Well, FUCK [back problems]

I picked up my MRI report today. Now, I’m the type to jump a mile ahead based on my own assumptions before seeing a professional–I’m too impatient to wait for a doc–but, erm…things are NOT looking good. I see the pain specialist Wednesday and will make an appointment with my neurosurgeon tomorrow, FTR.

The good news is, all the discs above the surgical site are unchanged.

The bad news is, in the disc that was operated on, there’s a herniation of nearly identical size (8mm) and in practically the same place. The report says there is “encroachment on the nerve root.” Yeah, no shit. I noticed.

I’ve been told in years past by back care professionals that anything above 7mm is surgery. Suuuuuuuuuuuuuper. Fuck me.

The success rate of a 2nd microdiscectomy is essentially the same as a first…but if it herniates again, I’m looking at fusion…and THAT’S “real” back surgery. Fuck me, again.

Thing is, I’m glad to know it’s something. My fears were that the MRI would show nothing significant, or worse, nothing at all…that’s the hell I see a lot of back pain sufferers in.

I’ve been unable to work since 11/30. It’s killing me. I love teaching, and I adore my students. I also miss them terribly. I want so badly to go “home” to them…but now I don’t know when I will. Thank Og I have disability insurance.

I really want another baby. I was wondering if, and admittedly kind of hoping, I was pregnant by accident (2 missed BC pills, plus medication that interacts with the BC pill, and my period was unusually short to almost nonexistant). The pregnancy tests–yeah, I took more than one–were negative. All things considered, that’s a very good thing. Being pregnant–well, big pregnant–like this would be disastrous.

Now I’m wondering if I’ll be able to carry another child at all.


“On the first day of Christmas,
My surgeon gave to me…
A microdiscectomy!”


I’ll get past this. It just means my life is taking another expected turn. I just wish I had a map so I could see where it’s going.

I’m so sorry.

Although, if life had a roadmap, we might just want to commit a 5 car pile-up when things like this happen.

If it helps, Ruffian, my daughter had a fusion of ten – yes, ten – vertebrae for a congenital problem when she was 9 years old. You’ve probably run across her here; I’m talking about whiterabbit. Granted, it was for a different reason, but I learned a lot about the various types of spinal surgeries at the time she had her fusion, and one thing the doctors stressed over and over to me: a fusion is often one of the least invasive types of spinal surgeries there is, with fewer potential complications. IANAD, obviously, but I can tell you that in whiterabbit’s case, both the surgery and her recovery were all we could have hoped for, and she’s had no problems at all since then – over 20 years ago now. Fusions are pretty common for folks with conditions similar to hers, and virtually everyone reports good results.

But whatever happens, I hope you’re able to get things resolved quickly and successfully!

Back pain sucks. Herniated discs suck. I have both along with nerve root compression. I would not have back surgery unless I am unable to walk. I hope you have exhausted all other possibilites.

My mother is a prime example of back surgery gone bad. Nope, not gonna do it.
Good luck and hope you get some relief.

If it makes you feel any better, I have 17 fused vert and I’m still alive, kicking, walking and working. Fusion is not the end of the world. I won’t lie and say everything is perfect, but it’s not the worst thing on the planet.

I hope you’re able to find a solution, whatever it ends up being.

Cattitude, I can’t walk–not for long. I can’t sit at all. And I can’t stand for more than a few minutes. It’s been like this for 6 weeks. No…it’s gotten worse.

Today was bad, and yesterday was awful. I broke down crying five time during the day, the first time being when I was trying to get dressed. I couldn’t stand, even for the few moments it takes to put on a shirt and some pants. The pain was…excruciating. And constant.

Saturday was a good day. I managed to do some shopping with Mom. I’d be good walking for about 40min, then I had to lie down for 40min. But then I was able to get up again and go to another store for 40min.

I can’t continue on like this, not if there are options for me that can resolve it. I woke up from the first surgery (nerve) pain free…just soreness around the incision. I would give my eye teeth to wake up free of this. It’s worse than last time…more chronic, more constant, more crippling, more depressing. Oof.

