Monday, May 26, 2008

Mother's Little Helper - time for a reassessment

For chronic pain sufferers, medical 'science' is an utter crap shoot. The efficacy of many treatments are short lived, if effective at all.

Over the years, I have built up quite the tolerance to most muscle relaxants and OTC pain medications. My internist specializes in chronic pain. However, he is not big into pharmaceuticals (to most, this may seem like an oxymoron, of sorts). When I first started seeing him, he gave me mail-refillable (3 months at a time) prescriptions on most of my drugs, but month-by-month on one of them (Soma). Over the last six months, he has changed over all my prescriptions to month-by-month. Last week, his office called and told me that they had filled my request for Soma, but that the doctor would like me to come in for an office visit.

If I were purely drug-seeking, this turn of events would bother me. However, I have known for quite some time that the drugs really aren't helping me that much. For the most part, they take the edge off an intolerable situation, but are nearly ineffectual in relieving my pain. I really would LOVE a new answer. Perhaps some treatment has evolved over the last two years that we haven't tried yet?

I really want the doctor to give me a new treatment. If he tells me to go to physical therapy again, I'm going to introduce him to some of my ruder vocabulary. I have done P.T., off and on, for the last five years. I exercise to some degree nearly every day. I doubt that surgery is really the answer for me, at this point. I do not have a disc problem, and my spinal stenosis is minor in comparison to most people who end up under the knife. I do have some stability issues, but surgery probably would not address the bulk of my issues. Also, NSAIDs really do not provide much relief for me at this point (and bring their own complications that my lower digestive system does not deal well with ... there just isn't enough fiber in the universe to compensate.)

Do I do things that I shouldn't do? YES! (Example: Over the last year and a half, I have resorted to drinking alcohol to get to sleep six nights out of seven.... which has put about twenty pounds back on my ever-widening butt. Plus, I KNOW that it's not good for my overall health.)

This weekend has been particularly painful because my left knee has decided to flare up in a big way. I have sciatica down my right leg right now. My left knee is so painful that I am walking with a slow painful limp. My lower back is inflamed nearly to its full-on peak. My upper right shoulder blade is starting to spasm. My hips (the frontal protrusions of my pelvic bones) are a bit tender as well. So, basically, if it can go wrong ... it's going wrong.

I've looked into a number of diagnoses myself. Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. Fibromyalgia. Rheumatoid Arthritis. Lyme disease. Nothing is spot on. Besides, my chronic back problems are directly traceable to an injury sustained just over fifteen years ago. Most of these diseases have no injury-based relationship.

So, I'm guessing that my wide-spread system chronic pain is psychosomatic. Right? [ Though part of me sees a strong potential with Fibromyalgia since I have IBS and insomnia, big time, in addition to having over half the tender points that usually categorize the disease. Sadly, the medical profession says you need to have eleven tender points to be diagnosed, and I miss that by one. OTOH, being diagnoses with Fibromyalgia doesn't REALLY get one anywhere since there is no cure and the treatments are usually marignally effective for most sufferers.]

I have an appointment with my M.D. on Thursday afternoon. I fully expect to walk out of the appointment with either fewer prescriptions or new, useless, prescriptions. (Or, in handcuffs after punching the man out for suggesting some of the same pointless crap that I have been through already.)

Sorry gang, I truly hate to bitch and moan. I'll share with you the lyrics to my current favorite retro tune by the Rolling Stones

"Lifes just much too hard today,
I hear evry mother say
The pusuit of happiness just seems a bore
And if you take more of those, you will get an overdose
No more running for the shelter of a mothers little helper
They just helped you on your way, through your busy dying day

Doctor please, some more of these
Outside the door, she took four more
What a drag it is getting old"


changejunkie said...

Pain SUCKS. Have you tried any alternative therapies? A woman at work with stenosis (she can barely move at this point) is going through some chiropractic treatment, and she thinks it is helping. I am going through a bout of golfer's elbow caused by typing, and sympathize with the chronic pain issues. It is amazing how consuming it can be, and how hard to ignore. Much luck with the dr appt.

Kitten Herder said...

I've done chiropractic, and I'm now trying acupuncture.

Sadly, like traditional treatments, everything seems to work a little bit for a time. And, most seem to focus on one particular spot of pain instead of the systemic issues I've developed over the last half dozen years.

The jury is still out on the acupuncture at this point. But, I'm not real hopeful at this point.

Thanks for the well wishes.

barbie2be said...

i am so right there wth you on the chronic pain issue. most pain meds don't work for me, i have trouble sleeping because of my hips. i walk like an 80 year old woman all hunched over because of the pain in my back.

ironically, i have an appointment with my PCP today. i also have a list of things i want to discuss with him. the list has been getting ever longer since i made the appt april 28th for today (the first available, if you can believe that.) but hopefully i can get some answers on some of the questions.

good luck on thursday!

Summer said...

I'm sorry to hear you're suffering, it sounds awful. Being in pain is no fun and unless you've been there you don't really understand how bad it is. Good luck at your dr. appointment.

szap said...

Keep looking for answers. A mutual
Russian friend of ours was feeling poorly last year, and was told that she had a chronic cough, then peri-menopause, and was prescribed codine cough syrup. I remember I told her to find another doctor or get a tombstone that says "I told you I was sick." No in 08 she's on another round of Chemo for full blown stage a-lot lymphoma and not really expected to make it.

She had diagnosed herself on the internet months before but figured it was being too melodramatic to say cancer.

Craig's Wife said...

I hear you about the low back pain. I suffer as well. I have had 7 different beds in 9 years and take Soma also. I have recently tried chiro treatment and once with accupuncture. The chiro has seemed to help, however, more than that is deep stretching at night watching TV with one of those bands. I lie on my back hook it around my right leg and lower my leg sideways over the left side of my body, with deep breathing you can get further stretch. Also stretching in the pool helps if you have access to a pool. I'll keep you in my thoughts because I TOTALLY understand low back pain & IBS I deal w/both.