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Trying not to flip out

BuelaBBuela Posts: 67
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:55 AM in New Member Introductions
Hi, this is my first post. I'm a 52yo grandmother raising our 5 and 15yo granddaughters, so you can just imagine the stress. Last August, I was about to lose my nut, and so I finally started exercising, and much to my surprise, I fell in love with it. I went from barely able to do 5 minutes on the elliptical, to running/walking a 5k in October.

Two weeks later, I was on the treadmill and just couldn't do anything because my left leg was just feeling HEAVY and weak. Fast forwarding through the next 10 months, I had: SI area pain, MRI, Ortho #1 who spent 2 minutes with me telling me my MRI was clear so go get a month of PT for lower back pain, Ortho #2 who did more of an evaluation, said he had no idea why my leg felt weak so here's 2 more months of PT, no change so I gave up for a while but it kept getting worse, asked new primary to give it another look and he diagnosed sciatica and put me on a bunch of drugs, couple of visits later told him things were no better and it was now feeling like my arm was weak and tingly so he sent me to a pain management specialist and sent me for a cervical MRI even though it was very clear that he was just placating me and he said right out that he didn't think he'd find anything, went to the pain management doc and he did an intake and scheduled me for nerve testing (tomorrow).

And then. Monday his nurse called me and said that pain doc had gotten my cervical MRI and he had scheduled me (even before reaching me) for the first available appointment with his preferred orthopedic surgeon for spines. I decided to view the slides on the cd, and it didn't take a trained eye to see that my neck is just totally whack. It's curved the wrong way with a big kink not just front to back but also side to side, and that big kink is pressing very visibly into my spinal cord.

I'm just freaked. The pain doc's big hurry to get me in to see a spine surgeon tells me that I'm likely facing surgery, and likely sooner than later. What scared me the most is that the radiologist report said that I had... Can't remember the word, but it was softening of the spine, which from what I read means ( or leads to?) permanent nerve damage.

I know that I need to just breath and take it a day at a time and wait until I talk to the pain doc tomorrow and the Ortho next week, but it's hard. I've had 10 months of pain that has almost taken me down, on top of not being able to exercise in all that time and what that's done to my stress level. My brain is exploding trying to figure out how I'm going to manage at home, as well as at work - I teach at a rural community college and there are some classes I teach for which there are simply no other people to teach my courses.

I'm glad I found this community, which seems to be a safe space for me to do this kind of core dump. I will definitely be back.


  • First off, Welcome to Spine Health Buela!! Sorry to hear of your present issues, but so glad to see they (your doctors) are taking you serious, and "know" what is going on.

    My first fusion the hernia was on the cord, and surgery was put on the table first thing. I too was freaked out, and just thought every horrid thought one could think of. That is normal! Luckily unlike me, you found this site pretty fast. I didn't know about this site until after my second fusion (5th nerve surgery).

    Can things go bad? Sure they can, but I'm sure you've seen on the news where someone went for a minor cosmetic procedure and things went south. No surgery is 100%, but the chances of problems if your healthy are pretty darn low. As to permanent damage, don't go down that road yet. On my first fusion, when I awoke *all* of my pre-surgical symptoms where gone! My second one I wasn't as lucky, but that level "snapped" hard and fast, and that is where the nerves were damaged, not from the surgery.

    Since it sounds like yours (like my first one) came on slow, hopefully if they can get in there and get your nerves clear, you too will find much improvement. Listen to what your surgeons tell you, do research to fully understand what they are proposing, or better yet, *ask* them questions, and relay your fears.

    You might want to start writing down your questions now. Chances are getting with a surgeon, more questions will come up - again normal. There also is nothing wrong with getting additional opinions (Neuro or Ortho) until you feel comfortable.

    Please let us know how it goes, and like you said, "Take a breath" and try not to freak. Most of us have "been there, done that" and still have the shirt. I'm facing 3 more spine surgeries in the next 12 months, so not thrilled, but more knowledgeable now so a *little* more at ease when the surgery word comes up. Surgery is a big step, but if you are well informed, it won't be as bad, and hopefully after surgery, you will see that.

    Again, welcome aboard! Please let us know how it goes. You are not alone anymore in your spiney travels!! *HUG*

    PCTF C4 - T2, Laminectomies C5, C6 & C7. Severe Palsy left arm/hand.
  • Welcome to spine health. You have come to the right place, full of informative, caring people.
    I know that the unknown is very scary. It is great that your doctor's are acting quickly and getting you in for nerve testing and scheduling an appointment with a surgeon. Now you will get some answers to the heavy, weak, tingling you have been experiencing.Then a plan can be put into place, conservative measures,options for surgery,more testing.Please be sure to get more than one opinion from a spine fellowship trained orthopedic or neurosurgeon.
    Please keep us updated on how your appointments go, and remember that we will be with you every step of the way.

    >:D< Karen
    >:D< >:-D< : Karen
    L3-S1 herniation and bulges, stenosis, mod facet,ddd,impinged nerves,coccydinia
    discectomy/lami July 2011-unsuccessful
    adr L5-S1 Feb 2012
  • SavageSavage United StatesPosts: 5,476
    I've not had surgery, but totally understand the frustration of doctors diagnosing...or missing things.
    I don't understand how docs can have such differet interpretations of the same scan.. or whatever test.

    It's good to hear finally doc is on to something and relief mmay be in your future. Sometimes I think it helps to bring someone to the doctor visit.. to help hear all the info and help, if needed, in making your decisions.

    Best of luck to you and keep in touch!
    Spine-Health Moderator
    Please read my medical history at: Medical History

  • i just wanted to take a moment to introduce myself. I am 41 and have been dealing with my lower back for half my life. I have DDD on L3-4, L5-S1 with impingement of the nerves on the left, spondolythis (sp?)and SIJ issues of the left as well. Pardon my spelling, it is a bad day.

    I have had OT, PT, KT, AquaTherapy, Chiro, Rhizotomy, and too many transforaminal injections and SI injections to count in the last 5 years. Same old story-too young for surgery or too diffuse areas of injury, yada yada.

    I also had a benign brain tumor removed from my cerebellum in 03 that damaged the right side of my body. Oh, and I get to have my Gallbladder out next week. I think that someone was asleep on the job when I came down the line in heaven, lol. My motto: if you can't laugh at yourself there's no use living.
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