Wednesday, February 26, 2014

results are in

Saw my orthopedic doctor yesterday morning to discuss the results of my MRI for my lower back.

Not the news I was expecting.

I was expecting to hear I have a slightly bulged disc that can be remedied via common nonsurgical means.  What I did hear is that I have a significantly herniated L5S1 disc which is putting tremendous pressure on my spinal cord and sciatic nerve for my right leg. Hence why my right leg is all jacked up and in quite a bit of pain.



As a practicing engineer, tests and data help me understand problems I am faced with. The MRI did just that. It told me exactly what is going on yet also scared the living daylights out of me. I could see so much of my spine it would fascinate me yet give me this out of body experience all in the same breath. I could see every vertebrae and every disc. Everything looks great except this L5 zone. In fact, the L4 disc just above it is every so slightly bulged. The good news here is all my discs are about the same thickness which tells us there are no disc degeneration we have to worry about [now].

The section plot (think of a magician slicing his lady in half) through my L5 disc is the real shocker. I should have taken a photo but forgot. So the best thing I could find is this.
This is pretty much what I have. The disc is protruding into my spinal cavity and in the MRI it basically encompasses the vast majority of the spinal cavity.

very scary

What is next? 

For now, as with this entire month, I am dealing with near constant pain in my leg and muscles that include a hamstring that is so tight I can barely walk (this is so painful I'd rather go through another broken leg). Based up on my active lifestyle my orthopedic doctor wants to do surgery where they come in through a 1inch incision and remove the herniated portion and clean things up. This is the last thing I wanted to hear so I did not agree just yet. Next Tuesday I am getting a shot in the spine with something along the lines of cortisone in an effort to reduce the swelling and relieve the pressure on my nerves and spinal cord. From there I will see my orthopedic doctor again and discuss the future. I am also planning on seeing an osteopathic doctor to discuss other options.

Ironically this is the exact same injury my mother had when she was my age. Back then surgery for this was not as great as today so she opted out of surgery. Growing up I recall many times where she was in pain and could not get out of bed. I do not really want to follow in those footsteps so when I think about that I think I might need to undergo surgery.

Needless to say 2014 is shaping up to be another recovery year.

I doubt I will be racing a bicycle this year and have already signed up for SSAP and Bearscat50. Anyone interested in taking my place for me? 

Needless to say we will get through this!

Monday, February 24, 2014

birthday resolutions

My lower back has been a nightmare the past few weeks. When one thinks things are on the up they quickly do a 180 and smack you down. Nothing like a major mental challenge.

While the low points are low nothing has been as low as the morning of the 14th when I was shoveling some heavy [typical] new england snow and made a minute movement which wound up sending pain through my body severe enough to make me collapse onto the ground in tears. Just when I thought I was climbing out of the Feb 5th injury I dig myself six feet deeper.

The rest of that morning consisted of me laying on my back barely able to make the slightest movements. Lots of pondering of how it has come to this. After a few hours and some anti-inflammatory I was able to move again and quickly went to work on my own version of PT. By late afternoon I could walk again and move around the house. The only catch this time was I now had constant nerve pain down my right leg whereas prior to that morning the nerve pain was just about gone from the Feb 5th injury.
One of my forms of PT: rolling around on a softball

A week later I convinced my doctor and insurance company to issue an MRI. Tomorrow (25th) I see the doc to discuss the MRI findings and what the going forward plan to recovery is. I doubt there will be surgery as I've regained most of my range of motion on my own but what still concerns me is the constant nerve firing down my leg and the lack of strength in the glute and hamstring muscles as a result. I figure once I get rid of the nerve firing I can get into the gym, more yoga and PT of some sort. That'll be my road to recovery.

So, as I turn 35 I've come up with a way of life for this year:
(a page out of Peter's book)

This should get me back in shape and the last two items are just major things we need to accomplish this year.
Another form of PT: walking

Next up is a detailed explanation of my new bike I got last year. How it came to be. What is so awesome about it. blagh blagh blagh.