Around 2000, when I turned 40, I started experiencing more episodes of discomfort and regularly went to a chiropractor for adjustments which seemed to help. The real trouble started around 2004 when strange vibrations triggered a sensation across my lower back and down my legs that I can not even describe. I either had to sit down or fall down. Terrified I made an appointment with an Orthopedic Surgeon and an MRI scan was ordered. My spondy had progressed from a grade 1 to a grade 2 but the doctor seemed to be unconcerned about serious complications and offered me pills or injections for pain relief, both of which I rejected. Instead, I increased my chiropractor visits and added deep tissue massage into the visit, which brought me a great deal of relief. I began walking three miles on the treadmill every day to strengthen my legs and back, and although I was experiencing more and more discomfort and episodes, I resolved to not take any pain relieves, including asprin, tylenol or the like.
In 2008 I lost my father and aunt both within seven months of one another, and since I was busy with running to doctors, hospitals and taking care of their needs, I totally ignorned what was happening in my own body. I stopped walking on the treadmill and only sporadically was able to get to the chiropractor. After my aunt passed away in March of 2009 I decided to get back on the treadmill only to find I could barely walk 1/4 of a mile before I was in severe pain. My "spondy waddle" - as I called it - became much more pronounced and even my husband became alarmed when I took his arm to walk back from an outdoor concert as I limped severely to my right side with each step I took. As if pain were not insult enough, the sheer exhaustion of walking compounded the problem. Now I had to think of how much walking had to be done whenever I decided to go anywhere. Housework that took me normally a day to finish, now took me three days, and I paid in pain for every chore. By this point I started to hear bone crackling noises as I bent over or straightened up. When I complained to my internal medicine doctor of the symptoms she suggested that I go to physical therapy and strengthen my back muscles. She believed that this would make a huge difference in my condition. Physical therapy did nothing to improve my condition and my chiropractor finally admitted that she could no longer help me either. I was reluctant to return to the Orthopedic Surgeon, as he had not suggested surgery and I knew pills were not the answer for me. So I did nothing.
For three long years I suffered without remedy. I slept on the couch for two years so that I could constantly move my legs around to try and stop the vibrations that kept me up half the night. I used a heating pad to try and relieve the pain. Many nights I cried myself to sleep only to get up in the morning to the same pain and limitations. I became depressed and irritable. My world grew smaller and smaller. Finally, after running out of options, I returned to the Orthopedic Surgeon in 2012 and was sent for my last MRI. After reviewing the results, this time the Orthopedic Surgeon was ready to talk surgery. My spondy was almost a grade 3; I had severe Spinal Stenosis and my nerve roots were bilaterally severely compressed. I wasn't offered pills or injections, only surgery. I went for three opinions before deciding on surgery: Two from Orthopedic Surgeons and one from a Neurosurgeon. In truth I liked some of what each had to say, but not all from any one of them. The first Ortho told me he would pull the vetebra back only as far as it was willing to go and fuse me at that point. He wanted to enter from both the front and the back, and have a Neurosurgeon preform the surgery with him. Total time on the table would be about 7 hours. The second opinion was from a Neurosurgeon, whom, while he would preform the surgery if I wanted it, believed it was still not necessary at this point and I could be suffering from Fibromyalgia, and that maybe supplements could help me. He would operate only from the back and total time on the table was 5 hours. I knew this guy was nuts. The third doctor, another Ortho Surgeon, would pull the vertebra completely back into place, fuse and only operate from the back, total time on the table was estimated at 2-3 hours. Three doctors - three completely different opinions. I went to my internist, whom I trust, and she believed that the third opinion made the most sense. But because I had gotten such different opinions, I hesitated once again and did nothing, but the pain and limitations forced me to make the decision for surgery. I picked the last Orthopedic Surgeon and scheduled surgery.
On August 25th I went into surgery again. While they could not find the source of the infection, they did find a small puncture wound in Spinal Sac that could have been leaking spinal fluid, which could have been the cause of the infection. The Neurosurgeon, God-Bless him, also cleaned out the nerve roots and stopped my Sciatica. I was put on Vancomycin immediately following surgery. If you are not familiar with antibiotic medications, it is considered the antibiotic of last resort. It is a powerful powerful drug. I also had to have a blood transfusion, as I was severely Anemic. After three days I was sent home from the hospital with a PICC line (a catheter inserted into the arm that delivers the antibiotics intravenously). A pharmacy delievered weekly doses of Vancomycin to the house. I had to have my blood drawn weekly (which should have been twice a week) to insure that my body was handling the Vancomycin. The course was for 6 weeks but the Vancomycin hit my kidneys at 4 weeks and I had to be given an antibiotic (and I do not know the name of it) that proves to have no side effects but at a cost of $1,000.00 a dose. I stayed on that antibiotic for one week and then was relieved of the PICC line at the hospital. I had a scare shortly after release of a low grade fever that turned out to be a Urinary Tract Infection, but I had to go through the whole blood culture testing again, and for someone who was anemic, giving that much blood for the second time just put me further behind. It took four weeks for my kidney function to return to normal but I had no symptoms of anything wrong with my kidneys other then a constant salt taste in my mouth and all food tasting like salt. From August 14th through the end of September I lost 20lbs, an immense amount of strength and I was close to a nervous breakdown.