It’s been too long

I haven’t posted here in a very long time. Sorry about that. 

I’ve had a lot of issues with my health in the past few months. I have had ongoing issues with my back since 2013 or so. It all started with a twinge that wouldn’t go away, and then eventually turned into crippling sciatica. I had my first back surgery (when I still lived in NYC) to remove the portion of my herniated disc that was compressing my sciatic nerve. After that initial surgery, I was pain free for just shy of a year. 

Then last winter (around December) the pain came back, all at once. I recognized the pain for what it was, but let it stretch out for months, both because I let my doctor talk me into more conservative treatments that I knew wouldn’t work, and because I was scared to have another surgery. I had another MRI and it confirmed my suspicions – my disk had re-herniated. I was back to square one. After over 8 months of pain, I gave up and booked an appointment with a highly regarded neurosurgeon in Chicago (where I live now). 

He booked the procedure less than a week later. I got the time off work and went in to it very optimistic – it had worked before right? And this doctor was sure it would work again, and I’d be good to go. There was a very small chance, he said, that the disc could re-herniated again. But only 5%. Those were good odds to me. I had the surgery and from day one, it didn’t seem right. Unlike the first time, I still felt the sciatic nerve pain shooting down my leg. By the way if you’ve never experienced nerve pain, think about any time you’ve ever had a toothache. The pain is almost identical…only imagine it taking over an entire side of your body, and it almost never stops. Yeah. 

Anyway, they told me this was likely because the nerve was inflamed from being compressed for so long. They gave me some steroids and I went along with it. But it didn’t get better, only worse. The next week I called and told them that something was definitely not right. My pain was worse than it was prior to the surgery. They gave me a referral for another MRI. Guess what? The disc had already re-herniated. 

And now that the disc has herniated 3 times, the doctor will only move forward with a spinal fusion, and not another microdiscectomy. I spent about two days crying after I got the news. I felt like life was over. Fusion has a so-so success rate, and the way things are going for me, I wouldn’t be surprised if I ended up even worse off. I couldn’t imagine spending the rest of my life in this kind of pain. What would be the point? It was a rough couple of days…I was in a very dark place. 

But I’m still here. I have an appointment with my doctor in the morning. I’ll hear him out, but I’m not scheduling a thing until I get some other opinions. A friend of mine from grade school works for a neurosurgeon in St. Louis – apparently he rarely does fusions, especially on younger people, because the long term outcomes aren’t great. I’m going to get all my records and images and send them to her for him to look at. I have hope, even if just a glimmer. 

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