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Making sense of the journey

I'm a 45 year old gal (actually 45 in two days! ) and I'm in recovery for an L4L5 microdiscectomy; I'm getting more educated through this forum. I'm so glad to read the different stories. I've had six kiddies and I think I began having spasms in the lower back after the second child. It was random and never long lasting. I got in really good shape after child number 4 and I loved exercise and high impact stuff. I guess with each successive baby and the impact activities and the lifting and holding of my kids.... Well, it just got worse through the years. But never anything that just laying offing it  would take care of. I began to experience really random sciatica sometime after baby five (09). And then really just used chiropractic care to manage my back issues. After baby 6 in '11 I was experiencing more random pain and asked my PC physician if he'd prescribe PT which he did. I continued to do chiro care. I had an MRI which didn't show anything significant and some steroid shots in the facet joints, but it didn't really help. Flash forward to this year. In summer of 15, things went down hill pretty fast. I was working out and felt a funny feeling in the back and it all just spasmed! I never got better. I did loads of chiro care again. And massage and then just one day I couldn't stand the pain in my whole right leg and buttock and all. I finally just decided I should get an MRI. I just asked my family physician to order it and he is one of the most caring doctors that he just didn't even question it. I'm so thankful. The chiro was questioning the need for MRI but I think it was mainly because I was new in the area (we had moved) and they just didn't know every detail of my history.  Thanksgiving  weekend was the worst! I told my husband I could barely move and I took some hydrocodone to help and just slept a ton. Got steroid pack and two appts with neurosurgeons in the area that were exceptional. Trying to get in was time consuming as it was year end and holidays. I had my chiro read the MRI results with me just so I knew the situation, and she told me I had two bulging discs and the one herniated at L4 L 5. Right side.

The neurosurgeons saw me in the second week of Jan; they explained that they could do a microdiscectomy and I wanted it! I just couldn't imagine going on with pain like this and trying to take care of my really young family (5 of them are under the age 13 with 4 at the youngest).

so I scheduled and just did it on Feb 3. 

Im experiencing a bunch of random nerve pain all of which led me to this site to read up on recovery stories.

The first three days:  No pains except  at the incision site. But I got extremely constipated. I had no clue that this could happen! I mean my post op instructions said one could take a laxative but it was horrible! I have to laugh now-- the "could take a laxative" made it sound so random to me as if it might happen but might not! And it probably is the case that it might not happen, but I just didn't expect it to be so bad! I had to take a liquid laxative to help. Now it's comical, but it wasn't when it was going on for the day! 

I I also had "cold" calf one day on right side and then it stopped. 

Next day: couldn't sleep well due to weird restless leg issues. I felt like I could have jumped out of my skin at night. 

Today:  tingling in both calves -- the left and the right. That is throwing me a bit. I saw that some people do get pain in the opposite side after surgery. I find it almost fascinating that the body reacts to all of these things in such a fashion. 

I called the neurosurgeon's office and they definitely took my call and listened carefully. They prescribed a different muscle relaxant. 

I've been trying to just walk in the house because it's cold outside. I'm hoping to sleep better tonight. 

I do worry. I was kind of getting anxious last night after struggling to sleep. I pray it's just the nerves settling down. I did enjoy reading so many encouraging stories. But it's scary all at the same time to not really know how all of this can/will turn out. But I agreed with my neurosurgeon. He said, "You can do conservative measures and  it may help or it may not." I don't really think he was trying to push. He just wanted to be realistic. And he said that if it were just pain in my back that he wouldn't do the surgery. (I still feel back pain). But because so much of my pain was in the legs... He said the surgery could help.

Anyway, I'm one week out and cautiously optimistic based on stories here of so many positive results. I think it helps one to make sense of their journey through the sharing process, so I completely appreciate a forum like this to do so. Thanks so much!



  • hvillshhvills Suzhou, ChinaPosts: 971

    Hey Carla...

