My name is Katrina, I live in the Florida panhandle. I am here today because I finally decided to proceed with surgery and I'm freaking out. I'm not sure why I'm here other than "birds of a feather" I need support for my decision from people who understand not only the physical, but the mental and emotional side of this grand adventure.
I'll be 53 in December and I have to say that no woman should have to deal with my issues while riding the menopause rollercoaster. It's just about too much to bear all at once. Anyway, after suffering with low back pain for several years, I "went down" in October 2010 and was diagnosed via MRI with severe bi-lateral facet joint arthritis at L5-S1. At this point the majority of my pain was sciatia in nature and radiated down my right butt cheek down the outside of my right leg and out my 2nd and 3rd toe from my big toe. It felt/feels like a lightening bolt striking my butt and coming out my toes. The first assumption was that I had a slipped or herniated disc pressing on the sciatic nerve so I went through a series of steroid injections which did not help me at all. In fact, It increased my pain level from a 10 to about a 20 for several months. That kind of pain will make a menopausal woman crazier and meaner than normal. My doctors and I fought my insurance company for an MRI and had to appeal my case and try other conventional treatments (pain meds and rehab) before BCBSFL finally relented and approved the MRI. The MRI revealed the arthritis in my facet joints and bi-lateral synovial (fluid filled) cysts resulting from the arthritic joints rubbing together. Apparently the cysts get inflamed or aggravated and swell pressing on my sciatic nerve. The pain was always on my right side until recently and now I have it on both sides.
After 4 years of pain management, steroid injections, rehab, RFA and 3 surgical opinions from 2 neurosurgeons and an orthopedic surgeon. My only option at this point is surgery. The 1st neurosurgeon recommended removal of my L5-S1 facet joints replaced with rods and screws. The 2nd opinion came from my neurologist's father who is a neurosurgeon. He recommended fusing the facet joints and removing the cysts. So with 2 different surgical opinions I sought out the best orthopedic surgeon in my area who concurred with the 1st neurosurgeon and recommended the bi-lateral facetectomy, and also fusion of my disc at L5-S1 for additional stability. I'm putting my trust and faith into surgeon #3, but have continued to work and try to "get my house in order" because I'm facing forced medical retirement. I needed to get ready for the inevitable. I had to re-fi my house, tried to pay down some bills, lose 20 lbs and quit smoking. LOL!!! I did re-fi my house, incurred more medical bills than I'll ever be able to pay and gained an extra 25 pounds from inactivity, stress and menopause, and who can quit smoking with all of this going on??? I'm also having problems at work. My boss is tired of my "personal problems" He wrote me up for missing work for doctor appointments. He's a jerk and a bully and I'm ready to get out of here before I get fired and lose my insurance. Damn! Epic failure!
So, I'm here because I have another appointment with my trusted ortho surgeon next week. I intend to proceed with surgery and I'm so scared. I'm literally crying as I type this. I'm scared of the surgery (my first), I am scared of the recovery. I am so worried I will be worse instead of better post surgery. Somebody please help talk me through this.
Also, I have been following the clinical trial for facet joint replacement. The Arcadia devise. Has anyone heard anything at all this devise or know of anyone participating in the clinical trial. I'm thinking about it myself and will talk to my surgeon about it next week. If you've made it this far I want to thank you for reading my ramblings. I didn't mean to write a novel.
Katrina in Florida