Thursday, May 31, 2012


As you know, I was in the hospital from May 9th until May 13th.  What you might not know is how or why I ended up there. So here goes:

For a while now ( a few months) I had been suffering from lower back pain radiating into my left leg.  I was still able to walk and function in my duties as "mommy" so I pretty much paid no mind to it, other than taking the occasional Aleve or Ibuprofen tablet to ease the discomfort.  I was still very active in my Yoga and Pilates classes and really just chalked it up to "I need to lose more weight" and "I'm officially old because this is sciatica".

After a few weeks, the pain wasn't getting any better and it certainly was getting worse.  Now, my left leg would spasm randomly sending shooting pains all the way up my body and my spine making it unbearable to put any pressure on it for a few minutes.  My balance at Yoga was completely off when dependent on my left side, sitting cross legged was virtually impossible, and sitting at all for any length of time would eventually start to hurt terribly, thus making it impossible for me to drive.

At the end of March, I was lying on the couch and in trying to get up, my left leg gave out and I cried out in pain for Randy to help me.  I couldn't move. My back and my leg were on fire and it was horrible.  My mom came and took me to the Emergency Room where I was given an I/V and Delaudin (?) which (didn't know at the time) I am allergic to and I proceeded to hallucinate and get sick all over the place.  And it did nothing to alleviate my pain or the spasms.  After hours of twilight sleep in an uncomfortable gurney, my mom putting cold cloths on my head, the doctor came, asked me questions, told me I had sciatica, prescribed pain meds and muscle relaxants, told me to take it easy, and sent me on my way.

Take it easy?  I'm a mom. I don't take it easy.

I followed the regiment I was given, took a pain med as needed as well as the muscle relaxant and decided that this was going to be a pain I was going to have to live with.  There were good days and bad and I was just going to have to deal.  I modified my poses at Yoga, took it slower in Pilates, and went on with my life.

One morning in late April, as I was hoisting Dorian, my 25 pound 22 month old into the car so we could take Dante to school, I felt "something" click in my back and I saw stars.  I saw moons, planets, nebulae, fuck it I saw the whole Universe in the pain and I knew something was wrong.  I managed to take Dante to school then hightailed it to my mom's house where it was decided that we'd make an appointment with a doctor at her primary care office to see me.

This doctor was very brusk and formal.  Told me that I should expect to have lower back pain and sciatica because of my weight (fuck you very much) and that he would prescribe me pain medication and Valium this time and recommend I see a nutritionist.  And he sent me on my way.

A couple of days later, the same thing again, my leg went into spasms and my back wouldn't move and I was taken to the E/R where again, I was told I had sciatica, given pain meds, and sent home.  This doctor, though, recommended I go get an MRI.  When asked why he couldn't just send me up to get one, he said "We don't do MRIs at the E/R, you'd have to be admitted".  Gee thanks Doc.

So that night, my mom took me to get an MRI at the Outpatient center nearby.  By this time, my leg and back pain were so intense that I was no longer able to function.  Lying on my side was the only way to alleviate the pain.  I could walk as far to the bathroom but even sitting down to "use" the toilet was excruciatingly painful.  When I heard that I would have to lie FLAT and STILL for this MRI I didn't know if I could do it.  I was shoved into the MRI machine and I instantly knew that I was in trouble.  The pain was so incredible that I was literally SCREAMING for them to get me out.  I lasted as long as I could but unfortunately, the tech was unable to get a scan.  She recommended I call an ambulance and be taken to the hospital.  Then, and only then, would they "admit" me to get an MRI.

I had had enough by then and just wanted to go home.  After a long night, my mom came over in the morning, called an ambulance and I was taken by three very handsome EMTs BACK TO THE HOSPITAL.  This was at 10:30am May 9th.  I was fed morphine through an I/V all day but nothing was helping.  At 10:30 PM, the doctor came in, told me that if he gave me any more morphine, I would die, and that I was going to have to do the MRI awake and just do my best.  So I was wheeled up to the hospital MRI.  Randy, having switched places with my mom after work, was at my side as I cried from the pain, assured me that I could do it and to be strong.  The MRI guys were kind and sensitive to my pain.  I explained to them how difficult it was for me to be on my back and they said they would do it as fast as they could.  I went into the machine.

I must have blacked out from the pain because I was awakened by the tech in my earphones telling me to stop moving.  I explained to him that I wasn't moving.  Turns out that my body, from the extreme pain, was spasming on its own.  I was pulled out and allowed to lie on my side and cry for a little bit.  The tech told me that he had enough for a flat view but desperately needed the cross section view so I had to go back in.  I knew it was going to be excruciating but I also knew that if I didn't get this MRI done, there was no way I was going to get better. So I went back in.

It turns out, that I was gone for over an hour.  When the MRI was finished, I was so out of it from both pain and medication that I think I just went to sleep.  By now, it must have been 11:30pm or so.  I vaguely remember a doctor coming into my room in the E/R to tell me I was going to be admitted, but after that it gets blurry.  At 3am I woke up because I was rolling into the hospital going to my room on the 7th floor, Neurosurgery.  I was given more pain meds.....and I was out.

The next morning, Thursday May 10th, I was informed that I had herniated discs and that the "jelly" from my spine had burst through and was pressing on my back and nerves causing me this excruciating pain.  By this point, I was no longer able to walk at all and needed help going to the bathroom.  Nothing is more humbling than having a nurse younger than you wipe you.  Anyhow, I was told that surgery was necessary and that I'd be going under the knife tomorrow, May 11th.

So, I did.  I had a procedure known as a Laminectomy., plus my herniated discs were "shaved" down.(My incision is much lower that this diagram.  I believe my discs were 4 and 5).

I came home from the hospital on Mother's Day and have been recovering ever since.  I can walk again, but only short distances because I get very tired and my back starts to hurt.  I have a snazzy cane which makes me look pimp, and I cannot BLT (bend, lift, or turn).  I had my two week follow-up yesterday and I have been granted permission to drive short distances, but still am not allowed to swim until my incision is fully healed.  I am starting physical therapy 3 times a week for a month on June 5th and will follow up again after 6 weeks.  I still have lots of pain in my back and my doctor said that that is normal during the healing process, but if after our next followup, it is still present, I'm going to have to get X-rays done to see what's going on.

So there you have it.  My wonderful story about enduring horrible and copious amounts of pain.  Thanks to those of you who helped me with the kids, with my emotional state, and with just being there.  I couldn't have done it without you. 

My birthday is June 29th.  I hope to be dancing by then.

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