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13 Years of Bulging, L4-L5 Microdiscectomy 2-12-13 Journal

GrFaGGrFa Posts: 6
Hello Everyone,

I am happy that I have found a place for those suffering a similar fate as myself. My story is a pretty long when, especially considering that I am 26 years old now. When I was 13 I started to have pain that radiated down into my right leg. Sure enough after seeing many doctors and eventually an MRI I was identified as having a bulging L4-L5.

At that point, now some 13 years ago, I did all of the conservative treatments including physical therapy, acupuncture, massage, and finally a chiropractor. I managed to play varsity sports through high school with some degree of pain. I remember at that time having a prescription for Celebrex. After the issues came about with that medicine I switched to purely over the counter solutions. I was pretty good through college, being less aggressively active but still active enough. After graduation and becoming a grown up brought about some issues.

I think I can only blame myself and a lack of physical activity for the degradation in my in back. Over the past few years now I started to have some numbness and tingling in my feet which I never had before. I also fell on ice two years ago which cause me some severe pain. At the time I had just started working again and had no health insurance. Happy to have a job I kept working for the next two years with occasional pain in my back, and numbness in my feet.

Fast forward to Oct 2012. I am now a manager at work and the other manager I work with goes on vacation for three weeks. Between the stress and increased hours at work I noticed a lot more pain coming on. Being busy and the only manager I kept working through it until Thanksgiving. Most times in the morning I ended up tiptoeing into work but after being on my feet for a few hours felt pretty good. During Thanksgiving I got on a plane for the first time in quite a few years. By the time I reached my destination I could hardly walk. I made it a point to go and see a doctor as soon as I got home.

After seeing my primary care doctor and having x-rays done I was told I had a bit of degenerative disc disease and I could keep taking pain killers for the intense pain and to just go easy on it and it will eventually get better. I persuaded a referral to a specialist. The first available appointment was January 4th. I was examined and immediately had an MRI ordered with a follow up appointment a few days later. At that follow up appointment I was shown the MRI and told it was pretty bad. I could start with conservative treatments, physical therapy and try a epidural spinal nerve block injection. I scheduled a consultation with the pain management doctor for the next week.

Now at this point I was still coping with the pain on a daily basis. I was put on Flexeril, Diclofenic, Gabopentin, and Vicodin. At this point I had still been working 6 days a week and was able to get through it. A few things transpired against me in the next few weeks however. The consultation with the pain management doctor turned right into scheduling an injection and a consultation with a surgeon. Also at this time my job moved from being 17 miles away to 30 miles away meaning almost twice the amount of time in the car. My first injection was January 29th and it did not have the outcome that I expected.

The first day after the injection I felt pretty good. I didn't really do much but though I noticed more numbness in my right leg and back and a bit of a lack of pain. However on the second day afterwards I went outside to retrieve an empty garbage can and when I turned to come back into my apartment felt pain, a whole lot of pain. Pain in both my legs, weakness in my right leg, pain on both sides of my butt. I barely made it back up the stairs to my apartment. I went to work that day figuring I had just aggravated it a bit. Well when I came home that night I got on the couch and I haven't gotten off the couch since.

My first few phone calls were to the pain management doctors office explaining I was in more pain and was it possible that the shot did this or that I hurt myself more. The told me not to do anything but to wait a week to see if the shot had worked. Well a week later I was still laying on the couch. This conversation went a bit differently. Essentially they passed me off and said 'Oh well I guess the injections don't work for you. You should probably speak with a surgeon'

I spoke to the surgeons office and got a call back from the surgeon himself later that evening. He explained the procedure to me again, a microdiscectomy, and said we could probably do it at the end of the week or early next week. Excellent. I was told to expect a call from the surgical scheduler the next morning. I did get that call early in the morning at which paint the scheduler said the surgeon was scheduling out into March! A quick call to the surgeon himself and I am scheduled for this coming Tuesday February 12th 2013.

I already had my pre-op appointment which was literally unbearable. It is extremely painful just to stand up to go to the bathroom, let alone get in a car, walk around in a hospital, wait in a waiting room, go into an exam room, wait in an exam room, then go to different part of the hospital, wait in another waiting room sit in another exam room. The getting up and sitting down and walking almost made me pass out. I was in pretty rough shape by the time I got home. I don't remember how I even got back in the house.

I will update this thread hopefully daily up to and after the surgery. I am very upset at the turn I took for the worse after the injections and wish I had avoided them all together. From the conversations with the doctors the rupture/herniation is very bad and has actually started to drip down. If someone had just told me how bad it was and recommended surgery from the start I may have avoided these extra two weeks out of work and on the couch. My hope is that this setback does not hurt the effectiveness of the surgery. In a few days we will have an idea. Thank you for reading my story and I will keep everyone up to date as we progress!



