Welcome, Friend!

It looks like you're new here. If you want to get involved, click one of these buttons!

Veritas-Health LLC has recently released patient forums to our Arthritis-Health web site.

Please visit http://www.arthritis-health.com/forum

There are several patient story videos on Spine-Health that talk about Arthritis. Search on Patient stories
Protect anonymity
We strongly suggest that members do not include their email addresses. Once that is published , your email address is available to anyone on the internet , including hackers.

All discussions and comments that contain an external URL will be automatically moved to the spam queue. No external URL pointing to a medical web site is permitted. Forum rules also indicate that you need prior moderator approval. If you are going to post an external URL, contact one of the moderators to get their approval.
Attention New Members
Your initial discussion or comment automatically is sent to a moderator's approval queue before it can be published.
There are no medical professionals on this forum side of the site. Therefore, no one is capable or permitted to provide any type of medical advice.
This includes any analysis, interpretation, or advice based on any diagnostic test

New to Forum; Your Stories Help

I am preop, L5 S1; surgery scheduled; still not sure exactly what procedure will be done.

I was in a head-on auto accident 24 years ago. I regained consciousness about a month later in the hospital. I didn't (and still don't) have any memory of the accident. I was told that the other driver had been reading a map in the front seat of her suv and had hit me while doing about 65mph. Witnesses said the accident happened in a split second and I had no chance to avoid it. The accident caused a large brush fire. My life was saved by a man who got a rope and used it to pull my car, a VW, safely away from the fire. Rescue workers used the "jaws of life" to extract me from my car and then I was airlifted to an ER. My nephew's wife was at my bedside when I awoke. I knew I was in a hospital room. I looked at my body that was nearly covered in casts and asked her what happened. I had injuries that were so extensive and life threatening that some things were never treated or the Doctors simply were not aware of them. They were relieved I could communicate and didn't seem to be paralyzed.

I was released from the hospital only so I could attend my mother's funeral; I was transported by ambulance and was on a gurney; ...it still seems like a bad French movie. During my hospital stay my home was burglarized and my other vehicle, a truck, was stolen. I spent a long time confined to bed, living with my sister's family. Then about 4 months after the accident, even though my left femur and right arm were in non-union (not healing), the Doctors demanded I do 40 hours a week of physical therapy. During the next 2 1/2 years I progressed from bedridden, to walker, to crutches, to finally a cane. Throughout this entire time I was never prescribed anything at all for pain; "take some aspirin if it hurts", "If I prescribe anything you'll become an addict"; I lived on vodka to knock me out so I could at least sleep. The pain, the legal stuff, etc. made my life a living hell.

Maybe surprisingly, I never had any sort of unusual back pain.

On October 30, 2007 I was crossing a street, walking using my cane, on a green light in a crosswalk, when a car came screaming around the corner aimed at me like I was a target. I can't run, so I scurried as fast as I could to get out of the way. The driver laughed and sped away. The next morning my back was in agony and it got more intense as days passed. For about a year thereafter I saw several Doctors, chiropractors, etc. Their mantra was "take some aspirin if it hurts", "If I prescribe anything you'll become an addict," and I was back in the same boat, as I was never once prescribed anything for pain. After several months of this, out of desperation, I got medical marijuana. I used it to put me to sleep. The pain from this incident slowly faded until in about November 2008 I was back to feeling "normal' for me - constant lower extremity pain, especially right leg and foot/ankle. At that point I stopped using pot and vodka.

