No One Knows Your Pain
by David J. Stewart
“And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.” —Revelation 21:4
Photo to Right: This is an actual thermal scan of my neck and back, performed in August of 2006. The black bar is off the scale due to the heat being generated by the inflammation from the constant horrible pain and ripping tension in my neck.
Updated September of 2012—I cope with chronic neck pain 24/7 from cervical osteo arthritis, bone spurs, stenosis, et cetera. Presently I'm taking 140 mg prescription Oxycontin (OP brand) daily (20 mg 7 times a day). I'm also taking Oxycodone for breakthrough pain. Nothing less than 40 mg (in addition to my Oxycontin) helps when the pain is really bad. I've learned from my doctor that pain can never completely be taken away. The drugs are only intended to alleviate the pain and suffering, and they thankfully do.
I don't drink alcohol at all and am opiate tolerant, so I handle the meds well. I used to take 8 Percocet 10/325 daily, but my doctor was concerned about the Tylenol hurting my liver, so he was glad to get me on Oxycontin only (no Tylenol).
Literally, my life fell apart before I knew about the pain killers. I was irritable with horrible affliction because of the chronic pain. Imagine the worst toothache possible where the bone is located in back of your neck, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, month-after-month, year-after-year!!! It's hell on earth!!! So when I learned about the opiate pain killers, the drugs gave me back some type of life. However, the drugs take away my energy after a short time, I have horrible dry mouth when I sleep or nap, my feet and ankles regularly swell up from water retention (from the Lyrica). It's a no win situation, that is, you can't function without the drugs because of the debilitating neck pain and peripheral neuropathy pain (I'll explain that in a moment), and it's also difficult to cope. It took my quite some time working with my doctor to find out what combination of prescription drugs worked for me, but I'm happy with the medications I have now.
My doctor is now starting to recommend a a morphine injection pump surgically implanted (it uses 4-8 mg of Dilaudid from what I've read), but I've read a lot of bad things about them (mainly they don't work that well compared to a high dosage of opiate medications). The Fentanyl Patch made me sick. The Methadone tasted like I had drank a cup of bleach. I took 8 Vicodin 10/325 per day for several months and that really helped, but it's short acting. Vicodin is aspirin based. Percocet is Tylenol based. Oxycontin is time-released Oxycodone and doesn't use either, so it's safer. Aspirin causes me intestinal bleeding when I used to take Percodan 10/325, so I stopped per my doctor.
I have always followed my doctor's guidelines, but I also have learned that doctors will kill you if you let them. I've been prescribed some really terrible stuff by my doctor and had to stop taking it, and told him, so he tried something else. When the Percocet combined with Oxycontin dehydrated my body, he gave me some prescription liquid in a bottle that about killed me, making the dehydration much worse. So I read up on alternative natural remedies and went to the local health store to buy some Psyllium husk pills, and I've never had any more problems with dehydration. And I drink plenty of water with the pills. I also stopped taking Percocet combined with Oxycontin. Percocet and Oxycontin dehydrated my body too much. I was taking the Percocet for breakthrough pain. Now I just take more Oxycontin.
The pharmacy issued a full-page warning, saying that my 300 mg daily of Lyrica would double all the side-effects of the Oxycontin (mainly overwhelming fatigue, lack of drive, dry mouth and sleepiness). And it does!!! It's when I add 10 mg of Ambien (to help me sleep) that I have to be very careful each night. I believe I know exactly how Whitney Houston died, because I've been there, but I wasn't in my bathtub or I'd be dead. When I take all three of my medications together (which is how they're prescribed), I have to make sure I'm not in a bathtub or somewhere that I can fall and be hurt. I have literally stood for 2-hours unable to think clear enough to go back to sleep or do anything. I get stuck and my brain is powerless due to the strong over-powering effect of the meds. If I was sitting in a bathtub and started to sink in the water, I would be powerless due to the over-powering of the medications. I would drown, guaranteed! One night I woke up and had fallen asleep with my teeth mashing down on my tongue. I couldn't feel my tongue for 2-weeks and thought I had permanently damaged the nerves inside my tongue.
Thankfully it healed. Drugs are dangerous when taken together, and they're nothing to mess around with. I take my medications because I have to. I can't function due to the pain without pain killers. My message to anyone reading this is to be very careful about mixing meds. NEVER drink alcohol. I now don't take my Lyrica before bedtime anymore either. My last 50 mg pill of Lyrica is at 8 p.m. and I go to sleep around midnight usually. I've cut back from 300 mg of Lyrica to 150 mg daily because my legs were swelling up too much and I was experiencing arthritis-like pain in all my fingers and hands. When I reduced my Lyrica by half the pain went away. I read and asked why I was having the pain in my fingers and no one knew. I'm telling you... it's the Gabapentin or the Lyric combined with the opiate pain killers that are causing the pain in your fingers.
8 Years Of Unsuccessfully Trying To Get Medical Help
Since 2004 I've met with 8 neurosurgeons, I've undergone 2 emotionally trying neck surgeries (with not even one family member by my side nor waiting at home), I've met with 3 orthosurgeons, a neurologist and umpteen doctors. There's nothing that anyone can do for me I've been told. I have prayed often and faithfully. I had asked for the prayers of the church prior to undergoing surgery. So I can only conclude after several years that this is God's will for me and I accept it. The insurance companies won't keep paying for surgical treatments, when all my medical options have been exhausted. There's nothing left to be done, except to find anybody who will cut into anybody for money. That's a good way to end up paralyzed. There's a fine line between faith and foolishness.
I've met some cruel people who accused me of not trying hard enough to get medical help. It's hard to imagine that people can be so hateful. It's really a form of mental murder. I remember what the Scriptures foretold about the Last Days (2nd Timothy 3:1-5). We are living in those perilous times. I've met two Charismatic ministers who said if I was filled with the Spirit I wouldn't have needed surgery and would be healed. My surgeries made me worse. My faith is in the Lord, “For I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth” (Job 19:25).
Oh, how the Devil is a beautiful liar! The Devil always shows you the neon lights and the good times, but he'll never show you the rehab centers, morgues and prisons. Drug addiction can happen to anyone! Most people don't realize that they're ADDICTED until it happens. Combining medications is the number one killer!!!
There are all types of ADDICTIONS. Some people are addicted to gambling, and others to the stock market. Many people are addicted to sex, and some to spending. Others are addicted to collecting shoes and some even to cutting themselves or receiving tattoos. The best 12 Step Program in the world are those 12 steps to the alter my friend. It doesn't matter where you've been, it's where you're going. You won't become what you decide to be, you will become what you decide to be around. Your friends will make you or break you!
If you are addicted to heroin, then you need medical intervention and there's nothing to be ashamed of. Heroin or alcohol addiction, although they are sins that need to be forsaken as such, are still substance abuse and require medical help.
You are not a bad person for being in pain. I started having neck pain in 2004 and was told I had two herniated disks in my neck. I had surgery 5-years later after all conventional methods failed. The pain was still there, even though the disk were removed. So another surgeon redid the surgery, to grind a bone spur down that he said might be the problem. I ended up with a whole new problem called peripheral neuropathy (burning, tingling, pain and puffiness in my arms and legs). I was so depressed and didn't want to live another day. That's not quite the same as suicide, it just means that I didn't want to face tomorrow. Now, as of August 2012, I fully realize that I'm going to be bodily afflicted for the rest of my days. I have gotten used to the puffed up arms (and am thankful to have arms). I take 140 mg of Oxycontin (OP) per day and still feel much affliction. The drugs only take the edge off.
I've had some bad experiences taking prescription drugs. At times I have stood for 3-4 hours in the middle of the night, incapacitated because of the prescription drugs. I'm too out-of-it to get back to sleep, and so I just sleep while standing up, waking up each time I begin to lose my balance. It's torture. Sometimes I fall over. I don't do it on purpose, but when you're taking a max dosage of medications, it's very easy to over do it. That's how Whitney Houston died.
I've stopped taking my Lyrica 4 hours before I go to bed, so it won't double-up the effects of the Ambien and the Oxycontin. I know what it's like to suffer from prescription meds, and it's all within my doctor's prescription. No one ever told me not to take all three drugs together. So I stagger them. Sometimes my pain is so bad that nothing less than a single dose of 80 mg. of Oxycontin helps. Pray for me whoever you may be, as I pray for all my web visitors, regardless of who you are. God loves us, not because of who we are, but because of Who He is.
The great guitarist, Jerry Garcia, died of a heart attack while in a heroin rehab center in California. Jerry waited decades to get the help that he needed and it killed him. Andy Gibb's heart finally failed due to cocaine abuse. Andy was only 30-years-old when he died. I've had some people criticize me, saying that I don't need pain medications because there are natural alternatives. That is not true. There are none that I have found to work. Opiate pain killers are a blessing from God when used correctly. That's why God gave us the poppy plant (from which opium is derived).
If you've never been in agonizing chronic pain, then you cannot grasp the blessing of pain medications. Unfortunately this generation will sniff paint, glue, pain-thinner or whatever else they can get high on. These practices are sinful. Combining alcohol is a major cause of death with prescription drugs, because alcohol is a narcotic drug. I thank God I never started drinking alcohol, and never plan to start. Beer is called LIQUID DEVIL for a good reason.
