I am new to the forum. I've held back on turning to the Internet for help, because for some absurd reason I believed that a doctor would help me if I persisted. I fell down a flight of stairs in early February and have been getting progressively worse since. I am 34 years old, female, have 4 kids, a husband, a home, and a job. Until my visit to the surgeon on Tuesday, I was still at least able to get out of bed and move out to the couch to lay and do nothing. I am in bed, which is something I don't do, and I am not the least bit happy about it.
Anyway, I saw my primary about 2 weeks after the fall when the soreness turned into sharp pain in the center of my lower back and the numbness and pins & needles in my left leg weren't going away. He of course sent me for an X-ray which showed loss of height between L4 and L5 which he said was normal for my age and refused to look further for any cause. I was able to get a referral for physical therapy after 2 weeks of calling and bothering his office for it. At intake, I was functioning at 54%, which kind of shocked me even. I didn't realize how intrusive the pain in my back, and now leg had become.
I realized before starting therapy that sitting, and especially driving made things far worse, like made my entire day worse, so I gave up both, thinking it was temporary. Therapy was of no use, and caused far more pain than I felt it was worth. My therapist requested an MRI be done before continuing. This was in early April. My function when reassessed at that time was 26%. My primary ordered an MRI, but it couldn't be scheduled until late May.
I went for the MRI, despite being in a lot of pain from the hour long car ride, hour long wait, and NO pain medication. My doctor called the following day to report that the MRI showed nothing, at which point I asked if he was sure there was nothing he could see that would cause leg or back pain, he confirmed that this was true. A copy of the radiologists report showed up in my mailbox the next day. It said something quite a bit different. Stenosis, something else, and the one I think is important, disk herniation at L4-L5 which was compressing the L5 nerve root.
At this point, I called my doctor to ask for a referral to a spine specialist, he refused. My therapist was able to make an appointment for me, which I just went in for 5 days ago. Understand that I have had no pain medication, I haven't left the house in almost 2 months, and I can no longer care for my 3 year old. I haven't been able to work in 3 months, I am not eligible for unemployment, more importantly, I am in pain! I don't know what to do. Also, my vagina has been completely numb for 4 months, with lightening like pain on both sides of the external surrounding area and thighs. Any movement at this point causes unbearable pain. After visiting the doctor earlier in the week, I am in more pain, I assume from the 2 hours in the car as a passenger. I don't want to leave the house unless it is to fix the problem, and I do mean fix. It just isn't worth it.
The surgeon didn't see me, but his PA did. He predictably told me to go home and ice and take ibuprofen for 6 weeks. I have been doing those things for over 4 months, but I'm used to the nonsense. He also gave me a steroid injection in my leg, saying that he thought my leg pain was hip bursitis. The nurse and my mother told me that the injection would hurt, but I would feel better afterward. I figured the worst that could happen is nothing, or my pain would be numbed for 8 hours. I was actually worried that I would have to be careful not to overdo it when I got home. Ha! The thing is, the injection itself didn't hurt, not on my pain scale anyway. I actually said, "that's it?" when the doctor said he was done. I felt no different immediately after, but by the time we made it down to the car I was in tears. My leg hurt more than it had before! I don't even know how this is possible, as there was lidocaine in the injection. It doesn't make sense.
The PA also said that he can't say what is causing my pain. He said it could be any one of 3 things, but here's the thing that bothers me, obviously the stenosis didn't get worse when I fell. The only thing that could have is the disk. He didn't even mention the disk or nerve compression. He scheduled me for a spinal corticosteroid injection, which is coming up on Monday. I'm terrified that it will cause increased pain, like the leg one did, and I know for a fact that I cannot tolerate any increase in pain. I don't have anything, and can't even take ibuprofen now, because they told me to stop prior to the ESI. If I could get up and walk out into traffic, I would be tempted to. I can't bear the pain anymore.
I called his office and stated my concerns yesterday, and asked if they could just fix the problem, and he said they won't attempt surgery unless I've had the injections fail. I don't know what to do. You are looking at a person who let their appendix rupture, had 3 days of pain from appendicitis, and took my sweet time because I hate whining and complaining. I grew up in a military family where you just didn't complain, you sucked it up. I've had active Crohn's disease most of my adult life, so I know quite well what pain is and how to tolerate it. I get kidney stones 3 or more times a year, don't even bother seeking medical care, since they pass on their own. This isn't the worst pain I can imagine, because I know the gut wrenching, nauseating pain of Crohn's disease. I'm terrified of throwing up, so that might skew my view on which is worse. I made it through that without wanting to die every day, so maybe this is worse.
All I do know is that I hurt, the Vicodin that my mom gave me yesterday isn't even touching it. Even if it did, I don't want to be drugged if this is something that can be resolved. I am also terrified of any of the nerve pain, well it feels like nerve pain, and the numbness will be permanent if this goes untreated, not to mention that I can't take the pain anymore. I just can't take it. I can't just find another doctor, even if I could get a referral, I'm at the point where I am not riding in a car unless it's to a doctor who will treat the underlying problem. The increase in pain that comes from riding in a car isn't worth it. I'm in pain now, but I don't need more pain.
I'm just curious on the ESI. Right now it's the only hope I have that something could resolve, or partially resolve. I can't just lay here forever. The only thing I can do is get up to use the restroom, and even then I need assistance to get seated without falling. I'm just afraid that it could cause more pain, like the one in the leg did, and then what? I just want it fixed so I can have my life back. I was finally healthy, very happy, and enjoying life. I'm not even the same person I was at the beginning of the year. I don't trust doctors, as they have caused permanent damage to me before by failing to treat, but I don't think I have a choice.
Just curious if anyone knows first hand if the injection might at least offer some relief? Or no relief, but no added pain? I've taken plenty of oral corticosteroids in my life, so I know they have the potential to help greatly with inflammation. Will my disk just magically not be herniated when the effects of the injection wear off? I need someone's advice. I am desperate. I know it's a terrible time to make decisions, in the legal world we call it duress, but I have no choice. If I refuse the injection, he won't operate, and I have no hope. Seeing as they seem to think I'm Wonder Woman, and won't prescribe any pain meds, I don't know what to do if it makes it worse. Thank you kindly to all who have read.