Back in September, I fell while walking my dog with my husband. I hit the ground pretty hard, falling on my left side and bruising my backside and hand. About a month later, I started having incredibly severe back pain, and the last week of October had me out of work for nearly a week trying to recover. My family doctor prescribed a steroid and muscle relaxer, and I was able to go trick-or-treating with my son (with a slight limp).
Three rounds of steroids later, my family doctor sent me for an MRI and referred me to an orthopedic specialist. The MRI revealed a disc herniation at L4 and L5 of 7mm, and a lesser herniation at L5 and S1. The larger herniation was pressing on my nerve, causing the horrible shooting pain down my left leg and making me miserable. Some days, it took me an hour just to stand up. I couldn’t put my sock on my left foot, couldn’t shave my legs without sitting down in the shower, couldn’t sit for more that 15 minutes at a time without severe pain, and couldn’t drive normally. The orthopedic doctor recommended an epidural steroid shot that could fix the issue and help me avoid surgery.
I was unable to see the recommended doctor for the shot (thanks, insurance) so I was stuck seeing the doctor that Advantage decided was best. The experience was horrible; Dr Ratzman in Indianapolis has a receptionist that does not answer the phone AT ALL, but lets all calls go to voicemail (one that she also ignores from what we witnessed in the office). We were in the office for nearly five hours; it took us 90 minutes to get called back from the waiting room, and they definitely were not busy. Dr. Ratzman decided that the shot should be administered through the side of my spine instead of through the top like the original doctor wanted to do. Once I was finally brought back for the shot, it was over and done in 5 minutes. I felt instant relief and had two very nice, nearly pain free days.
I was back to work the following Monday, three days after getting the shot. That evening, I had a lot of trouble sleeping due to discomfort, and I woke up Tuesday in unimaginable pain. My son was on break from school and helped me a great deal throughout the day. I could barely make it from the couch to the bathroom and spent most of the day crying before or after I’d pass out briefly from the pain and exhaustion. On the advice of the orthopedic doctor, I went to the ER that evening and was admitted into the hospital. They gave me an aggressive treatment of pain medication, muscle relaxers, steroids, and who knows what else. After the hospital, I was referred to their physical therapy department and have been doing exercises that have helped with the pain. Unfortunately, the herniation has not resolved and I had a constant numbness in my left leg and foot that presented after the epidural shot and has not let up. In addition, my left ankle has become extremely weak since getting the shot, and some days I need to have it wrapped tightly to keep it from giving out. I was on crutches after leaving the hospital for weeks.
Fast forward to now, and I’m both happy and terrified about what I hope is a solution. I have surgery scheduled for February 10th with my orthopedic doctor. He’s worried about nerve damage at this point (thanks, Dr. Ratzman) and wants to get the pressure off of the nerve ASAP so I can begin to truly heal. I will also have to continue physical therapy and also begin a regular exercise program to keep my back healthy and avoid this nightmare from ever happening again.
Since getting the surgery scheduled and coming to terms with the fact that I’m going to be sliced open in the very near future, I’ve been a total wreck. Crying at the drop of a hat, getting inexplicably dizzy and nauseous, being overly sensitive, having mood swings, and being quite the pain in the ass around the house. I’m absolutely terrified, especially since the doctor that administered the epidural shot left me in even worse shape and with possible nerve damage. I trust the surgeon; he’s been fantastic every step of the way and has done all he could to get me better without cutting me open, but we’re out of options at this point. I’m a big ball of nerves and crazy and I doubt I’ll calm down until it’s all over and done with.
Hopefully once this is over, I can get back to being myself and not flying off the handle at every little bump in the road. My husband is an absolute saint for putting up with my nonsense, and he will be with me on Wednesday while I’m likely having a panic attack in the surgery center. Please think happy thoughts about me, and when this is all over, I promise to give this page the attention it deserves and get back to regular posting.