We left off on the last blog talking about opioids. I wanted to finish this as I feel it is very important for people to understand. The body, after a time of taking the opioids, loses the euphoria that you had initially and starts leading you into anxiety, pain and depression. Pain and depression are closely related. Depression can cause pain, and pain can cause depression. Sometimes pain and depression create a vicious cycle in which pain worsens symptoms of depression, and then the resulting depression worsens feelings of pain, and round and round it goes.

I take the opioid ‘Percocet’ because, after everything I have tried, it is still the best tool for me in lowering the pain. I have found in the years with chronic pain there is no other drug as effective, even though I’ve been taking the same opioid since 2012, I still fear getting addicted so I chase the pain instead of controlling it.

I have known personally acquaintances who became addicted and stories of many where lives have been wrecked by the life-changing aspects of addiction in its many forms. I will be going into much detail with this later in my podcast, but let me explain to you the difference between “chasing” and “controlling”.

It’s a common phrase used with doctors and surgeons I have met in my past, professionals who truly understand pain. Some can empathize, some sympathize, but they all put the difference between “Chase” and “Control”. Patients who “Chase the pain” wait for the pain and then take a dose of the medication, this way will never catch up to the pain, the person will never be ahead of it. “Controlling the pain” is taking the medication at a time when you’re not feeling the pain at an unbearable level, therefore staying in control of your pain level.

The main difference to me is this – as a chaser of pain, I use a lot fewer pills than the dosage requires and so, every doctor out there will disagree with me and have no problem telling me so. Well, this is a very important subject to me, so, I hope you carry on following through with my podcast as I talk about this subject in one of the first segments; check here or on our Facebook page for when that launches.

Doctors do understand chasing, but explain, everyone is different and the majority of people wouldn’t wait until it’s unbearable pain and take more than prescribed and therefore find themselves taking it more and more until they can’t stop. Also, if they are new to the opioid, they will be expecting to feel the same euphoria as they did the first time taking.

You can also look at it this way: if the pain is an out-of-control dog, and you are trying to control it, but find yourself running behind with a leash you may have been better taking the dog on the leash from the beginning.

As the afternoons roll on as I wait for my surgery, I do try and get some exercise in – either a walk or low impact workouts at home, but it is extremely hard because any wrong move can trap the nerve. This is a severe and unendurable pain that only can be described by someone feeling this. But imagine if you can, a nerve being open to the air as in a dental procedure, or the mental anguish of losing a loved one very close.

I’ve started monitoring my sleep for a while, only to find a lot of my problems are with waking due to the pain. Once up, I never seem to get back to a restful, but only light, sleep. The night can be extremely taxing: I am so tired from the pills I have had to take and I feel just like a zombie. The other night I was woken by pain again and then got down on the floor to stretch it out, waking up again an hour later to find I’m hugging the laundry basket!


Now, onto the big news – what is happening to me with the surgery. It’s now only two weeks away, my date was changed by the surgeon so he has more time to work on me without having time constraints. When we initially spoke, he said he had scheduled 1.5 hours, but I feel a lot better knowing I have his full attention and knowing he doesn’t have an afternoon tee time or has anything else pressing that day.

The day before I went to the hospital for preop testing, X-rays and MRI. So, with the quickest MRI results in the history of time, the surgeon called that very next morning and explained the disc degeneration disease had increased significantly since the last MRI in July 2020.

He went on to explain that my L1 vertebrae had moved significantly nearer the central spinal column and had caused a small opening to the Central Spine Fluid (CSF), so there was a very small leak. When in surgery, he will check to ensure there is no infection, take a bone graph, and then go ahead with the XLIF (eXtreme Lateral Interbody Fusion) at L2, L3. While operating, he’ll decide whether to place another cage above in the L1, L2 disc to stabilize the whole lumbar spine.

You might ask why not fuse the whole lumbar spine and be done with it – and I wouldn’t disagree with that – but by doing it this way I will have a little more range of motion, namely Bending, Lifting and Twisting – a whole new meaning to a BLT.

Thirteen days out at the time of writing this and I couldn’t feel more ready. It is time and it cannot come fast enough as the amount of pain is increasing and staying constant. The doctors remind me to slowly cut down on the Percocet, which, if you are not familiar, is a mixture of the narcotic Oxycodone and the pain reliever Acetaminophen also known as Tylenol.

Percocet (350mg Acetaminophen/ 10mg Oxycodone) is an opioid and they don’t want patients to get too comfortable with taking too much because hospitals are only allowed to give out a certain amount within certain time limits.

I do worry about no visitors and less nursing staff, due to the current times. I am a major social person and visitors help immensely. They cheer me up, give me support and can stay for a while and be with me. As nurses have a job to do and at the moment have more patients to attend to than normal. That can be important to the patient, say, to pick something up or pass an item, to you, plug something in for you.

If just the XLIF is done I can assume, with no other complications arising, to be in the hospital a minimum of three days and two nights. If the Surgeon decides to do an extra set of a cage and add more rods to secure the joint, at the minimum, I am looking at five days four nights recovery in the hospital. But you know me, I will fight to get to a position where I can be discharged as soon as possible because there is nothing like recovering at home.

Photo by Breakinpic

Edited by Shane Bingham