Many Disc Problems, Surgeries and Fibromyalgia Too

My story actually started in 1980.  I was 13 and was a competitive gymnast.  I over-rotated a vault and landed on my head with my legs in a pike position. I crushed and compressed T12-L1-L2. I was in a back brace after a week stay in the hospital on bed rest and the doctors expected me to be in the brace for around 9 months. I told them that there was no way that would happen.  I would be better and back to gymnastics before then.  I proved them wrong and was out of the brace in 2 1/2 months and back to gymnastics within 6 months.

Years later, I started having issues with my cervical spine and ended up having a C5-C6 discectomy and fusion in 1999. I still have headaches daily from this and pain, as well. My neck gets tired often and I feel like I need to lay down to give the muscles a rest.

Ok, now let's just go back 4 years.  I was a Registered Nurse for 24 years. Most of this time was spent in some sort of mental health or substance abuse facility and the last job was in forensics at a state hospital. I don't recommend this type of nursing to anyone; it is horrible. There were lots of struggles and take-downs with injuries.

I finally got off the floor and took a supervisory role, due to being tired of getting injured. I woke up the end of June, 4 years ago, and had severe pain in my back on the left side. I had no idea what had happened. I just woke up and the pain was there. This was on a Friday, and by Sunday, the pain had escalated so badly that my husband had to take me to the ER. There they did a chest x-ray, which to this day doesn't make sense. I told them, I don't need a chest x-ray, the pain is in my back. Needless to say, they were not listening to me.

I heard the doctor talking at the nurse’s station saying that the chest x-ray was negative, but she thought maybe it was pleurisy anyway. I thought to myself, "Where did this woman get her MD degree, out of a Cracker Jack box?" So, she comes into my room and I say, I heard you out there and I don't have pleurisy. I have pain in my back. I am not coughing. My chest isn't tight and I have no symptoms of pleurisy. She proceeded to tell me that because my pain was on my left side, and because it came up higher, that was her diagnosis. I left there fuming.

I then saw a nurse practitioner a week later who tried to tell me I had shingles. I was thinking, “Wow all the doctors in this state are insane!” I grew up in the Midwest and had excellent doctors there my whole life.  Now I am in the North Western part of the US. I argued with the nurse practitioner, as well, and told her I had no rash or anything like that.

I was able to wait for 2 weeks then I went back to see a doctor who thought I had pulled some muscles and thought I should go to PT. Oh brother, was I fed up with the medical field by now. The PT people called to set up an appointment a few days later and that night while at work, the pain got so bad that I could hardly stand it. I left work, went back to the ER, where I got the same doctor who told me I had pleurisy. I had to take a deep breath and count to 100 twice before I could talk to her. When she finally came in I said, can you please do an MRI, I can't take this pain anymore and I related all the different diagnosis to her. Finally, thank the Lord, I got an MRI.

To her surprise, but surely not mine, every one of my lumbar discs had something wrong with them with the exception of one. In order to not bore you to death with every detail from then until now, I have been through 4 neurosurgeons, two pain specialists, two primary care physicians and a change in insurance.

I have now had 2 back surgeries, 2 years apart, with the last one just 2 months ago.  Both times, the areas that were worked on have re-herniated. Both times, scar tissue has grown rapidly across the nerve roots.

I have constant sciatic pain all the way down my low back, left buttock and hip, down the left leg into my foot. I had a new MRI this past Monday and my doctor tells me the disc is re-herniated, there is a lot of scar tissue, and it just doesn't look the same as it did, it looks as if it has calcified.

Tomorrow, I will have a CT scan to further evaluate the problem. I have no idea what is in store for me after this, but I can tell you I am at my wit’s end with the pain and the fibromyalgia doesn't make things any better.  Depression has definitely set in.

I have not been able to work for over 3 years now and had to go on disability. Part of the time I use a walker to get around, definitely if I have to leave my home. I can't sit or stand for any length of time and most of my life is spent lying on the couch or in bed because it is too painful to get out and do anything. I can't do much in my home, as far as cleaning either.

I am on morphine sulfate ER 3 times a day and dilaudid for breakthrough pain 2 times a day, as well. I have oxycodone to use as needed. I stay in a constant state of tiredness. I wake up feeling more tired then when I went to bed and the constipation issues from so many narcotics are just ridiculous.

I hope and pray someone somewhere comes up with a cure or at least a better way to manage the pain. I have tried everything under the sun and nothing is working. My neck, my back, my left buttock and hip and my entire left leg all hurt.  Having to favor my left side for so long has damaged my right leg, knee and hip. I am only 47 and feel like 147. Thanks for listening to my story.  - Tricia

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