Hi everyone. I met with my surgeon today, and he has decided surgery is my only option. I'm terrified, so I decided to try to find a place to vent and discuss my condition with others who have been through it or something similar. Here's my introduction, and a bit about me.
I'm a 28 year old female, married for 8 years next week, with 2 children, an 8 yr old girl and 4 yr old boy. When I was 12, I fell down a flight of stairs and was brought to the E.R. After the X-Ray, they discovered on top of a broken tailbone, I also had spondylosis at L5-S1. They fitted me with a brace, which I had to wear 24 hours a day for a year. It didn't do a damn thing. I kind of grew up thinking pain was normal, and it was surprising that when I was 18, I was forced to go to a doctor when I was suddenly unable to stand up. They again did X-Rays, and discovered my condition had worsened to a Grade 1 Spondylolisthesis. Over the next 5 years or so, I would do repeated rounds of electro-stimulation, physical therapy, and pain management. At that point, my current doctor got sick of dealing with it, or so it seemed, as he began to just throw muscle relaxers and narcotics at me whenever I would see him. I let this go for a while, and only took the meds when the pain was enough to immobilize me. This was mostly after my marriage, and being that he was serving in the Army, and I was forced to see military medical personnel for this, they just didn't give much of a crap about some soldier's wife. They never did more X-rays, or MRI's, even when there were weeks on end where I would be unable to stand up straight or walk properly. I thought this was just what life had to be like, and began changing my habits to help prevent further injury. I stopped working out, as this seriously aggravated my pain, stopped wearing heels, stopped being able to go on trips with my family as I couldn't handle long drives or walks, etc.
Last year, in early 2013, while my husband was away serving and couldn't help me, I fell off a step ladder at home.Thankfully, at the time I was living in my home state, about 20 minutes from my family. I was rushed to te E.R. by a family member, and for once, I saw a non-military doctor. He immediately did X-rays, and realized my condition had progressed to a Grade 3 spondylolisthesis. He referred to me one of the two best Spinal Specialists in the state, and I went for my appointment, assuming I would once again be tossed out the door with Xanax/Valium/Percocet/Vicodin combos. Instead the doctor there decided I should start doing intensive physical therapy, along with getting an epidural/steroid injection. The procedure was one of the worst things I've gone through. They didn't sufficiently numb the area, and I was sobbing in pain through the entire ordeal, with nurses holding me down and telling me to suck it up. Afterwards, I was in so much pain the friend who brought me had to half carry me to the car. By the end of the night, I was unable to get out of bed. I had trouble walking, and was taking as much pain medication as I could, according to the dosing on the bottles. Tis lasted for a week. I had to crawl to get to the bathroom, which would take around 20 minutes of sweating and crying. I thank whatever power is up there that I had family and friends to help me care for my children. Once I was able to regain mobility, I began physical therapy. This consisted of forced walking on a treadmill at speeds and inclines that hurt so badly I would be in bed in the rest of the day, and weight lifting. How this was supposed to help, I'm still not sure. The injections didn't take, and there was 0 change in my pain levels or condition, which I was then told was "an occasional outcome" of the procedure. I continued to take my pain medication, generally only at night as they made it impossible for me to function and work or care for my kids during the day.
Finally, in March of this year, my husband returned home. Once he truly saw my condition, he insisted I stop working immediately, and find a new doctor. I agreed, and sought out the most highly recommended orthopaedic and spinal center I could find. My first appointment consisted of gentle uestioning, some neuro testing, an X-Ray and an MRI. Upon getting the X-Ray and MRI pictures, the doctor showed me the pictures, which showed a Grade 4 change, with significant slippage, a herniated disc, pars defects and the disc itself starting to die from the compression, as well as stenosis and significant nerve compression. He immediately scheduled me for the first available appointment with a surgeon who specializes in treating these conditions. The first opening was yesterday, 7/14/14.
When the surgeon came in, he was very pleasant, and immediately started explaining the risks and procedures involved with an MIS TLIF at L5-S1. He answered whatever questions I could think of, and was very reassuring. I wasn't aware that surgery was my only real choice left, and when I asked him if he thought it was an option, he informed me that he had already ordered one as soon as seeing my charts and scans, and honestly believed it was the best possible choice for me. I had surgery in the back of my mind of course, but thought of it as a distant possibility, not a real one. He explained his team would submitting everything to my insurance company, and that I would receive a call from his coordinator within the next 7 days with an official surgery date, which he would like to be in August or or Early September.
Frankly, I'm terrified. I've heard so many terrible stories about what some people go through after spinal fusion. On top of this, my husband has only been back with us a couple months now, and having served for so long, is not only still acclimating to civilian life, but getting used to trying to pick up the slack as I can't do a lot of things at home, and will be even more restricted for a while after surgery. I worry that he won't be able to handle this situation, and that my kids will suffer or that I will be with no help from him during the recovery. My family will help however they can, but they can't generally afford to miss work to come help me. My daughter is going into 3rd grade, my son is starting school for the first time in the fall, and I won't be able to do so many of the things that I want to for them.
As it is, I'm seriously limited. I'm currently taking Tizanidine and Tramadol, at their maximum levels, and the Tramadol gives me severe nausea and vertigo. I can't do laundry, because I can't pick up the baskets, I struggle to do dishes since it requires standing so long, cooking meals is an adventure in pain tolerance, and food shopping lands me in tears by the time I'm home. I'm scared to death of this suddenly upcoming surgery, and I'm hoping talking about it in these forums and hearing others experiences will help me. I don't know a lot of the technical terms and words for my condition or how they relate, because until recently I had no idea the condition had progressed so far, and I'm still learning about it. So thank you in advance for reading, and for any help advice any of you offer.
28 y.o. female, 15+ years of pain. Dx with spondylolisthesis, spinal stenosis, with double pars defect, dessicated and herniated disc, all at L5-S1. Awaiting MIS TLIF surgery to be officially scheduled, should receive a call with official date by 7/21/14.