I don't really know where to start as this isn't exactly a question. I think I'm just looking for support as I feel like nobody understands what I am going through.
When I was 31 years old I had a two level discectomy and laminotomy at L4-5 and L5-S1, for two severely herniated disks.
At that time I tried months of physical therapy and massages and tried more than anything to avoid having surgery as I was so terrified.
However eventually I could barely walk due to the pain in my left leg. I couldn't even bend my toes and weakness was setting in. I was advised that I was risking permanent nerve damage.
So I had the surgery. This was in February 2003. The recovery was long -- almost 3 months-- and miserable for me. Don't get me wrong, the leg pain was gone instantly. But it was replaced with recovery pain in my lower back that I had a very rough time with.
However, once I got through the recovery, I was pain free! And I wished I had the surgery sooner because I felt so amazing.
About a year ago (September 2008-- 5 1/2 years after the first surgery) at the age of 36, I was doing dishes and I leaned over and felt "something" pull on the right side. It felt sore but not terribly and I honestly didn't think much of it. The next day I woke up in agony. I couldn't barely move. I didn't have any pain in either leg.. just ridiculous pain in my lower back, mainly on the right side where I felt the "pull" the previous night, however over the course of the next couple of days the pain spread across my entire lower back. Trying to avoid the idea of surgery, I went to a chiropractor and had very mild treatments and massages, and did not allow them to crack my back or do actual adjustments because I am so scared of doing more damage.
I had this pain (although not as extreme as the first week) for about two months. And then suddenly it just went away.
At this time my husband and I decided to start trying to get pregnant. So a year goes by, it's now present day - November 2009. We have gone through all the fertility treatments and have been told we will need IVF to have a chance of getting pregnant. I am considering the options of trying IVF (which is extremely expensive each month you do it and usually takes at least a few months of trying it) or adoption. Then about two weeks ago, the lower back pain comes back out of nowhere. Just like a year ago, the first week was agonizing, and the second week was slightly better. This is now week three.
On Monday I made the trip up to my neurosurgeon. He has moved 3 hours north of me but I do not trust anyone else. I went to him hoping for a prescription for physical therapy or something as I really thought this was something minor. I also wanted to ask him, while I was in the decision making process about the fertility issues, if based on the surgery I had in 2003 if it was safe for me to carry a pregnancy. He wound up sending me next door for an MRI, and the results devastated me. The two discs I had surgery on previous have re-herniated, this time out of the right side -- and they are VERY significant herniations. He said that I have a 50 percent chance of the disk coming out completely and causing an emergency surgery situation and that I could lose bowel and bladder control. The chance of this happening if I am pregnant would be even higher and he said that in my current state I should not get pregnant.
He said I need a fusion -- I am so terrified about the idea of this surgery, and another recovery. He has made it sound like the recovery from a fusion would actually be easier than the recovery I had from my previous surgery because it would make my back stronger and then I would be able to easily carry a pregnancy. Is this true?
Anyway, at this point I am starting physical therapy and trying to delay a fusion as long as possible. I'm starting with 4 weeks and then going back to the neurosurgeon. I also realize that pregnancy is most likely not going to happen for me, because I am having infertility issues anyway, and even if I was to have the fusion I can't start IVF until after I would have recovered from the surgery, and I will be 38 in January.
I am devastated. We are however going to look into starting the process toward adoption.
I was wondering if anyone has gone through anything like this, as far a pregnancy with back issues, a re-herniation, and then needing a second fusion surgery and how that surgery compares to the discectomy/laminotomy -- including the recovery... Also, is it normal that this time I don't have the leg pain, just terrible lower back pain, but 7 years ago I had the opposite?
For those of you that took the time to read this, I great appreciate it. I feel very alone in this and like nobody understands.