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What A Pain In The....

Still out with my back injury.

Had an MRI done last month. Found a couple of bulging discs and one disc that is completely blown apart. It's ruptured onto a very annoying nerve that makes my ass and leg feel like it's being poked with a barbecue fork.

Hurts like hell.

So far, besides treatment by medication, I've had an epidural/steroid injection.

For those of you who have not had the pleasure, you lie on your stomach, with half your ass hanging out. (I was told the shot for the local anesthetic would hurt the most. HA!)

After sticking me with the Novocaine, the doctor jabbed a needle straight into the hurt disc, and injected a steroid into it. The object being to shrink the rupture and alleviate the inflammation.

I think he injected 3 squirts of steroids into the disk, and I felt every one. It felt like I was zapped with lightening from my ass down to my foot.

I left claw marks on the operating table.

Needless to say, the procedure did not work, as I feel shitty as ever. I now am going to see a surgeon on Tuesday, and should set up a discectomy in the near future.

Sorry for my whining, but, I'd be interested to hear if any of you have ever had this procedure done before.

My main concern is the anesthesia. I've never been under before. Never had surgery. So I am actually pretty nervous about it.

I have these visions that I won't be put under enough, and I'll feel them cutting me up like a to-furky at a vegan thanksgiving. That, and fears I won't come out of it.

I know.. Childish. But, I'm a wuss when it comes to this stuff.

Anyway. I'll stop now.


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Comments (30)

I have had four operations ... (Below threshold)

I have had four operations on my lower back. When I joined the Army, I was young dumb, and you know the rest, and I was talked into going to Airborne school. Whilst there on my next to the last jump, I ended up really messing my back up. Fast forward ten years of pain, suffering etc, I had a CAT scan and was sumarily strapped to a gurney, airlifted to Landstuhl Army Hospital where I had surgery the next morning. Since then I have had three more, one to remove scar tissue, one for complete diskectomy and the last to fuse four verterbrae. The last one finally did it for me. I can now stand, walk etc without undue pain. I will however always suffer some pain as scar tissue and nerve damage never quite heals fully. Hope your operation goes well, and you recover completely.

I've had cortisone injectio... (Below threshold)

I've had cortisone injections for bone spur pain.
My doctor mixed a cortisone/Novocaine cocktail, which made the experience (relatively) painless. You might want to see if your medic can do the same for you, if you need another injection.

Ass... (Below threshold)


Re recovery - if they offer... (Below threshold)

Re recovery - if they offer you something for nausea, TAKE IT. Had mesh put in to repair a double hernia on an outpatient basis - but decided to macho it out on the anti-puke shot before going home. I made it home, made it upstairs, and then proceeded to heave up everything I didn't eat that morning, and over the next 24 hours or so heaved up every meal for the previous week.

You'll know you've hit bottom when the greenish bile comes up.

And let me tell ya, heaving after abdominal surgery, even laparascopic, ain't no fun at all! I really should have taken the fenergan shot.

I have not had disk surgery... (Below threshold)
Pat S:

I have not had disk surgery myself, but can testify based on the experience of many friends and patients that I have seen that the experience Robert reports is common. Especially if the disk is really "blown apart," which makes the chances of recurrent symptoms higher. The surgeon will take out as much as can be reached easily, but most likely some will be left, unless they decide to do a fusion.

Pain following back surgery varies a lot from person to person. Some people have a lot, some just a little.

The chances of having the nausea that JLawson describes is related to two things: the type of anesthetic used (some cause bad nausea in almost all patients,) and the involvement of the belly (hernia surgery is usually bad because they are pulling the bowel around, but back surgery not so much.)

Good luck.

You name it, I've had it. T... (Below threshold)

You name it, I've had it. The injections in the back? Oh yes, charming aren't they. My pain doctor (I have degenerative disc disease and spinal stenosis) tells me to concentrate on my BREATHING while that fuc&^#@* needle is inserted from my lower back all the way to my throat! The disc surgeries are not a huge thing IF you have a good doctor. You will spend 1 week at home on your back after having passed the day and night of the surgery in the hospital. Pain meds will help, but get a double dose. You will probably need them.

