Some time ago I visited this forum while being supervised by incompetent doctors handing out drugs like candy while refusing to admit any back issues though the MRI concisely stated otherwise. I, literally, just wanted life to end. I couldn't bear it. Though I was not positive, I admitted no self-pity was involved. When I involved any amount of self-pity suicide was the only option though I refused to admit the pain was that horrendous lest I remain in that emotional state. I have two beautiful kids.
I managed to reduce the amount of narcotics I lived on and included minimal exercises such as breathing techniques. This gave me mental clarity to "go on", but I needed help, somehow. It was reality. The pain was too much and the dysfunction coupled with extreme poverty secured my hopelessness.
Finally, I reverted to another practitioner on my insurance list: a nurse practitioner. Reading the same MRI, she concluded there were at least seven herniated discs. Four in my lower back and three in my neck. She referred me to a neurosurgeon. I waited six months. I had visited with a neurosurgeon before but he was emotionally unstable and yelled at me in the office. I have a trick to use on people to determine whether they are having a bad day or are emotionally unstable. This one was emotionally unstable. His behavior along with the irresponsibility of my doctor practitioners lead me to a seeming futility in medical care.
I cared not about the medical terminology regarding my back and, even now I don't care. The neurosurgeon voted against having the surgery performed where he would clean out the old discs, stuff cadaver bone inside and install titanium plates unless pain was a serious issue, then it was OK. I confirmed I had pain but didn't elect because of the pain.
Having read numerous results from others beyond this surgery I could conclude reduction of pain was a wash and not to be expected. At best, be grateful if I get some relief but there is no guarantee. I needed the plates. It was difficult for me to hold my head up. Though the doctor could not determine this from a review of MRI and x-rays, I knew it was evident and that's what I told him, "I'm tired of my life revolving around working my neck muscles loose so they don't break my neck." I decided on clear and practical reasons. I couldn't hold my head up nor stop my muscles from breaking my neck. And with that he signed the order. The surgery was performed on April 11, 2013.
Today is May 10, 2013. The results were immediate and profound. I woke in recovery unabated from surgery pain but was thinking surgery had not occurred and my Lortab dosage long overdue. For cognitive reasons I would take the bare minimum of narcotics to subdue the pain and surgery was lengthy ensuring the dose wore off before completion. "My neck is hurting. I think I'm overdue for my meds. And for some reason it's hurting in the back area."
"Of course your neck hurts, Dr. xxxx just performed surgery...." and he rattled on the rest of the medical terminology. I blocked out those words, but understood the procedure. In a quiet moment of discernment I focused on my neck. Indeed, the pain was striking and as much as normal, but different. "This is surgery pain?" It was not any greater than the pain prior. My god. I was so carefully minimizing the amount of pain I suffered.
Some dude just finished cutting into my throat, forcing my neck muscles aside, installed a tracheotomy in my throat, cut, scraped, drilled, bore into my spine moving the nerves around as needed and then he bolted in titanium plates before existing and sewing my throat inside out leaving a shunt, but the pain isn't greater than that before surgery!!!! Read that again!! Were it not for the anesthesia, I'd have jumped out of that bed.
At some point I told the nurse all these wonderful things and was smiling and laughing. Once the surgery pain abated, I concluded, I would not have any pain in that area at all. Do you have any idea how happy I was at that very moment?!!
"And you need to be still." the nurse continued I haven't put your neck brace on yet." He seemed to be cautiously watching for my reaction as though I might be screaming soon. He maintained his distance from my bed assuming a defensive position as though other patients reacted far differently. I was at peace. I passed out from residual anesthesia and woke to him giving me 2 pills. "I never take 2 pills." I thought to myself before I slipped off tack to sleep feeling the brace around around my neck and lower portion of my face. It's as if someone lifted a veil from my eyes. I wanted to live.
The sound of the nurse's voice broke my sleep again. "..says her pain is no worse than prior to surgery. She says she's feeling the difference and that it's great." He told the person on the other end of the phone. His face revealed disbelief as he relayed my words and stared at me coming to. I gave him a thumbs up reassuring him before drifting to sleep. Was he talking to the doctor.....
Deep down underneath the anesthesia I was on cloud nine. I woke next in my private room and I was on cloud 9 then and I'm on cloud 9 now as I type. I recall eating a hamburger my husband brought without regard to the tracheotomy. It got better. By moving around the new support was evident, the nerve pain gone and I could mentally and visually focus on a space greater than 2 feet around my body pain. I could see life was beautiful again. I left the hospital a new person, with new hopes and without dread for the future.
