Oh My Aching Back!

Fast Forward almost 11 months, and I have woken up unable to move, sit, stand, walk, you name it. I tried to get out of bed and screamed louder than I can describe. My husband tried to get me to stand up and my hips just locked and I fell back onto the bed. I couldn’t even get out of bed to see a doctor. As a last ditch effort, I told him to go get me a Tylenol 3 that I had left over from a previous surgery and once I got that and a muscle relaxer in my system I could stand up. I was still in so much pain so we headed to the doctor.

The doctor prescribed pain pills and muscle relaxers and told me to come back in a week. A week later, nothing improved, so he refilled my medication, filled out disability forms and sent me to physical therapy. Everything I did in physical therapy seemed to make me hurt worse than I did before I went in. I was up to two pain pills every 4 hours, a naproxen, and a cyclobenzaprine (muscle relaxer). Finally, I demanded an MRI. The doctor looked at me like I had three heads and said I’d have to go through a process to get it approved because they don’t just give out MRI’s. I looked at him like he had three heads because clearly over a month ago I had been seeing him for the same problem, that had not improved. Because of where I described my pain shooting into my legs on both sides, I guess he didn’t believe the severity of the problem.

I got my MRI, and I cried laying on the table, and getting off the table. Even on pain meds. I waited a week for the results, and heard nothing. I was starting to get discouraged because the Dr. told me they would contact me if anything showed on the results to be abnormal. At my follow up a week and a half after the MRI, he explained that the MRI showed that I had two severely blown out discs. He validated my pain at that point, which frustrated me because he needed to just listen to me, and my husband. I had a small child to take care of, and he wasted my time because he didn’t trust me. I understand that there are many people who take advantage of pain pills, but I had never been in the office requesting them before this. He referred me to a neurosurgeon for a surgery consult, and advised me to discontinue physical therapy.

A couple weeks later, I had seen two neurosurgeons. One suggested a fusion surgery (where a metal rod and hardware are placed in the back with a cage around the spine in that area to prevent further movement). He explained that he was concerned with where the discs were blown out that I could experience cauda equina syndrome where I would potentially lose bowel and bladder control due to the number of nerves the blown out disc materials were touching. Most of the time when someone slips a disc it goes out to one side, but mine was kind of squeezing out of all sides and pressing on all of the surrounding nerves.

The second doctor advised a more conservative surgery, a laminectomy and discectomy in which she said was the best approach. There would be no back brace, but the recovery would be potentially longer to prevent reinjury. Recovery was 6-8 weeks. No lifting for 6 weeks. No driving for 6 weeks.

We decided to go with the more conservative surgery, because once you have a fusion there is nowhere to go from there. At least if the laminectomy/discectomy failed me, I had further options.

It was scheduled just 3 weeks after Lucky Charm’s first birthday. It was brutal. I have never experienced such a traumatic few weeks. I couldn’t flush the toilet, I couldn’t reach the sink, I couldn’t get myself into bed, or roll over myself. I couldn’t wipe myself. I couldn’t do ANYTHING except eat. The pain pills kept me awake all night, so I watched tv, and writhed in pain counting down the time until the next pain pill. Finally after two weeks the pain did ease up and I was moving around a bit easier.

Thankfully, Mr. Lucky was a HUGE help with Lucky Charm, and catering to me. My grandma came to help out 2 weeks post op so Mr. Lucky could get back to work.

In the end, I can walk, and sit, and move around like a “normal” person. I still have pain every.single.day. I can’t remember a day without pain. I can’t remember what it’s like to not avoid bending over because it’s painful. Mr. Lucky rubs my back until I fall asleep every night because I have a hard time sleeping with the pain to this day and it has now been a year and a half. I don’t regret the surgery at all because it did give me most of the quality of life back that I lost when I was first injured. However, this was the beginning of my health spiraling out of control.

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