I finally have a diagnosis! Not that I'm excited about the actual diagnosis, I'm just finally relieved to have an answer to something that has been plaguing me for a long time.
The MRI showed mild fluid loss and a slight tear in the disc between L4 and L5 - that's in the lower part of my spinal column. But that one, while it causes some pain, isn't the worst of it. It's the ruptured disc between L5 and S1 near the tail end of my spine that is the main pain in my arse (yes, literally). The MRI shows that it is the rupture that is pressing against what they call a root nerve on my spinal column. It's why I can't bend or stoop without being in excruciating pain.
|(This isn't MY MRI but an image I found that illustrates what a herniated disc between L5 and S1 looks like.|
Usually disc problems come as a natural result of aging but I'm still in my early 30's so that doesn't much apply to me. There must have been an injury some time, somehow, but I can't really pinpoint what could have caused it. I just remember having to crawl across the floor of my house when I was pregnant with my youngest (about 3 or so years ago) because the pain was so horrible I couldn't walk. I remembered thinking that I might not make it through that pregnancy because I was in so much pain.
What upsets me most about it now is that I've seen 3 doctors (including my current doctor), a chiropractor, and a nurse practitioner over the past three years and not a single one of them wanted to hear that I didn't think it was a muscle strain like they said. None of them thought I knew my own body enough to know the difference between a simple muscle strain and something more serious.
Don't get me wrong. I get it. I get that when you see people over and over, people who are carrying extra weight and they say, "My back hurts," most of the time it really is a simple muscle strain. And then doctors have to contend with those who come in with complaints of back pain who are only in there for narcotic pain medication. (Which, I want to add, I haven't taken anything like that for my pain, even though my doc has since offered it. I've been very tempted, though, especially on these painful sleepless nights, but have so far been able to resist.) But as much as I understand those things, I wonder at what point I should be pissed.
They will probably try to tell me that nothing could have prevented this from getting as bad as it has but because no one ever wants to admit liability (even though I have no intention of suing anyone over this), there will never be a time when I believe that. I've been doing a lot of reading and research since my back pain diagnosis and what I discovered was that a mild herniated disc can actually heal itself over time. But there's certain things that I shouldn't have been doing. For instance, the exercises that I've pushed myself through despite the pain because it was supposed to help me strengthen those muscles that I supposedly had strained. For instance, all the jogging and running I've done, again despite the pain, because it was supposed to be good for me. Exercising by itself isn't bad. In fact, I can and should continue my walking regimen and the elliptical in moderate doses isn't bad either. But I have to wonder how much of this pain and injury I could have avoided if I'd been properly diagnosed when I first went in with back pain complaints or how much I could have avoided if they'd actually HEARD me when I said I didn't think it was muscle strain.
I can actually be pissed all I want but none of it will do me any good now. I have to figure out what the best course of action will be. My doc has already referred me to a neurosurgeon and I will drive 2 to 3 hours Monday to go see him.
Opinions are like...
Yeah, and everyone has one, even when it comes to something like back pain. I talk to one person who knows someone who knows someone who has had multiple surgeries on their back and they are still dealing with pain, albeit a different kind of pain from what they originally went into surgery for. I talk to another person whose daughter-in-law's stepmom's aunt had surgery and has been just fine ever since. And others, when you say that you have a herniated disc, they look at you funny as if you're making a huge deal out of having just pricked your finger with a thumbtack. "Oh, well, you really DON'T want surgery for that," as if my pain is so miniscule that I can just go on pretending like nothing is wrong. And yet other times I feel like I did when talking to the doctors, like no one believed that I was in actual debilitating pain.
I'm trying to not let any of those things deter me from my own research and from any preconceived notions before I talk to the expert. Ultimately, this is a decision that I will have to make myself. And I will make it as an informed and educated individual and not based on hearsay.
I will keep y'all updated.
Peace, love, and wellness,