I don’t want to operate on your back – Pain Part 2

There’s a good possibility that when someone hears these words spoken by an orthopedic surgeon, this would bring a smile to their face.  After all, perhaps the surgeon is about to suggest another solution to pain they have been experiencing.  Don’t get me wrong.  He did.  But his suggestion was to go back to my pain specialist and try some different techniques.  “They have all sorts of procedures they can perform to help you with the pain!”, he exclaimed loudly as he told me a story of another patient of his who went to the same pain specialist that I’m seeing and had great success.

What I told the surgeon though was that I had already tried everything the pain specialist had to offer, which I thought he already knew given that I was being referred by a pain specialist who saw the MRI of my back and determined their wasn’t much else he could do for me.  He then went on to show me my messed up spine on both the MRI, and the X-Ray he took while I was in his office.  I’ve seen these pictures hundreds of times in my lifetime, and every time I look I feel deformed, and ugly, and things just look worse that they did before, and that’s because they are worse. 

“I can see why you are in pain.”, he said.  He pointed out the “inflamation”, the “degeneration”, the pinched nerves, the arthritis, and how the scoliosis was only complicating matters.  He pointed out that the top of my back was bent forward and that he was afraid if he operated on the bottom of my back I would be hunched over even more than I am now.  He lectured about how correcting the problems I had in my lower back would not fix the pain I’m experiencing because the pain I’m experiencing is in my lower back.  This caught me off guard, but he explained that fixing the lower back helps leg pain, not lower back pain.  I still don’t completely understand, but I’m not an orthopedic surgeon, so I guess I have to trust him.

I then said to him, “So you are confirming that I’m feeling pain.  I already know that.  Is their nothing you can do for me?”  He told me the odds of surgery fixing my problem were too small to risk causing more problems and just distributing the pain to another location.  I understood this.  I was just frustrated.  I told him about the pain medication I was on and explained that I didn’t want to have to take it for the rest of my life.  I had already asked the pain specialist about other things I could do, and I’ve already tried those other things.  Exercises, Chiropractic, physical therapy, massage.  About the only thing I haven’t tried is Accupuncture.  The pain specialist said none of this would help me.  Not with everything that is broken in my back.

The thing is though, this surgeon was just one man.  He gave me the phone number for another surgeon who works in my area, and also at John’s Hopkins hospital.  I’ve already contacted John’s Hopkins on my own and I’m waiting to hear back from them.  I’m not giving up on this until I’ve exhausted all possibilities. 

Today, disappointing news is not devastating news because today I am a much more balanced person emotionally than I used to be.  I am deformed, but I’m not a freak, and in fact I’m a pretty darn good looking guy.  My deformity is hardly noticable until you’ve been staring at me for a long time, and some people have told me they don’t notice it at all.  I’m just a person in pain.  Long term treatment with pain medication is not an option for me, and I’m not going to accept that as the solution.  I hate having to take it!  I hate the stigma associated with it!  I hate the side effects of it, and if you are wondering what I’m talking about, I hate having to take a ton of extra fiber supplements so that I can poop!  I hope that didn’t gross anyone out, but really I don’t care.

The ending to this chapter of the story goes like this.  This is not over until I say it’s over.  I don’t see any fat women around, just one slighly chubby man, so I’m going to keep trudging forward.

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