Monday, May 4, 2020

Herniated Disc Update #9 - One Year Later

It's been just over a year since my L3-L4 disc decided to blow up so it's time for a final update on my saga. 

After trying pain management with medication and epidural steroid injections as well as physical therapy for over five months, nothing improved enough to make it through the day without extreme pain.  I was finally ready to consult with a neurosurgeon about this.  My neurosurgeon came highly recommended by a number of people I trusted, so when he said he could fix this and make me feel better, I decided to try a surgical intervention.

Seven months ago I had a laminectomy and discectomy to relieve pressure on my nerve.  While the surgery went well, it took much longer than my neurosurgeon predicted for me to feel 100% again, which made me question my decision to have surgery in the first place.  You hear so many tales of back surgery gone wrong, and the longer it took for me to feel better, the more nervous I became.  Had my surgeon said something along the lines of "your nerve has been compressed for so long that it will take quite a while for it to settle down" I would have accepted the continued leg pain as part of the recovery instead of worrying that the surgery didn't solve anything.

That said, surgery was the key to healing my herniated disc.  I can say that now.  I can't even remember when my leg pain finally went away thanks to my other medical event, which was a grand mal seizure two months after surgery.  As I was dealing with a new set of issues, the leg pain went on the back burner.  I suspect it was somewhere around January that it finally resolved.

As for my back, my physical therapist told me that after having surgery - any surgery on any part of the body - it's changed forever.  So I need to be aware of that and not do anything that might bring on another disc problem.  I will not do any kind of jumping/high impact exercise ever again.  And that's OK - better to lose the jump rope than to go through that painful hell. 

I've been gently easing back into exercise.  I walked for about four weeks before adding in a little bit of running.  I like running and want to do it.  My hopes are to build up to running three miles.  However, if I start to have pain, I will stop.  It's not worth getting hurt again.  I don't see myself ever running long distances - I think my days of doing a half marathon, or probably even a 10K are done.  But if I can run a few miles and feel good, I'll be content with that.

There is a happy ending to my herniated disc.  It took a lot of trying different things to get to this point.  It was the most painful thing I've ever gone through; pain that was 24/7, pain that hurt so badly that I was ready to hurl myself out of the car at one point.  It's not something I would wish on anyone.  But if you've discovered my blog while searching for someone who has gone through this and come out OK on the other side, I want to give you some hope that it can get better.  Hang in there.

15 comments:

  1. I'm so glad that you are feeling better and that surgery was the right decision for you. What a journey it has been for you!

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    1. Definitely NOT the journey I wanted to take, but I'm happy to have reached the end.

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  2. Thank you for documenting your journey through back disc injury hell. I am so happy to hear that you are finally pain free, and that your surgery was a success. Your story will give others going through this hope.

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    1. Thanks Susan, and for sure, I hope my tale can help others.

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  3. I am also suspicious of back surgery, but I'm so glad it worked for you!!!

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  4. I am so glad surgery was the right decision and worked after time!!! <3 And so glad you can still do a range of workouts!

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    1. After time...wish I'd have known that it would take so much time.

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  5. Happy endings are a good thing.

    I struggled 12 weeks with foot pain and then got a shot and it relieved it for the most part. Why did I wait??

    Hope to see you running again and eating brunch at Blue Baker.

    I can't comment from phone but I do read ALL your posts.

    I just ran out of wool on my rainbow pandemic socks. They should be really interesting when I am done. A real pandemic.

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    1. I get you, trying everything under the sun to not "go there" with more invasive procedures, but it gets so tiring to not feel better. I'm so glad your foot pain finally (mostly) went away.

      A pandemic on wool, eek! I should talk though, I just ordered more yarn for my favorite shawl as I've knitted two and don't have any of the right kind of yarn remaining.

      I hope we all can get a BB brunch again soon. At least the last time we had one, our entire group was together, which doesn't always happen.

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  6. I am loving seeing you come out victorious! Hearing your recount it and knowing that you are walking and even starting to run again just makes me smile! I know there were some dark moments when if I remember correctly you were wondering if you would ever run another step! Look at you now!!!

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    1. You ARE correct, I honestly didn't think I'd ever run again based on how much it hurt to simply walk. So happy that it wasn't true.

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  7. So glad that your surgery and recovery was successful and you are pain-free now! I have the utmost admiration for people who are able to maintain any level of sanity with chronic back pain, it just sounds unbearable. And just to be able to run again at all must feel like a blessing. 2020 is not the best year globally, but it sound like in Shelley's world, it's a lot better than 2019!

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    1. Thanks, Emmaclaire, it feels like a miracle to run again. And yeah, while 2020 has not turned out to be the year that I'd hoped it would be - I mean, 2020! I love fun numbers like that. Any case it definitely has been better to me than 2019, that's for sure.

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  8. Wow, what a year you have had! I would have been worried about the slow recovery too. I would prefer no one give me a timeline for healing and just let things progress as they do, since everyone is so different. Here's hoping you can get to the point where you can build up to those 3 mile runs.

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