I've been doing so much reading about this topic online and find myself continuing to come back here for personal stories, so I thought I'd share mine. It's kinda long, so I apologize-it's been a long ride to get here. Please help with any thoughts or advice you may have.
My lower back pain started when I was 16. I was getting ready to go to school, flipped my hair over to blow dry it and immediately felt a sharp pain in my lower back like nothing I'd ever felt before. I collapsed on the floor in agony. After eventually realizing I was not faking it to get out of school, my parents took me to a Dr. Nick-type chiropractor (a Simpson's reference to those who don't know it) who used every dubious chiropractic device under the sun to give me relief. It was temporary. I had intermittent mild to serious LB pain throughout my early 20s and wound up in the ER several times. NSAIDs were my best friends.
I finally got an MRI after college after continued and worsening lower back pain and was told I had a mildly herniated L4/L5 disc. Physical therapy! they said. Prednisone! they said. I've seen so many physical therapists and been on prednisone so many times by now. Relief was always temporary. I had several bad flare-ups in my late 20s that would put me out of work for a week or two. When the flare-ups would dissipate, the pain would continue although in milder form. I hurt every day to some extent or another. I ate ibuprofen all day long. It was my life. The doctors didn't seem to have a long-term solution, so I resigned myself to a lifetime of pain. And depression.
Fast foward to Thanksgiving of 2014. Had actually had several months of being almost pain free for whatever reason and was involved in regular exercise to strengthen myself to hopefully avoid further problems. On Thanksgiving, my in-laws went bowling. Mr. Bee thought it would be hilarious to have me throw a super-heavy bowling ball named "The Hammer." After doing so, I felt that familiar pop in my lower back. The searing lower back pain returned immediately and within a week I was back in the ER with the most unbelievable back spasms I'd ever had. I was at a work Christmas party in the first week of December and was actually weeping on the floor of the restaurant because I was in so much pain. Got another MRI. Second herniation of the L4/L5 disc, now with severe DDD and bone spurs. Finally went to see a pain management doctor and neurosurgeon - more PT, more prednisone. I was out of work for two weeks. Pain never subsided again.
Had several more flare-ups in the following couple months. Now I had excruciating sciatica down my left leg. After all these years of chronic pain, I now had worsening symptoms and was in CONSTANT pain unless I swallowed Norco and Valium like candy. I positively LIVED on Aleve. Taking two Aleve in the morning had been like brushing my teeth for years, but I had reached a point of desperation abd hopelessness and actually pathetically attempted suicide. PT and pain management doctor recommended an epidural injection. Didn't do a darned thing! I didn't have one minute of relief from it. I actually curl up and roll around on the floor in agony from the sciatica. My life seems to be falling apart.
The pain management doctor referrered me back to a neurosurgeon who agreed to do a hemi-laminectomy at L4/L5. She initially was hesitant about surgery because of my age, but really, I'm not exactly living right now. I can't run, ride a bike, stand/sit for more than a few minutes, have sex with my husband, do my own laundry. Who cares if I'm too young? I'm living like a crippled old lady.
Surgery is this coming Wednesday. I have been out of work for a month because any sitting/standing results in immediate excruciating sciatic pain. I can't sleep. I cry in frustration. Thankfully, my employers are letting me work from home (and I'm insured) so finances are not an additional burden. My surgeon is not the most socially enlightened person in the world and her matter of factness is often hurtful and insensitive, but I soldier on because I'm desperate for relief.
Three days away seems like a million years. I'm extremely anxious and depressed. I'm pretty much bed-ridden, but I have a wonderful, supportive husband helping me out. My parents are coming for a week to help me out post-surgery. I feel loved despite being in hell. I feel anxiety and panic about asking for pain meds because doctors seem to think everyone is a drug addict now. I think everyone thinks I'm faking it. My mind spins and obsesses. Chronic pain is hell. I hope I get some relief.
If you have any thoughts or comments, please reply.
-lots of love.