Wednesday, June 17, 2009

My Back Surgery Saga

Well, it has officially been 1 month since my back surgery! I figured it was about time to document it on my blog. Basically, it all started about 2 years ago. I've had back pain off and on for several years, but nothing that some advil and ice packs to the back couldn't take care of. 2 years ago, I woke up and could hardly move, so I went to visit a chiropractor, Dr. Bartley. I saw him for about 5 months and was good to go.

Fast forward to the beginning of May. I guess I sat too long one weekend scrapbooking and was having major back pain again. Off to see Dr. B. After a week and a half of seeing him, I was feeling better and got the ok to go workout, but to take it easy. This was a Wednesday. I left his office, went to the gym, did a light workout (I didn't even break a sweat!). On the way home, I could tell that something was majorly wrong. By that evening, I could hardly walk. I slept on the couch with my legs over the arm.

I called Dr. B's office the next day (Thursday) and they could get me right in. Driving into town was horrible, it hurt so badly. Dr. B took one look at me (hunched over walking, it was pretty pathetic) and said I needed to get an MRI. The office called and they couldn't get me in until next week. Dr. B was like "Kelly, do you have any pull over there to get you in today?" Uh, yeah, I think I can handle that. The one time I actually have pull in something!!

After a quick trip to my family doctor for a shot of steroids in the booty and a prescription for some hydrocodone, I head over to x-ray for my MRI. Excruciating. I was in tears. I was having spasms in my back and down my right leg the entire time, but I toughed it out because I knew I needed it.

Dr. B called me Friday morning with the results of the MRI. Not good at all. Major bulging disc that had fragmented at L5-S1 which was putting a ton of pressure on my nerves and causing my leg pain (and foot/ankle numbness by this point). He recommends I see a neurosurgeon. None in Jasper, the best one in the area is in Evansville. BUT, he said he tried to get a pt in to see Dr. Sneed earlier in the week and he couldn't be seen until July!! I couldn't wait that long. He said if that's the case, we'd have to go another route. Dr. B calls and talks to Dr. Sneed's nurse and begs and plead with her to have Dr. S see me. Miraculously, Dr. S says he'll see me in his office the next day (Saturday) after his rounds at the hospital. WOW!

Saturday, Steve and I head to E-ville for my appt. Dr. S takes a look at my films and says I have 2 options. Wait it out and see if it gets better and have surgery in 6 weeks and risk permanent damage in my leg OR he can do my surgery that afternoon! Steve and I look at each other and both of us said, "do it today". Uh, no brainer there. Head over to St. Mary's Medical Center and get checked in. Sit and wait in a room until time for surgery. Get an IV. Then, due to a mix up, I was told I would be done on Sunday, but Dr. S still wanted to do my surgery that evening, but surgery didn't know that. Dang it. I'd already had a supper tray. I was almost willing to go in the bathroom and throw it up, if they'd let me! LOL!! So, i'm discharged and told to come back the next morning.

Waiting for my surgery! Isn't that gown pretty?!

Sunday, get checked in again. Another IV started. Go to surgery. Wake up in recovery and I'm lying flat on my back with my legs out straight. At that point I knew I was fixed! I hadn't been able to stretch out for the last 3 days! I was up and walking the halls in just a couple of hours after surgery. WooHoo!!!

Bruising from one of the IV's

Bruising from the other IV!

I pretty much thought my triathlons were out for the rest of the year. But, no! I can do a triathlons by the end of the summer! But, no running. I have to walk the run. I can start running next spring. 2 weeks ago I had the ok to start swimming. I'll get to start biking in about another week! 3 weeks after surgery I was walking 2-4 miles at a time. I'm still having numbness down the outside of my right leg, which I can really tell when I'm shaving my legs and my 4th & 5th toes and my heel are numb, which is really annoying. Dr. S said that if that doesn't go away within 6 months, it's permanent. Dang. oh, well.

This whole back thing was single handedly the most excruciating thing I've ever experienced. Even taking a shower was some of the worst pain I've ever had. I prayed to God to take my pain away. I think the fact that I got into one of the best neurosurgeons in the area within one day (and on a Saturday, no less!) and had surgery almost immediately was God's way of answering my prayers. God is GOOD!!

My surgery site the first week after surgery.

And, for those of you who are interested in what kind of surgery I had (Lumbar Laminectomy and Microscopic Discectomy)'s some basic info.

Lumbar Laminectomy

What is it?Lumbar laminectomy is an operation that involves approaching the spine through an incision in the lower back to remove a portion of the bone over and/or around the nerve roots to provide them additional space.
Why is it done?Patients who have pain caused by pinched nerves are potential candidates for this procedure.

The OperationThe operation is performed with you lying on your stomach.
Incision:Your surgeon makes an incision in your lower back to access your spine. To have a clear view of your spine, the surgeon then retracts the muscles and ligaments.Bone/Disc Removal:Your surgeon removes a portion of the lamina, the bony rim around the spinal canal, if it is contributing to pressure on the dural sac or nerve roots. This part of the procedure is called a laminectomy. The term laminectomy is derived from the Latin words lamina (thin plate, sheet, or layer), and -ectomy (removal).
An opening is then cut in the ligamentum flavum – a ligament that connects vertebrae to the sacrum. A portion of the bone over the nerve root and/or disc material around the nerve root is removed to give your nerve root additional space.

Lumbar Microdiscectomy

What is it?Pain in the lower back (lumbar spine) and legs, among other symptoms, may occur when an intervertebral disc herniates – when the annulus fibrosus (tough, outer ring) of the disc tears and the nucleus pulposus (soft, jelly-like center) squeezes out, and places pressure on, or "pinches," an adjacent nerve root.

Lumbar microdiscectomy is an operation that involves using a surgical microscope and microsurgical techniques to access and treat the lumbar spine. By providing magnification and illumination, the microscope allows for a limited dissection. Only that portion of the herniated disc, which is pinching one or more nerve roots, is removed. The term discectomy is derived from the Latin words discus (flat, circular object or plate) and -ectomy (removal).

Why is it done?Pressure placed on one or more nerve roots by a herniated disc may irritate these neural structures and cause:
Debilitating leg pain Weakness and/or numbness in the legs and/or feet, and Bowel/bladder incontinence.

Incision: The operation is performed with you lying on your stomach. Because the operation is viewed through a microscope, this approach only requires a small incision. Your surgeon makes an incision in your lower back. Through this incision, microsurgical instruments are then inserted.
Removal:Once your pinched nerve is located, the extent of the pressure on the nerve can be determined. Using microsurgical techniques, your surgeon removes the herniated portion of the disc as well as any disc fragments that have broken off from the disc. The amount of effort required to complete the microdiscectomy depends, in part, on the size of the disc herniation, the number of fragments present, and the difficulty presented in finding and removing these fragments.


Amy S said...

oh my Kelly- did not know all of this!!! Hope you are feeling better!!! Sounds like you were a trooper!!

God is Good!!

take care

Liz said...

wowza... so sorry you had so much pain, but I'm so glad you were able to get it taken care of so quickly, and that your recovery is going well!

Tiffany Bauer said...

OMG!! I about fell over when I saw the picture of your scar!!! Weak stomach here!!LOL!!! Also, great shot of you in your hospital gown!!! That one needs to be scrapbooked!!!
So happy to know you are doing so much better and can now walk!!!

Anonymous said...

good to hear you're on the mend! sorry you had this happen to you, but glad the outcome is good!


Nicole said...

I agree with McKenna(?), I think it looks like a buttcrack, too. LOL!

Ann Leek said...

Glad to hear you are feeling better. I can't imagine going through that kind of pain!

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