The Insane Hype Over Oxycontin And Oxycodone
The Beginning Of My Nightmare In 2004
In March of 2004, I began to experience constant, horrible, toothache-like pain in back of my lower neck, where the bone is located. That horrible pain has never gone away and the affliction has adversely changed my life. As only God do, He has used this affliction to compel me to work harder to win souls to His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, and to live for others.
I also began experiencing chronic neck stiffness at the same time the pain began in 2004. It oftentimes feels like someone is tearing the back of my neck out. It's not muscle-tension; but rather, something is wrong with my spinal cord that the surgeons have not been able to remedy through surgery. The tension in my neck is constant, even years later.
Consequently, it's difficult to have a social life. The pain often radiates into my facial area from the neck. I've learned to live with my bodily afflictions and usually hide them well, but only God and myself know what I suffer with daily. I don't expect people to understand. Most people judge others by what they see, but you cannot see what a person feels inside (neither bodily nor emotionally). My story is a long one because a lot has happened since my battle with neck pain and tensional began in 2004. If you want the full-story, it is as follows for my friends to read. I love everyone in the Lord.
Job 23:10, “But he knoweth the way that I take: when he hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold.”
My neck pain began in March of 2004 and persisted. When the pain hadn't gone away after two weeks, I knew something was wrong. My neck was also VERY tense 24/7. I had NEVER experienced anything like this before. Literally, I was fine one day and messed up the next. I remember turning over in my sleep, using my head to pivot my body. As I turned I felt a sudden, sharp, hot, flash in back of my neck. When I woke up the next day I had (what I thought was) a kink in my neck and stiffness. As the day progressed the symptoms didn't subside. After a week I thought it was out-of-the-ordinary. I finally made an appointment with a chiropractor. I thought that perhaps I had somehow strained my neck and needed a chiropractor to adjust it. He adjusted my neck, gave me some stretching exercises to perform at home, and then used some sort of electrical probes to involuntary activate the shoulder muscles in hopes of breaking up the tension in my neck. Nothing helped.
Going back in time, In 1992 I was rear-ended by a church bus, which broke my seat off it's hinges due to the impact. Not realizing the severity of what had happened, I didn't see any need to go to a hospital. Later that evening, the bus center required me to go to a hospital, so I did. They took an x-ray and said I was ok. I suffered the whiplash effects for about one week and then felt fine. I thought that was the end of it. Lo and behold, 12-years later my life would be adversely changed forever and my hell-on-earth would begin when I was diagnosed with Cervical (neck) Degenerative Disk Disease in May of 2004.
People, including my own family, do not understand what I am going through...
In severe cases, with chronic neck pain, the sufferer may also experience depression, mood swings (anger and anxiety), irritability, sleep disturbances, post-traumatic stress syndrome, and even drug dependency...
SOURCE: Neck Pain - Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis and Treatments
My continual physical and emotional suffering caused by all of this has ruined my life. I cannot sleep more than a few hours without Ambien and other sedative medications, like Oxycontin to kill some of the pain and calm my system.
I have been told that I hide it well, and I try; but only God knows the physical affliction that I suffer day and night.
“Currently there is no proven treatment to prevent or cure neuropathic pain (neuropathy or nerve pain). Instead, the primary goals of treatment are to reduce the pain as much as possible, balance the negative side effects of the treatment, and help patients manage any unresolved pain.”
SOURCE: Treatment Options for Neuropathic Pain
Herniated Cervical Disks
I had seen a chiropractor for four months, not knowing what was causing such horrible pain. Finally, after four months of receiving no relief from my chiropractor (and continued horrible neck pain and stiffness), I insisted on receiving help elsewhere… something was very wrong with my neck! This was all back in 2004.
In May of 2004, an MRI revealed two herniated disks in my neck. The disks between bones C5-C6-C7 were protruding into my spinal cord. Although the MRI technician referred to my disks as “herniated,” my neuroradiologist said the technical term is “protruding” because my disks hadn't actually ruptured “yet.” I was told by a neurosurgeon that the neck “splints” (tightens) itself in an attempt to protect itself—an involuntarily response to the pain signal being generated by the pinched spinal cord—more pain causes more tension, and more tension cause more pain— it’s a constant cycle. The neck pain and stiffness are unbearable most of the time. It feels like a golfball is ready to explode in my neck in the back. Only recently in 2011 I was evaluated by an ortho-surgeon who said that I do not have shoulder tension, only stiffness in my neck. So what I have is neck stiffness and not muscle tension, to my understanding. It feels like muscle tension, but it is stiffness.
Since 2004 I have been prescribed Soma, Flexeril, Robaxin, and Skelaxin to alleviate muscle tension; of course, none of them helped to alleviate my neck stiffness, since it is not being caused by muscle tension. I was misdiagnoses by 4 different doctors. The drugs were a waste of time and made me physically sick.
The word “suffer” is found 48 times in the Old Testament and 130 times in the New Testament of the King James Bible (the only Bible that's reliable in English today).
Psalm 88:15, “I am afflicted and ready to die from my youth up: while I suffer thy terrors I am distracted.”
The Agonizing Pain and Ripping Tension
Boy, this picture to the right is exactly how I feel. That's EXACTLY where my pain is located. It's the bottom junction of the Cervical (neck) bone (C7), where the thorax (T1) meets the neck. Due to a severe whiplash accident in 1992, my neck was
I am experiencing constant pain and tension. I suffer from constant toothache-like pain in the bone area of the back of my neck. My doctor had prescribed Flexeril, which makes made sleepy more than anything. My doctor also prescribed Percodan 10/325 because the pain was so bad, but the medication made me sick, so my doctor switched me over to Percocet 5/325 instead (which agreed with my system). The pain has been unbearable at times. I was taking 400-800 mg. of Advil every 6 hours per my neurosurgeon, but it made me sick to my stomach and didn't help much. For a while the Percocet wasn't available in my area, so my doctor prescribed hydrocodone/acetaminophen 10/325 pain killers (Vicodin).
I've also ben prescribed Gabapentin due to pain and numbness in my right arm, which doesn't seem to help much. There's been lawsuits against the manufacturer of Gabapentin claiming it doesn't work. It just seems to make me sleepy, as does the other medications. I've tried to take Lyrica twice, but it cause flu-like symptoms and severely reacts with the Oxycontin I'm taking. The pharmacy even warned me about likely dangerous interactions between the two drugs.
Perhaps you're wondering why I'm sharing me medical information with others? For a few reasons:
Because I desperately needs the prayers of others. I'm suffering much in physical pain, which affects me overall.
Because I simply cannot keep up with my e-mails and I want you to know why.
Because I want to encourage other people who are suffering in constant pain like me—you're not alone my friend. We are brothers and sisters together in pain. I know what it means to suffer in pain 24/7.
I have to be careful not to take too many different painkillers because they can be deadly, as evidenced in the untimely death of Batman actor Heath Ledger in January of 2008. Rush Limbaugh also became addicted to Vicodin and Oxycontin for a time. I took Oxycontin, Percocet, and Dilaudid all at once in December of 2010 because I was overwhelmed with physical pain. Consequently, my feet and ankles became swollen so big that I couldn't fit my slippers on anymore.
Surviving on painkillers is certainly no way to live. Most doctors have never had to suffer with chronic pain, so they don't truly understand. They'd rather send you for a psychological evaluation to learn how to cope with pain than to actually do something to remedy the problem. Most doctors are like mechanics who are mere parts-replacers; not being artists at their progression who genuinely understand the human body and know what they are doing. That is my sincere opinion after dealing with doctors for the past 8 years to no avail.
Hydrocodone/Oxycodone causes a euphoria affect similar to heroine. I never take more than my doctor prescribes.
I don't drink alcoholic beverages as a Christian, so for awhile I used Nyquil to help me sleep at night. Later, I tried Ativan and then Ambien. The Ambien seems to work best for me. Although I am generally skeptical of taking any prescription medications, I have found some of them to be necessary, such as the Percocet. It is the only relief available for my pain.
I've taken both Vicodin 10/325 and Percocet 10/325 at different times to relieve pain. I learned the hard way to NEVER take Vicodin and Percocet within 24-hours of each other! I took them only 4-hours apart and it made me sick for over a week. I puked my guts out 5-times and experienced flu-like symptoms for several days afterwards. I even called the hospital because my neck pain became so bad. My stomach muscles were hurting for days due to the vomiting. It's no fun when stomach acid is spewing out your nose while vomiting at 4:30 a.m. I told my doctor what had happened.
I wrote this article because I know that there are a lot of people in this world suffering from pain just like me, and I do know what you're going through (although our circumstances may be different). I am familiar with gnawing, agonizing, debilitating, excruciating pain that just WON'T go away. No matter which way I twist and turn my neck to alleviate the horrible pain, it just doesn't go away. I can't sleep well at night. I can't carry on a normal conversation without having to excuse myself due to the tension and pain in my neck. Everything irritates me. I have little patience. I have little energy.
