Hello, I am glad to find this site.
I am 54, female and after 10 years of doing every conceivable treatment for back pain and radiculopathy, I decided to see a neurosurgeon.
This all started after lifting and twisting in an attempt to move a 500 pound table saw. (typical behavior for me...I am stubborn, controlling and don't like to ask for help... AND I have been in healthcare for 25 years and I am probably not the best patient due to the personality traits listed above)
Besides having a fairly good grasp on physics, I knew that moving something 4 times my weight was stupid when I woke up the next day and could not lift my right foot. (Or stand up straight without shouting deleted expletives at 120 decibels) I knew that the "foot drop" meant that I REALLY messed up.
Long story short, in an effort to avoid surgery I have done just about everything I can think of to fix the damage I created with the infamous "lift and twist" incident. I bought a TENS unit, every heating and vibrating ergonomically and politically correct device on the face of the earth. I wish I would have invested in Bayer stock because I am sure that the number of NSAIDS I have taken kept them on the bull side of the market. I have seen my PCP, a physiatrist, a chiropractor, physical and massage therapists. I have tried magnets, germanium pellets, topical compounded pain creams, lidocaine patches and Salon Pas (a bit better that puppy paws) I have tried meditation and "just sucking it up". I've had acupuncture, acupressure, 5 epidural injections and 4 SI joint injections ...and I am pretty sure that in a moment of desperation, I've tried a partridge in a pair tree (a seasonal nod)
After the litany of treatment, several falls resulting from intermittent foot drop (I'm sure would have pulled hits in the hundreds if caught on video) and worst of all, not being able to swing my driver anymore, I decided to have an MRI. Which confirmed that I am quite incapable of following my own medical advice. I have severe nerve compression at L5-S1 with Modic type II changes, spondylolithiasis and other big latin words that basically mean I hurt myself and have been walking on the earth for 54 years.
As I'm sure is quite common with the stubborn, control type folks, I don't take anything but NSAIDs for pain. Which is one of my concerns about having fusion. Having to go months without the ONLY thing that allows me to work without being a mean and jaded, bitter human being cursing gravity for making me bend over to pick up the $$ I dropped. (I don't bend from the waist for anything less than a $5)
It probably quite clear, I have not had previous spinal surgery. I have had 2 C-sections and an abdominal hysterectomy (should have had a zipper installed). So, I know that separation of the abdominal muscles with sharp objects is not how I would choose to spend my vacation. But, it is NOT the pain that caused my hyper-vigilant avoidance of surgical intervention. It is the previously mentioned personality traits... the difficulty giving up control and asking for help. The very thing that got me into this 10 year journey of trial and error. If I had just asked for help when I moved that table saw.
So... I find this great website and decided that I would practice the skill of asking for help. Despite being in the medical field for what seems like forever... I know too much, but not enough. I am humbled by my own pain, which is now worse than it has ever been, but also by the stories I have read on this site. I am hopeful that I will be in the 90% that my surgeon feels I have for return to the functional status I had prior to the injury. Minus 10 years of aging that has felt more like 40. I am still in good shape, I have always been fairly athletic, I have never smoked but I do have a chronic autoimmune disorder that effects the connective tissue...no serious manifestations and no steroids for many years.
I look forward to interaction and learning about this process. And most importantly, to let go, give up control and allow the experience of others to help me through what I am sure will be a challenging adventure.