I ran across this site about six months ago and have been impressed by all that it has to offer. I'm a 56 year old female who has always loved adventure! My back started to give me problems when I was 34, but at first I tried a chiropractor, not knowing the real problem. Soon after that I saw a Dr. and he did a small operation on what I was told was a cyst. Problems continued, and in 2003, they found a small tumor inside my spinal cord. They performed three laminectomies to access the cord. The next year I was having worse symptoms including severe low back pain (like sitting on a broken tail bone) as well as some bladder problems. It was then that the neurosurgeon told me that I had a tethered spinal cord, and that I had it since birth. They went back in opening up more vertebrae and into the cord again. Here they untethered the cord to relieve the degenerative effects. The pieces of the puzzle started to fall together. I was born with a dimple or small hole in the low back (that was the one that the Dr. called a cyst) - it really is all related to spina bifia - in fact the tumor they found also had its beginnings congenitally. So two neurosurgeries later, I had some relief for a few years. Then the pain came back, and I tried pt, pain meds, ice, heat, TENS, relaxation tapes, etc. I ended up having a spinal cord stimulator implanted Feb. of '09. It helped with some of the worst pain in the low back and down the left leg. Then last Spring things took a turn for the worse after a hard fall while I was at work. At this point I was on disability and only working a little - I am an educator and a swimming pool coordinator. The EMG and myelogram showed significant nerve damage in the left leg and foot due to L4-L5 spondylotisthesis. Had a complicated 8 hour fusion done in Aug., but at five weeks, the vertebrae shifted back collapsing the cage, and all the screws came loose from the bone. They had to go back in and do a revision - another long complicated fusion with multiple cages. I'm now almost six weeks out of the second fusion. Have had my brace on since Aug. 4th, and am doing pretty good, but still having constant pain, numbness and burning pain in my left big toe, foot and lower leg. Not as bad as before surgery. This time around, the brace stays on for three months, as well as the big restrictions which I've had since Aug.The good news is that I am on less pain meds, except that with the increased foot and leg problems, I've had to add back in valium at night and lortab some each day.
I have always loved adventure, but this certainly wasn't the path I thought my life would take! God has been gracious. I have great friends and family and God has walked with me step by step, giving me strength for the journey. I sure hope this fusion takes - I am getting really tired of the whole ordeal! Thanks for letting me tell my story.