    Your recovery sounds "pretty normal" so far... if there is such a thing as normal.  Everyone heals differently and you may be one of the lucky ones that bounces back in just a few weeks or it may takes some months.  Don't worry if it takes longer that can be perfectly normal... there is no predicting it.  Either way... be patient and keep a positive frame of mind... your surgeon has done a good job of resolving the crushing of your spinal nerves and it will take some time for the inflammation to subside and the nerves to come back to normal.  Nerve healing is VERY slow and it will do strange things off and on as the healing process progresses so don't be alarmed.  As long as you are following your doctors instructions you shoud be in good shape. 

    Harry - 65 year old male...
    PLIF L4-L5-S1 due to disc degeneration... May 23, 2013
    PLIF L5-S1 due to failed fusion and broken screw... Jan 19, 2015
    Microdiscectomy, decompression L3-L4 due to herniated disc... Jan 19, 2015
  • carlafcarlaf Labadie,MOPosts: 27
    Harry, thank you for your kind response. You obviously are experienced in these things just based on the description under your name. My husband and kiddies are extremely supportive but it really helps to have reassuring comments and to read reassuring stories. I've never had a surgery quite like this...and it just seems so much scarier! It's definitely bringing out a lot of "overthinking" on my part! I'm trying to temper myself. 

    Do do you have regular nerve pain still given all the surgeries? I think awhile back I kept thinking that someday I'll be back to normal.... But the pain management doctor basically told me I needed a paradigm shift and to think in terms of managing the pain. It kind of woke me up and made me realize that maybe I won't be free of pain... 

    It's a lot to assume at this point, but I guess melancholic types like myself will tend to go that direction. And then it takes a little reframing to adjust myself to a more balanced look. 

    For it now I'm going to keep doing the walking, taking the pain pills (which is ibuprofen for now) and stay focused on my family. 

    Thanks again for reaching out!
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  • Hi Carlaf!  I'm a month out from double level fusion surgery,  and my nerves are ALL out of whack!   I was telling my husband today that I had goosebumps on the back of my body,  but not the front.  Gotta say that was one weird sensation!   
    I'm accepting that there are,  as Harry also said, going to be a myriad of symptoms I experience as I go through my recovery.  
    I've also found comfort on these forums,  especially in terms of what is considered a "normal" aspect of recovery, and what might necessitate contacting your medical providers. 
    Take care,  and try to take things one day at a time! 
    Kimmy72, Spine-health Moderator
    Firm believer in PMA!
  • hvillshhvills Suzhou, ChinaPosts: 971


    Yes... I'm pretty much out of nerve pain at this point but I'm certainly not what I was at 25 or even 50... and I have to be pretty careful with any kind of heavy lifting or other stressful activities.  I do have some permanent nerve damage that causes the bottom surface of right foot to feel numb 24/7... but that is about it.      

    I'm sure you will be able to return to an active and happy life style with your wonderful family once you recover.   The one thing you should keep in mind however is that your L4-L5 disc will never really be the same again for the rest of your life. The surgery has permanently compromised your disc.  That is... the portion of the disc that your doctor cut away will NOT grow back... it will only scar over.  As such... you need to be a bit more careful with any kind of heavy lifting and bone jarring activities (lifting up over grown kiddies... running, etc...) for the rest of your life otherwise you run the risk of reherniating your L4-L5 disc. That disc no longer has the cushioning strength it once had... and if you herniate it again you will likely have to have fusion surgery... which is no picnic. Indeed you need to think of it as something of paradigm or partial life style change as your doctor noted.  It's not a death sentence just a wake-up call that needs to be noted and practiced.  You DON'T want to end up like me... 

    Harry - 65 year old male...
    PLIF L4-L5-S1 due to disc degeneration... May 23, 2013
    PLIF L5-S1 due to failed fusion and broken screw... Jan 19, 2015
    Microdiscectomy, decompression L3-L4 due to herniated disc... Jan 19, 2015
  • carlafcarlaf Labadie,MOPosts: 27
    Thanks, for your words of experience!!!! I so appreciate it! 

    I am am resolved to make the said adjustments to my lifestyle. The doctor already hammered that home a lot!
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