I had the shots twice and d... (Below threshold)

I had the shots twice and did not feel a thing. Now my back feels great. I think your doc got to close to the nerve bundle. Try another doc. ww

OldPuppymax,My wif... (Below threshold)


My wife suffers from a similar condition with the addition of Arachnoiditis. He has had multiples discectomies and fusions both lumbar and cervical.

Innumerable steroid shots. The shots sometimes helped for a few days but were otherwise useless.

I can't offer you advice, n... (Below threshold)

I can't offer you advice, not being a doctor, but I had the same procedure done twenty odd years ago and the results were fantastic. To this day I am backpain free. I went from all but constant pain to blessed relief in just days. I could have cried.

The only problem (short term) I had was that the dural membrane (the sheath that encloses the spinal cord) had a pinhole left over from sewing up and after a couple of days I was leaking clear spinal fluid through the staples. I had to go back to get it closed. I cursed at the time but considering the actual disc surgery and the results, I was (and still am) !extremely! happy that I got the procedure done.
I have never suffered sustained backpain since nor any sort of limited motion problems etc.

Hope you have the same results. You can Look forward to a new you if you do.

I'll say a prayer for you.

I had surgery on my ears a ... (Below threshold)

I had surgery on my ears a few years back. Like you, I had never had anything more invasive than a dentist trip.

So the night before, under orders to rest, but not eat or drink, I could not sleep.

And what movie was Turner? Wrath of Khan. I managed to click onto it just as the bug goes in Checkov's ear. I got no sleep at all that night.

Hope it all goes well for you.

I had a triple bypass as my... (Below threshold)

I had a triple bypass as my first surgery and Ihave to say that the anesthesia was the most enjoyable part of the entire experience. "Count backward from 100" I was told and I got to 100. Next thing I knew, there I was in recovery with hubby holding my hand and nurses everywhere. My next experience with anesthesia was with the colonoscopy that I had recently. I had heard a bunch of different things and thought I would be sort of conscious throughout the procedure. As the nurse put the drip or whatever in...I asked, "Is this where I count backward from 100?" "Yeah, right" she responded and next thing I knew I was in recovery with a nurse taking my blood pressure. Don't worry. Be Happy. Anesthesia has come a long way baby.

I had two lower back surger... (Below threshold)

I had two lower back surgeries when I was in my thirties. They allowed me to have a successful career and retire as a police officer. I'm 70 now, and have arthritis in my back due to the surgeries, but I think it was a good trade off.

My wife has had several sur... (Below threshold)

My wife has had several surgeries including a spine fusion (don't remember the formal name).

For her there are two main areas that have great effect on her recovery.

One has to be dealt with before the surgery--pain management drugs. Morphine and similar makes her dreadfully sick and the retching pretty much stops recovery until they stop giving the stuff to her.

Talk to the surgeon, the anesthesiologist, and the nurse-in-charge m(they don't talk to each other and each has its protocol. Get them all to swear on what ever they hold to be holy that if the stuff makes you sick, they will stop it.

As soon as you are able after surgery, take charge of your care.

The other thing is: take the rehab seriously Don't over do it, but do all of it.

It will not be fun, it will not be easy. But a few weeks of hard work will pay off for a long time.

Best wishes to you. ... (Below threshold)

Best wishes to you.

Ps I have had different procedures ....insist on the anti-nausea meds.
When I didnt have it before and it was worse than the procedure(s) I had gone thru.

I've been under before for ... (Below threshold)

I've been under before for some simple facia removal from my legs. I was there, counting backwards, then I was back in recovery with a very dry mouth. Didn't feel a thing. Mine was minor orthopedic surgery, but I wouldn't hesitate to go under again.

Lots of surgeries here. An... (Below threshold)

Lots of surgeries here. Anesthesia is controlled by the anesthesiologist. You'll be introduced, so have a good discussion about how this is your first time. At my last surgery I woke up still continuing my train of thought from earlier. I doubt you would have much of a problem, but they do have nausea medicine if you do. I do have a suggestion though. For many, it causes constipation for a few days. You may wish to ask about that, or at least keep some Senecot handy. Good luck.

