Like everyone else here, I'm just so darn happy to have found this site! Having been in relatively good health my entire life, with the only surgery being a c-section, I feel like I've entered a whole new world where I need to learn an entirely new language and be fluent in it immediately, on top of trying to figure out how to adjust my lifestyle in this pre-surgery period and start thinking about the post-surgery period. Just... well thank you all for being here!
I'm 39, divorced, and have a 17 year old daughter. Professionally I'm a non-profit consultant as well as a domestic violence/sexual assault/child abuse victim advocate (just started my practice back in January after working in the field for 15 years). I actually think that making that work change, while creating its own challenges for this cervical experience, is going to be a huge help in terms of my flexibility though - funny how things start to line up sometimes
On July 4th I woke up with a slight "kink" in my neck. I figured it was from sleeping wrong and went about my week as planned, which included started with a personal trainer at the gym. The pain didn't get any worse throughout the week, but on Saturday I woke to horrible left arm pain to the point that I couldn't lift it above shoulder height. Went to Urgent Care, prescribed vicodin and muscle relaxers, told to wait a week and that it was ok to keep going with the trainer, just no upper body work. The drugs took a hit on me as I don't take medication except for St. John's Wort to handle lovely perimenopausal symptoms. Just felt "fuzzy" and confused all week. By that next Monday all of the pain was back and then some,plus my entire right leg had gone numb. Called a nurse's hotline and they had me rush off to the ER. More vicodin, more muscle relaxers, but also a referral for an MRI and neurologist.
Had the MRI on 7/25 and the neurologist on 7/27. This particular neuro has a reputation of really pushing for non-surgical therapies so when he took one look at my scans and said "you need surgery", I was unnerved. He had me in with the neurosurgeon that same afternoon. I was told I have a 7-8mm disc extrusion at C5-6 with severe asymmetric left-sided spinal canal stenosis with left sided cord compression and cord displacement and "mass effect" on the left sided nerve roots of C6 and C7. Also showing mild disc bulging at C4-5 and 6-7. At this point I wasn't showing any signs of weakness, just left shoulder/neck/upper arm pain and the right leg numbness. The surgeon said we'd need to do ACDF, but as I'm currently uninsured the big issue was getting a hospital to let me use an OR. Took me off the vicodin and muscle relaxers and put me on oxycodone instead which is working much better for me. Definitely feeling more clear-headed.
A week and a half later I think I've found a solution to the insurance issue (the US Dept. of Health and Human Services offers pre-existing condition insurance under the new health care laws, so the application and premiums are mailed in and I should hear if I'm approved near the end of the month, which means I could be having surgery as soon as mid-September). Saw the PA today and I've developed some fun new symptoms...hyper-reflexiveness, clonus on the left foot, cervical headaches. We renewed the oxycodone and it's pretty much just a waiting game right now, so I'm figuring out how to adjust my activities to keep my pain low and not exacerbate the situation while still working, living.
What's completely odd is that, unlike so many of the posts I've seen here with similar injuries, I actually wasn't "injured". No car accidents, no falls, nothing. My surgeon suggested it was just my own unique brand of "bad luck" (thankfully he seems to have the same sick sense of humor I have as that statement had me laughing). I'm definitely not liking being on so much medication, the lethargy, or the impact this is having on my daily activities, but I am finding that I now make a pretty good party trick in and of myself ("poke Kristie here, see if she feels it" or "hit Kristie's knee here and watch what happens").
Anyway, that's the long version of my story. Thanks for reading and even more thanks for just all being here and sharing your own experiences and information. Definitely the best source I've found so far!