It's frustrating to me that men can put a robot on Mars, harness nuclear energy, invent jets that fly 10-times faster than the speed of sound, predict a lunar eclipse 100 years from now to the minute; BUT they can't make one's pain go away. Go figure!
For awhile I saw a pain specialist, who put me on Methadone (HCL 5MG 8 times per day). The Methadone was like drinking a cup of bleach. My eyes, throat and chest were burning. I had to stop taking it and go back to the Percocet. The muscle tension in my neck is constant. I continually experience pain radiating into my gums, nose, face, and eyes. I often turn out the lights because the nerve endings in my eye are so sensitive, because of the pain radiating from my neck. That's why my website is so dark—because it's easier on my eyes.
Although suffering, I rejoice in the precious promise of Romans 8:28, "And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose." Even so, come, Lord Jesus!
Told in 2004 I'd Have to “Live With the Pain”
I met with a Neurosurgeon in July of 2004. The neurosurgeon said that I was NOT a candidate for surgery at that time because I wasn’t experiencing any “radicular pain” (i.e., pain, numbness or tingling in the arms or legs). It's similar to having a constant agonizing toothache, but in the bony area of the back of the neck. I received a steroid (cortisone) injection into the back of my neck in July of 2004; it didn’t do anything to help relieve the constant pain and tension. I was prescribed the drug Skelaxin for muscle tension, but it made me sick to my stomach, so I stopped taking it. It's hard to enjoy life when you suffer in constant physical pain, which causes emotional stress and mental irritability. It's no life at all. I've had 4 doctors prescribe muscle relaxants; but I actually have neck stiffness, which I didn't know wasn't muscle tension until recently in 2011. It feels like muscle tension.
In October of 2004, I sought relief from another doctor because the pain was afflicting me day and night. I was referred to see another neurosurgeon, whom I met with in November of 2004. Again, the neurosurgeon told me that I would just have to live with the pain because I was not a candidate for surgery at that time. I was so distraught. I was referred to see a neuroradiologist, who gave me 2 more steroid injections using a CT Scanner machine. This time the medication was injected from the sides of my neck.
It was a lonely feeling lying in that machine, freezing in an air-conditioned room, with two size-24 needles being stuck in my neck, while my head was strapped down to a hard table, for over an hour. I remember my teeth chattering because the pain was so intense. I knew that God was with me, but I just didn't feel like being on earth anymore. There have been many times because of this miserable pain when I just wished my life would hurry up and I could go on to Heaven. I'm not talking about suicide, I'm just saying that when excruciating pain afflicts you 24/7... Heaven sure looks good. I testify with the Apostle Paul, Philippians 1:21, “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.”
If you have never had to survive day-by-day, suffering from a severe toothache-like pain in your neck that never goes away, and ripping neck tension, then you cannot fully understand. I know pain. I know misery. I sought medical help, but there was none. The two steroid injections didn't even phase me. I received no relief whatsoever for my pain nor tension in my neck. The second neurosurgeon which I had met in November of 2004 said that surgery wouldn't help me anyway because I have Cervical osteo-arthritis. That scared me to hear that I was beyond help.
The tension feels like a golfball is stuck in the back of my neck, trying to burst out. I cannot turn my head to either side without feeling a tight stretch like a rubber band is being pulled. I have to do stretching exercising each day to avoid further atrophy (further stiffness in my neck). As it is, I have hit my head getting into more taxis and my own car more times than I can remember. My neck is stiff, causing my head not to turn as it should. I hit my head painfully all the time getting into my car. The top of my head skins the roof getting in. That's how stiff my neck has become. I can turn my neck fine, it's just super tense and my head is stiff. If I forget to be careful getting into my car... WHAM!!!
A Fall In Late 2005
In 2005 I slipped and fell, landing as hard as can be on my back, which complicated my neck problems. I had used my left hand to try to break the fall, but it didn't help. I went for an x-ray of my hand, thinking I may have broken something; but it was just really sore. Unfortunately, for the first time I began to experience tingling and pain extending down my right arm into my thumb, and to a lesser extent down my right leg into my tow. This is in addition to my original problems with neck pain and stiffness.
My condition gradually worsened until I finally was approved for surgery in 2009, which I will explain shortly.
Other Relief Remedies Have Failed
I went to another chiropractor in January of 2005, but to no avail. I bought a cervical traction unit at the recommendation of my first chiropractor for $250. It was a Pronex-2 unit. It is a piece of junk for anyone reading this. The plastic bellows that rest on your shoulders will leak in time and the unit will be worthless. Also, the unit only exerts 20 lbs. of traction at the most... not enough to make a difference. I used the Pronex-2 for a few months until it broke and I just threw it away. I received NO relief whatsoever from the Pronex-2 unit.
After 3 steroid injections failed, my doctor gave me the drug Robaxin (another muscle relaxer like Skelaxin) and prescribed a higher dose of Advil to break the tension and pain. It was worthless. I hadn't even heard about opiate-based pain-killers until 2007, but even they don't work for long. Once the body gets used to the drug, it becomes less effective. My pain is unbearable at times. As of July 2011, I am still suffering horribly in constant neck pain and tension.
Neck pain and tension have ruined my life. I live alone and am single and probably always will be. Who wants to live with a miserable person that's suffering in constant, chronic, agonizing pain which affects your mood and emotions? It feels like something is crushing my spinal cord. The back of my neck feels ready to explode in tension. I feel stressed out all the time, even while as relaxed as possible. Painkillers can only do so much to take the edge off.
In 2006 I used ice-packs often, until they started causing frostbite on the skin. I wrapped the ice-packs in a towel, but eventually stopped using them because of their ineffectiveness. I bought an electric heating pad, which didn't help either. Hot baths help, but only while in the water.
In late February of 2005, I went to a physical therapist. I was placed on a horizontal Cervical Traction Machine. This time I went up to 50 lbs. of traction. However, the first neurosurgeon that I saw in 2004 told me that cervical traction wouldn't help me because of where my nerve was being pinched. Since the disk was protruding from the side (horizontally) into my spinal cord, he said that pulling the head upward (vertically) would not alleviate my pain. I went ahead with the cervical traction anyway, in desperation, at the recommendation of my chiropractor. It didn't offer any relief.
There's a couple different kinds of traction units. I don't like the overhead vertical rope style because you're not relaxed during the traction. In the horizontal unit, you lay down on a table during the traction. It is much better in my opinion. Howbeit, I stopped cervical traction several months later because it wasn't offering any relief. I was still suffering from constant pain and tension in my neck. I don't know if what I have is osteo-arthritis, because it started overnight (literally).
I ask for your prayers for my continued health problems. I am a mess since my 2nd neck surgery in April of 2010, which made me worse. The 1st surgery caused increased problems in my right arm and leg. The 2nd surgery has resulted in both arms and legs being adversely affected. I had ACDF (Anterior Cervical Discectomy and Fusion) on C5-C6-C7. The 2nd surgery was a revision of the 1st, since the surgeon said my bones weren't fusing properly after 9-months.
My doctor highly advises avoiding any further surgeries, since the two I've had have made me progressively worse. I am suffering much, with burning, tingling and a puffy feeling in both arms and legs. I feel like I have robot arms from that game I used to have as a kid... The Rock 'Em, Sock 'Em, Robots!!! My arms feel like puffy airbags.
I am not complaining, nor seeking sympathy. I know of a woman who cannot type on a keyboard, because of devastating injuries sustained after being hit by a drunk. She has no fingers. Until you have some form of handicap, it is difficult to understand what it's like. Still, I consider myself fortunate compared to what others are suffering through. I saw a woman doing dishes with her feet, because she has no arms; and a man who is blind, but makes a clicking sound with a handheld device to guide him. He listens for the echo to identify where objects are at.
Those who suffer are all my brothers and sisters in pain. I suffer daily. Behind my smile is a man hurting from head to toe, with a brokenheart and nowhere to turn except God above. Jesus is precious! I am suffering from much nerve pain, especially down my right arm. It's a sharp razorblade-like pain that hurts bad at times. Nerve pain is difficult to treat, and available medications only partially reduce the pain. None of the medications have helped me.
I have had 3 neurosurgeons look at my past MRI's and say that the problem looks to be on the LEFT side; but I have told them all repeatedly that the problem is mostly on the RIGHT side. Originally the pain and tingling was only on the right side, but now surgery has caused it to move to the left side too. But still, it is my RIGHT side that is mostly affected.
Following are MRI snapshots from before my first surgery (left), and then after (right). As you can see, they did the bare minimum. And now I'm waiting to get another MRI after my 2nd surgery.
The common denominator that I see is that little piece of bone, which looks like it's sharply piercing my spinal cord on the right side of both scans above. The neurosurgeons who performed my surgeries focused on the protrusion on the left side (i.e., toward the front of the neck). Most neurosurgeons won't do surgery unless a person has noticeable loss of function in their limb(s). I was told by one neurosurgeon to have a morphine-injection-pump installed into my spinal cord. I've considered it when the pain is bad, but haven't pursued it thus far. The Oxycontin helps my neck pain; but not the razor-sharp pain radiating mostly down my right arm.
