July 23rd, 2007 I had spinal fusion done on the L5/S1 vertebrae in my back. A few months later, after having a miracle-like recovery, I started noticing that I had pain in my hip causing my right leg to turn out, and some pain in my butt. The doctor put me on nerve pain drugs to assist, and kept my flow of pain killers coming.
After several months of testing including CT scans with dye injected into my spinal column (painful and not at all fun way to spend a few hours), MRIs, More CT scans, Nerve response testing (needles inserted into the muscles of my legs and back and then electronically charged) I had something this week called a discogram. This involves taking me (wide awake and no pain drugs or food for 6 hours before hand) into a room, inserting needles into my L2-3,3-4,4-5 discs, the applying pressure with dye and electrical stimulation. If I felt the pain I normally do, on a greater scale, I could tell the doctor and he makes the notes. I feel like the pain involved with that test is one of the most uncomfortable procedures a person should go through, and this was my second one in less than a year.
Yesterday, the back surgeon showed us the results of the tests, and the level above my previous surgery has blown out. On the film, a normal disc looks like a small barrel, sitting and holding my vertebrae apart and being stoic. The disc in question looked like a jelly donut (mmmm jelly donut) that someone has stepped on. All the insides were pushing out on both sides. Since the disc sits next to your nerve system, a herniated or bulging disc can put pressure on your nerves, that is what is causing the knife like pain in my butt, not just my kid sister. It explains why the nerves in my knees are close to dead, and why I can sit for 5-10 minutes in a chair or car seat before my feet go numb. Novocain numb. So with this information, the doctor gave me two options. One was to continue my life as it is, with pain killers and nerve drugs, and hope one day to feel normal, or two, have surgery.
My quality of life to this point is anything but. I cannot sleep well, since I toss and turn, twist wrong in the bed and wake up in a cold sweat with pain. I cannot function enough to go to work, so I have spent the last 10 months watching reruns and the Ellen show. My job was filled about 3 months ago, so I don’t really even have something to go back to. I cannot do much around the house, other than laundry, and even that is taxing with all the bending and stuff. I can not even play wiffle ball with the baby, as much as he loves the outdoors and sports in general.
So on the 19th of this month, in 18 days, I am having a pretty drastic surgery. They will go in the back and fuse the next level of my spine after removing the damaged disc. Then they flip me over and go in near my navel and do the rest of the work. So more hospital time, more recovery time, and more physical therapy are on the horizon. I just cannot wait.
I am going to stop here, but soon I am going to tell you, constant reader, about my journey into trying to get medication to help me through this. Its filled with laughter, tears, and psychotherapy.