Hello everyone, my name is Sarah I am 38 and I have neck and back pain, numbness in arms, night sweats, and coordination issues with my hands. I will be having an ACDF on C6-C7 on May 26 2015.
I can trace my neck pain back to 24 years ago when I was just 14, I was helping my mother re-side her house, and the scaffolding collapsed, a full sheet of 3/4 inch plywood struck me in the back of the head. I blacked out, awoke to her yelling at me to get back to work. I was not medically treated at that time for anything. At 17, I joined the local volunteer fire department, and by the time I was 18, I was seeing a Chiropractor for neck and back pain. For years a monthly adjustment was usually enough to keep me going, sometimes I would have horrible migraine like headaches that would take me out for a full day. I was prescribed migraine medications, which did nothing. Advil, Ice, Heat, an extra adjustment and sleep were the only things that helped. I left the fire department at 28 years old, after a fall on ice in full gear injured my lower back. Chiropractic care relieved that for the most part. I am a very hands on person, I do home maintenance, split wood, lift and carry heavy objects (I moved our entire household of 4 in 2010 by myself), and so much more. I have worked for the last 13 years as a 911 dispatcher, and also am a certified dog trainer part time, a TDAA Dog Agility Judge, and I maintain my 4 acre property with our chickens and dogs.
Approximately 18 months ago (November 2013) a deep sharp stabbing pain started just to the left of my spine at about shoulder blade height, along with the arm numbness, coordination issues, memory lapse, night sweats. I was forced to ignore it, keep going and doing everything, because my husband was laid up from knee surgery. January 2014 I went to my primary care, who was trying to brush me off saying it was lack of sleep and low vitamin D causing me that much pain, then she tried to blame thoracic outlet syndrome for the arm numbness, she sent me to PT for that, I made it thru 2 sessions before the PT realized we were making things worse. I was able to convince my PCP it was worthy of an MRI, and about mid February, I endured lying in the tube in terrible pain. A few days later a nurse called and let me know I had a referral to a spine specialist for a ruptured disc. March 2014 I was seen by the spine specialists. They gave me a run around, yes there was a rupture between C6-C7, but they claimed a combination of "you are too young", "it will get better on its own" and "you don't have nerve damage yet".. I had an EKG (showed no nerve damage) and a cortisone shot done (which did nothing but hurt).
Summer of 2014 I was sick with an unrelated issue that took priority, then September 2014 I lost my father in an accident, so time slipped by. I was still experiencing the issues, but just did not have time to deal with it. Late February 2015 I decided I could not take any more, I went back to my PCP, and was seen by her PA, who actually listened to me. She gave me a weeks worth of muscle relaxers, gabapentin and 800 mg Ibuprofen, she did not write me out of work, and I could not take two of the three meds and work, so I got a bit longer out of the meds than prescribed. The PA also sent me back to the same spine specialists. March 2 2015 I saw the spine specialist, who noted weakness on one side with my arms, sent me for another MRI on March 9, follow up a week later March 16th. This time the MRI showed a piece of disc material had broken off the bulge and was pressing the spinal cord, now they said I was a surgical candidate. Unfortunately between the neurosurgeons already booked schedule and my own things to do that I was not willing to miss, my surgery was not able to be scheduled until May 26th, two weeks from now.
The spine specialists declined to refill any prescribed meds by my PCP, and my PCP would not refill them because I was seeing the spine specialist, so after the week on meds, I went back to OTC advil, ice and doing as little as possible. Monday this week I was down with one of the headaches all day.
Today I had my pre-op with the spine specialists, and saw the surgeons PA, I had to re-explain myself again after he questioned my age and why no physical therapy etc first (aside from the thoracic outlet therapy, none was ever offered). He also tried to tell me I would be back to normal activity within a week. I have cared for my mother twice with cervical spinal fusion surgery in the past, and know what to expect and one week is unrealistic, unless he wanted me running my log splitter a week post-op. I explained to him that his idea of normal activity and mine were two very different things. Its very tiring explaining to doctor after doctor that I do the things myself that they can pay people to do! I was able to get him to sign off on paperwork for my employer to authorize a full 12 weeks off, with the understanding that if I healed faster and felt up to it I could return sooner. 911 dispatch is a high stress field, working alone 8 to 16 hours with no breaks, holding one phone handset to your shoulder with your neck, while answering a second phone is common in my center, no headsets work for us because we call take emergency lines and business lines as well as dispatch over the radio all at the same time. I rationalized to the PA that I have 12 weeks of sick time available, and my employer has arranged for the time to be covered, so why chance mishaps? (my mothers second fusion the screws protruded sometime post-op and tore her esophagus, she nearly died from the resulting infection)
Tired of being told I am "too young" for this,