Friday, May 11, 2012

15 Months Post Op Third Spinal Surgery

Well, I think this may be the last entry into this long winded saga. 

 My left leg is still weak and will most likely remain so.  My left thigh is numb and tingles intermittently.  Low backache from time to time.  I function because all of this is only possible due to my pain management physician who periodically injects me with n epidural or a trigger point injection or writes a script for pain medication.   Using Tramadol when necessary.

My latest MRI shows some worsening at the L3-L3 (area not fused).  Spinal fusion is like playing Lincoln Logs.  All stacked up but causes pressure on the adjacent areas.  I will not undergo another operation.  I will have to maintain myself with stretching exercises and pain control.  I use a steroid gel every night to keep inflammation at a reduced level.    TENS unit does not provide any relief at all.

 I am one of the lucky ones who can at least still manage.   I go to work (have reduced my hours), drive a car, walk short distances.  My days of long hikes are over,  certain exercises,   golf, etc.

I offer my experience to anyone undergoing spinal surgery in hope that it will provide some valuable information.  Do your research, ask questions, get several opinions,  remember there are no guarantees that spinal surgery will relieve your pain.

Thanks for reading
Sharyn Crichton Budnetz

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Monday, Monday, can't trust that day

Seeing my pain management doctor tomorrow, hoping that the trigger point injection will help again.  I had 3 months of feeling really well.  This past week has been hard.  Yesterday stayed in bed all day so I didn't have to move.  Taking too much Alleve, its helps ease the pain bit will eventually wreck my gut or my liver. 

If I have to go through this every 3 months I don't think I can take it.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

HERE I GO AGAIN 1/13/2013

Pain in my back and buttock have returned,  tried Tramadol but it just takes the edge off,  I really need Vicodin to get the pain down to a manageable level.  Seeing pain management in about 10 days for another trigger point injection.  Once you have back pain with multiple surgeries, it never ever goes away. it is something you have to learn to live with. 

Monday, January 9, 2012


I haven't posted an update in quite a while so here's the update.

My surgery (my 3rd spine surgery) was December 2010.   It is now a little over one year.
  Last April (5 months after surgery) I had the most horrible relentless pain.  Back ache, spasms, leg pain, etc.  I returned to my surgeon who ordered another round of x rays, Ct scans, MRI.  All tests showed that nothing was NEW,  hardware was all in place.  He could not account for my severe pain.  Thus began months of Vicodin in order for me to be able to go to work and somewhat function.   My pain interfered with my life.  I became incredibly depressed and even suicidal at times.  My went from the ortho doctor to the psychiatrist to the pain management doctor.  Several series of epidurals, several facet injections, more Vicodin.  Nothing was helping.  Finally in August I went to another pain management doctor to get another opinion.  I had another series of MRI & CT scans.  Everything looks fine they all said.  But my new pain management MD  wanted to try several different things to see if he could get me feeling better.  We tried Lidocaine patches,  Cymbalta, Voltaren gel,  and lastly some pinpoint rigger injections.  After two months I was feeling so much better.

 It is now early January 2012.  I still have occasional backaches,  I DO NOT take Vicodin but take 2 Alleve every morning, use Voltaren gel twice daily massaged into my back muscles.   I am doing so much better.  

NEVER GIVE UP!  As the patient you know when you do not feel well.  All tests cannot account for pain.  We have to be advocates for our own bodies.  Keep searching and getting second opinions if necessary.   Keep pushing until someone can help you.  I have been blessed with a wonderful surgeon who has done successful surgeries, but I was still hurting.   You must find the right team to put all the clues together. 

I will be seeing my pain management doctor again in two weeks for another trigger point injection.   This will probably be my regimen for the rest of my life.  Meanwhile, I try to keep doing what I can, some days are better some days are worse.  I will not give up.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

11 weeks post op from XLIF and PLIF

Had films done today then saw my surgeon.  Everything looks good on all films, hardware in place,  cage in place, signs of bone growth already!   I am 11 weeks out (they call this the 3 month check) finished with physical therapy.   Next check in 3 months.  Off most pains meds except for occasional Tramadol (Ultraset).

 I have returned to work part time and hopefully will try to go back full time next week and see how I feel.
  I do have pain from time to time, my left thigh is still quite numb, surgeon expects this to resolve eventually (its a side effect from the lateral incision going through the psoas muscle). 

I think that any patient going for spine surgery has to have realistic expectations at the outcome.  I for one know that after three spine operations I can not expect things to be perfect.  I expect to be able to walk, sit and stand fairly comfortably perhaps with some discomfort from time to time.   I expect not to have to take drugs the rest of my life for pain management.  I expect that I will be able to enjoy life again although somewhat limited in what I can and cannot do.   I DO NOT expect to downhill ski, do sit ups, touch my toes ever again, lift 50lbs bags of pet food,  or have a spine like I did when I was 25 years old prior to my skiing accident.  I have lived with recurrent back pain for 34 years and three surgeries within 6 years time.  I have been fortunate to find and be treated by the best hospitals, surgeon, pain management teams and physical therapists.  I am also fortunate to have an amazing husband and children who have supported and helped me more than they will ever know.

All in all, I am one of the "lucky" patients.  I know there are so many people out there with failed surgery,  debilitating back pain, unable to work, on disability and on pain medication the rest of their lives.   I wish all of you the best and urge you not to give up. 

Thanks for reading, I hope I have given some insight to at least one person out there somewhere.....


Monday, January 31, 2011

7 weeks post op

7 weeks today......every time I think I am completely better, I realize that I still have a long way to go.  I still get muscle spasms in my back, after walking for just a few minutes my muscles tighten up.  The thigh muscle is still sore, the nerve still bothering me.  A simple day of just doing a few things completely exhausts me.  I am not sleeping well.  I feel like THE THREE BEARS.  One bed is too hard, one bed is too soft, and I can't find the one that's just right. 

Using Tylenol for pain control but doesn't seem to help at times, I tried to get myself off Tramadol but I think I will need to rely on it for a while yet.  Heating pad helps with the tight back muscles.

Physical therapy tomorrow.  

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Physical Therapy

Just a quick follow-up note:  I hurt like heck today.  I really think my PT pushed too hard yesterday and I wasn't ready for ankle weights.  If PT hurts too much SPEAK UP!  You are suppose to work to get better, not work to get more pain!  Right?  I'll speak with her tomorrow.

I was up half the night throbbing and using a heating pad!