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3 back surgeries at 28 years old. My battle with back pain

JohnnyRebKYJJohnnyRebKY Posts: 8
edited 02/24/2013 - 1:11 PM in Lower Back Pain
Hello all. New member here and glad to be here. I'm not really one to speak about my problems on the Internet but I'm to the point where I need some support and friendship with other people who understand the terrible Demond's of back problems. Not really here for a pity party, I guess more or less to get it off my chest. As you all know sometimes our peers, especially at my young age, can find it hard to understand and comprehend how tuff back problems are and how they can destroy your life. Especially someone like me who had always been sort of a " John Wayne " figure and now a suffering cripple.

Anyway I can remember my first episode with chronic back pain at 16 years old. Living in rural Kentucky my life consisted of a lot of physical adventures. Hunting, riding ATVs, working hay fields, ect. 6'2 inches tall and as physically fit as someone gets. From time to time at age 16 I would have terrible episodes of lower back pain. I bought my first back brace at 16 and made a few trips to the doctor over it. The usual diagnosis from the doctor was " your too young for back problems so its got to be a pulled muscle". I accepted this as truth after a few visits and x rays that showed nothing wrong.

At 20 years old I was still suffering with it. Now it had moved into my legs. I was a college student at the time and could barely sit at my desk with these burning and ripping pains down my legs. Once again, my doctor takes x rays and says nothing is wrong. Take muscle relaxers and rest a few days. By this time I had dealt with the pain so long that it became normal to me.

At 22 I joined the Marines after earning a criminal justice degree and was to be a military police officer. I remember the night before I shipped out not being able to bend over and touch my toes and thinking this wasn't going to go well. I fought through boot camp for 6 weeks before I gave out and was sent to a medical platoon. Naval doctors took a x ray and said nothing seemed wrong. I was unable to perform and was eventually given a medical discharge and sent home.

At 24 I gave out and had to be taken to the ER because I couldn't walk. I refused a MRI because my insurance with work hadn't kicked in yet and couldn't afford huge medical bills. Was sent home and laid in bed for a week and was back on my feet.

At 25 I finally broke down and saw a orthopedic surgeon. MRI showed 2 severely ruptured disks in lower back and degenerative disk disease. The doctor said he had no clue how I was even walking, and that I had been walking around in this condition for a few years. He said I was officially the tuffest patient he had ever had. He done a surgery on me and removed the disk particles and cleaned me up down there. After surgery my leg pain was gone and within a few months I was working again.

After that surgery I would have a stiff spell from time to time but nothing majorly bad. I took a job driving a long haul 18 wheeler and was doing fairly well.

At 27 I was in the bathroom one evening and coughed. It brought me to my knees. I was unable to get up and had excruciating pain. I knew what had happened. My calf muscle on the left leg began to contract and move on its own and my toes were wiggling uncontrollably. I had no medical insurance again and refused to go to the ER. After a day the muscle movements stopped and my left leg and foot went numb. The pain was gone but I knew it was at a cost. I finally got the state to give me a Medicaid card because I was unable to work and had a dependent child in the home.

MRI results showed a gigantic disk rupture in 2 places with a big chunk stuck in my spinal chord. The other two disks were severely deterioted above it. Doctor said there was no other choice but to do a 4 level spinal fusion.

March 1, 2011 I was in operating room for 10 hours. I woke up feeling like someone had shot me in the back with a cannon. I'm not going into full detail but it was the worst pain I had ever experienced in my life. I was cursed with severe headaches and dizziness as well. Went home after a week and had to come back because I was turning colors from the pain. Doc upped me to dilated pills ( can't remember spelling). Anyway it was a long hard road getting back on my feet.

6 months later I had to undergo surgery AGAIN. This time because I had a spinal fluid leak which explained the headaches and dizziness. I had a huge pocket of fluid under my incesion. I had to be completely opened back up to fix the leak and started the process all over again.

Now, here it is 1 year post OP on my fusion and I feel worse than ever. I have to take hydrocode 7.5 4 times a day along with anti depressant medications. Sometimes I dunno which is worse, the continued back pain or the severe anxiety I suffer from. At 28 I have a long ways to go in life and I feel 90. My back pain sucks all my energy out and I'm very fatigued all the time. I don't have pain in my legs anymore at least, but my left leg and heel of my foot is still numb. I suppose it is permanent nerve damage. I don't notice is much anymore I guess because I've gotten used to it. Doc says there's just nothing else he can do and more surgery won't do me any good. Of course the story I got was that after a fusion I would be back to work in 6 months. I was shocked to find out later how often these fusion surgeries fail. My fusion is solid, but the pain is still there and my back feels like a solid peice of steel. Not to mention I have ALOT of scar tissue now

I have since filed for disability against my wishes but I have no other choice. And being as young as I am, winning disability will prob be a long battle. I'm sure a long way from my dream of being a Marine and later a police officer at home. My failed back has robbed me of my life. I sit at home all day with nothing to do and unable to do a lot of things I once enjoyed. But, I'm thankfully to have a good family and to be alive period. It could be worse ya know. I just shiver at the thought of what's to come though. At my young age I have a lot of years left for more deterioration

Anyway I guess my novel needs to end here lol. Feels good to tell my story. I know I'm not alone in this and that's why I'm here. We have to play the cards we are dealt I suppose. As long as we are all still on this side of the soil I guess we're doing alright. We could have brain cancer or something worse.



  • AllMetalAAllMetal Posts: 1,189
    edited 02/24/2013 - 2:31 PM
    You came to the right place. There are lots of young people here that understand the anxiety of getting older with a bad back. I turned 33 last week, had my first surgery at age 9. It is hard to explain all of this to friends who have no idea.
    33yo mom of two. My surgical history...preadolescence scoliosis, kyphosis, and a hot mess.... 5 spine surgeries and lots of items added I wasn't born with (titanium, peek, surgical steel). Guess cremation is out. TSA loves me.
  • Hey JohnnyRebKY, nothing of expertise from my side but sorry for your back problems..I am near 28, have a problem with only one disk and yet i feel depressed...while you had a battle and are still fighting..i hope it comes to a good end
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  • humrhhumr Posts: 24
    edited 03/08/2013 - 5:46 PM
    Hello I was injured at work at the age of 20 it took drs 16 yrs to finally realize I had severe back problems,I'm 55 now and have had 4 low back surgeries the last one was the nerostimulation implant I have had no help from WCB (Canada) they told me I took to long to find what my problem was so I don't qualify for disability,all I can say is hang in there
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