Hi Spiney Friends!
It's been a minute (okay a couple years) since i've been on forum because i'm happy to say things have been going so well for me post fusion....that is until October 2014. Here's a little background...
2010 bilateral traumatic pars fx after restraining a violent patient at work. Progressed to spondylolisthesis/lysis of L4/L5. WC took forever to approve proper tx so my condition worsened and when all was said and done in Nov 2011 and Jan 2012 I ended up with 360 degree L4-S1 fusion with discectomy. Hardware is still in place.
Post surgery I went back to work in 2012 and did really, remarkably well once I had recovered. Recovery was hard I spent almost 3 full months in the hospital. I had to learn to walk again as my surgeon said when he opened me up my spine literally fell apart. He said it was like trying to put Humpty Dumpty back together again and they would be happy if I could walk using a cane or walker. The outcome they expected was not what I delivered. I was determined so I fought and pushed as hard as I could. I wanted my life back and was angry I had been robbed of 2 years with my children (my daughter was 2 when I was injured and I was never able to carry her again, heartbreaking to lose those moments with a young child).
I retrained and I went back to work in dialysis, a new field. Pushed a 300lb machine to patients rooms (with doctors approval) and maintained a fairly active life. No where near where I was pre injury but I was able to function, to work and to enjoy life with my family.
7/14 took a job in management to try to save my back and give it a rest. Long story short, ended up working a 17 hour shift in October 2014. I was on my feet ALL day long with only short, 5-10 min sitting breaks. We didn't have a nurse, opened a new shift, I was manager so it was my responsibility to do all the nursing until we hired someone else. My boss had to bring me lunch that day because it was so busy. No heavy lifting, no out of the ordinary activity other than the only change from hospital vs. clinic is that I couldn't raise the chairs to my level while cannulating my patients access points like in the hospital. So the following day I couldn't walk. Couldn't get out of bed, crawled to the restroom. Saw my original surgeon, immediately taken off work. MRI report showed three herniations, annular tear and moderate stenosis. Surgeon said I needed hardware removal and a new fusion. Found out at this time about a HUGE lawsuit against my surgeon and an earthshaking fraud case against him that I may be a part of. Switched surgeons. New surgeon said i'm not a surgical candidate, he would NEVER open me up. Later found out his stance on this was to avoid litigation with my original surgeon due to the potential fraud case.
Saw another surgeon last week (WC sucks, the system is broken EVERYTHING takes forever and you are treated like you are lying despite truth being right in front of you on scans/images). New surgeon said MRI report is wrong issue is severe stenosis at L3/L4, adjacent level. He said it's bad. I have bone spurs also on the canal and nerves. He said because I can still walk he doesn't want to jump into surgery yet. He said I need pain management, epidural and facet injections and if that therapy fails, I need a fusion revision involving 3-4 levels.
My pain is variable. I have good days and like today, it's a bad day. I can hardly get out of bed in the morning the ache and pain in my back is so bad. The sciatica down the left leg and buttocks is variable. Worse in the morning and horrible if I stand in one place for longer than 10 minutes. When standing for longer than 10 minutes the ache becomes horrible as well. I ache from above to below my fusion and it's an ache I can't describe. It just hurts worse than anything. I have arthritis in my knees from skiing/snowboarding accidents in my youth and the ache is not like what I get in my knees. I also walk with a limp as the day progresses. Left leg is noticeably weaker. Physical therapist said i'll end up in a wheelchair and unable to walk if I don't have surgery sooner rather than later because of the nerve damage from the stenosis and spurs. Sometimes it feels like my leg is on fire and other times it feels ice cold. Pain in my left foot as well.
I function okay on pain meds. That is not to say I am back to normal or feel good, I function, I get through my day but i'm moody, irritable and short tempered/impatient with my kids and I HATE it. I went two months without meds because WC wouldn't approve them and now that i'm on a fixed income, divorced and raising two kids with little support, I can't always afford to pay cash for my meds. I lost my medical insurance in January because I couldn't afford the cost of COBRA. When I have the meds I can walk, I can grocery shop, I can do most things still with variable amounts of pain but I can do them as long as I can sit, stretch and lay down on the heating pad as needed.
After being off for so long my employer is terminating me, new surgeon just released me for modified sedentary work and i'm just beside myself. I would love to hear from anyone who is going through something similar and can share what works, doesn't work. And, if anyone has had a fusion and then had stenosis requiring another surgery i'd love to hear your story, good or bad. My road to surgery and recovery was horrific last time around and i have major PTSD as a result. At one point they coded me and had the paddles on me to shock me after surgery. I need some support, guidance and friendship.
Thank you all for taking the time to read the Cliff's notes chapter i've written here. I appreciate your time and responses in advance. God bless