I’ve gained some insight as to why the first surgery might have failed, though.
From http://www.spine-health.com/Topics/surg … umb03.html:

The August 2006 surgery came at least four, and more likely seven, months after the disc herniated so much further from where it had been (it had been at 3mm in 2004). The severe pain started when I was 7 months pregnant, when they couldn’t do anything beyond massage and stretches. After giving birth, I had multiple rounds of PT before finally getting the MRI toward the end of June.

That explains a few things. Maybe I’m not in the unlucky 5-10%. Maybe I’m in the…erm…unlucky 25%? That makes me feel better, kinda. And it definitely makes me feel better about a second go at this.

From everything I’m reading, though, I need to act quickly, or irreversible nerve damage can result. So–I need to research and take care, but quickly. sigh

Sorry to go off topic on all the pain stuff. But, congrats on having a baby! That’s awesome! I am sure you are and DeathLlama are awesome parents and your kid (s if you had twins.) are having fun!

I hate that you are going through all of this. I am glad you are keeping on top of all the information, so that you can be sure you are getting the very best help possible. Good luck with all of that!


Boy do I empathize, Ruffian. I also have a bad back, which I threw out on Thanksgiving day; missed a week and a half of work (I’m back at work now, but boy am I hurting!). In my case it’s not a herniated disc, however… according to the MRI I had a few months ago, one of my vertebrae is malformed and it’s not ever going away. Apparently there’s no surgical option for my case; I’m just screwed.

I’m seeing a doctor this Friday to get referred over for some PT, which I hope will help.

Have courage! It could be worse! We may not be able to stand or sit up, but at least we can lie down. If I could just figure out a way to work from a prone position, I’d be good.:slight_smile:

Its absolutley NO CONSOLATION to you at all, but your

well, FUCK

attitude to the whole thing made me smile.

I hope you get well soon!

Sending warm thoughts for a full recovery your way.

I’m really sorry, that’s a rough situation to be in. I was just sitting here feeling quasi sorry for myself about my own back. Apparently, at some point in my life I broke my T-10 (no idea how) and my doc told me that if I had the bones of a healthy 24 year old, it would take getting bucked off a horse, or a fall from a 3rd storey window (I don’t really see how the two are comparable) to cause such a break. Either I have the worst memory in the world, or my bone density is that of an old lady… I have a scan scheduled for Thursday. :frowning:

I hope when you talk to your doc it turns out to be better than you think.
fingers crossed

Are you on painkillers? I assume so. My only advice would be to get on the strongest painkillers possible.

Thanks so much for the well-wishing, all. Seems a bit out of place in the Pit (maybe it should be “Hope you get the fuck better”?), but I will gladly take it. :wink:

Pat/pricciar! I haven’t seen you in ages! It’s great to hear from you again. I don’t know if you made it to the 12/8 DopeFest; I obviously was not able to go. Thanks for the congrats; little RuffLlama was born in April of 2006, and is now a 30lb, tall, verrrrrrrrrry active toddler.

FTR, my appointment with the neurosurgeon is Friday.

Argent Towers, I’m not really on any painkillers. I do take quite the handful of pills at night–muscle relaxant, nerve calmer, anti-inflammatory, plus my BC pill to boot–but during the day, I just take the anti-inflammatory. Pain meds, I find, aren’t that useful to me. They either make me barf or sleep, but don’t really do much for the pain itself (except make me sleep through it). Sore as I was yesterday–I think I managed to spend a total of one hour on my feet–I’m tempted to take the muscle relaxant, but I’ve got to get to my doctor’s appointment.

bubastis, it is somewhat of a consolation–I have to find a reason to laugh or at least smile at this, so I’m not crying instead. Glad it made you smile, too.

AstroBoy, I’m so sorry about your pain! Your situation is what I feared: the MRI would show either nothing, or something no one could do anything about. The good news with this is the problem is clear-cut, and seemingly, has a clear-cut solution (pun partially intended). I hope your pain either resolves itself, or a viable solution (or at least treatment) for it is found.