I had the cortisone shots t... (Below threshold)

I had the cortisone shots twice and have had two surgeries after that.

The first cortisone shot helped for about six months. The second one didn't do jack. It never helped numb the pain. However, I did not have your experience. They numbed me well and I never felt the spinal shot.

The surgeries went quite well. I had a herniated disc that had calcified as it'd been a problem for a very long time. I first had problems in the mid-90s, but was active-Army and the most they'd ever do was take an X-Ray, tell me they couldn't see anything and give me Motrin. After getting out, the back issues just got worse. Finally got an MRI and found the bulging disc.

The first surgery worked well, but it re-herniated about seven months later. It's rare for that to happen, but it does happen. The second surgery was exactly like the first and I've been doing well ever since. It's been about six months since the second surgery. I've been taking it very easy, doing a lot of physical therapy and slow, slooooow, SLOWly getting back into exercise.

Just take it easy, dude. You can easily re-injure that stuff.

Thankfully you are able to ... (Below threshold)
Alan Orfi:

Thankfully you are able to have this desperately-needed surgery performed by a doctor of your choice and timeline. If Obama has his way, patients will likely face long waiting periods as such "elective" procedures are increasingly rationed. Best wishes to you.

Hey Shawn,I have b... (Below threshold)

Hey Shawn,

I have back problems too but I just eat the painkillers and hope for the best. Mine is bone spurs and weight problems.

I had my gallbladder removed a few years back and was worried like you are now. Just follow the doctors orders and you'll be fine. The only problem I had with the anesthesia was I was very groggy when I woke up. They will probably tell you to breathe in the pure oxygen they give you to wake up, definitely do. It will help clear the medicine out and you can wake up.

You will be fine. I know you will worry (I did) but if you let us know I am sure many of us Wizbang readers would pray for you if you would let us.


From a doctor who seen a lo... (Below threshold)

From a doctor who seen a lot and continues to see a lot, and who had 4 epidural steroid injections himself:

1) Back surgery is the last resort. Try everything else first unless paralysis is imminent. It will be successful if it keeps things from getting worse. It isn't always successful (see posts above).

2) It may take up to 4 steroid epidural injections to get relief. And relief may occur 4-6 weeks after the fourth, just a week or two before you have surgery scheduled. They usually feel WORSE after the injection for a week or so. An injection INTO the disk is to see if that's where the pain is coming from, not to make the pain better.

3) If you have surgery, then the disks above and below will be more prone to rupture in the future. You will have to take even better care after your back surgery than before. Read up on post-laminectomy syndrome BEFORE you have a laminectomy.

4) Go to the best surgeon you can find. A single testimonial will not do. Travel across the country if necessary.

5) Quit smoking, lose weight and get in the best aerobic shape possible before surgery. Yeah, I know your back sucks, but if you can, use a pool or at least do upper extremity aerobics. Talk carefully to the PT folks who will be working with you BEFORE your surgery.

No fun, Shawn. Ha... (Below threshold)

No fun, Shawn.

Had my entire right leg go numb from a disk problem. The doc wanted to do surgery, talked her into phyical therapy.

Therapist said I could tread water for 30 minutes twice a week but absolutely no running. Tried to convince him that I loosen up when I run but he wasn't listening.

Ignored him, ran very gently, stopped every 1/4 mile to stretch very gently. Six weeks back to full running, three months to a marathon.

Which I ran with a hernia. Ouch. It was a bummer year for running and my first year in business for myself.

Try everything you can. Once they cut, your options go to zero. And, they mean well but you know you better than they do. Trust your instincts.

Best wishes.

Yes I had three of the eigh... (Below threshold)

Yes I had three of the eight lane highway of pain from back to toe shots. It took three days after the third one to take affect. My back is good now so long as I watch how I lift or move.

I only had a bulging disk in the L5 s1,s2 area not a blown out gasket. How did you did it?

Good luck!

