Hello, I'm MC4198. I have been reading Spine Health for several years and this is my first entry/introduction. I am a 52 year old female, married, no children. I had my first spinal fusion at L5-S1 twenty seven years ago. Ten years later I had a fusion with plates, screws and bone just above my first. The first surgery went very well, I had 9 pretty decent years. The second surgery took away most control of the front of my feet (not drop foot). I was unable to put weight on the balls of my feet or toes, could'nt stand on "tip toe", walked on my heels for about 16 years. I then had a night that was a miracle of sorts, albeit it was so painful one might not call it that at first. Electrical and muscle and bone pain like nothing I had ever experienced went from hip to toes, both legs. But, in the morning I had regained some movement in my toes! I then discovered that I could sort of walk "heel to toe", but I had to concentrate very hard to do so. Now I pretty much walk somewhat normally. I cannot however stand on tip toe, nor lift myself up to tip toe position. I can, if I lift myself with my arms on a counter bring my weight to the balls of my feet for a few seconds. When I do this my legs automatically bend at the knees putting my bottom almost on the ground. So I still have to concentrate on walking correctly, though it comes more natural after two years. I apparently cannot send a signal to my feet to raise up to tip toe. I went into the operating room walking correctly, no feet problems, I left in the condition I described above. My surgeon "assured me" that he never went into the area that would affect my feet, but something happened in the operating room that day obviously. Since my second surgery I have had chronic pain, for many years I used mostly anti inflammatory meds to control it, occassionally taking some tylenol #4. Now I have been on Oxycontin and Oxycodone for the last 10 years approximately. My dosage is considered high, but my Cervical and Thoratic spine "joined in" about 4 years ago, I did not get my medication raised however. I have not had an increase in medication in 7 years, well before my upper spine was involved.
I started getting steroid injections for the upper back about 4 and a half years ago, but they have stopped working about a year ago. I also have been in and out of physical therapy for the whole time since my lumbar spine became injured. I am no longer allowed to take Motrin or anything like that as it was affecting my kidneys in a very bad way. Recently, about 5 months ago I began Lidocaine infusions at the Pain Clinic I go to for the past year and six months. I have found some migraine relief from them, but little else. I also was getting the steroid injections into my occipital lobes, though I honestly don't know how to explain the reasoning for that.
I'm a bit nervous, so please excuse me if I am rambling. I read the rules but still am not exactly sure of the best way to tell my story. For the last 5 years a new surgeon,(my previous surgeon has since retired). supposedly the best around, so he says. I will say I have looked up on him and he is considered one of the top in his field throughout America. Unfortunately we do not get along very well as I feel he is quite arrogant and short with his patients. He also doesn't respect women much, when I took my husband with me it was like a different doctor was in the room! I was told only "broad" explanations, yet he went into great detail with my husband about my back, even drawing him diagrams! I have 6 diagnoses of the spine that I am aware of. I do believe my doctor is correct in his diagnosis as I have had several other examinations by respected spinal surgeons. My surgeon doesn't believe in pain medication, although I do know he has given out medical marijuana scripts to several people I know personally. He denies this. I get my pain medication from my General Practitioner. This surgeon has been after me to get my back operated on since he first saw me, so far I have not consented. He gives different "outcomes" each time I see him. The average percentage of "me feeling a bit better" are around 30% if all goes well. In a nutshell he will be fusing most of my back, from L5-S1 all the way to the top of my cervical spine, lots of plates and screws, decompression of the spinal stenosis, several other things I cannot spell nor pronounce. Ending with a "cage" that will enclose my entire spine. Almost forgot, he mentioned removing a couple of vertabrae, I hope I misunderstood that.
On top of all this I have a number of other unfortunate medical conditions, most unrelated to my spine so I don't think I should go into them here.
The latest issue though is one that I have read several forums on here and am hoping beyond hope that someone may offer me some advice on. I have been suffering severe chest pain for many months, it has gotten progressively worse. I can only describe it as I have been told. The pain is "like a man's heart attack". I am told women most often have "silent" heart attacks? I was sent to a cardiologist, did the whole workup. I failed the chemical stress test miserably, was told later the technicians should not have let me go. The next day was Saturday, my doctor called and said my heart was severely damaged from at least one if not more heart attacks and if/when the pain hit again to get to the ER if I wished to live. Monday (my test was on the previous Friday) I saw the cardiologist. He said that one part of the test made absolutely no sense, my heart rated 68 out of 70. He said that meant my heart was very strong and healthy. I was rushed into surgery so he could see for himself exactly what was going on. Luckily for me there is nothing wrong with my heart, although I continue to have unbearable chest and arm pains that can last as long as 24 hours or more. These "spells" are happening more and more frequently. Usually about 3-5 times a week.
The past two months I began having abdominal pain with it, my stomach bloats out very far, feels hardish, I can feel any food that I have eaten "swishing around" and it seems as if it takes forever for my stomach to empty, it is also extremely painful. I have had an upper endoscopy as the thought was a hernia. The test results came back that I have an exceptionally healthy upper GI. So, this brings me to you kind people here on Spine Health. I have been reading some forms that sound exactly like my symptoms, they seem to concern the thoratic spine. So there is my basic story, I hope I haven't rambled too long, but after 27 years of spine trouble and pain I don't really think there is a short story. Thank you very much, MC4198.
Monica M. Cochran