No One Knows Your Pain
I once worked with an elderly man named Bob who suffered horribly in pain. He had fallen off a ladder at work years earlier. He needed to have three 5" titanium pins inserted into his hip. Five years after the accident, he still waddled like a duck at work because his pain was so bad. He would sometimes stop walking and just stand still for a moment because his pain was so bad. Bob saw me in the lunch room one day while I was holding an ice pack on my neck. I mentioned to him that someone had commented to me that I "looked worn out." I told Bob that people just don't understand what pain does to a person. Bob looked at me and said, "No one knows your pain."
That meant a lot to me coming from a guy who lives in worse pain than I do. So I say to you friend if you're suffering in constant pain, "No one knows your pain." You are in a unique group of people who are all suffering from their own individual pains that no one else can understand; but we all share the common denominator of pain, and understand each other's hurt and loneliness. The Lord Jesus Christ is also in our group, "He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not" (Isaiah 53:3).
Surgery in 2009 . . . “God saw me through!”
Psalm 23:4, “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for Thou art with me; Thy rod and Thy staff they comfort me.”
Now let's discuss the surgery itself. I underwent cervical discectomy and spinal fusion surgery in July of 2009 in Los Angeles. I received a titanium plate in my neck and a peek device. There are 6 surgical screws in my neck. The surgery was performed through the front of my neck. The last thing I remember before my surgery were tears flowing down the side of my head. The first and only thing I remember when I came out of anesthesia 10 hours later were the words I spoke out loud, “God saw me through.” I didn't plan to say any words, but that's the first words that came to my mind, and I said it once again in a louder and clearer voice, “God saw me through.” And He certainly did.
As far as the surgery, I am still suffering in horrible neck pain. It's like I didn't even get surgery. I still have agonizing neck pain 24/7. The surgeon said only time will determine the final results. Although I do have a bit of discomfort in my throat, I don't have any difficulty swallowing food, nor do I notice much lost range of motion, thankfully. My voice is fine and the incision pain is gone. However, my neck is completely numb where the nerves were cut from the incision up to my chin.
I finally had neck surgery in July of 2009. Unfortunately I've had ZERO improvement as far as pain relief and tension in my neck. I'm taking 6 Percocet 10/325's and 180 mg of Morphine per day to cope with the horrible neck pain, which feels worse than the worst toothache I've ever had. The pain and tension are horrible. The pain radiates from where the bone is located in back of my neck. I take 350 mg of Soma twice per day to break up the severe muscle tension in my neck, but the Soma doesn't do much except make me sleepy. Howbeit, even the slightest relief from the pain and tension is welcomed. I take 10 mg of Ambien to sleep at night, but toss and turn, waking up frequently drenched with sweat. I generally don't sleep well.
I have pain in my right arm 24/7, which sometimes is so bad that I hold my right arm with my left and have to stop what I'm doing. My right arm goes numb after a few minutes on the phone. I have intermittent pain in my right leg and toe, especially when I wake up in the mornings. I know that many people have it worse than me. I'm not complaining, nor seeking sympathy. I do ask for your earnest prayers. I hope that those of you who desire to e-mail me will understand why I have to sometimes just walk away and stop my e-mail. I do what I have to do to survive with this pain. I don't expect everybody to understand, but I ask for your patience, please.
My doctor recently tapped my knee to check my reflexes and my leg jolted forward, more than normal. Both legs do this. My doctor said it is a sign that my spinal cord is being compressed. An MRI in November of 2009 shows that I still have a compressed spinal cord at C5-C6 due to multiple bone spurs. My doctor said I need more surgery. He said Cedars-Sinai only did the bare minimum. Since they were already at C5-C6, I don't understand why they didn't fix the bone spurs as well, and they're not talking. So here we go again... more surgery. This is all a big nightmare.
My doctor also wants me to have a 4th steroid injection (since it's been 5-years from the last). However, the first 3 didn't help me at all, so I'm not expecting much. Still, I am desperate for any possible pain relief, so I'll get it. The pain is so bad during the night (even with the Soma, Morphine Sulfate and Ambien) that it causes me to have horrible nightmares. It's literally like someone has their foot on my spinal cord. I am not living; but surviving. I pray for God to help me.
Everywhere I go, people coldly ask, “Are you ok?,” because I look as miserable as my pain makes me feel. Although I always smile and try to overcome my pain, it's impossible to hide. People just don't understand my pain, ripping tension in my neck and suffering that I'm enduring 24/7, nor can they. People are so insensitive and easily offended nowadays.
I know how Paul felt when he said in 2nd Corinthians 12:15, “the more abundantly I love you, the less I be loved.” The closer I draw to the Lord and unconditionally love people, the lonelier I am, because the world is a very cold and selfish place today. I envy not the lion tamer in the cage; at least he is safe from people. I know what it's like to want to go to Heaven instead of survive here on earth, because my physical pain is so unbearable. Yet, God sustains me by His mercy, truth and grace.
Another Surgery in 2010, Made Me Worse
I underwent a 2nd surgery in San Diego, which was a revision of the first in April of 2010. A ct scan revealed that my bones at C5-C6-C7 hadn't fused from my 1st surgery in July of 2009. Instead of a substitute material which was used in the 1st surgery, this time the surgeon took a bone graft from my hip to ensure proper bone fusion. Unfortunately, the surgery hasn't helped much and has caused me additional health problems. The intensity of the tingling, puffiness and pain in both arms and legs has increased significantly. It's my right arm and leg that are most affected.
This 2nd surgery left a big gash in my neck about 2" long, which is very visible. I guess the surgeon needed to make a bigger cut to get the grinding tool into my neck to remove a bone spur at C5-C6.
I am taking 80 mg of prescription Oxycontin, 12 mg. of Dilaudid and 1200 mg. of Gabapentin daily to cope with the pain. The medications do help somewhat, but I still have lots of muscle tension and stiffness in my neck. The toothache-like neck pain is still horrible, which I'll just have to endure for the remainder of my life. I accept it as a thorn in the flesh from God to keep me humble (which it does).
The bony area of the back of my neck feels like it's ready to burst all the time, from within. I'm suffering in so much pain, even with the medications. I mainly share my condition with others to encourage those suffering, because most people don't understand what it's like to survive in agonizing pain all the time, as I do, and there's no remedy. I'm not suicidal, God forbid; but I have no desire to exist on earth anymore. The Apostle Paul felt similar... “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain” (Philippians 1:21). Paul also suffered from a thorn in the flesh that afflicted him, but we do not know what the affliction was (2nd Corinthians 12:7). Most Bible scholars believe that it was some type of health problem Paul suffered. Perhaps this is God's way to keep me humble, so He can bless my labors for Him more abundantly.
Luke 8:43-44, “And a woman having an issue of blood twelve years, which had spent all her living upon physicians, neither could be healed of any, Came behind him, and touched the border of his garment: and immediately her issue of blood stanched.”
One Day At A Time
So, I suffer with the pain. I look forward to that day when I won't have to live with pain anymore. From time-to-time people ask me why I made my website so dark. The reason is because the pain from my neck radiates into the facial area, affecting my eyes. Bright lights aggravates the nerves, so I prefer the darker background.
I sure wish everyone could know the Lord Jesus Christ, and they could, if they'd only come to Christ for forgiveness. My joy each day is in knowing that my name is written in Heaven in the Lamb's Book of life. I'm not happy in my pain, but my heart rejoices that this pain will only endure for a season. This too shall pass. I am committed to spending the remaining years of my life fighting the Devil, exposing sin and evil, guiding the confused, helping the unfortunate, comforting the weary, and preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ to as many lost sinners as I can. By God's grace and with the help of the Holy Spirit, I will do just that. I am a nobody without the Lord Jesus Christ and He means everything to me.
I'd like to thank my God and Savior, Jesus Christ. Just knowing that He has promised in Hebrews 13:5 NEVER to leave me nor forsake me, helps keep me going each day. Please pray for me.
My faith in God is strong and only by His grace have I made it this far and will continue to do so. As the writer of the song Amazing Grace states, “ 'Tis grace hath brought me safe thus far, and grace will lead me home.” Even so, come Lord Jesus.
I love you all in the Lord, whoever you may be.
Update As Of December 2010, A 3rd MRI, More Surgery Needed
I ask for your prayers for my continued health problems. I had an MRI in November, which pretty much shows what I expected, i.e., I still have bone spurs in the back of my neck at C5-C6-C7 piercing into my spinal cord. That it is the only thing left that surgeons haven't repaired. Conventional posterior surgery involves cutting away a portion of my spinal column's bone to access the area, and then grinding down the bone spurs. Since there are thick muscle tissues that need to be cut through to access the area, the pain is much worse and takes 6-months to recover from. My doctor is discouraging me from a 3rd surgery because he says there is a diminishing return on each surgery.
So I've sent all my information to a place that does endoscopic surgery (which is much less invasive). I hope I'll be a candidate for their surgical process to remove the bone spurs in my neck.
Below are MRI snapshots from before my first surgery (left, 2008), after the first surgery (middle, 2009), and now after my second surgery (right, 2010).
The common denominator that I see is that little piece of bone, which looks like it's sharply piercing my spinal cord on the right side of all 3 scans above. The neurosurgeons who performed my surgeries focused on the disk protrusions on the left side (i.e., toward the front of the neck). Most neurosurgeons won't do surgery unless a person has noticeable loss of function in their limb(s).
I was told by one neurosurgeon to have a morphine-injection-pump installed into my spinal cord. I've considered it when the pain is bad, but haven't pursued it thus far. The 100 mg. daily of prescription Oxycontin and 12 mg. Dilaudid helps my neck pain; but not the razor-sharp pain radiating mostly down my right arm. I'm taking Gabapentin for that, which seems to help ONLY when taken in consistent dosages over a period of time. So I take 300 mg. by prescription ever 6-hours. It makes me really tired, which is why I don't take more Gabapentin than I do. I'd be a zombie.
I think I overdosed on pain medications last night, which caused my ankles and feet to swell up double in size. I called my doctor today and he was too busy to talk with me the whole day. I hope to find a new doctor eventually. It's hard to find people who genuinely care about others. I called back again and some worker at the clinic answered the phone, asking if I had a fever or redness (which I don't). But the swelling scared me. Right now I'm tearing a lot, feel weak, and my body hurts from head-to-toe. I never had any swelling in my ankles and feet like that before. The swelling has gone down for the most part over the past 24-hours. It is now late Thursday. I'm a mess physically. I faxed off my MRI report and an application for endoscopic surgery today. I'm hurting so much. I contacted a surgical place in Florida not too long ago, but they didn't even bother to respond. It's harder to find help post surgery, especially after 2 neck surgeries. I hope this place responds. So many people just don't care.
I am a mess since my 2nd neck surgery in April of 2010, which made me worse. The 1st surgery caused slightly increased problems in my right arm and leg. The 2nd surgery has resulted in both arms and legs being adversely affected. I had ACDF (Anterior Cervical Discectomy and Fusion) on C5-C6-C7. The 2nd surgery was a revision of the 1st, since the surgeon said a CT Scan showed that my bones at C6-C7 weren't fusing properly after 9-months. It's all Greek to me.
My doctor highly advises avoiding any further surgeries, since the two I've had have made me progressively worse. I am suffering much, with burning, tingling and a puffy feeling in both arms and legs. I feel like I have robot arms from that game I used to have as a kid... The Rock 'Em, Sock 'Em, Robots!!! My arms feel like puffy airbags. The muscle tension in my neck is chronic, 24/7, which makes makes me feels stressful all the time. With all these different things going on at the same time in my body, everything is 10-times more irritating. I have to really pray continually and ask God to help me just relax and deal with life and people. I am very tired lately.
Only God knows my afflictions and sufferings. Move over Job, you've got company. Yet I can say with Job in Job 19:25, “For I know that my Redeemer liveth, and that He shall stand at the latter day upon the earth.” Amen and amen! I can honestly say with Job in Job 13:15. “Though He slay me, yet will I trust in Him: but I will maintain mine own ways before Him.” Jesus is precious!!!
Recently, I couldn't open a jar of pickles or a jar of spaghetti sauce. So I bought one of those thingamajigs that are supposed to give you a better grip to open tight lids. The thing just kept slipping. So now I've been buying foods that have easy-open lids instead. My grip is too weak. I have weakness in both arms and hands. I suffer daily. Behind my smile is a man hurting from head to toe, with a brokenheart and nowhere to turn except God above. Jesus is precious! I am suffering from much nerve pain, especially down my right arm. It's a sharp razorblade-like pain that hurts bad at times. Nerve pain is difficult to treat, and available medications only partially reduce the pain. None of the medications have helped me. It hurts emotionally when people say, “You look fine to me, because they're only judging by the outward appearance.” I have so much going on inside with the nerves in my neck, arms and legs. I have good days and bad days, mostly bad lately.
If you've ever had Percocet, Morphine Sulfate or Oxycontin withdrawal symptoms, it is the most horrible feeling on earth. And while going through all that, the pain in my neck gets progressively worse and worse until it's unbearable, and so I have to take more Oxycontin and Dilaudid (or whatever my doctor prescribes). I so much pray for the Lord to return soon, or take me home.
As I type I have agonizing toothache-like pain in the bony area of the back of my neck, and sharp-pain radiating down my right arm. I feel like all my energy is gone from the medications. No one with the power to help me in the medical field seems to really care. They treat you like a car, like you're going in to have a water-pump changed or something. People are so cold these days (Matthew 24:12). They just punch a clock from one day to the next, and my hopes of getting any proper medical help are all but hopeless. It's not their problem, so why bother. It's not their pain, so who cares. I pray to God every day for His guidance, help and relief.
I have had 3 neurosurgeons look at my past MRI's and say that the problem looks to be on the LEFT side; but I have told them all repeatedly that the problem is mostly on the RIGHT side. Originally the pain and tingling was only on the right side, but now surgery has caused it to move to the left side too. But still, it is my RIGHT side that is mostly affected. I think the problem is the bone spurs at C5-C6-C7 (which would explain the radiating pain and tingling into my thumbs) and I hope to have them removed. One day at a time.
For those who have kept up with my ministry over the years, my health problems are nothing new. I've been suffering horribly since 2004, when I was first diagnosed with herniated disks in my neck. I was virtually assured by the surgeons that spinal decompression surgery would remedy my nerve pain; but I am worse now after 2 failed surgeries. People look at me and say that I look fine, because they cannot see my nerve pain, burning, tingling and puffy feeling in my limbs. They cannot see the toothache-like constant pain in my neck, and the ripping tension that tightens my neck muscles 24 hours a day, every day, all year long. It is a heavy burden to say the least. It overwhelms me often, and I have to just lay down and beg God to help me to face each day.
I wake up in the night feeling like I'm on fire, because of the nerves. I've learned that hydration affects the intensity of the burning. I have more burning during the night when I sleep. My body is like a sponge that drains water. I wake up and it's like someone poured a glass of water on my pillow and bed. As my body dehydrates while sleeping, I wake up with my nerves feeling like they're on fire, burning all over. So I've been drinking more water, which helps a bit.
I just took some more Oxycontin and Dilaudid. I'm taking 100mg. of Oxycontin daily, and 12 mg. of Dilaudid for pain. I've tried to live without the meds, but the pain is unbearable. I have no choice. My medical options are zilch at this point. Something is messed up. The surgeons never have found the true problem, although they have removed the bulging disks at C5-C6-C7. My right leg kicks way out when my knee reflexes are tested, which my doctor says is still an indication of compression of my spinal cord. I am being told by my doctor that I really don't have much choice, except to continue on the pain medications, which are a lifesaver for me. I've tried not using them and it is absolutely unbearable.
It's easy for people to criticize taking drugs, as I used to, and I still do discourage people from taking them unless it's absolutely necessary; but now I know firsthand that when you are suffering horribly, you become desperate for even a little relief. It helps to get me through the day. I used to wonder how anyone could watch those crazy commercials on TV and still take those drugs with all the potential adverse side-affects; but until you've been in the shoes of someone like me who suffers in horrible pain, you can't possibly understand why people would be grateful for a drug that hurts them as much as it helps them. I thank God for the Oxycontin I'm taking, that alleviates the neck pain at least. Only God knows how much I am suffering inside my body. It is horrible at times, and bearable at others. My pain cycles with the medications. The more you take, the less pain meds work; so I have to cut back and then take more as I go. It's surviving, not living. The alternative is to overdose, and then my ankles and feet double in size and I'm sick as a dog for days.
I underwent spinal decompression surgery, so I don't know what is going on. My spinal cord sure feels compressed, like someone has their foot stepping on my spinal cord. It's been a nightmare just trying to find medical people who care; it's been very difficult. And so I suffer. It was a nightmare getting approval for the 2nd surgery, I doubt if a 3rd will be available for me unless I pay for it. I may go overseas. God only knows where all this is leading.
I know I still have bone spurs in the back at C5-C6-C7 in my neck from the recent MRI scan itself, and MRI report. I still have ripping tension in my neck that never goes away, constant tightness in the back of my neck. It's all a big burden to endure; but God is good and He gives me courage by his grace. Whether God intended this all as a thorn in my flesh to keep me humble I do not know; but it certainly does keep me humble, very much so.
It is overwhelming at times, physically and emotionally, trying to deal with all these health ailments going on at one time. I also live by myself and it requires all my effort just to get everything done throughout my week. Still, I manage by myself, one day at a time, one pill at a time. I know that sounds terrible, but the pain meds are a lifesaver for me. I would be even more of a basket case without them.
The medications make me tired all the time, and I have to be careful because I am dizzy while taking them. My neck feels like someone is tearing the back of my neck out. I've tried Skelaxin, Robaxin, Flexeril and Soma... nothing helps!
It is terrible. Something is pinching my spinal chord, and after 2 surgeries, the problem is still there. The surgeons went after the obvious problem, but there's still something wrong and I haven't found a surgeon that can find it. It may be the small bone spur on the back of my neck, but the last surgeon said it wasn't severe enough to justify another surgery.