  • skillensskillen Posts: 7
    edited 02/10/2013 - 12:15 PM
    I'm real sorry to read this Greg. The pain is certainly not fun and does affect a persons life. I certainly hope things go well during your surgery. The human body is very delicate. Let's hope surgery gives you relief!!!
  • Thank you for the kind words Skillen. I am hoping for relief. The last 24 hours have been a bit rough.

    Yesterday shortly after entering my original post I got up to go to the bathroom and by the time I came back to the couch was feeling very strange. My girlfriend was baking cookies and had the oven on. I went into a state of panic and began sweating in a way I never had before, feeling nauseous and dizzy. It lasted for about an hour, combined with extreme pain in my legs and buttox. I basically just sat as still as possible with the window open to let in some cold air. I live right outside Boston, and we are recovering from over 2 feet of snow.

    A few hours later I took my normal pain medicine again and started to have the exact same reaction. The second time it was not as strong and did not last nearly as long. I was already laying down and managed to calm myself down. I was taking some laxative type medicine because all the drugs I'm taking have had a negative effect on normal digestion. I believe I took that too closely to the Gabapentin and Flexoril which lessened their effect and also managed to stat panicking which raises my blood pressure up and causes increased pain. I have been taking fast acting Tylenol and we think that may have built up a bit too much in my system as well.

    After those two episodes I actually had a decent night, with very little pain. My current sleeping situation and all around living situation, is laying on the couch in my living room in front of a nice big TV. I slept, a couple hours at a time, with the TV on the whole night. It seemed to make it easier to wake up and take the meds on time (which I am now being extremely diligent about). Now fast forward to this morning when I received a call from the surgeons office.

    The PA to my surgeon called and asked if I might have had another EKG done recently besides the one they did last Thursday. I said maybe 5-6 years ago why do you ask. She said there may be a slight abnormality. Fantastic. A few phone calls later to my mother and researching my previous doctors and I finally get the PA back on the phone. She said a nurse thought she saw something but anesthesia hasn't even looked at it yet. So it may just be nothing. Not to mention the extreme state of duress I was in while they tried to give me the EKG. The fun continues.
  • The surgery was yesterday and today has been recovery day one. With everything it entailed yesterday I did not write a post.

    To pick up where we left off regarding the EKG, I received a message about 20 minutes later saying everything was fine and we'll see you tomorrow. I definitely think they could have more thoroughly researched things on there end before spooking someone in an extreme state of pain, about to have surgery, that they might have some kind of heart condition as well. However, this then brings us to the night before, and day of surgery. I had to use special soap to was with the evening before. Now standing up and showering was just about miserable but I made it through the ten minutes or so that it took. However, that night and trying to got to sleep was a chore. I had been off my anti-inflammatory medication for almost a week at this point and I could feel it. Laying down on the couch I had to tell myself to calm down and not move my legs as any movement resulted in pain. That was enough for me to eventually fall asleep, but led to pins and needles waking me up in my feet later in the evening. I somehow slept a few hours or so and before I knew it I was up the next day getting dressed and ready to get in the car for surgery.

    I can say that I barely made it to the hospital and was essentially crying out in pain by the time I got up to the check in desk. I asked to lay down somewhere to wait before I was called into pre op. There was a small bench with no back that I threw myself on. In 5 minutes of laying there, there must have been five different people who stopped and asked if we were okay. I was accompanied by my girlfriend and my mother. We were quickly brought up to pre op and put on a proper bed. From there I was able to relax while we waited almost two hours to see anesthesia and be brought up to surgery. From first minute I started to be wheeled up to surgery the anesthesia was started and the next thing I remember was coming to in recovery about 2 1/2 hours later.

    I ended up spending more than 3 hours in recovery until being discharged. I think the anesthesia was very strong so it took me a while to come to and also led to some instability. The other issue is that my right leg felt like it was asleep, more so than before the surgery, while my left leg felt fine. I was concerned about it enough that they called the surgeon who said it was to be expected. I was a bit upset and unsure about one of my legs falling asleep. I had been having disc issues for 13 years and not once, until a week and a half ago after getting injections, did I ever experience any kind of weak or number (legs asleep) feeling.

    Now almost 24 hours later I would say the numbness/tingling/sleepiness has reduced by at least 50%. After getting off the recovery bed and into a chair the first thing that came to my mind was that I just stood up and I was now sitting in a chair and I was not screaming in pain while doing it. Pretty cool. I guess the surgery worked?

    So far today I have taken it easy, used ice and the plethora of different medications they gave me. The site of the surgery has some soreness and pain. Almost the feeling of a bad bruise. However I would say most of my leg and buttox pain is gone. Depending on how I move I have gotten a tinges of 6-7 level pain but it is not for more than a second. The pain from the incision has made it uncomfortable to lay down. That means I have sat up and stood for more time today, than I have in the past two weeks combined.

    So far I am feeling really good. My only fear and my hope is that the sleepiness in my leg decreases and eventually goes away completely.
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