Finished School Online with Back Pain

This is my first back pain post in a long time. I’m going to provide an update about my education and career goals. Hopefully this can help motivate someone who is struggling with similar problems.

I worked in overnight manual operations from 2008 to 2017, 60-70hrs per week. My back pain became worse over that period. In 2017, I was 32 years old; full retirement benefits is currently age 66. I knew there is no way I can manage my health and provide for my family another 30+ years, in the same capacity, until retirement.

In 2007, I earned my Associates in Computer Science and wound up doing nothing with it. In 2016, I made a decision to finish my Bachelor’s in Computer Science. I was fortunate enough to have the option to take online classes, otherwise I probably would have never finished. There is no way I could have worked so many hours, be a father/husband, and then go to a physical classroom (travel time, parking, lecture time, and etc.).

I completed my Bachelor’s in 2017 and wound up transferring into the IT department for the same company. I now work 40-45 hour weeks and remote work a few days from home. The best decision I ever made was to finish school. Best of all, I enjoy the work as a Software Engineer.

Now that I have my career under control, I was able to remove a lot of pain and suffering from the physical demands of my old position. Did I mention that the 12-14 hour work days was on my feet (zero sitting time). There was no defined lunch break either (whether legal or not, it’s just the way it was).

The only reason I was able to focus for school was due to the pain relief from medication. Back pain has caused me many additional problems including: lack of energy, inability to focus, depression, anxiety, and weight gain. However, the pain medication allowed me to focus and utilize whatever energy I had to study and do the course work. There is a stigma that comes with pain medication, but it’s due to the media hype of the people who abuse it. Don’t be afraid of pain medication if you really need. Consult with your doctor and follow his recommended plan, it’s your life and you should do whatever you can do increase the quality. Living in pain is no way to live at all!

I am Back! – Update 2020

Hi everyone, I know it’s been many years since I updated my Back Pain blog and I apologize. Life got in the way, which led me to a long break. I am back for good and plan giving weekly updates about my life, progress, and how I deal with the pain. Many things have changed in my life and I will try my best to divide the major events into individual posts.

Hopefully, all of the people who left comments and told their stories will be able to update their progress and provide new information for others to read. This blog was originally meant to be a journal for me. After rereading all the comments from people who are dealing with similar issues, I feel blessed to know I’m not alone and hope everyone is living life the best that they can. As we all know, those who deal with back pain (any pain) on a daily/weekly basis live much different lives from those who cannot relate. Back Pain causes me loss of energy, depression, anxiety, weight gain, and many many other unwanted physiological problems.

Anyway, I hope to hear from the folks who were here in the past and welcome new comers to post. I will provide some new posts about my life shortly. Looking forward to hearing from you!!

Open Inguinal Hernia Surgery

Well, it’s been nearly 10 years since I had diagnosed myself with a hernia. Back in 2007, I had went to my PCP, Urologist, and a General Surgeon. Nobody was able to diagnose the hernia. I eventually gave up and was learning to live with it. Over these 10 years, I have developed multiple levels of disc herniation in my lumbar and thoracic spine. I honestly blame the hernia for my back problems though I cannot prove it. I feel like had compensated my body in a way that messed up my back.

Anyway, I decided to follow-up on my hernia situation as it seem to have gotten slightly worse. In December 2016, I was diagnosed with an inguinal hernia (sports hernia). I had the hernia surgery on January 06, 2017. The surgery was not done laparoscopically. I had open hernia surgery with a mesh implant to support the area. I am now post-op 3 weeks to date. My doctor, Dr. Sanjeev Rajpal, is a reputable general surgeon in Brooklyn, NY. I had my open inguinal hernia surgery done at Beth Israel Mount Sinai Hospital off Kings Highway in Brooklyn, NY. So far everything seems to be healing up nicely. He says I should be ready to go back my normal life style within 6 weeks of the surgery, no restrictions.

This was my first surgery. The first 10 days of recovery are a nightmare. My genitals were black and blue and swollen like a grapefruit. Very scary stuff. Your abdomen is so weak that you cannot really support your testicles 100%. I wound up purchasing a scrotal support. I’ll followup as I continue to heal. Please feel free to ask questions.

Medication for Chronic Back Pain – History

A friend of mine started having back issues in 2009. He was referred to a pain management doctor.  He was started on Tramadol and then shortly switched to Tylenol with Codeine #4. The Tylenol with Codeine became ineffective after about 6 months, so was switched to percocet 7.5mg x 2 per day. As the pain increased the doesage was increased to 10mg x 2 per day.

He was steady with this for years. Between wear and tear from his job and a car accident, his condition had worsen and the pain level increased. He went to a 50mcg/hr Fentanyl Patch and 2 Percocet 5mg x 2 per day. The patch was giving him rashes, He then switched to oxycontin 30mg x3 per day. As his pain increased and tolerance built up, his percocet increased to 10mg x 5 per day.

So he was on oxycontin 30mg x 3 per day and oxycodone 10mg x 5 per day. He was steady with this plan for about a year. His tolerance had built up and was switched to oxycodone 15mg x 5 per day, still on the same oxycontin doseage. It wasnt working. He was then switched to oxycodone 30mg pills x4 per day. He was still having minimal luck due to his tolerance and pain level.

The doctor had decided to change his plan. He was started on Methadone 10mg x2 per day and 15mg oxycodone x4 per day. Now, increased to 20mg Methadone x3 per day. The methadone supposedly plays a special role in reducing opiate tolerance. This is the current plan and it is working for him finally.

Chronic Back Pain – Lumbar and Thoracic

As months and years go by, my back seems to get worse. I been through several injections (epidurals, branch medial block facet injection, radiofrequency ablation [rfa], and etc.). I had minimal results for my left leg, but my lumbar and thoracic continue to test my strength daily. I have multi-level herniated discs in the lumbar and thoracic: L3/L4/L5/S1 and T7/T8/T9/T10/T11.

Life has become a series of what-ifs for me. If it wasn’t for my medication, I wouldn’t be able to work or have any quality of life. Of couse depression is a result from the struggle. I often consider surgery, but my family begs me not to.