Pain & Dealing With It

My Back

Pain…for me anyways…is literally a pain in the ass. I’ve been dealing with various symptoms of sciatica and back pain for many years and after so much of it, the idea of pain is really simply…how much can you deal with? I can’t say one way or another what my level of pain is. Everyone deals with pain in different ways. I’ve had friends who have had years of chronic pain, some who have fought cancer and won, some who have lost, some who have worse back pain than I do and some who have arm or leg or you name it pain. Fighting pain is the worst. It takes a lot of time and energy and depending on your ability to cope…it can take away days off your life.

For me…this particular adventure with my back buddy started in September of last year. It had been almost 3 years since my sciatic nerve had reared its angry head. I had 3 epidurals, some therapy and some dry needling and *POOF*…it was gone for 3 years. And then…it was back. Oddly enough though, this time it wasn’t a surprising sharp jab to the back that it normally is. This time, it was coming on slowly. This time, I figured I better get started on it early to try to ward off any of the normal pain that I get with this issue. So I started my stretches, went to therapy, got some electric stimulation and acupuncture treatments for a couple months…lasting through October until just before Christmas. Nothing helped. If anything, the pain kept getting worse and worse. So I decided to attack it head on. Went to get my first round of spinal steroid injections in December. It didn’t help. Suffered through until January and with the 2nd treatment and it started to feel a little better! So I was feeling good about myself, was even able to play basketball a few times without injury and thought I was on my way! But then…the 3rd epidural a couple weeks ago. I dunno what happened but…the 3rd one blew everything all out of whack again. I was pretty much back to where I began if not worse.

So…I’ve decided to go a different direction. Look…I’ve been dealing with back issues since college. Bulging discs and arthritis are my enemies and considering what some people have to deal with? I’m willing to accept them. But they hurt and they aren’t pleasant to deal with. I feel like I have a certain level of pain tolerance but I’m quickly learning that as I age…that tolerance begins to waver a bit. I’m not 29 anymore. I can’t be fighting leg and back pain and still be an active 50 year old. So I’ve made a decision. I’m gonna have a non-invasive surgery to try to clear this up.

First off…it ain’t spinal fusion. I have a friend who just had that procedure done and I hope that he recovers quickly but that is a few months of recovery time and I don’t have that kind of time. No…this is a simply discectomy. L5-S1. Basically…the gel in the discs that separate the spinal bones have been thinning out and the one that lies in the L5-S1 area has burst a little, allowing some gel to seep out and it’s pressing on my sciatic nerve. Try as I might, that stuff just isn’t going to disappear. And I think that 3rd epidural caused some undue shifting or something in there because now it’s worst off than it was and I’ve had enough.

So on March 12th, 5 days prior to the beginning of March Madness, I’m gonna go in for an hour long procedure. The doctor (who is highly recommended and has been nothing short of awesome the couple times I’ve met him), will make a small incision in my lower back, he will push aside some back muscles (assuming I still have some back there) and he will remove whatever is pressing on that nerve and then he will sow me back up and kick me out into the world. I’ll be in & out in under 45 minutes and if all goes well…all this pain that I’ve been suffering through will be at least whittled down to something more manageable. Right now…you’d swear I was 80 years old the way I’m walking around.

Anyway…I figured I’d just write all this down in order to let everyone know. I’m not worried about it and I’m not scared. If anything I feel like it’s probably about time. This procedure has been going on for years, works 95% of the time and has worked for several of my friends. I’m just hoping I get the positive results I’m looking for so I can get on with my life. The last few months have been difficult and the past 2 weeks have been the worst of them all. Here’s hoping I can get through the next week and a half without too much pain and then I’ll be on my way! Wish me luck!

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