But he was going to do anterior and posterior surgeries at once, yet changed his mind to reduce my pain after surgery. And so I still have the bone spurs. Doing posterior surgery the conventional way, they would have to cut a piece of my spinal column away, to access the spinal cord from the back. Only God knows what the problem is, no surgeon has been able to identify the problem. My suffering continues, without remedy. I pray for the Lord to heal me; but if not, then I love Him unconditionally and trust His judgment.
Update As Of July 2011
I have exhausted all medical avenues. Apart from a miracle of God there's nothing that can be done to heal me nor alleviate my daily suffering. It could be much worse, so I am not complaining; but suffering is suffering nonetheless. James 5:13, “Is any among you afflicted? let him pray.” I am compelled to pray continually because I am overwhelmed by bodily affliction. I am enduring. I am afflicted much on a daily basis by my damaged spinal cord in my neck. I have been told that I hide it well, and I try; but only God knows the physical affliction that I suffer day and night. The thing that has given me a partial life is prescription opiate pain killers. I could not do anything without them. I'm taking 120 mg. of Oxycontin daily and 3 Percocet 10/325's to cope, and it is the only thing that keeps me going physically. I cannot sleep without 10 mg of Ambien nightly.
The neck pain is so bad at times that I have to close my eyes to concentrate when I'm talking to people, and that freaks some people out. It is lonely suffering in so much pain when so few people truly grasp what I'm dealing with. I feel burning and tingling from my neck down both arms and both legs throughout the day. It is a heavy burden to say the least. I feel the puffed up sensation mostly in my arms and legs.
I had lost about 40 lbs earlier this year and the razorblade pain became much more intense in my arms and legs (I'm not sure why, but I think everything in my neck constricted from the weight loss); so I actually deliberately gained some weight back and it helped alleviate the radiating pain some. Nothing alleviates the neck pain and it is debilitating. Pain meds help while they're working, but it's only for a short time. Oxycontin only works for about 4 hours with me. You can only take so much pain meds. Beyond a certain point it doesn't matter how much you take because they just stop working.
There's not a day since 2004 that I haven't suffered in pain because of the problems in my neck, and the failed 2nd neck surgery in 2010 made me 100% worse. Some people think it's just as easy as walking into a health clinic and saying, “fix my neck,” but it doesn't work that way. I've met with 7 neurosurgeons since 2004 and four said nothing would help me, and 2 of the other 3 did ACDF surgery. It's not like I can just keep going to neurosurgeons. I wish I knew who to see, where to go, or what to do; but all I can do is choose a surgeon with a good record and several years of experience and trust the Lord to see me through. That's what I did and it didn't help. The 2nd surgery made me 100% worse. Yet, under the same circumstances I'd get the same 2nd surgery all over again because of the chronic pain, neck stiffness, and problems in my limbs (mostly the right side). The 1st surgery in 2009 did nothing to help me. I'm suffering in agonizing neck pain all the time, which causes me to naturally be irritable. Consequently, I don't have a social life. I am a lonely soul.
It is a heavy burden to endure, please pray for me often.
I have received so much advise from people. One says go here. The other says go there. I can only go to so many hospitals and clinics. Unfortunately I can't go to all of them in hopes of finding the right one, because you don't know until after you've had surgery if they were able to help you. Even the doctors are divided on everything. Everybody has their favorite place to go. I have been bounced around like a ping pong ball and no one in the healthcare system truly seems to care. It's just another day at work for them. It's been an uphill struggle all the way and I'm worse off now, and suffering more than before.
The insurance company only pays for so much and it VERY hard to get surgery, especially after you've already had 2 surgeries. There's a ton of paperwork and someone's got to pay the bill. Since that surgery I have had burning in my arms and legs that I didn't have before, and the tingling is 100% worse, and a feeling of weakness all the time. Thankfully, I am fully functional, although limited.
Pastor Lector Roloff used to have a sign on his desk that read... “PRAISE GOD ANYHOW!” So I praise God anyhow as Brother Lester Roloff used to always say. PRAISE GOD ANYHOW!
As I type the aching pain in the bony area of the back of my neck is absolutely horrible. I've taken 80 mg. of Oxycontin and two Percocet 10/325's so far today and I need to take more, unfortunately. I usually take 120 mg. of Oxycontin per day and 3 Percocet 10/325's for break through pain (which I have every day, mostly as the day progresses). The more pain meds you take, the less effective they are; so when I cut back the pain is unbearable. Thus, I am always cycling my pain medications (suffering worse in cycles as well). I stack my meds so they'll help me more when I need them most toward the end of the day. I don't even open the pill bottles anymore, I just pour a pile onto my desk because I take them so much. Pain meds are the only thing that enable me to do anything. I thank God for them.
I've had people sincerely advise me to eat more fruits and vegetables and stop taking the pain medications. They have no idea what they're talking about. Yes, fruits and vegetables are great, but you can't just stop taking pain meds when you're suffering in chronic constant pain. I'd end up in the emergency room. Only God knows the level of pain I feel in my neck.
I have had many people over the years sincerely tell me about alternative remedies for pain, meditation remedies, or to eat fruits and vegetables, et cetera. They mean well, but NOTHING helps alleviate pain like opiate based medications, from which heroin is derived. I've taken prescription Ibuprofen, Methadone, Percodan, Percocet, Morphine Sulfate, Dilaudid, Fentanyl Patches, et cetera; but nothing really works. The Dilaudid when taken with Percocet and Oxycontin, made my feet swell up so much that I couldn't fit my slippers on anymore. So I stopped taking the Dilaudid.
My condition isn't getting better or worse. The 2nd surgery messed me up 100% worse in 2010. I feel like humpty-dumpty, who all the king's horses and all the king's men couldn't put back together again. I've met with 3 orthosurgeons and 7 neurosurgeons since 2004. After exhausting all conventional remedies and having 2 ACDF surgeries... I can only conclude that my suffering is God's will and I'll suffer for the rest of my miserable life. Good is good and I love Him. The Lord has His reasons. I accept the cards I have been dealt in life, but cannot deny that I am miserably suffering in pain every day of my existence.
I am thankful at the end of each day that I am one day closer to death and no more pain. I eagerly await it; yet I am very grateful to God for all that I have and for His goodness. Jesus is precious! (1st Peter2:7). I love Romans 8:32, which says that if God was willing to give up His only begotten Son to pay for our sins, then how much more will God freely give us all things. Of course I want to die and go to be with my precious Lord, in the place He has prepared for me (John 14:1-3). Even so, come, Lord Jesus my God and Savior!
Update As Of December 2011
I am suffering every day with bodily afflictions, which affect me emotionally as well. As I type I am experiencing horrible burning in my arms, both arms and all my fingers feel puffed-up, I have tingling down my arms and in all fingers. The Gabapentin was helping a little bit, but one of the side-effects is itching in the chest area. My body won't let me take 1800 mg. of Gabapentin and 900 doesn't seem to help. So I switched over to Lyrica last week, but so far it isn't helping. My arms feel intense burning, and puffiness all the time.
I've had horrible arthritis-like pain in my finger bones and am not sure what has been causing it over the past few months. I hope it's not the 160 mg. of Oxycontin daily because I can't live with out that. If I forget to take my Oxycontin, I quickly feel increased toothache-like pain in the bony area of the back of my neck as a reminder. The Oxycontin considerably reduces my neck pain, but at times it is worthless. Most of the time it does work and reduces my pain by 60-70%. Albeit, I always have some toothache-like pain in my neck, which radiates into my facial area, causing sore gums, sore cheek bones, soreness behind my eyes and horrible neck aches running up the back of my head.
The worst part about all this is the combined overwhelming and hopeless feeling that I have, feeling like the world is all wrong, not wanting to live another moment like this... because of the burning, tingling, puffy sensation, my right leg feels half asleep 24/7, the pain in my neck never goes away, I feel like I'm on-fire inside my body and break out in sweats (I keep my air conditioner turned way down to make it cold in the house, to cope with the burning and sweating). It's all from the peripheral neuropathy that I am afflicted with daily. I saw an orthosurgeon in May of this year and a neurologist in August of this year, both of which said there's nothing that can be done to alleviate my suffering. The neurologist prescribed a TENS unit, which sends an electric shock through my neck, but it doesn't help. Nothing helps except to take my Oxycontin and lay down to rest.
Since I'm a go-getter type of person, it's frustrating. I love to stay busy, but am forced to rest a lot more than I want to. I've been listening to the Bible read on DVD by Alexander Scourby while laying down. it's been such a blessing in my life. You can hear the entire Bible in 75 hours. Most people never read the entire Old testament, because reading requires work; but listening you can just kick back and relax, intently focusing on what's being read. I've learned so very much by just listening to the Bible. Alexander Scourby is the ONLY voice that I know that sounds right. He's refreshing and there's no lisp, chirp or whistle while saying certain words. There's some free audio Bibles on the internet, but they just don't compare to Mr.. Scourby.
