Finances & Money

(Hopefully) spending my Friday at the doctor’s office

For the last 2+ years, I’ve had lower back problems that I suspect are related to my sciatic nerve. Back in 2005, I started to have back spasms, but they were more uncomfortable than painful. I went to the doctor, but she said I just had a weak back. Honestly, my back has never been my weak point (that would be my shoulders, but I’ll speak about that too), but I took her word for it because, well, she’s the doctor.

When I moved up to PA for a job for 5 months, the pain went away, and I just blamed it on our couch at home. I had a nice recliner up there, and I spent less time seated anyway. But when I came back to MD, the pain came back (same couch).

In 2006, I trained for and ran the Marine Corp Marathon, and during that time, the pain mostly went away. Some days I was still stiff, but nothing like the year before. Over the last few months, it has returned, but this week has been horrible.

Tuesday, I went for a deep tissue massage using some of the gift cards from the AmEx Rewards Card special offer. I really needed that massage as my upper back was very tense for months, but I should have asked the masseuse to not touch my lower back. I didn’t think it would cause a problem. Unfortunately it did.

Since Tuesday, my lower back has been killing me. Today, I was on the verge of tears from the spasming. The pain runs from my lower back, down my butt, into my thigh and down to my calf and even my foot. It hurts standing, sitting, laying, walking, everything. I’m not big on taking medicine, but I’ve been popping meds all day. Heck, I even tried some of Stacie’s Pamprin since it said it helps with back pain and we were out of ibuprofen. Yeah, didn’t help me. Maybe I need to be a woman for that?

Since we’re changing to a new medical plan in 2008, I had to make a decision. Do I continue to live with the pain and hope it reduces, or try to see my doctor before Christmas vacation? The problem with the change is that we’re going from 100% coverage with no deductibles to 90% with deductibles. I highly expect to need an MRI for this problem.

I chose to call my doctor, and I got an emergency appointment on Thursday afternoon. He checked me out and actually seemed pretty concerned. He was unhappy that I didn’t go to an orthopedist for my shoulder (“frozen shoulder”) after the last time I saw him, but I explained that I was too lazy to go 🙂 This time, he referred me to the orthopedist, called the guy directly, couldn’t get through, and told me to call them at 8am Friday to try to get an appointment. My doctor then gave me his own cellphone number in case I couldn’t get an appointment.

I was glad my doctor cared that much to get me in before the holidays, especially since he didn’t know my financial burden with the new medical plan, but I’m also concerned that he’s so concerned. But then again, a direct member of my family had a cyst/tumor on their sciatic just a few years ago. It wasn’t a pleasant experience for them, and I don’t want to go through the same thing.

So today, I hope to get an MRI before I would have to pay hundreds out of pocket for it in the new year, plus have to deal with the pain for longer than I need. I should have gotten an MRI long ago, but then again, I trusted the last doctor’s advice to just strengthen my back. Stupid doctor.

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Clever Dude


  • I get frozen shoulder all the freaking time 🙁 It gets so bad I cant move and have to get my wife to help dress me..,

    Hope you get your back probs resolved mate

  • If you’re open to the idea, I would suggest getting a second opinions from a chiropractor. I have had some pretty major back problems for 11 years (since I was 16)and chiropractic adjustments allow me to live an active life without pain or pain medication.I even made it through 9 months of pregnancy without any lower back pain.

    In my experience, the only solutions that medical doctors have is pain medication or surgery. They could tell me what was wrong with my back, but they couldn’t do anything to fix it. The chiropractors can fix it.

  • Thanks everyone.

    Mary, I’m definitely open to a chiropractor and have been to them in the past. It’s hard to find one that is good though. However, in this case, I need an MRI, which a chiropractor can’t give me, so I’m going to an orthopedic surgeon. Hopefully while I’m there, I can get my shoulder checked too, since I was supposed to get that done already.

  • I’ve always had chronic shoulder and neck pain that sends nerve shivers down my left side if I stretched my neck in a certain way. I’ve tried acupuncture to no avail.

    My doctor’s only advice was to exercise more…gee thanks doc for this advice I would never have considered on my own. 🙂

  • I had good luck with acupuncture, my options are limited since I moved to the USA, but I used to see a sports physio now I just see a chiropracter.

    Id do whatever you can to avoid surgery, once they open you up things are never the same.

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