Firstly, I must say that this website and community on it is a godsend. I've been a spectator for several years and the topics and discussions amongst the people here have helped me in many ways immensely. It's therapeutic to know that there is a community of people willing to talk about their medical conditions and have sound advice or answers given to them.
Before I get to my questions, I will give a little background with hope that with the information that I provide will give some of you the content to help me out. When I was 17(currently 32) I suffered a weightlifting accident while squatting with over 350lbs. I thought nothing of it and treated it as a pulled muscle. two weeks later I started football practice. I took a jarring head on hit and felt my left leg go numb. The numbness began to subside, along with the pain, to a tolerable level but I still felt it prudent to see a doctor. On my first visit, I was told that it was nothing more than a pulled muscle so I went back to football practice the following day. I noticed that while the pain was at a tolerable level, I could not run as fast as I could and that the more I ran, the more the tingly sensation in my leg was present. I went back to the doctor and was given an xray which showed no major damage. I tried practicing again and something just did not feel right as the numbness became worse so I forced myself to quit hoping that the symptoms would go away with rest.
A year later, I noticed that when I tried to do anything physically extensive, ie. basketball, raquetball the symptoms became prevalent but weren't intolerable. Still, they were enough where I wanted to see a doctor. Upon my visit, I came to find out that my primary physician has changed. He did something the other doctor didn't which was run two fingers down my spine and without me telling him where my pain was, his hand stopped exactly in the area in which I felt it. He told me that we should look into this and have a followup visit. Several weeks later I went back to the clinic to find that it was bought out by a larger entity and that some of the staff was replaced, including my new doctor. So, now I had to deal with a different doctor. He told me that he believes that I have a pulled muscle and when I tried telling him about my prior visit with my last doctor, he said that there were wasn't any notes in my file, in fact my file was blank. So, at that point I became frustrated and stopped going to the doctor.
Three years later, my symptoms became worse so I went back to the doctor who promptly told me that it was a pulled muscle at which point I asked him if that a pulled muscle can last four years. He didn't answer my question and didn't want to preform any scans on me. After this visit, I gave up getting medical help and became to believe that the pain and numbness was all psychological.
As the years went by, my symptoms became worse but I ignored them. At the age of 27 I had a slip on the ice in which I folded as if I was a taco and landed right on the problem area. My pain and numbness exploded exponentially. Luckily I married a nurse and she would no long allow be to ignore my problems and set up a meeting with the top neurosurgeon at the hospital in which she worked at. I was given an MRI and when my surgeon was able to view them, he had his staff call my wife immediately(while she was working). She was told that he was cancelling his upcoming vacation to operate on me ASAP because there's a chance that I may become paralyzed in my left leg should I not seek medical attention immediately. I was given the choice of either a L3-L5 fusion or a laminectomy between my L4-L5. We both decided on the latter of the two since a fusion is so risky and that I am rather young for it.
Well, it's been two years since my operation and I must say that my pain and numbness in my left leg is worse. I've seen several doctors for counsel but I am usually told that I'm a medical mystery because they can't figure out why my symptoms have gotten worse post surgery. I've had the cortisone shots, physical therapy, and a nerve ablation to no avail. The longer I walk, stand, sit on a normal chair, the more numb and unresponsive my leg gets. It got so bad a few times that in order for me to get in my SUV, I had to pick my leg up with my hand. My pain is currently being managed but is still at times quite severe, it's enough that I have to change my shirt because I'm soaked in sweat
I've seen 5 doctors since my operation and have gotten vague or no diagnosis. I've been told that its failed back surgery, that my nerves are damaged, or that I'm a "medical mystery". I am often afraid to speak my mind to the doctors in fear that they will see me as a "pain seeker" since I've come to believe that's why I was initially misdiagnosed all those years ago. When a 17 year old comes in with back pain, I'm sure that it raises a few eyebrows even though I never once asked for medication of any kind. I suffered an ulcer in my mid twenties because I used so much ibuprofin due to that I felt that the doctors would think I was trying to get pills and just brush me off as other doctors have in the past which was psychologically damaging. I don't care for being treated as if I were a criminal when I'm trying to seek help.
I apologize for the novel I wrote but I thought some background information would be helpful to those willing to answer my questions that the doctors I've seen can't seem to answer.
--Do any of you suffer from similar symptoms and if so, what helpful medical advice could you give me to manage my condition?
--To those of you with nerve damage, is there any hope for me or did I possibly damage myself beyond repair?
--Does nerve damage get worse even if you start to "take it easy"? I've slowed down quite a bit and I've noticed that symptoms seem to still progress
--The big question: My surgeon told me on my last visit a few months ago that I should get a fusion. He would not answer me when I asked if my symptoms would get better or if there's a possibility that things could get worse. I'm deathly afraid of going paralyzed in my leg and I fear that if I don't get the fusion, I will but I'm also afraid that my symptoms will get worse just like after my first operation. So, to those of you with experience with such matters, was a fusion beneficial to you or did you find little change in you conditions or did your conditions actually worsen?
Thank you to those of you that took the time to read and respond to my post.