During my endless hours of scouring the internet for Lumbar problem information, I often found forum posts from spine-health.com come up in my various Google searches. I've spent many hours reading the posts here... I've gathered a ton of useful information, shed tears of sympathy (in a manly way, of course) to many, and honestly hoped I'd never find the need to sign up for an account here.
But here I am.
I'm 48. I had chronic (but tolerable) lower back pain for years. Went to a LBP specialist 20 years ago, was basically told to "deal with it", and that's exactly what I've done. Well, until April 28 of this year. I'm an airline pilot. I awoke in the hotel on day 2 of a 3 day trip, and immediately knew that my normal chronic LBP was, in fact, anything but normal. I've had a few "pinched nerves" over the years, and this was a classic one. At least I thought it was. The pain continued to get worse, but I did finish my trip out.
I arrived home late at night, nearly in tears from the pain of driving the 130 miles home from the airport. I awoke my wife, giving her the news.
The LBP peaked after about four days, then started getting better. The LBP had almost completely resolved, when a new to me symptom hit: the front of my thigh hurt... and it hurt *bad*. I'd never had any leg related pain, so this was a new one for me.
So, off to the doc I went. The usual imaging was done... xrays and MRI. The MRI was a laundry list of Lumbar problems. I was fortunate enough to find a fantastic neurosurgeon here in my little part of the world. Oddly, I had very pronounced leg weakness in various muscle groups in my left leg. I had no idea this weakness had developed until he examined me. So we developed a course of action. I would have a three level fusion (L3-4, L4-5, and L5-S1) along with laminectomies and bilateral foramenotomies at all levels. All supported by a myriad of hardware.
My surgery was June 29, 2015.
Overall, the recovery had been good. My back pain during recovery has averaged out to be far less than my previous chronic LBP, and the majority of the muscle weakness has resolved. So that's the good news. The bad news is that the pain on the front of my left thigh has gotten worse over time. I'm writing this in the wee hours of the morning, as I'm not able to sleep due to the darn pain.
This type of pain is something I have never experienced before. There's a large patch of skin on the front of my thigh that alternates between being numb and being hypersensitive to any stimulus at all. Even the weight of light fabric jammy bottoms is enough to feel like fire on that section of thigh. Just moving the hair (I'm a guy, remember? : ) ) in that area is painful. The icing on the proverbial cake is the stabbing sensations. At various times, it feels like someone is stabbing me with either a large electric needle, or a large electric ice pick in various places in that patch of skin. The stabbing sensations (which reach an 8-9 on the pain meter) are usually of fairly short duration. Five, maybe fifteen seconds at the longest. Then the area around the "stabbed" area becomes *extremely* hypersensitive for anywhere between a few minutes to a few hours. Tonight, the time between stabs has decreased to just a few minutes. After that time passes, I'll get a series of stabs, and the cycle repeats.
Of course, this all got worse over the weekend. Actually, it started getting worse last Thursday night. My wife wanted to call the Doc on Friday but me being a bull headed guy, I said "Nah, I'll be fine. I'm sure it's nothing." And so began the worst weekend of my life.
So the Doc will be called in 7 hours and 32 minutes from right now. Not that I'm counting.
I'm hoping that he'll tell me that it's the normal process of nerves recovering from damage, and that it's nothing a few more weeks of pain meds won't get me through. But something in the back of my head tells me it's not going to be that easy. Even if a few more weeks of pain meds does do the trick, I will have been on pain meds for 7 weeks straight by then. I have no idea how long it takes to develop a physical dependency on opiates, but wow... 7 weeks straight seems like it should be long enough to make coming off of them a bit rough.
My mind is swimming with possible outcomes... some good, some bad, some truly terrible. But for some reason, writing this all down seems to be therapeutic in it's own right. Knowing that there are others out there fighting this same awful thing somehow helps...and I truly wish each of you the best.
Thanks for reading.
(My little girl calls my back brace a "Turtle Shell")