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Microdiscectomy hell - multiple surgeries

ChappsCChapps Los AngelesPosts: 11
edited 08/05/2015 - 6:07 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
A couple of years ago, I had a bulging disc issue, which put me on crutches for a couple of months - but before we could use an epidural, it resolved on its own.

In February, before a trip to London, I started to get a tiny bit of sciatic pain in my left leg - I resolved to see the doc when I returned. Unfortunately, while in London, I had a fall, but recovered and landed on my feet. Badly. I felt the shock all the way up my spine. Since I have ankylosing spondylitis (AS), I knew I had done something very bad. Sure enough, the next day, every time I walked and put my left leg down, I felt a terrible pain in my lower spine. I was on an extended set of trips, so I used my crutches and powered through.

Two months after the accident, I had an MRI and it showed a *very* badly herniated disc. So bad that the surgeon couldn't even use an epidural - there was nowhere for the liquid to go, and it would just impact the sciatic nerve even more. The pain in my leg went from a 2 to a 22, on a scale of 1-10. My doc was very concerned that my sciatic nerve would be permanently damaged if we didn't do surgery. So, off to surgery I went.

When I was in post-op, I became concerned that my leg felt even more painful. So much for the vaunted 'you'll feel immediately better' that the doc had promised. Due to my autoimmune issues, I blew up like a balloon, so my surgeon put me on prednisone to help with the pain. It helped a bit, but something still felt very wrong. I went to my rheumatologist, who immediately took me off prednisone - in his experience, prednisone can hide important issues. Sure enough, 24 hours later, I was in shocking amounts of spinal and leg pain, and running a fever. Off to the emergency room I went. Turns out I had a massive staph infection, so I went right back into surgery for a debridement and cleaning of the wound. Then I had a week in the hospital, since staph had been detected in my blood, which is extremely dangerous. I finally got cleared and had a PICC line installed, then went home. I was having 3 to 4 antibiotic IVs via my PICC line each day. By the way, the infection showed up just five days after surgery, which my surgeon thought was nearly impossible. Hah!

To make a very long story a bit shorter, ten days after my second surgery, I had to go back into surgery again, to clean out the wound. My surgeon's PA had refused to believe that the wound was as bad as my home nurse and I had said, so didn't get me the exra antibiotics. The third surgery could have been avoided, if she had done that.

Before the accident, I had been in top physical shape - very muscular and slim - and I would walk nearly five miles every morning with my dogs. After the third surgery, I finally began to heal and then had the PICC removed, went on six weeks of antibiotics, and I'm now in the one month post-antibiotics period, where they will test my blood at the end to see if there's still any inflammation (beyond what I experience with AS).

OK, here's the new issue: I started to get extreme pain in my lower spine. Last night, I woke up with so much pain that I could hardly breathe. I was also shivering badly. After the shivering began to die down, I used a thermometer and it showed a very low level fever - about 99.8. It's since gone down and Vicodin is handling some of the pain.

I'm going to set up an appointment with my rheumatologist and infectious diseases doc to see if we can detect what's going on. If the staph infection is back, it can be handled via antibiotics. The spinal pain could also be from a massive AS flare, which has been going on since I've been off my biologic meds since before the first surgery. Or ... god help me if this is another disc issue. I refuse to go back to my surgeon - he's had three tries, and I no longer trust him.

I'm definitely feeling very depressed and frustrated - I had just gone back to very light working out three weeks ago, and I thought I was on the road to recovering my life. This is a big setback.

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