I was at my spine clinic on Friday, for my long awaited X-ray and MRI , which was previously delayed due to the nurses strike over here. It is 14 months since I had a fusion - L4 to S1 with own bone graft, 4 screws and rods to stabilize a very mobile and painful spondylolisthesis and bi- lateral pars fracture and two ruined discs. I had an appointment with my surgeon 2 months ago and he prescribed Neurontin ( Gabepentin ) to combat the nerve pain and he ordered an MRI in addition to the X-ray which was not possible at the time due to the strike. At that time without an X-ray all the surgeon could say was "something isn`t right here"
The MRI was quite an ordeal, as it was a hot, humid day and the MRI room was dry and quite perfect conditions for an asthma attack, I had taken my inhaler a short while before, but after 40 minutes of stifling the urge to cough, having a dry mouth and throat and fighting for breath, I had to ring the button to tell the nurse I had problems , luckily she told me if I could cope 30 second more, then there was a chance to take a pause when she would be administeing some contrast in my arm , so she held my hips still on the rock hard table for me whilst I took the opportunity to have a good cough, blow my nose and use my inhaler again. Then the contrast needle went in without me noticing a thing and I was fine for the remainder of the MRI . I was tired and aching by the time it was over and walking to the x-ray room was very difficult , but that went well enough due to yet another super nurse there.
I was called up to the surgeons office shortly afterwards and he talked me and my husband through all the picture results on the screen , firstly on the x-ray where there was absolutely no bone graft what so ever to be seen,and he said the bone had been totally reabsorbed by my body and that this is called a Non-fusion. On the MRI, he pointed out a shadow behind first the one, then two, then 3 and 4 screws, saying that this indicated that all the screws were loose and were making larger and larger holes in my vertebrae and that he could measure, a tiny 2 millimetre space between the lowest left wobbly screw , which he said is the reason I have intermitant sharp Zaps of electic nerve pain which I get from my incision site , across to my left hip and down to my left heel, and the constant discomfort of pins and needles and aching.
So I was given the choice of going home and putting up with the unacceptable life of limitation, frustration and pain I have now and to slowly detereorate over the years as my left leg becomes useless and my brain is so mushy from the pain medications, that I could just as well give up and..... well obviously I didn`t go for that option and I am now written up for a new operation, The timing depends upon certain other tests and investigations the surgeon has ordered. He also suspects I have osteoporosis, so I shall be tested for that, and a CT scan to finalize the placing of the new wider and longer screws ( which he ordered whilst we were there !) If the local hospital can fit me in and do the tests in good time for me to start on a fossamax treatment at least 4 weeks before September, then he should beable to do the pre-med appointment together with the anaesthesiologist, get my blood work done and then do the operation in mid-September- If not then he has time again in mid October. He stated a 70% success rate.
I have only had 2 days to let it all sink in so far, and its not quite registered with me yet, only the short term and the relief that all the pain is not just in my head has registered and I have decided to only work 2 to 4 hours per day in future , although I am not sure what my case worker and the sick pay rules will say about the situation, as the job I have, has a job plan written by the sick-pay office which states that I should raise my hours by five hours per week every month, I am a little behind in this plan but some days I have managed to work through the pain , until mid-day or even 1. pm, I start work at 8 , but my day starts at 6 am with breakfast eaten for the sole reason that I have to have meds at that time to ensure I am painfree enough to take the walk to the bus stop and stand and wait for my bus to work. The surgeon said I should carry on being active , but not to force myself through the pain barrier.
I asked about the condition of the disc above all this mess and it is in perfect health, which is one bit of good news !
The surgeon has prescribed Oxycontin to take in the evenings to help my poor night sleep, I have inflamed hips,sleeping on my sides or my back for any length of time is limited and he has doubled up the Neurontin dose to 600mg x 3 daily.
So now, yet again I am eagerly waiting everyday for the post to arrive with appointment dates and waiting to get my life back, I have had to give up my job as a nurse, and greatly limit my love of gardening and am once again going to be relying on my dear husband to take care of me and limit his life as he always has to take my differing daily pain level into consideration.I feel like this can`t be happening to me and have to talk it over fairly often with my husband, just to confirm it is real and not just some awful dream. I am really fed up and have the feeling I could cry, but I have not, not even when I told my mom and dad on the phone. Perhaps I just don`t know how I feel about it all yet as I was hoping and praying that it was just some scar tissue making a misery of my life,Maybe I will explode with emotion in a few days and I should just enjoy the mental numbness for now?