Since it was a second attempted surgery in April of 2011 to remedy my neck pain that caused the peripheral neuropathy, they are highly against any more surgeries. Most people errantly think a person can just keep demanding surgeries until they get it right, but it doesn't work that way. Following each surgery, one's body will likely have new health problems, more scare tissue, more burning, more tingling, more pain, more problems... the spinal cord can only take so much. There is a diminishing return on surgery each time they cut you open. I learned that the hard way in desperation trying to get help and have my life back. Now, I am messed up for the rest of my life. It will be a miracle of God if I ever have any type of normal life again. I live alone because my afflictions make me irritable and no one has the patience and understanding to be around me, not even my own family.
People, including my own family, do not understand what I am going through...
In severe cases, with chronic neck pain, the sufferer may also experience depression, mood swings (anger and anxiety), irritability, sleep disturbances, post-traumatic stress syndrome, and even drug dependency...
SOURCE: Neck Pain - Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis and Treatments
I am going through all of that. One of the books on the subject that I have read is PERIPHERAL NEUROPATHY by Norman Latov, MD, PhD, who shares his own medical afflictions (neuropathy) with others to encourage them. Dr. Latov states..
Functioning day to day is not easy. Living with neuropathy teaches you very quickly that you cannot take anything for granted. Just a few years ago, if someone had told me that walking up a flight of stairs could be agonizing and make me feel like I'd just climbed Mount Everest, I wouldn't have believed them. Let me tell you: I believe them now.
From the outside, you could never know anything is wrong. In fact, someone recently said how lucky I was that no one can tell I have this disease. Actually, it's a double-edge sword. I don't want people to think something is wrong with me. On the other hand, I often feel like I'm suffering in silence because no one understands what I'm living with. I try very hard to hide what I'm going through. ...
When you are diagnosed with peripheral neuropathy, you constantly are confronted with what life was like “before” and “after.” “Before” meant living without having to think about every little thing you do. It meant walking down stairs without having your heart skip a beat as you fear you may tumble down instead of walk down. “Before” meant taking a step without having to take a step.
“After” means thinking before doing. When you wake up in the morning, you get out of bed, remembering to be careful not to lose your balance.
SOURCE: PERIPHERAL NEUROPATHY: When the Numbness, Weakness, and Pain Won't Stop; by Norman Latov, MD, PhD; pages 103-104; ISBN-13:978-1-932603-59-0
That is exactly what I have been diagnosed with (peripheral neuropathy). I am enduring everything he mentioned (and much more). For every day I feel upbeat and ambitious, there's 2-weeks of depression, overwhelming afflictions and misery. I mean this when I say, I'd love to die. Death doesn't scare me one bit. My only concern is to please God and that His will be done in my life (it sure doesn't feel much like a life anymore, but I am thankful to God everyday for His blessings that remain). Things could always be worse. I ask for your continued prayers. I don't expect someone who doesn't suffer horribly to understand, but perhaps some of you will enough to pray for me, sincerely.
Update As Of August 2012
I am suffering in hell on earth. I'm taking 140 mg. of Oxycontin per day. I was taking 300 mg. of Lyrica per day, but it reacts with the Oxycontin, causing horrible arthritis-like pain in my fingers and hands. So I've cut it down to 150 mg. per day and notified my doctor. I also take 10 mg. of Ambien per night, without which I cannot sleep for more than a couple hours and toss and turn.
The three medications together knock me out, dangerously so if I take a couple Oxycontin along with a Lyrica and an Ambien. I fully understand how Whitney Houston died, taking prescription meds and then drowning in her bathtub. I can't remember how many nights I've stood sleeping at the toilet for 1-3 hours. My mind is locked due to the drugs. I can't urinate, because everytime I try I fall asleep, and I can't gain enough thought process to do anything.
The drugs completely put you out of your mind. That's 40 mg. of Oxycontin, 50 mg. of Lyrica and 10 mg. of Ambien (talk about dangerous). As I'm sleeping, I wake up each time I begin to lose my balance. Last week I rushed forward and cracked my shins on the toilet, which were black the next day from hitting the ceramic. Last month I woke up long enough to run 6-feet forward into a wall. Either that or fall over. I try not to take too much meds, but this is what I have been PRESCRIBED. Your doctor will kill you. I need all three meds, but have to stagger them carefully. Sometimes I take all three because my afflictions are so bad, and go to sleep. It's a delicate balance.
If you've never endured unbearable neck pain, you can't possible understand. I woke up a few months ago and my tongue was numb. I fell asleep in my chair with my hand under my jaw. My teeth were gnawing on my tongue and it went numb. I couldn't feel half my tongue for almost 2-weeks. I hope and pray that one day I don't end up dead or seriously hurt. I need the meds to cope. As I type, the agonizing, debilitating, horrible pain where the bone is located in back of my neck is terrible. I've taken 60 mg. of Oxycontin today and need to take another one right now. I'm trying to cut back, but can't.
My doctor suggested yesterday a morphine injection pump, but I've read A LOT of bad things about them online. I read that the surgeon takes away all your opiate meds and gives you 4 mg. of intravenous Dilaudid instead with the pump. I took 4 mg. of Dilaudid pills as a breakthrough med, which helped some, but my feet and ankles swelled up from water retention. It scared me and I went cold-turkey to stop the Dilaudid.
I think everyone knows the cold, refreshing, overwhelming sensation that is experienced when you put a breath mint or breath stick into your mouth. Well, that's what I feel throughout my entire body throughout the day in varying intensity. It doesn't feel good on your body, trust me. Add to that razorblade sharp pain in my legs and arms (mostly right side) and the constant agonizing toothache-like pain in my neck and I'm afflicted. I don't complain. I only share my sufferings to encourage others, and because it helps alleviate my loneliness talking about it online. I hesitate to share my pain with people directly, because you never know what type of response you'll hear.
One mean man in a store in California said, “Shut the hell up!” while I discussed my surgery with another man. Then he said he was kidding moments later, but I could tell by the way he yelled at me that he did in fact mean it. Proverbs 26:18, “As a mad man who casteth firebrands, arrows, and death, So is the man that deceiveth his neighbour, and saith, Am not I in sport?” I shared a table in Hawaii with an older couple, while listening to music. I briefly explained why I was in Hawaii and told about my poor health. The man seemed to hate me for ruining his good time. He snapped at me and said his son has the same spinal problems, and then said, “I've heard it all before.” His wife looked at me as if to apologize for her husband's rudeness. I figured he had his own burdens and I remained quiet after that.
Other people say they understand, but they don't. I play my steel guitar at the beach about once every couple months when I feel half-way good. I want to play weekly, but my health hundreds me, making me miserable and afflicted.
I was playing my guitar one day at the beach and explained my health situation to a younger man and his girlfriend. They ask why I don't come down to the beach more, and that's why I explain my situation. He then insulted me by saying, “We'll if you can carry this equipment to the beach, you must be doing ok.” That hurt. If only he could know the burning, tingling, puffiness, radiating limb pain, medication side-effects, dehydration, swelling on my ankles and feet, tiredness all day long, and the continual toothache neck pain and bursting tension in my neck, then he wouldn't be so unkind and judgmental. He is young, healthy and happy. How could he possibly know? I gave him and his girlfriend each a Gospel of John and was nice to them. He went swimming and came back. I waved goodbye and he looked as if he wished he hadn't said what he had said. Perhaps he figured it out. Oh, people can be so cruel and unthoughtful.
I was still taking 80 mg. of Oxycontin at the time (back in late 2010). Dilaudid is known as "drug-store heroine," and is horrendous to kick due to adverse withdrawal effects. The Dilaudid was hard to stop. I suffered at least 17 of the 25 known side-effects. Not pleasant. It was almost as bad as kicking the morphine sulfate (which caused dozens of red spots on both sides of my hips). That was back in April of 2010 just before my 2nd surgery. So now I'm just taking Oxycontin. I stopped the Percocet several months ago, which made my doctor glad to get rid of the Tylenol in the Percocet. Oxycontin is pure Oxycodone, continuous release.
So I'm still a mess and it is quite obvious that I'll be suffering for the rest of my life. Here you can read about a recent episode of my afflictions while trying to have dinner. I rarely go anywhere because of my pain. My life ended in March of 2004. I'm somewhere between the living and the dead. I want life to end as soon as possible, but I'm not suicidal. There's a difference. I never thought my life would become this sad, depressive and saturated with pain and afflictions. My neck feels like a bomb ready to explode. No one knows what I'm going through (at least no one that I know). I am certain from reading the internet that others are suffering like me. I wish I knew some of them personally. I live alone because of my afflictions and it gets very lonely sometimes. People are mean and cruel so often, and I only wish they could have my afflictions to make them understand. Please pray for me, whoever you may be, for I am a troubled soul (Job 10:1).
Update As Of January 2013
I'm still taking 120 mg daily of Oxycontin, 90 mg of Oxycodone, 10 mg Ambien nightly to sleep and 100 daily of Lyrica to reduce tingling in my limbs. Nothing much has changed, except I've lost 38 pounds of weight over the past 6 months, which is good. I gained weight after my surgeries. It's always a challenge to keep the weight down.
