It all started, when the front wheel of the motorcycle I was riding hit the gravel, and then hit the guardrail. I woke up in the hospital three days later, with a concussion, and burst fractures of L-1 and T-12. My back has hurt ever since.
Hi, my name is Dave Stevens, and that was a long time ago. I was 18 years old and still living at home. After a few weeks in the hospital, I went home in a big leather corset. It had straps, and buckles, and metal supports, and it held my back straight while it healed.
"Over time it, got better..."
At first, the pain was so bad that all I could do was lay on the couch or my bed. After a few months, as the fractures healed, I was able to get up and start doing a little more, but my back still hurt. Over time, it got better, but I had to be very careful about what I did.
I grew up in a blue collar world, and after the doctor said my back was "healed", it was expected that I go get a job. The attitude was, "Yeah, well we know your back hurts, and we are sorry that your back hurts, but...........what are you going to do? Stay on the couch for the rest of your life?"
"it never goes away"
That was nearly 40 years ago, and my back still hurts, and I still have to be very careful about what I do. Sometimes even something simple, like bending over to empty the dishwasher, can make it start getting worse. The pain is always there, sometimes more, sometimes less, but it never goes away. If whatever I'm doing puts me in a bending position for an extended period, like changing a tire on the car, the pain becomes excruciating.
Over the years I have had several different jobs. I worked in logging for awhile, had various construction jobs, then I was a welder and metal fabricator for several years. Sometimes I wonder how I made it through the day, because sometimes the pain would be so bad I couldn't even think. Some days it wouldn't be that bad, but depending on what I had to do that day, sometimes all I could do was come home and lay on the floor, and self medicate with beer.
"the opportunity to go to college"
I got married in 1978, and my daughters were born in '81 and '84. My poor wife and kids have had to listen to me all these years. Complaining about my back, can't do this, can't do that. Then in 1992 my wife graduated from nursing school, and gave me the opportunity to go to college. So I started working part time and taking classes, and in 1997, I received my physician assistant degree.
My back didn't quit hurting when I went to college, but it sure got better, at least most of the time. Sitting for too long would make it hurt more, and there was always stuff around the house and yard that had to be done. Most of the time, I could control what I did or didn't do, and sometimes things just did not get done.
"working with a spine surgeon"
When I graduated from college, as fate would have it, I found a job working with a spine surgeon. So, after a lifetime of back pain, I was working with, and treating people with back pain. I assisted in surgery and helped care for patients in clinic and in the hospital.
I worked in that position for 12 years, until the surgeon retired. While I was there, I learned a great deal about people and about pain. I learned, everybody is different, and everybody's pain is different, and how they experience their pain is different.
Because of my personal experiences with pain, I tried to bring a special perspective and compassion to the care of this group of patients. As I learned the more technical aspects of the job, I gained a better understanding of the human spine. I think I was able to give patients better advice, help them understand why they were having pain, and what could or could not be done about it.
"working with a pain management doctor"
I am still working with people in pain, when the surgeon retired; I was offered a position working with a pain management doctor. So, I am continuing to learn about pain, and it is very interesting to learn more about the options for people with chronic pain.
My back still hurts. I have good days and bad days; sometimes I take a pain pill at night to help me relax. But, I am still getting up and going to work each day, because I can't let the back pain win.
"you must fight back against the pain"
I built this website to help people with back pain. To help them get up and live their life. Because, when you have chronic pain, you must fight back against the pain. There are tools, there are ways, and there are things to do. If you are having pain, you must find out why you are having pain.
See your doctor, get evaluated, and find out what is going on. If you can get a diagnosis, learn about your particular problem, and what the options are. Then do something, get some treatment started. Surgery may or may not be a good idea for you, and I know the idea of surgery is pretty scary, but if a couple of surgeons tell you that you need surgery, then that is probably what you need to do.
"learn to live with it"
If you see your doctor, and get evaluated, and there is nothing more that can be done. If they tell you that you are going to have to "learn to live with it." Then that is probably what you are going to have to do. But, you don't "learn to live with it” by sitting on the couch, and doing nothing.
If you have chronic back pain, then you must get busy learning how to manage chronic back pain. Ignoring it won't make it any better, and complaining about it won't make it go away. But, there are things that will make it better, and you have to find them.
Everyone's pain is different, and everyone's expectations are different. So no one can tell you what will help your pain, you just have to start searching. There are back pain treatments, there is yoga, and acupuncture, and exercise, and weight loss, and others, and one of them will work for you. But you have to get busy and go find what helps. And realize that, it might not take it all away; there might be some pain that you have to put up with.
"that is pretty good"
If you have chronic back pain and find a treatment that works for you, if you get 50% reduction in pain, that is pretty good. If you find a treatment that will allow you to go shopping with your spouse, or play with your kids or grand-kids, or start getting back to living your life, that is pretty good. Even if you still have some pain, you can get up and do stuff, that is pretty good.
Sometimes pretty good is as good as it gets, but if you can get back to living your life, pretty good is good enough.
Maybe these can help: