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Finally going to have surgery.. my story

Laursb12LLaursb12 Posts: 1
edited 10/21/2014 - 11:07 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
Hi All!

I'm new to Spine-Health but after months of reading forums, I figured I would finally post something. I have FINALLY bit the bullet and will be having a microdiscectomy/laminectomy soon but am terrified! I'm a 27 y/o female and inured my disc by weight lifting (crossfit style) doing kettle bell swings/ dead lifts etc. I noticed "sciatica" back in February on to June, but continued to work out and not listen to my body. Then during a weight lifting session in June, I knew something was horribly wrong. I fell down and could not move and was in the worst pain ever. My PCP didn't think much of it and I had to fight to get an MRI which showed a significant herniation at L5-S1 level. I also have DDD and annual tears at L3-L4 and L4-L5 and facet arthropathy. The pain was unbearable so he prescribed me muscle relaxers and 800 Ibuprofen (which did not touch the pain) and referred me to a physical medicine and rehabilitation physician. I was later prescribed gabapentin which I couldn't tolerate and vicodin short-term. I should mention that I'm the type of person that HATES medication and would rather not take any at all.

To make the story short, I ended up having a epidural steroid injection and ended up in the hospital due to a severe reaction to it. Allergy testing confirmed I am allergic to one type of steroid, thus I could not have any more injections. Around August I went on FMLA as I could no longer sit, stand for more than 5 minutes, and was in excruciating pain. I was put on Lyrica, which helped a LITTLE. I continued PT twice a week from July to October, which did not help at all, and I actually think made me way worse. I also tried acupuncture which did help temporarily (I highly suggest everyone give it a try). Anyways, a week ago I had the WORST back pain in addition to my sciatica, which is a new symptom for me. It felt like a jackhammer on my spine. I went into the hospital and had a second MRI which showed that the herniation is larger now. I'm not sure if I did something inadvertently which caused this and the excruciating back pain. I was given an injection of toradol which did help some and then I had to take vicodin around the clock in addition to Lyrica. I should also mention that I saw two top neurosurgeons in August/September, both whom recommended surgery. However, I was stubborn and choose to try to avoid surgery.

Today, I can hardly walk and am pretty much bed ridden. Even going to the bathroom is very hard for me, so I know in my heart it is time for surgery. I am scared that I have muscle atrophy from being so inactive due to the pain. My numbness has increased but it is still only in my foot; it has not traveled up my leg. However, the pain is unbelievable. I have also had a "crawling" sensation on my leg and tingling. Has anyone else had this? I am scared that some of the symptoms may be permanent. I meet with the NS again on Thursday and cannot wait to schedule the surgery. However, I am scared! Does anyone have any advice to prep for surgery before/after? I cannot wait to get my life back.


  • LizLiz Posts: 7,832
    edited 10/21/2014 - 11:09 AM

    Liz, Spine-health Moderator

    Spinal stenosis since 1995
    Lumber decompression surgery S1 L5-L3[1996]
    Cervical stenosis, so far avoided surgery
  • but as you can tell, there is a time when it is the only viable option. It is good that you talked to two different NS, and they agree that you would benefit from surgery. Prior to the surgery, make sure that you ask the NS, what kinds of benefits can you expect from the surgery, less pain, no more sciatica, more mobility, etc. Ask what is the probability of a positive outcome. Also, how many of these surgeries the surgeon is performing, say in year, and what percent of the patients experience improvement. I found that I am more relaxed about surgery if I have some idea what to expect. Other things you can do is try to eat very sensibly, get plenty of rest, and keep your body and mind in good shape. Make sure you look up the sticky that tells you how to prepare for surgery. Good luck and keep us posted.
  • My biggest piece of advice for you, starting from the time you decide that surgery is necessary up until your surgery date, is:
    Worrying is a waste and time and energy.

    I know it is difficult to think about anything else but try and focus on the positive things in your life and know that a positive attitude goes a long way towards a positive outcome.

    Although the damage was in a different area, I had some symptoms similar to yours.

    My story is here: http://www.spine-health.com/forum/treatment/back-surgery-and-neck-surgery/my-story-cervical-mylopathy-c2-c5-laminectomy-wfusion

    If you have any questions, let me know.
    CSM = C2-C5 Posterior Laminectomy w/Fusion and Instrumentation
    Surgery Complete 10/4/14
  • Hi Laursb12,

    I had a similar experience of trying conservative treatments like you did (for a bit over 3 months) with no progress in alleviating sciatic leg pain and numbness/weakness/tingling/burning running from my right glute down to my foot. I had a large extruded herniation at L4/L5 which was compressing my L5 nerve root. Pain and leg/foot weakness was unbearable to the point I opted to have surgery. I'm 3+ months post op, and the pain is gone (the pain was gone right after surgery), but I still have weakness and numbness in my leg and foot (which is getting a little bit better but slow progress). Doc said nerves take time to heal so I am being patient. I am doing PT 3x per week and walking a lot which helps. No one can absolutely say with certainty that the nerve will heal and give you a time table on this. As for getting ready for surgery, my Doc gave a pre-admission checklist of things I needed to do before surgery including meds that can't be taken, etc. The big thing for me was to prepare mentally, but given my circumstances of the conservative treatment not working, and the pain I was in, I was looking forward to having the procedure done. Anxiety and getting depressed can happen when you get these kind of injuries, especially being young and active and then all of the sudden not being able to even do the basics of walking, sitting, standing...and on top of it dealing with excruciating pain. I experienced these feelings, especially knowing that I would be missing a planned marathon run with my wife and a few other events we planned with the kids this summer, but I have been focusing all my energy on working hard to heal, and not focusing on the negative. Stay strong and best wishes in your healing journey!
  • Laursb12 - Just stopped by to check out the forums and aw your post. I've had 5 of these surgeries, after each one the relief was amazing and I only wished I hadn't wasted time on so many years of conservative treatments before I finally bit the bullet and had my first one around the time I was 30. Unfortunately I continued to have more herniations, and therapies and surgeries and now I am just over a year out of having a 4 level disc replacement in Germany. I know your apprehension! Clear your mind and go in with a positive attitude. Everything is going to be fine after the surgery. Plan on chilling out in bed for the first 5 days, make everything comfortable and just relax and let your body heal. The biggest thing is don't let cabin fever take over and overdue it trying to get active again. Your strength and fitness will be easy to get back when you feel well. Good luck!
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