I figure I’d finally get around to “blogging” this, since I’m telling the story often enough. In March, I had some shoulder pain that wouldn’t go away, so I went to urgent care (I didn’t have a PCP and hadn’t been to a doctor in about 10 years, so I paid the $25 co-pay for urgent care instead of the $15 co-pay for office visits). The doctor gave me a cortisone shot and said to give it a week. A week later I went back with no change, and he said I should try physical therapy. However, the pain wasn’t that bad so I put it off for awhile.

In late April, for no reason I can remember, the pain increased dramatically, spread to my bicep, with tingling in my thumb. I got a PT recommendation from a co-worker and scheduled an appointment. At the first appointment, the therapist mentioned it looked like I had whiplash from an auto accident. My neck was too tense to do anything with right away, so he hooked me up to this machine that sent series of electrical waves through my muscles. It felt awesome, by the way. He did the “give it a week” thing, but when I came back in a week, nothing had changed. He called a neck/back specialist and got me in for an appointment.

Initial appointment with the specialist, back and forth with getting MRIs, insurance pre-approvals, more cortisone shots, lots of waiting, drugs, etc, etc. I’ll cut to the chase:

Does something look wrong here?

2 ruptured cervical (neck) discs, one of which is rather serious. The specialist referred me to a neurosurgeon, who I met with last week. I’ll need surgery. (After insurance approval, of course.)

Oh, and the drugs. For the past month and a half, I’ve been on 10/325 Vicodin (the most potent form) 4 times per day. Actually, generic equivalent to Norco, which is a competitor to Vicodin, but same ingredients. Funny enough, according to the tab markings, the generic equivalent is actually made by the same manufacturer as the “genuine” Norco itself. Anyway. Also, “Soma” once before bed, which is a muscle relaxer.

The pain itself means I can’t sit upright for more than a few minutes. As a result, my chair at work has been modified into an ad-hoc lay-z-boy. I know Vicodin can be vastly different for different people, but for me it was nausea for the first day only (which funny enough was the day I was working on buying a car, so that was fun). After that, it just causes me to be tired all of the time, sleep 10-12 hours on an average day, sweat a lot, and drink a gallon of water per day (literally). I can still work, but some days I can’t last an entire day, and go home a few hours early. Work has been very accommodating about that.

I’ve lost almost 20 pounds in the last 2 months, even with being much less active and eating more. All I can guess is it’s all the water consumption.

According to the insurance company’s nifty web portal thingy, here’s what I’ve done so far this year:

Urgent care visit, $25

GP office visit, $15

PT session, $15

PT session, $15

Specialist visit, $15

X-rays, free

MRI, free (this one was actually aborted because I couldn’t stay still long enough, since the headrest put pressure directly on the neck area)

MRI under general anaesthesia, free (at hospital, the result of the previous MRI attempt)

Specialist visit, $15

Neurosurgeon visit, $15

Also, 4 prescription fills so far, at $5 each. The surgery itself (inpatient) will probably be $500, if I’m reading the price sheet right.