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.