Northern Thalia, I would think hard about your teen years, heh. Over at the Spine Health forums, someone started a thread asking when everyone first hurt their back. The vast majority of us–myself included–did it during our teen years. Some were doing something Official, like a sport, others of us–myself included–were just being stupid. I think (not sure, as I went to the docs months after this happened) my problem started when I decided to be like my cool friends and do front hand springs in the gym. I had no clue what I was doing, and managed not to break my neck…but DID land on my tailbone, a LOT (because, as a teen, I had to get up and do it again…and again…). Worse, I would practice in my backyard–the ground is much less forgiving than gym mats–and again, landed on my tailbone probably 80% of the time. It took a few months before the back pain became excruciating and my mother finally took me to a doc (who simply x-rayed me, said there were no breaks, and put me in bed for two weeks).

Thank you again everyone. I’ll keep you posted (ha! another partially unintended pun).

I’m sorry about your pain. How are you caring for your child through all this? I’ll bet that’s an ordeal.

It surprises me that you’re opposed to the fusion surgery. I know two people who’ve had it and in both cases it was a wonderful benefit. Both of them continued with active lives, no prob. But I’m sure you’ve done more research into this issue than my tiny sample group – what’s your concern?

I have a bit of a visceral fear reaction to fusion surgery as my father had all of his lumbar vertebrae fused when he was about 26 years old. I’ve seen the complications it has brought to his life, and it makes me nervous…but of course, spinal surgery has come a long way in the last 40 years.

Plus, with a microdiscectomy, I was up and walking (if a bit drunkenly) the day of the surgery. They want you up on your feet as soon as possible, without pushing it of course. Fusion is a muuuuuucchhh longer and slower healing process; that’s why I called it “real” back surgery. With a microdiscectomy, I’ll be back at work by February, assuming the surgery is the end of this or beginning of next month. With a fusion, I likely won’t be back until next school year.

Of course, I want what’s best for my health; that must take priority over teaching. And on the MRI report, there is an ominous statement that there is a “subluxation of L5 on S1”–meaning, the two vertebrae are already in contact with each other. Yikes. Last time, the neurosurgeon told me I had little disc material left in L5/S1, so a repear herniation was less likely (lucky me), and that the two vertebrae were already on the road to fusing naturally due to the advanced degenerative disc disease I had. I may not like what he tells me Friday.

As far as dealing with this and a toddler, well…let’s first give DeathLlama a huge amount of credit. He has been incredibly supportive and helpful (for example, this morning RuffLlama was moaning and crying; I was too drunk from the meds to do anything, so he gave RL his milk, changed his diaper, and rocked him back to sleep). And our son is adapting. He sees me lying on the floor, so he joins me. He’ll climb over me, or cuddle with me while we read or sing songs, or wrestle gently with me. It isn’t easy, but so far, it’s manageable. Post-surgery is more my concern; last time he was a mere 4 months old, which was a vacation compared to the King of Entropy (AKA Destructo the Cranky) he is now.

FWIW: I had bad sciatica a while ago and am still in pain and limping from it. The only thing that eased my pain was Tylex effervescent tablets. They weren’t the strongest thing I took during that period but where the only ones to give me some relief.

You have my deepest sympathy BTW. Unless you’ve experienced it it’s impossible to understand the hell that back pain can be. Be well.

Changed thread title to be more descriptive. No, no, don’t get up.

The only thing I can think of does involve my teen years, and doing stupid, stupid teen things. Involving a hammock. I watched my friends lay width wise across the hammock, and get swung around in circles, and, quite frankly, how could I pass up such a fool proof ride? I however, did not pay attention to the death grip they all had on the hammock. At the peak of my flip, I fell out of the hammock and landed on the back of my neck. I couldn’t walk for the rest of the night, and had my friends carry me to the hot tub where I fermented in my stupidity. sigh If I have chronic back pain because of that, I’m officially an idiot.

I thought this was going to be something entirely different.

Nowhere near as fun as you thought eh? :stuck_out_tongue: