** Short version: Chronic pain for over a decade, last flare up unbearable, scheduled 3 level fusion, now pain is gone, thoughts?**
I am going to be 43 next month. I have mild to moderate degenerative disc disease in my lumbar spine and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS). About 10-12 years ago, I injured my back, bulging discs at L3, L4, L5 & S1. Nothing I have done has had any permanent benefit. I have tried SO VERY MANY treatments and nothing seems to work. I have seen surgeons before that have dismissed me saying the MRI doesn't show enough evidence to confirm the type of pain I am having. Meaning, according to the MRI I shouldn't be in the amount of pain I am in. So, the solution was pain meds (as a young mother, that was not an option) The pain comes and goes. I have done physical therapy several times and each time, I plateau and stop making improvements. I have learned to live with it. When I get flare ups, I have learned what to do to manage.
About 2 years ago I saw another surgeon who recommended the infamous discogram (Nope!). Then said my chances of a successful surgery were 50/50. (NO WAY! I thought) So, instead of pursuing this any further, I signed up for Reformers Pilates. I lost 25lbs, was doing pilates twice a week and had reached a point where I was in so little back pain I thought I was healed. I even skied for the first time. I was consistent to a fault in pilates for a year and was really doing great.
Then a CFS flare up kept me from pilates. I started putting the weight back on. And, I was under a crazy amount of stress. (It always seems my back pain would flare up when I was under emotional stress) That was all it took for my back to go out - and nothing I was doing was helping it get better. So, I went to the doc for a steroid pack (something that had helped in the past) No luck. We tried muscle relaxers and two different narcotics with no relief, in fact, the pain was getting increasingly worse. The pain meds weren't touching it. Keep in mind that I hadn't taken anything stronger than an Aleve for years. We scheduled an appointment with a surgeon, got the orders for the discogram (no avoiding it this time) and an Rx for Dilaudid. By the time the discogram rolled around, I was in so much pain all I could do was cry. No relief. If there was a hell, I was certainly in it.
Discogram came back positive for 3 levels (originally it was thought "maybe" just one) Again, the MRI doesn't show a clear reason for the amount of pain I am in. Doc gave me a stronger dose of dilaudid and that seemed to relieve the pain.
So, now, I am scheduled for a 3 level fusion and guess what? Pain. Is. Gone. !!!!!! Really????
I haven't taken ANY type of pain killer for a couple days now. I am torn. On one hand, I NEVER want that horrible pain to come back. But on the other hand, it seems pointless to go in for surgery when I am not hurting. I keep thinking if I loose the weight again & get back into pilates then maybe I can avoid it. But then again, with CFS, I can't really count on that. My husband has the theory that my CFS is really just chronic pain... who knows. I don't want that horrific pain back but I do want to know that this surgery is necessary.
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