In March 2013 I woke up one day with back pain. Odd I thought. I hadn't done anything I could think of to make my back hurt. Over the next few days sciatica and pain and numbness in my lower extremities became overwhelming, pain that would make me gasp and take my breath away, it literally made me cry out, and even with alcohol and pot it was impossible to sleep or take care of myself (thank God for my partners who helped me). All I could do was lay in bed on my stomach. The only position that gave any relief was standing. But I couldn't stand for long; one leg is shorter from the auto accident, I probably need new knees, and my arthritis is extensive. It was living hell. After a few weeks of this, and trying everything I could think of I went to a chiropractor. He took x-rays and said he had nothing to offer and I should see an MD. So I made an appointment with my HMO primary care MD. I was referred to the HMO pain MD and to an HMO neurosurgeon. I was put on gabapentin and, for a brief time, hydrocodone. The gab doesn't seem to help any, and I usually vomit after taking hydrocodone. I chickened out of back surgery last fall. I had already stopped using MJ. I suffered through every day and continued to knock myself out every night with vodka. I stopped seeing the MD's because it seemed hopeless. But the pain continued; I couldn't take care of my house and yard, and things like dressing became difficult and time consuming. My partners got very angry with me. And then I began loosing control of my bowels. I soiled both my cars. I soiled myself in a restaurant having dinner with a friend. I began to loose my balance. I now sit in a folding chair in the shower when I bathe. Strangers now ask if I had had polio because of the unsteady way I walk with my cane.

Now I'm scheduled for surgery. Still very scared about it but feeling I have no choice. Not using MJ, now on gabapentin and now taking 2 oxy at bedtime so I can sleep; feeling like a zombie from lack of sleep, and feeling depressed, and hoping the surgery might give some relief. Thinking if the surgery will at least take away some of the back and lower extremity pain I'll happily live with a numb right leg/foot/ankle and deal with the bowel control problems and loss of balance. Right about now I'm a mess. I have no relatives, they died of old age, and medical people seem to freak a little about me because of all the injuries I've had, and because I'm bisexual and polyamourous with long relationships (35 year relationship with T, a woman, and 19 years with C a man, both loving sexual committed relationships; I don't know what I'd do without them). In the little time I've been here this forum has helped a lot. Reading the experiences of others has given me a lot of comfort. I hope for the best for everyone. Thank you for letting me briefly tell my story.
P.S. I'm not an alcoholic or pot head. I've never liked the taste of alcohol/beer/wine; maybe I've been lucky in that sense; I'm not a teetotaler but drinking has just never appealed to me or been "my thing." Smoking pot has never been "my thing' either; never been a teetotaler with that either, but since all this has happened to me a 41mg piece of medicinal cannabis chocolate before bedtime has been what allows me to fall asleep.



  • Im still learning how the forum works. Sorry if I've somehow done something wrong when I posted....
  • LizLiz Posts: 7,832
    edited 03/24/2014 - 12:41 AM

    Liz, Spine-health Moderator

    Spinal stenosis since 1995
    Lumber decompression surgery S1 L5-L3[1996]
    Cervical stenosis, so far avoided surgery
  • Hi! You've had such a long journey in healing! I'm sorry to hear about your mother and all of your struggles. I'm another new member, so I don't have much to offer as I am only one month post-op but I can offer up a few things that might help. I had my surgery because of trauma (motorcycle accident, my husband and I are lucky to be alive)... So I didn't have a chance to prepare for the surgery, it was something that had to be done. I think it was better that way, as I am a worrier and would have been very scared to not know what's coming. I can tell you that had we known, I would definitely moved some stuff around in the house so that I could reach them. Stuff like moving pots to higher cabinets, having a step to safely get into bed, making more space on counters in kitchen and bathroom for commonly used things... I don't like having my husband having to do everything for me, but some of moving that stuff has helped. I don't know if you have a chance to, but he installed a 'trapeze-like' contraption so that I can lift myself out of bed (home isn't like the beds in the hospital) and I suddenly have NO core strength to lift myself. It has really helped. I have also found that sleeping in the brace is hardest and most uncomfortable, and I have to take a muscle relaxer to help fall asleep. Have to have clear path to bathroom, a nightlight on so I can see at night if I have to get up and go. Using a pillow between my knees helps me be more comfortable sleeping on my side and keeps better alignment. If I think of any other post-op tips I will let you know. I hope everything goes ok with your surgery!

  • Did you have an MRI of your spine? What was your diagnosis? Did your surgeon mention that your bladder/bowel issues could be related to your back?
    Progressive DDD
    Chronic S1 Radiculopathy
    Discectomy L5-S1 2002
    Discectomy, Laminotomy/Foraminotomy L3-S1 January 2014
    Bilateral SI Joint Fusion and 2 level spinal Fusion October 2014
  • sandisandi Posts: 6,342
    edited 03/25/2014 - 3:57 AM
    is a surgical emergency- and can result in permanent damage if the compression of the spinal nerves is left for too long.

