Hey everyone! I figured I'd share with you my progress since my surgery on 7/6/11. I had a posterior thoracic discectomy on T8-9 and T9-10. Just to refresh, the initial pain I had was in my mid-back region and wrapped around my right side. Exactly 2 weeks post-op, I developed mid-back pain that wrapped around my left side. This pain was much worse than the initial pain and left me pretty much incapacitated. I couldn't stand/walk for longer than 10 minutes without the pain becoming intense and severe. I went back to my NS several times, and we started talking about possibly doing another surgery.
I decided to go for 2 more opinions prior to undergoing anymore surgery. The first 2nd opinion recommended the same surgery my NS was recommending. The second 2nd opinion said do NOT have another surgery. I had seen this doctor prior to my first surgery, and he had mentioned ankylosing spondylitis (AS) and that he thought it was the reason I had so many disc herniations at my young age. I didn't give much thought to it back then. When I saw him again in October, he again mentioned AS and said I have a ligament problem and that I needed physical therapy and perhaps a facet block. He felt the first surgery put more stress on my already weakened ligaments and that having another surgery would lead to the same problem.
The next day my PCP faxed me a script for PT and I made an appt. I went through a month and a half of PT, and I am proud to say I am doing 95% better. I can stand and walk with very little discomfort, most of the time. I have since gone to a rheumatologist who, based on bloodwork, other tests, and family history, has officially diagnosed me with AS. I am currently on NSAIDs and Prednisone for that, but I go back on the 21st to discuss other medications. I have decided to hold off on the facet block, since the pain in that area has been much more tolerable. Now if only the rest of my pain (hands, feet, other joints, SI joints/low back) would go away too, I'd be good as new! lol!
All in all, things have improved and I finally have answers. I went back to my NS last week and he was happy to hear of my improvement, at least from a surgical standpoint. This is the same NS that, when asked about AS back in August, told me there was no point in testing for it because there was no treatment. He had brushed it off because I didn't have the "bamboo spine." I have since learned that is a much later sign of the disease, and you can still have AS without fusion of the spine.
I have one more post-op appt in 6 months. He said he typically doesn't see patients back at that point, but given the complications I had and my recent AS diagnosis, he would feel better having me come back one more time. After that, I'll just follow up as needed. For now, I am busy working and enjoying my wonderful family. I feel like I missed out on a lot over the past year. Oh, and the original pain I had prior to the surgery is virtually gone. Occasionally I get twinges of pain, but it is pretty much a distant memory.
I hope everyone else is doing well. I've been busy working, so I haven't been around much these days. I have a desk job now as a telephone triage nurse. I work weekends and 1 evening during the week.