Learning to live with pain since 2004 is the hardest thing I've ever had to do. I can knowledgeably say that 95% of all the hundreds of doctors, surgeons, specialists, nurses and staff at the dozens of health clinics and hospitals I've been to over the years have been really lousy, incompetent, abusive, uncaring and terrible through it all. As American society continues to go down a moral toilet-bowl, so does the quality of medical care and attitudes of people in general. Americans have adopted a series of curse words, bad attitudes and sinful manners, which they've learned from television and the sinful world. It's frightening when you see the same decadence in a healthcare capacity.
The young guy taking my neck x-ray before my second surgery had tattoos from head-to-toe, the personality of a street gang member, and it was quite repulsive. I don't judge others, but I don't want street thugs covered with tattoos and piercing all over (his lips, eyes, ears, et cetera) zapping me with radiation. I figured he must know what he's doing, but it's sad that God-fearing Christians have to be subjected to this insane and vile world. The decadence of society affects EVERYTHING!
Televisions are everywhere these days, full of filth and garbage. Whether it be the doctor's office or a local California Subs restaurant, disgusting sex-scenes and homosexual perversion are all over the TV. People have become so acquainted with sin that it doesn't even phase people anymore. They're perfectly ok with the trash and sexual smut on TV. I hate it! I hate it! I hate it! And God hates it too! Repent America!!!
I was taking thousands of pills of prescription Soma, Flexeril, Skelaxin and Robaxin (all muscle relaxants) at different times for years for neck tension, because the doctors were incompetent and no one ever did any tests. I, not the doctors, researched on the internet and found out about an EMG test. Only then was it confirmed that the tension in my neck is not caused by tight muscles. It's something wrong inside my neck. I'm telling you, doctors are 90% frauds who will prescribe you all the drugs possible without ever properly testing you to see if you really need them. Beware of doctors and the entire medical industry, because medical incompetence is epidemic across America!!!
A Ministry Of Suffering
God may have given this to me as a thorn in the flesh to keep me humble, and it certainly does. I'll probably live alone for the rest of my life, because no one wants to live with someone who is irritable about everything. It's beyond my control. It feels like someone's foot is stepping down on my spinal cord. As I type, I just need to go lay down and take some meds. The pain is unbearable. I appreciate anybody's prayers. I hope I'm not discouraging anybody, but it surely is all discouraging for me to endure, I just need your prayers a lot at this time. I'm a mess physically.
I am grateful that I am still functional. I can do everything, play music, cook, do my laundry, walk to the store. It's just that I'm in constant neck pain and tension; with burning, tingling, and varying degrees of radiating pain down my limbs. And the pain medications suck the life's energy out of me. Add it all up and I'm a mess. The neck pain radiates into my facial area and my eyes and gums hurt. People can't see any of this when they look at me, all they see is a miserable looking person. But I always smile and fight against it. I want to be as Christian as possible. I want people to see the Lord. Still, I don't go to many places because of my physical ailments.
It is quite amazing that God has given me the ministry that I have, influencing so many people, and I'm such a mess. This ministry just passed 20,000,000 visitors over the past 8-years. I started this ministry by God's will in 2002. All my health problems started in 2004 and it's been downhill ever since. I truly am weak, and forsaken, and broken, and suffering as was the Apostle Paul (2nd Corinthians 12:10). I see young people jumping, running, having sun, enjoying life; and I look back to a day long ago when I was the same, and selfish in my youth. Losing one's health has a way of making you care, taking away the fun of living, and making death so much more real. I have never cared any more in my life than I do now, but it has come at a great price. I think of the old preacher's prayer, spoken while baptizing a young man... “Lord take him, break him, and make him.” I have been broken by God, and my ministry is the result of much suffering and loss.
I am grateful that I can still play steel guitar, which is something that makes me happy to share my music with others. I've been making some videos lately to share with others. I wear sunglasses to hide how miserable I feel because of all the pain. Believe me, it takes a lot of effort to smile before and after each video. My arms are puffy and tingling as I'm playing. I can only play for a short time, because of the nerve pain. My fingers all feel like I've been using a floor-sander for an hour. If you've ever used a sander, then you know the tingling and puffy feeling that your hands experience after you're done. That's how my hands feel all the time.
Albeit, I am thankful for what remaining health I have. At least I have arms. I am grateful to God for what I have. Music is a blessing from the Lord. I love instrumental steel guitar, which is all I humbly want from the Lord in Heaven (and a new body without pain). I would like to learn to cook, really cook meals that make people want seconds (instead of looking for the family dog to feed). There's only 24 hours in a day and I use what time I have for my ministry. I refuse to spend my time doing things that won't make an eternal difference. If my health were better, then I could do more. Since I live alone, my time is taken up just caring for myself. Most believers are choked by the cares, riches, and pleasures of this life (Luke 8:14).
I want to be a servant in Heaven, whatever the Lord has for me to do. But I know it will be too late then to obey Daniel 12:3 and Proverb 11:30 and Matthew 28:19. Once you enter into eternity, you won't be able to win any lost sinners to the Lord Jesus Christ. We have the opportunity of our lives right now, today. Don't waste it! I see people in wheelchairs with no legs, and I admire them for their positive attitudes. I am truly doing my best with the Lord's help, but the pain is so bad lately. I am overwhelmed often. I write articles when I can, oftentimes writing a weeks' worth at once when I feel good, and reposting older articles. Please pray earnestly for me. I know God answers prayer and that prayer does make a difference.
One prayer at a time. One day at a time. I hope you'll pray for me. For those who have been praying, thank you so much! Jesus could just speak the Word if He wanted, and I would be instantly healed, but so far it hasn't been God's will for me; and so I accept this as a thorn in the flesh from the Lord, or at a minimum, a burden that I must survive with for the remainder of my earthly life. I just took 10mg. of Ambien... meds are the only way I can sleep at night.
All I've ever asked from anyone is for their prayers, and that is all I'll ever ask. My reward is in Heaven (Matthew 6:20). 1st Peter 1:7 says that the TRIAL OF OUR FAITH is worth MUCH MORE (not just more, but MUCH MORE) than gold. Gold sells for well over $1,000 an ounce. God says that all of our trials, tribulations, and turmoil in life are worth more than gold. 1st Peter 1:7, “That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ.” As much as I have a hard time suffering, this Scripture comforts me. I don't care about gold, but I certainly don't want to suffer either. Albeit, God says that my suffering and pain is far more valuable than gold.
This truth is one of the DEEP THINGS OF GOD that 1st Corinthians 2:10 speaks of, which are taught to us by the Spirit of God abiding within every believer (Romans 8:9). The heathen world cannot even begin to comprehend how one's problems, sufferings, and miseries could be of more value than gold and wealth. God says that all of our burdens are much more valuable than anything gold can buy. Why you ask? We find the answer in 2nd Corinthians 12:9, “And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” God has never had a child too weak to be made use of, but He has had many too strong to be used for the cause of Christ. God is using my suffering to help others, for my ministry was born and continues out of immense pain, suffering and infirmities.
Until a person is afflicted with endless pain, they naturally can't relate to such suffering and can't possibly understand. They just can't. I know what's it's like to be outside on a beautiful day with the sun shining, and everybody is enjoying life and having a good time; but physical suffering within my body is afflicting me and it overshadows me.
I suffer every day of my life, trusting God to see me through to another day. Unfortunately I just can't handle e-mails anymore, and I apologize to those who want to communicate with me. We'll have plenty of time up in Heaven, and I believe that time will be very soon. God's grace is the only answer (Hebrews 4:15-16). I have endured the Devil afflicting me ever since my ministry began to grow in 2004. Only the Lord knows the depth of suffering that I've endured. Job didn't have it so bad. I have a Savior in Heaven and that is my hope. Jesus is precious!
Philippians 2:13, “For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.” That is why this website is here, i.e., because God has done a work in my heart to will and to do of His good pleasure. Amen and amen!
I am grateful for the many friends that I have around the world, who love Jesus Christ, and love the truth as I do. I love you all in the Lord, as I do my enemies and all my web visitors. I wish I were able to do more, and handle e-mails; but I am suffering so much daily in pain, tingling, burning and puffiness in my arms and legs. I realize that many people are suffering worse than me, and I think about them often.
Unshakable faith comes from having your faith shaken! My suffering has caused me to have greater compassion for others who suffer. God is using my burden for good, as only God can do (Romans 8:28). I would rather not go through all this suffering, but it is God's decision, not mine. He is the Potter, I am the clay. Isaiah 64:8, “But now, O LORD, thou art our father; we are the clay, and thou our potter; and we all are the work of thy hand.”
I ask for your earnest prayers for this ministry and me daily. This ministry is much bigger than me, it's about the Lord Jesus Christ, Who is THE WAY, THE TRUTH, and THE LIFE (John 14:6)! HEAR YE HIM!
“Even so, come, Lord Jesus” (Revelation 22:20).
I love you all in the Lord, whoever you may be!
Tomorrow's Guarantee of God's Provision
1st Thessalonians 5:25, “Brethren, pray for us.”
Jesus is Precious!
Jeremiah 30:17, “For I will restore health unto thee, and I will heal thee of thy wounds, saith the LORD...”
A Longer Rope and a Stronger Camel