For many, this will not be news, but I have lived with pain in my lower back now since 1999. 11 YEARS of almost constant pain! Cleaning my house would flare up my back and make me sore. Playing agility, either teaching or a class with my own dogs, would leave me in pain. Long walks or standing for long periods would leave me in pain. And those were bad days. In between were days where I might not even notice that dull ache in my back that never quite went away. But if I were to bend the wrong way, or lay down and relax my back, sharp, severe pain, until the muscles relaxed completely.
Well that is NOTHING compared to what I went through last week and still am to a point. Last Saturday, the 14th, Kris and I took Shadow on a hike to Cape Lookout. 2.4 miles out and back, so about 5 miles round trip. No biggie, I’ve done walks with the dogs that were 3 or 4 miles. Heck I’d been running 2.5 miles for a couple weeks, so I thought nothing of it. The terrain was rough, roots here and there, lots of mud spots to be stepped around or hopped over. It was an overcast day and I carried a small backpack out and Kris carried it back.
On Sunday I got up to work on the pics from the hike and by the time I was done I thought I was going to die from the pain in my back. I took some pain killers and muscle relaxers and laid on the couch for the rest of the day. I watched movies, finished a book and took a nap. On Monday, my back was no better. I couldn’t even sit without immediate pain in the back. Over just a few minutes the pain would become so intense I would have to get up and lay down. I made it two hours at work on Monday and driving was torture. Got home, more drugs, more couch time.
Tuesday, I made it 6 hours but I stood up a lot. I even laid down in the office on the floor for relief. Went home, more drugs, more couch time.
Wednesday I made it 4 hours. More drugs, more couch time, more movies. I would get up from sitting and would take a good 10 minutes before I could walk upright without severe muscle spasms. Even better was I had to take Kris to the airport that night for a work trip. He drove up and I drove home. I took drugs on the way up and managed to make it home ok.
Thursday was chiropractor day. I’d decided on Wed that 3 days was too long and needed to try something. So chiro first thing, made it at work 2 hours. That is the most work I have missed ever because of my stupid back.
Friday morning chiro again first thing. By the time I got to the doc’s office, I could barely not cry. My back was now the worst it had ever been. I had several muscle spasms on the way, I had pain radiating in my butt and across my left thigh. I could feel pain in my ankle for no reason. I laid down at the chiro’s and couldn’t stop crying. I bawled like a baby when he came out to help me up. He suggested that if it wasn’t better by Monday I should go to the ER. Monday? Three days from then? No way in hell was that going to be a solution.
I got home, more drugs and a nap. Barely slept and woke up in the same amount of pain, no relief that time. Maybe the chiro was a bad idea, who knows. But I called my doc and luckily got an apt for an hour later. I debated on driving in or calling an ambulance because I wasn’t sure I could handle driving. Not from drugs, but from pain. Pain shooting into my back have made me cry out several times over the week. One really severe one I will never forget on the way to the docs. I probably should have gone straight to the ER via ambulance.
Once I got to the docs, I couldn’t sit at the office. I had to lay down on the couch. Couldn’t sit in the little exam room because that was too much pain. So I leaned my head against the wall and held onto the back of a chair. She couldn’t do anything for me. She felt an MRI was a good idea but to schedule would take till next week. So off to the ER I went.
They had someone from ER come up and get me, rolled me over in a wheelchair. I was hoping it would be a gurney but no luck, but at least the wheel chair was faster than me walking. I got checked in, waited a few minutes, then got a room, got into my gown and then blissfully into a bed, flat. Got an IV for Dilaudid but the pain never fully went away. The drugs dulled it, but didn’t make it disappear. Now remember, I had already taken a Tramadol and a Vicodin that morning and now Dilaudid, a morphine type drug AND THE PAIN NEVER WENT AWAY! That is some serious pain.
So I got the MRI, got the results, now this was my third MRI in the last 11 years. My once centrally herniated disc was now paracentrally herniated and pressing on my nerves. Great. So some more Dilaudid, sent home with a script for steroids, Percocet and a stronger muscle relaxer with a note to follow up with the neurosurgeon who read my MRI. Now remember Kris was out of town, so I debated about who to call to come get me. Scot was working till 7:30 and it was 4pm. Amy was also out of town with Debby and Justin diving. My friend Tracy almost got the call, but based on the timing of the MRI and results, I figured it’d be close to 7:30 when I got out, so I called Scot. Just barely crying, asking him if he could pick me up at the hospital when he got off work. Imagine getting that call eh?
I had texted Kris what was going on and he said for $300 he could fly home that night. I told him it wasn’t worth it. I’d get home, go to bed with drugs and be out. I wasn’t sure at that point how Sat would go and if he’d have to get a shuttle home from the airport or not.
Saturday I woke up ok. Not great, but not as bad as Friday. I started the steroids at breakfast and went back to sleep with more drugs. By noon, was feeling up to the task of getting Kris. I drove up and he drove home with me reclining in the passenger seat.
Since then I have gotten a little better each day but one thing that does not go away is the pain while sitting. I still get random shots of pain in my legs but not as bad as they were. I spent most of Sunday laying on the couch, though I did have to go to work to update some stuff for today because I didn’t go to work at all on Friday. Even that 30 minutes was torture on my back. Again, I have been taking either Tramadol or Vicodin or Percocet depending on the severity of the pain and/or the time of day. If I was to be awake and/or driving, I took Tramadol, it doesn’t seem to make me sleepy like the others do. Nor fuzzy in the head. So strong pain killers 24 hours a day for now 7 days. Ugh.
Monday loomed and I was concerned about it and sitting at work. I took a mat in to the office and spent two 20 minute periods lying on the floor. That actually helps quite a bit. I also spent some time standing while on the phone. I tried kneeling at one point but the desk is too high. By the end of the day I couldn’t sit still and then I lost my connection to IU around 3:30pm because of severe storms in Bloomington. I called it quits at a quarter to four and came home. Another chiro apt this evening and then home again.
Now that I have finished this long post and took a break in the middle to walk the dogs, it’s time to lay down again. Oh but before I close out, the soonest I can follow up with the neuro doc is June 14th. Yes that’s right, 4 weeks from now. In the ER for severe pain and I can’t get in for follow up care for 4 weeks? Can you even begin to imagine what my next 4 weeks of life is going to be like? I’ve already missed two agility classes and can’t walk my dogs for more than 10 minutes at a time…. I dread my sanity. Time to start the L-Theanine that Kat sent me.