  • I've had several MRI's; studies of my full back and neck. I'm not very med-speak, though I'm learning. I know I don't have any normal curvature of my spine; it's straight up and down. 2 of the discs in my neck are nearly gone. I was advised to go to the ER if I start getting numbness/tingly in my arms or hands. I get severe neck aches. Dr. advise don't worry about it right now because it's not causing much pain compared to other stuff. (I've always questioned the advice about going to the ER. What would an ER be able to do for those kinds of problems?)

    The latest thing to happen is funny. Tuesday I was web surfing and landed on a Life Expectancy Questionnaire. I spent a lot of time answering as accurately and truthfully as I could. The result said I have 6 days to live, which corresponds exactly to the date of my surgery. I wish I could figure out how to post a jpg here. I tried linking the url but it reveals too much personal information.

    Tuesday was spent up all night, crying, and wondering what to do in 6 days. I sent the results page image to several friends and to my Dr. All the support has helped.

    But what do I do if, as I write this, I have 4 days to live? Today, the 5th day, I spent doting on my humans and pets. We went out for a big steakhouse dinner. I'm still stunned, depressed, because I understand the result is probably not true, but the intellect isn't helpful on the emotional level. It is funny in so far as what are the chances of someone getting such a result? Statistically it may be very common. I want to go on a spending spree, and a weekend travel excursion full of adventure and excitement. But I know I shouldn't. Ugh. It's a strange spot to be in. Is this a Woody Allen movie plot?

    Tomorrow I have to go pick up the special surgical body wipes I'm supposed to use the night before surgery...
  • Did you find out what surgery you are having? Is it on your neck or lower spine? I wouldn't trust some online questionnaire, especially if you've kept your doctors informed of your issues and any changes. The best you can do is prepare for your up coming surgery and hopefully you will find some relief. Try to keep yourself educated on what your condition is, it's always important to be informed. Write things down if you need to, and if something doesn't make sense, ask your doctor to clarify things. Also, there was another thread created about chronic pain and depression, it discusses the use of a psychologist to help with pain and coping. It may benefit you to read it. Stress can affect the healing process. Stay strong and good luck!
    Progressive DDD
    Chronic S1 Radiculopathy
    Discectomy L5-S1 2002
    Discectomy, Laminotomy/Foraminotomy L3-S1 January 2014
    Bilateral SI Joint Fusion and 2 level spinal Fusion October 2014
  • Sorry it took so long to get back. I made it through surgery. I've been taking it easy as can be, even when I'm itching to do more. I have a 4" -5" incision in my lower middle back closed with staples. I think I'm recuperating very well. I'm not sure exactly what surgery was done; the surgeon said he was going to go in and clean out the right side. My lower right calf, ankle, and foot are very numb and a constant pain level 6-7. The bottom of my right foot is numb and feels like I'm walking barefoot on coarse gravel or like it's covered with a vibrating electrical fire. The pain I was having before surgery that would take my breath away is improved, though.
  • I'm glad to hear you made it through surgery and are recovering. Make sure to keep your Dr updated with any changes in your symptoms. Hopefully your pain levels will decrease with time. I've always found it helpful to get copies of my tests/medical records so I know exactly what's going on and it helps when asking my Dr's questions. It may also be beneficial down the line if you were to have any additional problems, which hopefully isn't the case. Just a suggestion so you can keep yourself informed. I can understand wanting to do more, it can be hard to take it easy. I struggle with that as well, but overdoing can cause more harm. Hopefully your Dr has given you clear instructions on what your activity level should be. I wish you the best and hope you continue to make progress.
    Progressive DDD
    Chronic S1 Radiculopathy
    Discectomy L5-S1 2002
    Discectomy, Laminotomy/Foraminotomy L3-S1 January 2014
    Bilateral SI Joint Fusion and 2 level spinal Fusion October 2014
Sign In or Register to comment.