First off, I am a 26 year old female who never thought I would have to suffer with back pain at this age. Everything started back in 2010 when I threw my back out for the first time. The pain was the absolute worst pain I had ever had and I couldn't figure out what caused it. I was unable to walk, my roommates had to physically pull me out of bed as my nerves would spasm so badly that I was unable to move after a certain point, and I felt the most discomfort that I hope to ever feel in my entire life.
I began having episodes like this about every 3 months for the following year. I would do something random, such as sneeze, twist the wrong way, or bend to grab something and come up wrong and my back would spasm and be thrown out for about a full week. I would be prescribed muscle relaxers, pain medication from time to time, and anti-inflammatory medication. I had no idea why or where these episodes were coming from so I brought it up to my primary care doctor once I was finished with college and she told me to seek a professional back specialist to help figure out what was going on. My grandma knows a lot of people who used a doctor in my area who was highly recommended so I scheduled an appointment right away.
I was told to get an MRI, which I did, and then met with him again to discuss the findings. He let me know that there was a protruding disc (L4) and it didn't seem to look too bad at the moment but could get worse with time. I went to a few other specialists for second opinions and most said the same thing.
I ended up going back to the first back specialist I saw (about a year after my first MRI) and he requested I get another MRI done to see if anything had changed. Sure enough, the herniation got worse and I also had developed arthritis because of it. He stated, with no hesitation, that I should undergo an outpatient surgery which was called a microdiscectomy.
When the surgery was first recommended I was a bit hesitant. I felt like I was too young to undergo back surgery (as I had never had any surgery prior and was a bit nervous as well). I weighed out the pros and cons and decided that it would be the best option for me. I am too young to be living with the restrictions I had been living with. I was unable to do fun things that any young adult is able to do. I wasn't sleeping well, it was uncomfortable for me to sit at my desk at work, I was unable to walk for long periods of time, sit for long periods of time, you name it. It was horrible and it was bringing me down. I was not going to let this back pain ruin my life, especially at such a young age.
I had my surgery on 9/24/14. Today marks my 2 weeks post OP. I am very happy (so far) that I chose to go with the surgery as I can already feel things moving in the right direction. The procedure took about 40 minutes and I was able to go home later that day (I had to show I could walk and urinate). I don't remember much but I was able to get up the stairs to my townhouse with help. I went straight to lay down in bed for a while as it was the only thing somewhat comfortable. The days to follow were not as fun. I was prescribed pain medications and was told to take them before the pain started so that they helped more effectively. I was unable to get out of my bed without help, sit and stand from the toilet without help, and anywhere I walked I was moving very slowly. It was hard for me to sit down for a while. Whenever I tried, I always had a pillow behind me (as I still do while typing this) and could not remain sitting for more than a few minutes at a time.
I tried my first shower 5 days after surgery with help from my mom. I am unable to bend at the waist or twist so she helped me when needed but I conquered it which made me feel great. As the days went by, I was able to get up from my bed and go to the bathroom by myself as well. Three days ago was the first time I went up and down the stairs, which was not nearly as bad as I thought it would be, but I held on to the railing with my dear life. I took one step at a time and went very slow. Just yesterday I took my first shower on my own. I felt like a million bucks! Everything seems to be getting better day by day which makes me believe that this surgery was the right thing to do for the time being.
I have yet to drive, or even be a passenger in a car. I also have not left my house yet. I am going to try and take a small walk with my dad this evening. I feel like it's time that I venture to new levels for my recovery. I have been sleeping mostly on my back but sometimes sleep on my side (the opposite side of my herniated disc) and wake up with pins and needles in my legs. I reached out to my doctor about it and she stated that it is normal and that the nerves are just running their course. I also experienced a few spasms, which are normal as well. She told me that the nerves are unpredictable and just need to do their thing before they are back in the right place.
So, that is that. I survived surgery and am doing well. 2 weeks post OP and I believe I am up to speed with my recovery. Can't wait to try my first walk outside tonight - I feel like I have been trapped in my own house for the past 2 weeks and it's getting a bit frustrating. I have my 3 week post OP appointment next Friday, 10/17, and am curious to see my progress and what my doctor thinks will be the next step.
I plan to update as the weeks go by - just so that someone who may be in my shoes is able to see my story and hopefully obtain some information or answer some questions that may be generated through their process. Any questions for me are more than welcome, as well as any advice from those of you that have been where I am today.
Take care all and be healthy,