Discussions By Condition: I cannot get a diagnosis.

My story of chronic back pain, now resolved

Posted In: I cannot get a diagnosis. 3 Replies
  • Posted By: Vikefantam
  • May 16, 2009
  • 06:13 PM

I know this will be a rare thing but if I can help one other person with my story, it's worth taking the time to post it.

4 years ago, I started getting severe left lower quadrant back pain. It was like someone was jabbing me with an ice pick. Shortly after it started, I started getting numbness in my left thigh, which resolved after a couple of weeks. The only time the pain went away was when I lay flat on my back.

Over the course of two years, I saw my PCP, went to physical therapy, had an IVP in case it was a kidney stone, had 2 MRIs (which showed disk bulges and degenerative disk disease of the LS spine), saw pain management doctor #1 who did so many injections, I lost count (the injections were to my sacroiliac joint. When the pain failed to resolve, he referred me to an anesthesiologist who destroyed some nerves in my lower back with a procedure called nerve ablation. I also had a TENS unit. Since I was considered young (This went on from ages 38-40), no doctor wanted to prescribe narcotics even though I was in agony. Of course, nothing over the counter helped. All procedures were failures. I went back to my PCP who sent me to pain management doctor #2 who wanted to repeat everything pain management doctor #1 did. I was in tears. I had already paid over $2,000 in copays with no results and he wanted to put me through procedures that were proven not to work. Being in the medical field, I began to worry about internal issues and my chiropractor remarked about same (I think he's the best chiropractor in Ohio).

At almost the 2 year mark since this all started, my uterus prolapsed (meaning it fell) and I was given the choice of having it "tacked up" with a pessary or to have a hysterectomy. Well, we tried for years for children (14 years) with no luck. I didn't think it was going to happen and I was 40 years old. I told the doc just to do the hysterectomy. The day after my surgery, the doctor walked in and asked me if I had any back troubles. I gave him a brief synopsis of what had been going on. I knew my uterus was retroverted (normally the uterus stands up, whereas mine was leaning toward my back) and that's the reason I'd get backaches when I stood for long periods of time but this pain was way different. He told me I had a fibroid tumor the size of a softball attached to the back of my uterus that was pressing directly on my spine. It did take several months for the nerves to calm down after having that mass pressing on them for so long but eventually, the every day pain went away. I still get it now and again but it doesn't last long and doesn't happen often.

So, at least for the women, if you're not finding a definitive diagnosis to back pain, it might not be a bad idea to look "inside" to see if something is going on there. If someone would have sent me for a CAT scan or maybe an ultrasound, this might have been caught earlier. But I don't hold any grudges about it. The pain is gone almost all of the time now and as anyone who has suffered chronic pain for an extended period of time will tell you, that's really what matters.

I can now enjoy my husband, dogs, rooting for my Minnesota Vikings (no, I'm not from Minnesota and yes, that stupid team drives me nuts, but I keep coming back every year, 35 of them, in fact) doing things outdoors again, all pain free. As a side note, I ended up needing revision surgery after the hysterectomy because where the doctor sewed the vaginal cuff (where my cervix used to be) with mesh, the mesh came through and it was very painful. That was 7 months ago and things are back to normal.

This is my first post here. This looks like an excellent forum. I have another issue with my health going on right now that I'll put in another post. I've worked in medicine for 21 years, as an assistant, transcriptionist, billing and reception so I can make suggestions based on my experiences with patients and what I've typed over the years. I still hope to go to nursing school. :)

From someone who had 16 hour a day chronic pain, it is my wish to all the chronic pain sufferers that you get the relief you deserve.

God bless!

Tammy

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3 Replies:

  • Tammy, Thank you for taking the time to share your story and your experience for the benefit of others, how very thoughtful of you! Although I don't share back pain due to similar, in my case, I can still relate to back pain bigtime ... and, a very compassionate and caring heart. Thanks again! I'm sure others will find hope in reading your post, and perhaps even some direction for their case, perhaps all the way to resolution; if only one, it is well worth it that you have given so selflessly in this way! I'm glad you are living pain-free and obtaining the fulfillment in life that you desire and deserve. Many blessings to you and yours. Thanks again.
    neurotransmissing 145 Replies Flag this Response
  • Tammy, Thank you for taking the time to share your story and your experience for the benefit of others, how very thoughtful of you! Although I don't share back pain due to similar, in my case, I can still relate to back pain bigtime ... and, a very compassionate and caring heart. Thanks again! I'm sure others will find hope in reading your post, and perhaps even some direction for their case, perhaps all the way to resolution; if only one, it is well worth it that you have given so selflessly in this way! I'm glad you are living pain-free and obtaining the fulfillment in life that you desire and deserve. Many blessings to you and yours. Thanks again. Thank you for your very thoughtful reply. I guess what I am trying to encourage people to do is never give up. I pursued the issue and would have continued to do so had it not ended up resolving on its own. My PCP just gushed at how willing I was to keep trying new things to make it go away. I guess a lot of folks are just willing to give up. Heck, I would have let them do exploratory surgery if I thought it would have helped. In all my years of working in medicine (I am still hoping for nursing school in a couple of years, when money is better) the job I loved most was medical transcription because I never stopped learning (I grew really stale doing billing - boring!). I love it even more now that I do it from home because I do some major medical centers and universities throughout the country and I can't believe some of the stuff they're now doing, all the progress they've made, especially with genetics, being able to tell if you're genetically predisposed to some cancers now. (I missed all this while I spent 10 years doing billing and am still catching up - thank you Google!). Still, I find it disheartening that Parksinson's patients are still having to take doses of Sinemet 4-5 times a day plus other meds and that not much progress has been made in ovarian and pancreatic cancer. Yet, they've made incredible advanced in AIDS medications. Wow! There were only a handful when I left medical transcription to do billing in 1995. I guess I live most of my life around medicine - my job, my reading (medical mysteries - Michael Palmer, Tess Gerritson, Robin Cook, etc.), TV shows - House, Scrubs. I loved Chicago Hope but then again, I just adore Mandy Patinkin. I had no idea he could act as well as sing. (Evita - Yes, Antonio Banderas did a good job, but nobody will ever fill the role of Che like Patinkin did). Most folks don't realize that yes - there are doctors out there that truly are jerks like the character he played (Dr. Geiger). And there are also incredibly compassionate ones out there too. I've worked for both. I've had charts flung at me because the doc was in a bad mood and I've worked for docs who were so down to earth and brilliant that even though the job was horrible because he was the best internist in town (therefore the busiest), and the office manager made your life a living ***l because she had a rough job, you stayed with him because he was so kind to you and his patients and he cared so much. He and his wife took me to a play when my grandfather died and I was miles from home and my husband was at sea. I was so happy to move back to my home state of Ohio but still sometimes really really miss the man, his untucked back of his shirt, his tie over the collar of his shirt, his messy hair, photographic memory and little quirks. Heck, he even started watching Vikings football games in 1998 when they went 15-1 just because I've always been a huge Vikings fan and even he was depressed after that loss to the Falcons. I ended up following U-Conn basketball because of him. He was one of a kind and his wife and children were so sweet. The sad thing is - he will work himself to death one of these days. He already had a heart attack in 1999 at the age of 46, was back at work a few weeks later. I don't want the news that he's died. As a defense mechanism for myself, I've let myself lose touch with him and his wife because I'm so afraid for him. He sees 60-70 patients a day, 5 days a week, is the company doctor for several plants in the area, goes to the hospital twice a day along with several nursing homes. I did his billing and know what he made but his life is not worth it. His oldest is about 15 now and his youngest is about 9. I want him to live to see his grandchildren grow up. Here's to you, Dr. D! Sorry. Got sidetracked. Yes, I do have ADD. I don't take my Vyvanse every day, only when I'm really having a bad time concentrating (maybe I should have taken it today but since I'm now on an antibiotic and Pyridium for a UTI/sepsis/kidney stone, I don't want to put anything more into my body than I have to). Again, thanks for your very thoughtful post. God Bless! Tammy
    Vikefantam 30 Replies Flag this Response
  • Hello again, Tammy ... That was a wonderful share, and I am very happy that you spoke about yourself, your past, your day-to-day; it appears you have very fulfilling experiences in your life, and I have no doubt this is the case at present and for future as well ... even with the potential losses and the thoughtless co-workers. It appears that you have a strong ability to recognize all of the positive within the negative, an optimist ... I am as well, very much so. As for me, my medical mess began in 1996 ..... and believe me, I'm not one to give up either. As you mention about the medical advancements, there's always something new and so that supplies even more optimism in my case ... as you share that it should in all cases ... I agree wholeheartedly. Your post was a very good read, thank you (I'm a talker myself, without ADD ... so nothing about your post appeared eccentric to me, by the way. It was nice and very refreshing to read). I'm so very happy for you! God Bless You as well! :)
    neurotransmissing 145 Replies Flag this Response
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