment along with some physical therapy to relax my back (which has started hurting since starting this letter) and it helps, I have had three spinal injections, and the last one gave me the best results as they went in diagonally and got more area, but I a dread it wearing off and going for another. That last one hurt a lot and they couldn't get it right the first time, so I had to go back in a few days later. But it worked and would gladly go back in again (with lots of valium).
Another complication is that the pain meds I get cause constipation, especially the Thoranzinine (sp?). Plus I have started breaking out in hives in my lower body, from the chest down, likely a result of allergic reactions to some combination of drugs. The constipation is bad enough that I only take the pain meds if I cannot sleep or the pain is just too much. I cant do the games online I used to, or sit and read for long (no more than about
2 hours). But this site has helped a lot and seeing the experiences of others has really encouraged me and made me feel lucky and blessed again for the first time in about
Thank you all so much and god bless you all.
Post Edited (RGCheek) : 9/4/2014 8:10:35 AM (GMT-6)