Awaiting Microdiscectomy

I'm a 42 year old woman with 2 young children. I started to feel a stiff backache in 2009 shortly after the birth of my son, which was a 27 hour labor with an epidural. My GP advised that backache is common due to the lifting and bending associated with having a baby. The backache and stiffness continued, so I went back to my GP and she arranged physiotherapy. 

I soon became pregnant with my second child and stopped the physiotherapy, as I didn't feel like it helped and so I just carried on with life and tolerated the backache. After the birth of my daughter, my back felt ok. It was not as stiff as before. However 10 months on, I experienced severe left-sided pain, deep in my groin. I was also experiencing a change of bowel movements, so my GP referred me to have a colonoscopy. The results showed nothing. 

I continued to have severe left groin pain and now left leg pain to my knee. It was so severe that it would stop me in my tracks. I went back to my GP and he then referred me to a gynecologist. A scan showed a left cyst so I had my left ovary removed. 

Upon recovery from this procedure, I then felt the exact same left groin pain and had the same left leg pain. I was beside myself. I continued working at a desk job, looking after my 2 kids, and doing chores, but day-to-day life was getting hard due to the pain. The only relief I felt was when I lay down. 

I again went to my GP, as whilst I felt like the problem must be in my head, I also really felt something was wrong as the pain was so real and impacting my life. On the outside I looked fine, so it was hard for friends and family to understand. 

My GP asked me to get up and perform leg lifts.  It was at this point that I realized I couldn't lift my left leg. Luckily, whilst I was at the doctors, I had a really bad bout of pain, which I now know was a muscle spasm. He referred me to a pain management specialist. 

An MRI in July 2014 showed a large L5-S1 herniated disc and nerve compression. At last we are onto something! The pain management consultant arranged for me to have a spinal block epidural injection and I was given various medications. The epidural and spinal block took 3 weeks to work and then I had some light relief for 3 months. Back to the GP and was then given various other medicines to try, but none really worked. Some weren't good for me to take considering I'm looking after my children, driving and working and looking after my home.

My GP arranged physiotherapy for 6 sessions again. That didn't really help, as I couldn't do the exercises asked of me; they hurt too badly. I then just took co-codamol and gritted my teeth and got on with life whilst feeling frustrated and angry. 

In March 2015 at work, I took another turn for the worse.  The world went grey and I felt like I was going to pass out.  The pain from sitting at my desk all day was getting the better of me. I could no longer carry on. My left leg felt like it was going to drop off, the pains were intense.

I went back to my pain management consultant and asked to be referred to a neurosurgeon, as enough was enough. He did mention that he wanted to do a nerve block, but I insisted that I needed a neurosurgeon, so he referred me. I had another MRI and saw my neurosurgeon. He took one look at the MRI and injury and said you need an urgent microdiscectomy. I'm due to have this operation in a week and can not wait. That's my story. Don't suffer. - Zoe


Postoperative Update on Awaiting Microdiscectomy

Following on from my story titled 'Awaiting Microdiscectomy', I have now had the operation and am pleased to report that I have had instant pain relief and success. Here's my story over the past 14 days:

My husband drove me to the hospital in London which was a painful drive as I had stopped taking my medication in readiness for the operation. I was taking two co-codamal, 400mg ibrupfen, and diazepam and was already missing my medication, as couldn't cope with the intense pains without it. Once I got to the hospital I saw my neurosurgeon, the anesthesiologist and nurse who all put me at ease. 

I was led to the operating theatre and walked there.  I recall feeling the left sided sciatica and hoped we hadn't got too far to go. That's the last time I felt that pain. I was in the theatre for 2 hours as the herniated disc was huge and I had to have a lot of fragments removed around S1 and the nerve root. I also had a large thick yellow ligament removed. 

I was on a morphine drip and felt sore afterwards, but my sciatica pain had gone and I could feel my legs and wiggle my toes. I had something to eat about 2 hours after the operation. My throat was dry and sore, so drank lots of water. I was face down in the theatre so my face was a bit puffed up and I had a red mark across my chin where the tube was. 

Around 2 AM, I felt the need to pass urine. The nurse insisted I use a bed pain, but I had no pushing sensation so begged the nurse to allow me up as felt I needed gravity to help me. She wouldn't let me up, so I had a 4 hour on and off battle with a bed pan and nurse. I got a tummy ache. Eventually, she agreed to me going in a bedside toilet and once I got on there, I could go but had no sensation of pushing or that relief you get once you go, so my bladder wasn't quiet right. 

I looked on the bright side and didn't care as the pain had gone. In the morning, the physiotherapist got me up walking and I managed a flight of stairs. I cried as it struck me that the pain had completely gone and I could not believe it as it had become a huge part of my life. I felt like I had a second chance.  I went home 2 days later. 

I stayed at my sister’s home to get some rest and my husband looked after the kids. I took co-codamol and ibuprofen. That first night at my sisters was horrific as forgot to take a glass of water and my painkillers to bed, so when I woke up at 2 AM, I could not get out of bed. I fell in and out of sleep. When I slept I had awful dreams of hurting my back or my child drowning, so vivid and awful. I felt shaky and cold. 

I spoke to my GP in the morning and she said I was having a come down as had been on strong medication. This lasted for a couple of days.

On day 5, I realized I had not been for a bowel movement, so my sister got me some laxatives, which helped, but it took me 45 minutes to go; ouch. I also noticed my bladder was coming back to normal and the oddness had gone. 

Everyday, I walked as much as felt I could around the house and garden. I managed to wash up some dishes on day 6. On day 8, I went back home and took it easy, but started to cook meals for the family, play with the kids, walked further, practiced sitting, which I am still a bit uncomfortable about for longer than 30 minutes, and generally felt good. It’s now day 14 and I'm doing great. I am still a bit sore after having 20 staples removed on day 10. I am still getting my energy levels back as have not been able to walk or stand for so long and am not fit due to it. I've halved my medication and am going to buy some lower dose painkillers, as want to get off the co-codamol that I have used for over a year. 

My family has their old Mum back and I have my life back, which will take some getting used too. I'm returning to work mid June to my desk job and my work is allowing me to do reduced hours to start. This experience has changed me forever and I am eternally grateful to my neurosurgeon for stopping the pain. It is amazing and long may it last. I will look after my back forever and will no longer bend from the waist, lift heavy items or overdo it. I never want to go through this ever again. So hopefully I will live happily ever after.  - Zoe



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