I still have the four herniated discs in my lower back, but it seems a piece of cake. It has been storming lately and the overall arthritis has been crippling me as it always does but with my neck pain eliminated and added stability just seems so lovely in a normal sort of way. Half my problems are GONE and I'm just a "normal" person struggling with lower back pain.
Two week recovery check-up was phenomenal. Were I not sensitive to non-religious folk, I would state it was miraculous. I'm not exaggerating. The x-ray technician who sees ALL of this surgeon's patients and the patients of all other neurosurgeon patients on that block became emotionally involved. After checking three times the date of surgery to what she saw on my x-rays, she gave me a "You're not leaving here until I have an explanation." look. Whatever she saw forced emotional involvement with a stranger: just another routine neck surgery patient, but with unspoken profound results. Not able to tell me what she saw, her face revealed all; I let my excitement and tearful joy out on her about the unusual results.
AND I SMOKED LIKE A CHIMNEY if I could. I tried to limit, but on narcs I forget. There are other things that cause me to smoke and I cannot reveal them as they would detract from the point of this explanation.
Indeed, there were those who did NOT want me to have this surgery.. this relief... because I smoked. Of course, I smoked. Who the blazes wants to live under that much pain? Now.. the surgery complete and recovery on the way and four herniated discs in my lower back requiring me to utilize crutches on a bad morning to go urinate I am still SO FRIGGIN' HAPPY and I hate these cigarettes. They will be gone before long. Thank GOD for my surgeon who took that risk and SCREW those who were prejudiced.
I don't encourage smoking. I'm just stating the facts and they are very real for me. MY BODY NEEDED HELP, people, and it's like my body took a deep sigh of relief after surgery and so "OKAY, WE'RE GOING TO HEAL NOW. LET'S GET MOVING." And move I have. My muscles are constantly sore from increased activity - just normal activity. My reaction? "Burn, baby burn!" And I am the better for it. I did not expect to get BETTER. I walk every day and all the time as long as my lower back realistically lets me. I must be in screaming pain to stop. Things were so bad physically, this is just "nothing" in comparison.
So many do not stop and take the time to spell out all the good results of surgery because we are busy getting on with our life instead of obsessing on the internet for potential solutions as the past. I want to do just that.
Be honest with yourself devoid of self pity. Be practical. Be realistic but honest with yourself. The doctors and others are not necessarily going to see your misery on the MRIs because everyone's bodies react differently. They're only human, but if you're lucky and have a doctor who enjoys doing a good job - you're set. When I expressed my excitement to Dr. xxxx, I noticed his reaction. He reacted as though he's seen this happiness before .. from a job well done.
Dr. xxxx explained: "There were numerous bone spurs in and around your nerves in that area. I carefully cleaned it all up and out, fashioned a place to return them undisturbed." (to paraphrase) Thank God for Dr xxx !!!! (Oklahoma City) When I woke in recovery room it was as if someone took a blanket off my eyes - not so much pain as just some type of subliminal suffering that is now non-existent. His work eliminated numbness and tingling in my left arm and fingers - a minor issue. All the previous nerve pain I experienced is gone and it was far worse than I let myself acknowledge. I wanted to die back then. I know why.
If you are in the same boat, please don't give up. Care about yourself enough to not give up. Change doctors, continually if you must. Perform zero or low impact Asian exercises. There is a predecessor to Tai Chi. Do it. Breath deeply. Give your body lots of oxygen. Move when you can. REST when you MUST, but don't give up on yourself. The science is there. There are doctors who care. Sometimes it takes time, but know that when the help finally arrives the misery you suffer now will make the recovery that much more profound.
There were two discs. He worked on removing the discs, reconstructing with cadaver bone and installed titanium plates: a very common procedure, but my recovery has not been. I lost years-long friendships because they thought I was feeling sorry for myself. Folks, one cannot "do" anything when they don't have back support for it. I'm sorry many take it for granted.
If you're in pain, you're going to balk when I tell you I was only taking 10mg Lortab twice a day. Of course, I was using "drugs" so I was condemned for it and just "lazy" and "making excuses". There was no way to explain to these people - or have them accept- that I was on the bare minimum for very serious back complications and my pain management specialist calls me "his best patient". They had, perhaps, a grandfather who had ONE herniated disc and decided to just "get up and go" one day and thought I should do the same. F them.
My problems are from degenerative disc disease: no accidents. It's just from working my ass off and giving it my all for the duration of my life. Sad, isn't it? I'm only 45. I was mopping my kitchen floors within 48 hours of surgery. I've mopped the floors more in the last month than in the cumulative five years before surgery and that's with four herniated discs in my lower back.
Be well and be good to your spine!
Post edited to remove name of medical professional and or facility. by The Spine-Health Moderator Team