I'm a 28 y/o woman with a history of back and joint troubles, and I'm currently 1 week out from a procedure done in my lumbar region.
I've had a bad back since around the age of 18, but in my late teens to early 20s it'd flare up so rarely - maybe once every year or so - that I never bothered to get anything in that area checked out. I'd just pop some Tylenol, use a hot pack, and generally be up on my feet again in 2 or 3 days. However, in the past few years I'd noticed things getting progressively worse. My back went out more often - about twice a year - and I'd be laid up for longer periods and with more pain than I'd experienced before. This last episode was the one that did me in and got me the help I could have used years ago.
I was nursing some lower back pain and right side sciatica for most of February and March, and was attempting to treat it with gentle exercise, stretching, warm baths, and self-massage. Things would calm down for a day or two and then flare up again. It was really bothering me, so I finally made an appointment with my GP to get it looked at and figured all would be well. Then early last week I was sitting on my porch writing some emails and I twisted in my chair to reach for a glass of water, and that small motion ended up wrenching my spine pretty spectacularly. I immediately retired to bed for the next few days, only getting up to use the bathroom, take more Tylenol, and stuff food and water down my gullet. The pain was pretty terrible unless I was lying on my right side; for some reason the pressure in that position seemed to somewhat relieve the pain shooting through my hip and leg. On the fourth day I noticed a little numbness in my butt and thigh, which over the span of 48 hours spread to cover my groin and most of my right side from hip to knee, and got more and more intense to the point that I finally broke down and called a consulting nurse at the local hospital for some advice. She told me that, given the numbness and the fact that I'd been constipated and having trouble emptying my bladder completely, I should run to the emergency room ASAP.
I got there within the hour and was put into a hospital gown, poked with needles, made to pee into things, and run through an MRI. Once the results were back the attending physician told me both he and the radiologist agreed that my spine is in about as poor a condition as either one of them has ever seen. He recommended immediate surgery and arranged for a neurosurgeon to visit me. Once the surgeon showed up he too said that he hasn't seen a spine in such bad shape in years and years. He showed me the images of my MRI and I immediately saw what everyone was talking about, even with my untrained eye: four herniated discs, one of which was compressed almost to the point of being invisible and oozing beyond the surrounding vertebra, pinching the nerves there and causing the sciatica and numbness I'd been experiencing most of the week. He told me that disc was the one that was concerning him the most, and that he'd like to operate on me as soon as possible. I agreed, and two hours later I got a laminectomy and microdiscectomy at L5-S1. (That really seems to be the disc of choice around here, I've noticed.)
I was discharged from the hospital the afternoon following my surgery and have been recovering at home since. My pain level has been low and my incision seems to be healing quite nicely, with no infection and just a bit of pinkness and tenderness in the immediate area. Throughout the day I seem to do just fine with half a Norco and two ibuprofen every 4 to 5 hours. I'm able to walk comfortably and try to make out of bed every hour, usually to the front porch to do a couple of slow laps and then sit in the fresh air for 10 minutes. I do have to remind myself that even though I feel pretty darn good, all things considered, I am still healing and need to take it easy. My body feels ready to take part in all sorts of activities that would make me break a sweat, but I know it's not and that I have to be very careful and gentle for the next several weeks.
Anyhow, that's me. If you managed to read through that huge wall of text I congratulate you - the pain meds have the side effect of making me extremely chatty, apparently even in text form. I look forward to taking part in the community, and I'll see you around.