I've been using this site for quite some time, due to my spinal health problems since 2004. But I've always just been a lurker. I think it's time for me to join the discussion, rather than just observing it from the outside.
A brief history of my problems...
My problems first started in August of 2004. I woke up with extreme pain in my left shoulder. I noticed that it got much, much worse with certain movements of my neck, so I determined it probably had something to do with that. Within two months (after MRI's, PT & Myelogram), I was already undergoing an ACDF at C6/C7 due to the severity of the herniation as well as the nerve damage it was causing. It was all attributed to DDD.
I went about 2-1/2 years without any major problems. In January of 2007, I woke up with similar pain in the opposite arm/shoulder. After two more months of MRI's, PT, accupuncture & myelogram, I was having another ACDF (this time at C5/C6).
In late 2008, I started having severe pain in my left lower back. I thought it was just spasms/etc., so I put off doing anything major about it until April of 2009. After my initial MRI, it was found that I had two herniations (L4/L5 & L5/S1). I had epidural injections in May 2009 along with PT in May & June. In late June, I looked into Artificial Disc Replacement, but my insurance wouldn't cover it, so I decided to undergo a two-level microdisctectomy on 7/1/09. On 7/11/09, I reherniated both discs to a worse degree than they were initially damaged. On 7/22/09, I underwent a two-level PLIF to prevent further nerve damage.
I returned to work on 8/27, the same day I found out that I would be getting laid off (I knew ahead of time that this was a possibility). My last day with my company was 10/27/09. I still haven't found any new work, and my severance package ran out on 12/31/09. I am still optimistic about finding a good job, but I have been having more extreme pain (this time, in my mid-back), and I'm starting to wonder if I need to start looking into filing for disability. I'm only 35 years old, and I've already had four discs removed and those sections fused. I'm struggling with what life has thrown at me lately, so I just wanted to join a group of people that have a good understanding of what I'm going through.
Also, I have been diagnosed and dealing with depression since I was in college (actually, if I wasn't so stubborn, I should have been being treated for it in high school... ;-)). I do pretty well with dealing my depression (I haven't had any bad episodes in several years), but all of this happening within the past 6-7 months is pushing me pretty good.
Anyway, I look forward to sharing more with all of you in the future. I'm so glad this board is around for people like us!!!