Hi all, Need your advice! and sorry my story is so long!
Hopefully I am on the right message board. My name is Pam. Just turned 42 a couple of weeks ago and just 12 weeks ago was doing great. In May I decided to rejoin my old gym and start water aerobics again. I did it for about 1 year, over 2 years ago and I loved it. Granted, I've gained more weight since then (already overweight, which I know isn't good for the ole back, have been parked at desk jobs for the last 20 years and hadn't done anything that could be considered upper body work out since then (just walking and biking.)First class involved using weights underwater and I promptly pulled what I though was my bicep in my right arm. I gave it 2 weeks to heal, but by then my arm was numb and achy. I just thought that was muscle related and kept on with the classes until mid June when I woke up with throbbing shoulder pain. By then the tingle stuff started down my right arm into my thumb and 1st finger. By then the ole lightbulb went off and I realized I had a pinched nerve. I took an xray (which shows some beginning narrowing on the c4/c5, but otherwise was ok), got my flexeril and started p/t a couple of weeks later. I gave it a couple more weeks and treated myself to an physiatrist appt for my birthday present to myself. He ordered an MRI and I did it first thing last Weds am and had a call by that dr 3 hours later telling me the MRI was "impressive." I had been hoping he meant the clarity of pictures
He also stated that I had a walk in appt with the office's spine surgeon on Friday am. They were going to fit me in and be there 1st thing in the am. Hmm, not good I figured. Thank goodness for my muscle relaxer and Lyrica (prescribed because of bouts of referred forearm and bicep pain, which have pretty much stopped)to help sleep or the pure anxiety of it all would have had me up all night. That's the weird thing, other than the occasional nerve pain down the arm,a little hand numbness and just being tired and sore by the end of the day, overall , I have felt pretty much ok. P/T has really helped me stretch my neck and shoulder muscles and my guy helped break down a few tight trigger points that were in my shoulder. So I met the ortho surgeon Friday am and he says "your here because" and I go "I'm the impressive one" and he goes, "OH, you're the one?" Apparently I won the "we haven't seen a herniated disc your size in awhile award" :)Anyways, I have a badly herniated C6 and it's pressing on my cord. He was very nice and he comes very recommended. Has a conservative reputation and has been doing this for 15 years, etc, etc. He tells me I can leave it as is and live with the pain the numbness but that my right arm will eventually atrophy and I'll be pass the point of no return and he did say very gently that if I were to have an accident and/or fall I could be facing paralysis. Ok, he's got my attention. I figured he was going to tell me to keep doing the p/t and check back in 6 months. He said I need a c6/c7 ACD fusion pretty darn soon. Just a single level. Said he saw a slight bulge on the c4 but that he didn't for see this being an issue in the future. The rest of my neck/bones looked good and strong. I've debated going to get a 2nd opinion, but I saw that MRI. The herniation is huge. I seriously doubt I'd find anyone who was going to say not to do surgery. I'm just kind of ticked, since it seems probably within another year or 2, ADR will be standard and accepted and easier to obtain insurance approval. What I don't like is the whole domino effect that is talked about. It just makes me wonder how long before I hear that the c4 is now herniated and I will need to go fuse that to the 5 and then 5 to the 6. I figure the only thing I could hope for is that ADR is standard by then and maybe I won't need a 3 level fusion. Of course, then there's the whole issue about the donor bone not fusing, hardware falling off, etc, etc. I keep telling myself to turn the computer off and that there are plenty of successful fusions that don't create future problems (which, of course you regular posters know, because they don't come back to post, because things are good.)I actually have an old co-worker who did a c4/5 fusion approx 3 years ago and I'm hoping she'll call me this weekend so we can talk. She was in a lot of pain and never regretted her decision to go ahead with surgery and as far as I know, has no major issues. My biggest fear is that since I'm not suffering too much now, is that I'll end up in pain after surgery. I've already had a brain tumor removed 15 years ago and figured that would be the hardest thing I would ever go through. Back then, I had my mom and more family members for support. Now, it's just me and even though I still have family and friends for support, it just feels harder. I just hate the thought too of being dependent on any medications. Now, I debated posting, because I've been reading a lot of your posts and I know there's a lot of you who have been to hell and back and keep plugging away and that gives me a lot of faith that I should be thankful that I'm only hearing that I need a single level fusion. I ok with the thought of just walking and biking for exercise with some good stretching and light weights for upper body exercise. Walking has always been my choice for exercise and relaxation and I do give thanks that I have no lower back issues (or none that I'm aware of yet
I just thought it would be nice to hear back from some of you. I have to talk to the dr's asst tomorrow am and set a surgery date. BTW, he said if I do it on a Monday, there's no reason I can't be back to work by the following Monday. Sounds good to me, but I see a lot of people had to take a lot more time off than that. I have my oh, 25 more questions to ask list ready for that.
So if anyone has advice or words of encouragement, I'm open! I just still can't wrap my arms around the fact that 12 weeks ago, nothing going on and here I am now. Needless to say, I regret rejoining the gym or not realizing that my arm numbness and aches had been a sign of issues all along. If I would have just laid off at that point, the herniation might have never gotten to this level. It's hard to forgive yourself for stupidity!
Thanks for taking the time to read my posts. I feel better for getting my words out and onto paper, so to speak.