I was at the top of my game as far as my career was concerned in 2010 but I lived with that God awful pain shooting down my left leg. The same pain that many of you know to well. I was limited on the number of surgeons I could see due to the type insurance we had at work and I was getting desperate. I ran into a friend and he told me about having back surgery, how this was the best thing he has ever done and recommended his surgeon. I checked with my insurance carrier and this particular surgeon was in network. Like a dummy in desperation, rather than doing my research on back surgery, alternative treatments, etc I just looked at my friend who is no longer in any pain and living a "normal" life, I jumped in head first with this Dr. and had surgery in August 2010. Long story short my friend had a microdiscetomy and I had a TLIF fusion with an aspen clamp and he used synthetic graphing material which my body rejected.
This surgery did stop the shooting pain down my left leg but I developed a lot of pain in my lower back and hips that would not go away and now my right leg and foot were numb and cold. I had never had any problems with the right leg before and all the Dr (orthopedic surgeon) would say is it could take up to a year for the nerves to grow back. After 8 months of me complaining about my numb right leg and cold foot, the Dr sends me for an EMG, the results show a problem and the Dr. looks at my medical records and tells me I had a cynovial cyst on the nerve that goes down the back of the right leg and into the foot and he had to remove the cyst. This was the first time I had ever heard of this cyst. It almost sounded to me as if he were saying, oops I slipped and I need to cover it up. May 2011 he orders an MRI and tells me the reason for the local pain is the fusion did not take and he needs to revisit and add more fusion material. Skeptical but still caught in the insurance trap and in pain I let him.
Now all we need to do is wait and give it time. Thank goodness my employer was supportive and they didn't terminate me. At this point it was not a workmans comp claim. On January 1 we switched to a lot better insurance company and I went to see the Dr. of my choice. The new Dr pointed out where the aspen clamp had came loose and twisted in my back. He would need to go in, remove the clamp, put in traditional rods and screws and I would be a new man. So Jan 2012 I had this done and came out feeling great with the exception of my numb leg and cold foot. I had accepted the fact that if I could just get rid of the pain, I would be able to live with the leg and foot. It didn't bother me to walk, it was mostly aggravating.
After 8 weeks I went back to work on light duty and 12 weeks I could return to full duty. This meant a lot to me because I am a police officer who is used to being on the street and working a desk is not in my blood. Until December 3, 2012 I had a car stopped on the interstate, I was sitting in my patrol vehicle in the front passengers seat checking a drivers license and I was struck from behind by a vehicle traveling 70 mph. It crushed my wrist and gave me bad whip lash in my neck. At the time I didn't notice much pain to my back but as a precaution I had an MRI done anyway. After the wrist surgery and PT for the neck I start feeling the local pain in my back, not shooting down the legs, and I tell the WC adjuster about it and he sends my MRI off to the surgeon who did my last surgery and the surgeon tells WC that my fusion held just fine. WC tells me the back was pre existing so they will not cover that. What WC doesn't realize is I have something that most car crash victims do not have, yes ammunition for court. Most police cars are equipped with a video camera, and mine was running when I got hit. It really scared them that a jury might see this video so guess what they do? They offer me a severance package. What scumbags! It wouldn't even cover 2 years of my salary. They even did this behind my employers back. I declined and am letting lawyers handle all of that. WC did agree to cover all my pain management which has lead me to the point I am today. I really feel like it has been a blessing in disguise because after about a year my wonderful PM dr set me up with a consultation with a neurosurgeon to discuss a spinal cord stimulator. This NS did an updated MRI, many test and said I can fix you. I was onboard after understanding everything he was talking about. He explained that when I got hit by the car, the fusion held at L/4 L/5 and it herniated L/3 L/4 and the EMG test along with other test showed decompression could possibly fix my numb foot and leg. I was more positive now than I had been in years about my back.
That brings me to June 11 the day of the surgery. It is supposed to be a PLIF at L/3 L/4, removing some of the hardware and replacing it with new. When I come out of the recovery room I look at my girlfriend who has been by my side for the last few years like a champ and she says "you're not going to believe this" I said what? She said you're gonna need a drink!
When the NS went in to my back, the screws were only hand tight, there was corrosion around the screws and on my bones. The NS came in and explained that all he did was remove the old hardware and he would have to go back in two weeks and do an ALIF procedure. He said when I had been hit by the car two years ago, it caused the screws to come loose and the fusion did not hold properly or grow anymore after I got it. He could now clearly see why I was in such pain for so long and it made perfect sense to him. My question to him was, why didn't you fix me when I was under? He explained he needed a vascular surgeon on hand to assist to do the ALIF. Which I completely understand. He said he could have done a patch job and made me feel better for a while but it wouldn't hold from the back for long the way there was corrosion on my bones and since I have already had multiple surgeries. He did say he would not have to cut my back again since he removed all the hardware. He can do the rest when he does the ALIF.
I'm laying here after my 4th back surgery in a lot of pain, I'm having my 5th back surgery in 9 days. Since all of my back problems started I have had all these surgeries, lost both my parents, been through a divorce and bankruptcy and I am more positive today about my back than I have ever been because I finally found a Dr that can tell me the truth, has a plan for my care and most importantly that I have confidence in.
Sorry this was so long, I know everyone hurts. Stay Positive. I will keep you all posted.