My name is Allison and I have been living with chronic back and hip pain for at least 10 years. The first time I went to the Dr it was diagnosed as Fibromyalgia and I was put on antidepressants and told to live with it. For 10 years I ignored the pain thinking it was all in my head. I tried to be as active as possible but pain made that difficult.
About 6 months ago I was fed up with the chronic pain and the huge impact it has on my life. I decided to go to a new dr and get to the bottom of the pain. I started with a Family Medicine Dr who referred me to a Rheumatologist. The Rheumatologist took one look at my hands, feet and knees and said "you don't have Fibromyalgia, you have arthritis and joint damage has set in." The Rheumatologist sent me for x-rays of my back and hips. Seeing the joint damage in my hands made him look for a cause for all my pain. In the x-rays, he could see degenerative disc disease. He gave me some gabapentin which made me extremely ill and then added sulfasalizine for the arthritis, which I tolerated much better. I gave the meds a few weeks to work, but it wasn't touching my back and hip pain. He sent me to PT too. That made the pain so much worse. Thats when I was referred to a pain specialist that took me a 3 weeks to get in. I was in agony, and after a teary conversation with the nurse they called me in Talwin to help until i got in with the pain specialist.
The pain specialist seemed skeptical when I told him about my back pain. I guess because of my age, 32, he thought that I was just drug seeking. Then he took a look at my x-rays and all he said was, "Wow! I bet that does hurt!" The pain dr gave me some tramadol and sent me for an MRI. 3 weeks later I was back at the pain specialist. He looked at the MRI and then at me and said. You have a Spondylolisthesis of L5, bilateral fractures on L5 and degenerative disc disease on L5 S1. You need surgery and soon. He has such a look of concern on his face, and I felt that I was finally going to get some help. He personally scheduled me with a neurosurgeon and scheduled me for a epidural steroid injection 3 days later. He made sure to tell me that he didn't think the epidural would work, but if it did that I didn't need to delay surgery. He also made a note in my chart to refill pain meds as needed by phone until my surgery date.
Two weeks later I met with the Nuerosurgeon. He explained that I needed a posterior spinal fusion of L5 S1. He went over the complications with me and explained that for my condition a spinal fusion was the best choice. I had a million questions. He answered them all and I scheduled surgery for October 29 at 8:30 am.
So, now I'm just waiting and trying to be as prepared as possible for the surgery. I've never had surgery before. My health has slowly declined the past 10 years and I've gained a lot of weight since I'm no longer as active as I was. I've come to this forum to share my story and get advice from people who have had surgery. I'm also here for support. I know that my recovery will be frustrating and challenging. I'm single and my family is 300 miles away. My grandmother will be helping me for a few weeks post surgery, but I know that my recovery will be much longer than that. I have a great set of friends, but none of them have been through a major, life changing surgery. I'm hoping to find some online friends who understand what I'm going through.
At this point I'm terrified of the unknown. I'm trying to stay calm and be as prepared as possible before the surgery. Sometimes I look around my tiny apartment and at my dwindling bank account and have to fight back panic attacks. But, I also have hope that after this surgery and my recovery I will have my life back. I would love to be active again.
PILF of L5 S1 on October 29, 2013. Psoriatic arthritis, spondylolisthesis L5 and fractured L5 and DDD