A random slip and fall on ice in December 2010 changed my life. At the time, I thought it was no big deal. I took some ibuprofen, put a heating pad on my back and elevated my aching knee. That night, I couldn’t sleep because of the pain in my back. By morning, I was in so much pain, I could barely walk, and I called my doctor immediately. He diagnosed me with a lumbar strain and a sprained knee, gave me some painkillers and told me to rest for a few weeks. Over the next 14 days, my knee healed, while my back continued to get worse.
When I followed up with my doctor, he took the injury more seriously. I had a series of X-Rays and an MRI and was diagnosed with degenerative disc disease, spondylolithesis, spondylolithis, several bulging discs, one of which was torn and leaking, and severe arthritis in my lumbar spine. I was in shock. My doctor said that I was suffering from something that was most likely pre-existing and degenerative, but the fall made my condition symptomatic. It’s possible that it even caused the vertebral fracture and slippage, but since I had never had lower back pain before and no X-rays or MRI images to compare the new test results to, we’d just never know. But there is no doubt that the fall caused the pain. And the pain is bad. Very, very bad.
Over the course of the next 19 months, I underwent multiple procedures. About 9 Spinal Epidural Injections, SI Joint Injection, Facet Joint Injection, Nerve Ablation. I had a Provocative Discography to determine the exact location and cause of my pain. Several more X-rays and MRI’s. Twelve weeks of physical therapy. I use a back brace and walk with a cane. I’ve gone through a whole arsenal of drugs – Vicodin, Percocet, Morphine, Dilaudid, Fentanyl Patches, multiple muscle relaxers. Finally my pain management doctor decided that there was nothing more he could do for me, so he sent me for a surgical consult.
I have met with 3 surgeons, and all of them agree that I am a good candidate for a spinal fusion. The first doctor wanted to perform the surgery from L3-S1, but the second and third agreed that addressing the problem at L5-S1 could potentially eliminate the majority of my pain. I decided to go ahead and have the one level fusion, and decided on the second surgeon, who works at John’s Hopkins in Baltimore.
The surgery is July 10, 2012. I am terrified, but hopeful. The purpose of this blog is to document this chapter in my life – pre-op through recovery.