Had three episodes of a som... (Below threshold)

Had three episodes of a somewhat similar nature - pain, numbness, couldn't walk more than a few feet without having to sit down. I had surgery (fusion)and remember waking up in the recovery room feeling a fair amount of pain, but it was a good pain - a healing pain - and I could immediately tell that it was far different than what I had been experiencing. It has been about 15 years since I had that surgery and my back/legs have been absolutely pain free. We're all different, but I think you can tell what my advice would be.

Don't sweat the anesthesia,... (Below threshold)

Don't sweat the anesthesia, seriously. It's not as scary as the movie version of the mask descending over your face. They're just going to inject a syringe of night-night juice into the IV line already in your arm. Just try to remember to ask for ice chips when you wake up, your mouth is going to be dry.

I have a rather rare condit... (Below threshold)

I have a rather rare condition which gives any local anesthetic used on me about 20 minutes to work, then feeling returns. Discovered this the hard way half-way through cancer removal on forehead.

Since i have had three more surgeries for skin cancer, including both sides of nose. Had to be put under because of my condition. NO problems.....I awake with mildly dry mouth, but feel nothing beyond insertion of the line for drugs.

Good luck...

My 14 yr-old son has had ma... (Below threshold)

My 14 yr-old son has had many back surgeries for severe scoliosis and other abdominal surgeries for intestinal stuff. He says the main thing to remember is to do the physical therapy afterward. Also he says to make sure you use the button they give you to bump your pain meds as soon as you feel it getting even a little worse. It is WAY harder to get a handle on pain if you wait until it gets bad then if you catch it just as it starts. Also get up and get moving as soon as possible even though it hurts. You will be glad you did. Later.

He says that the anesthesia is really easy and after you do it a few times you don't even mind that part.

One thing I would say is make sure you have someone there at the hospital to keep an eye on the nurses and make sure that they do what the surgeon tells them. Not that nurses are bad or hospitals are bad, it's just that they are busy. Unless you are sick enough to be in intensive care, they have a lot of patients and if you don't have someone looking out for your interests, you may have to wait too long for meds or other things you need. And it helps to have someone in there all the time to see how you are doing. For instance, since I was in the room all the time, I could tell that the morphine was actually making him feel worse, just like he was telling them it was. I could back him up on that and so they finally switched to another drug and he did markedly better.

Oh and BTW Shriners Hospitals for Children are the best thing that has ever happened to kids. If I thought that free government health care would even come close, I'd be all for it. But I know better.

Just had gall bladder surge... (Below threshold)

Just had gall bladder surgery. anesthetic will put you out during surgery. Relatively painless (except in recovery - I remember them giving me morphine to lessen the pain). Take the anti-nausea medicine if they offer it. Good luck.

Woke up in the middle of a ... (Below threshold)

Woke up in the middle of a hernia operation. I just remember feeling them tugging around down there and that it hurt. Nothing too terrible and I didn't want to freak out or something similar. I just said "Owwww" in slow motion like in the movies and heard the Dr. say, "Oh, I'll take care of that." Next thing I wake up in recovery.

Good Luck.

Had a spinal injury so bad ... (Below threshold)
Big Country:

Had a spinal injury so bad that I was medically retired from the Army... I refused the surgery as C-5,6 & 7 are a leeeettle too close to the 'control' side of ye old spinal chordage and back then, the Docs in the Army, well feh. I wasn't gonna trust them NOT to screw up... good luck to you on your upcoming tho...

BTW: Did they do the enervation test yet? Needles at the nerve pressure points up and down the limb, with one inserted at the plexus juncture and then the other iserted at various nerve junctures and 'twisted' around to actiuvate the nerve via pain to get a reading on the nerves?

Had it done twice and let me tell you... after that test times 2 I'd rather go back to Abu G and play "Naked Human Pyramid Twister" with the Haj than go thru that again... THAT is what true torture is! (You'll probably have it done later, so you can look forward to that little game.) ;)

Just had the L5,S2 done on ... (Below threshold)

Just had the L5,S2 done on the 22nd of May 09, It did not fix the problem, so I am still in recovery mode and will meet the doctor in July for a follow-up. Pain is still in my back and right leg down to my toes. I have gone through a lot of pain the past month for nothing. I am still trying to decide what the next step will be. Good luck on your surgery.






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