I've been lurking/reading posts since August and thought it was time to introduce myself. I apologize in advance for any typos. I'm on my Nook tablet plus shaky from pain meds.
I am a newlywed (3/3/2012) and moved in with my husband in June. I was unpacking boxes slowly as I had to organize my husbands stuff to make room for mine. Hubby was complaining about boxes taking up room in the garage so I decided to speed things up by picking up boxes myself. I must have picked up incorrectly, although I thought I was using my legs instead of my back.
At the beginning of August, I started experiencing severe sciatic pain on my right side. I tried stretching excersizes but the pain was increasing. I started physical therapy (PT) with a chiropractor on 8/7/2012. I still wasn't better after 4 weeks and was sent for an MRI on 9/4. The MRI showed slight herniation at L4. I also had an extruded herniation at L5/S1 with an annular tear, impinging on the sciatic nerve. I started working from home on 8/2 and am extremely grateful that I have a job and employer that allows me to work from home.
On 9/12, the sciatic pain had gotten worse but I was still able to walk and drive, albeit very painful. I was not able to sit more than 5 minutes without excruciating pain. I went to see an orthopedist and he reviewed my MRI and took x-rays. He stated that I had the beginnings of DDD and bone spurs on top of the results from the MRI. He wanted to refer me to a neurosurgeon immediately. I wanted to try a more conservative approach. He prescribed Vicodin for the pain and Medrol 6 day steroid pack. I continued with physical therapy and seemed to get a little better then got worse. At my follow-up visit, he prescribed Meloxicam for 30 days.
Towards the end of October, I was referred to a pain clinic and neurosurgeon. The pain clinic gave me a new prescription for Vicodin and scheduled an Epidural Steroid Injection (ESI) on 11/16. My neurosurgeon agreed to take the conservative route to see if the ESI would work. He also prescribed Neurontin. I started at 300mg the first week, 600mg the second week, 900mg the third week. At that point, I was starting to feel stupid and losing my short term memory. It really wasn't helping with the nerve pain so I weaned myself off it per my neurosurgeons input.
After my first ESI, I woke up in a level 7 pain. It took 3 days for the pain to reduce to a level 4. Three days later, I was back to a level 9. At my follow-up with pain clinic, they advised another ESI, gave me a refill for Vicodin, and I had to take a drug test through urine. My next ESI was scheduled for 11/30. The day before my second ESI, my chiropractor adjusted me and I screamed in pain. After that, I was hobbling around.
After my second ESI, my pain level dropped to a 2. I was so excited not to be in excruciating pain! That lasted 1 week. I went and got my first mani/pedi since July and was looking forward to returning to my office. On 12/7, the pain went back to a level 7. On 12/8, the pain went to a level 9 and I couldn't walk without a cane. On 12/9, I couldn't sit at all, using a Solo cup to pee in and screaming in pain every time my husband helped me out of bed. He called my ortho and neuro and both advised to go to the emergency room. I was transported by ambulance as I couldnt stand up and walk. In the ER, they tried to use a bedpan and again, I was screaming in pain. They inserted an IV in the middle of my right arm and gave me some morphine. That helped take the edge off. They inserted a catheter and changed the pain meds to Dilaudin. I was moved to a room about 10pm. I was also taken for a new MRI.
My neurosurgeon came in the next day and said it was time for surgery. He said that my newest MRI showed my herniation as double the size of my original MRI. He tried to schedule for that day but had to schedule for 12/11. My surgery was supposed to take 1.5 hours but took 3 hours. He nicked my dura during surgery and had difficulty getting to the herniation. They also put in a second IV in my hand due to positioning during surgery.
I don't really remember much about that day except beiing back in my hospital room and not having excruciating pain from the sciatica. My right shoulder also felt like it had been torn out of socket. I had to stay flat on my back for 2 days with no movement except rolling side to side to get a bath and sheets changed. The day after surgery, I was given a pump with Dilaudid where I could control when I needed pain meds instead of waiting for the nurse. It was a lifesaver. They also gave me a lot of antibiitics and nausea medecine. I had these things on my legs that constricted then released to prevent blood clots from forming, in addition to two shots in my stomach for additional blood clotting.
On Thursday evening, they moved my bed up to 30 degrees for 2 hours, then 45 degrees for 2 hours. After that, they had me roll out of bed and provided a corset brace that I have to wear at all times when out of bed. I spent 3 hours on the portable potty after not having gone number 2 in 5 days. The next day they had me out of bed, walking around. I also learned the appropriate way to get in our SUV for the drive home and get up the stairs into our house. I was released on Friday night at midnight. We had to wait for the walker and commode to be delivered. My first night home, I got the best sleep after being woken up every hour in the hospital for vital checks and drawing blood.
I had a physical therapist come over and make sure I was walking properly with the walker, getting in and out of my chair properly, getting in and out of bed properly and an easy exercise to start strengthening my core. I've also had a nurse come over twice to take my vitals and ensure my wound is healing properly.
My doctor gave me instructions to spend 2 hours up walking and sitting in a firm chair that's not too hard to get out of and I thank goodness for my lazy boy wing back recliner as it is the perfect height. Then I transition to 2 hours in bed. The first several days were painful but it was a different kind of pain than I had been in. I was prescribed Vicuprofen (works better for me than Vicodin), Flexeril, Celebrex (we didn't fill this as it was not covered by insurance, instead using Aleve for NSAID), 1000 mg Vitamin C, 50,000 Vitamin A, and Zinc Sulfate. I'm also eating prunes instead of the stool softeners prescribed by the doctor and they seem to be working well. I'm also eating a high fiber diet.
I'm now one week out from surgery and healing well. I tend to want to overdo it with walking and then pay fornit the next day. I have to remind myself that I just had surgery and need to take it easy. I've been taking sponge bath using the wash bucket they used in the hospital, as well as the no rinse soap. We don't have a walk in shower, so I'm not going to be able to shower for awhile. That is one thing that I am highly looking forward to!
Okay, two hours later and I'm wiped:-) Thanks for reading my story and I look forward to continuing to learn by reading the forums as well as updating my progress. I hope that my story can also help someone that may be scared to have surgery. As was I.
12/11/2012 - L5/S1 Microdiscectomy Foraminotomy