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Emergency Discectomy

WestCoastLibraWWestCoastLibra Posts: 1
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:47 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
First of all, I am grateful and very, very lucky. Yesterday was the one-year anniversary of my emergency discectomy.

I'm a 35 year old female in good shape, working in an office and was an avid marathon runner, surf kayaker and horseback rider. To this day, no one has any idea what happened to cause my back issue, but over the course of about 2 weeks, I became more and more numb with NO PAIN anywhere. The numbness started in my lower tummy area, then my butt and hips, lower back then total numbness in my groin area. I just ran more and stretched better and longer every day thinking it was a pinched nerve. Woke one morning with semi-loss of bladder control and was scared to death. Went to my GP that morning and he ordered an MRI but didn't seem too concerned. It was a Friday morning. The weekend was uneventful. I iced my back a lot and the bladder control issue went away. I started my workday as usual Monday morning. 10:15am was called out of a meeting for an emergency phone call.

My GP had received the MRI results that morning, forwarded the results to a local Ortho Surgeon at the closest hospital to me. My GP informed me they wanted to send an ambulance to pick me up AT MY OFFICE. He told me not to move from where I was standing right then. The disk between my L5 and S1 was completely herniated, almost 100% compressing my spine and he had no idea how I could feel anything from that point down. He said I shouldn't even be walking. To say the least, I was in complete, utter shock. He gave me the number to the ortho surgeons office and I hung up and called him. Surgery was necessary immediately. THANK GOD for my mother. I agreed to the ambulance, hung up, started crying and called her. She called a girlfriend who had just had surgery with a top surgeon about 40 miles from me in SanFran. He called my doctor while I was in the ambulance on the way to the hopsital, got a copy of the MRI and agreed surgery was immediately necessary. So, at least my mom was in agreement at that point. Wow, it was unbelievable.

So, I'm lucky because I went into surgery at 2pm same day with an 80% chance of some kind of permanent paralysis. The surgery was over 4 hours long with a 3-inch incision. I had no family in town, but by the time I woke up, three family members had flown in and were at my side. I'll never forget that. I had a pretty significant spinal fluid leak which kept me in the hospital completely flat for 72 hours.

I'm one year out. I woke from surgery with some numbness throughout my hips and legs. NOW, the only numbness I have is in the bottom of one foot. That's it. I do have pain but totally manageable with literally Advil and a good muscle relaxer at night a few nights a month. I went to physical therapy for months, 5 days a week, then 3 days then 1 day a week. As of August I haven't had to go back at all.

I walk pretty fast now, 2-4 miles a day total and I do the elliptical (A GODSEND) for 45 minutes 2-3 times a week. Level 1 and very slow but I'm able to do it.

I feel good. The bad news is; I no longer have medical insurance due to the current economy. I have a job and am making it...just no insurance, so I can't see a doctor or ask any questions.

So, I DESPERATELY need some info from fellow back surgery patients. I really, really want to run again and as a former surf kayaker (I tried and CANNOT do it anymore due to the paddling back and forth), now I'd love to learn to actually surf. With no paddling and the buoyancy the water gives you, could I surf? I just don't want to hurt myself irreparably, so have been afraid to try it, although I really believe it would be okay. So, I'm thankful believe me, but after giving up skiing, kayaking and running, I just want to know what activities I CAN do or maybe WILL be able to do in the future.

Also, Yoga? I've never done it at all, but can't imagine it would be bad. Anyone do it after surgery? Thanks, sorry so long, but I figure I'll be here a while and wanted to share my story. :)

So, Yoga, Running, Surfing. I had no disc replacement, so I'm actually missing the disc now between L5 and S1, but at 35 years old, normal weight, maybe?

Thanks all!



  • Thats quite a story. Great that you are doing so well. I have 2 separate lumbar fusions, L2-S1 with instramentation. I would be concerned with doing things that would put too much strain on your spine. The area above and below the fusion take the brunt of force and there could be problems later on.

    Personally, I wouldn't consider taking up running again, too much impact on the spine. As far as yoga, be careful: lots of the poses can be rough in terms of twisting and bending movements. If you were to take up yoga make sure to let the instructor know of your spine issues so you can be given modifications.

    Again, this is just my opinion. Maybe there are others here that have more helpful input.

    Good luck, keep us posted on how you are doing.

  • Hiya >:D< Welcome to spine Health :) Thats quite a story, i know how you feel as i had a disctectomy a few years ago :? The advice i would suggest is that you do have to be careful. Its a good thing that you do exercise and stretches. But remember you do have a weakness there . Its a good feeling after having the work done on your back , as the pain that you had before is no longer there. So its so easy to over do it. Please take it easy , dont make the mistake i made , trying to do the same as i did before surgery as you may suffer for this long term :S I once asked a surgeon, what activities am i allowed to do! He said i had to find my own limits, but i was to listen to my body and when i start to feel pain, its then you stop :T :? Do remember everyone is different! :? Sorry i can not be of more help to you O:) Enjoy the site, there is a lot of information to help and advize you O:) >:D<

    Angie :H
  • I had surgery 7 mos ago with a herniated L-4 L-5 L-5 S-1 discs also had a laminectomy I am an avid surfer my whole life along with kayak fishing very active in all sports.It took 4 mos to get the Dr to let me try surfing again I can surf to a degree but nothing like before the injury.Some days are better than others.What I found to be the most difficult was getting out thru the surf even on small 2 foot surf the bouncing and jarring motions of the ocean are unpredictable you dont see it coming as per say.this injury has slowed all activities down but I refuse to give up as long as my Ortho confirms no damage being done.
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