I started writing my first post last week, saved it as a draft and it's disappeared into a black hole so I'll try again. Apologies in advance, I'm a bit of a rambler.
6 years ago (21 yo) I was waxing a mates legs and after a good hour of bending over the wax table, I stood up and felt very sore and stiff. Sat down on the couch and pretty much couldn't get back up. At the time I saw a chiro who did X-Rays and diagnosed me with pelvic tilt and one hip higher than the other. I still lived at home with my parents at the time so my poor Mum threw a whole lot of money at treatment 3x a week for a few months and eventually I was able to back off and get on with life. Though hip and lower back pain have been pretty on and off since then. The more I'd exercise the better it'd get, then I'd do something to aggravate it and I was in hip and back pain again and have to lay off for a bit and start all over.
Last year my sciatic nerve pain got pretty bad. I started seeing a physio, who to be perfectly honest I think was a bit of a lunatic and treatment did little to help me. I gave up on him and started seeing an osteopath who I think I had a bit more relief with but she pretty much had me doing all the same exercises, and I wasn't really improving. Dr prescribed me steroid tablets around October last year for a week which was a great, but only while taking them.
November/December my sciatic pain started getting unbearable. My GP was pretty reluctant to refer me for an MRI because they aren't covered under Australian Medicare for backs, nor any Private Health Insurance (Tell me please what I'm paying for then..?) but I pushed and got the MRI referral ($350 out of pocket. Ouch) which showed a pretty major L4/L5 bulge.
Sent me off to a highly recommended physio and after my first session with him I walked out practically pain free for the first time in months. Was seeing him a few times a week then for a monthly tune up ever since, mostly pain free. Would sometimes get a bit stiff at the end of the month but no sciatic pain and the sessions always loosened me back up.
About 6 weeks ago I went out for lunch and sat on a stool with no back for an hour and a half. Left the restaurant , felt a bit stiff and sore, rolled up a jumper to give me lumbar support on the drive home and as soon as got home I started doing all my physio stretches. As the night went on, my pain got progressively worse until my back was in full spasm and I couldn't function. Got into bed and took some anti-inflammatory pain killers. Then I got up to go to the bathroom and basically stopped in the doorway and started screaming. I couldn't move. I couldn't walk forward, I couldn't go backwards, I couldn't sit or lay down on the floor. My partner came running and basically had to carry me to the toilet (fairly embarrassing)
Woke up the next morning in agony, got up and looked in the mirror and I was all hunched over to one side (had one very sassy left hip). Booked physio ASAP. Common lumbar lateral shift. I was in agony and in tears in his office but he wasn't too concerned (like felt sorry for me, but obviously knew it wasn't the end of the world). Gave me all the right treatment and stretches to get me straight again. Was pretty straight and pain free within a week so headed back to work (admin/office job). 3 days in and I was pretty buggered and woke up the 4th day all out of place again. Back to more time off and back to the physio. This time correcting my shift hurt a WHOLE LOT more, but we got there in the end. Took another week off, and then did half days for a week and my boss purchased me a sit/stand desk.
Have been back at work full time hours since, but my sciatic pain has been unbearable at night. During the days I'm mostly okay, but I can't sleep, I'm awake every few hour pacing around my tiny stupid house, and sometimes I'll go sleep face down on the lounge room floor for a bit (doctor has told me this is AWFUL for my lower back, but sometimes it's the only position I'm comfortable in. I wrap a giant teddy bears limbs around my face for support and leave a gap so I can breathe so my neck isn't twisted) and then wake up sore and go back to bed and repeat. I cannot find a comfortable sleeping position, EVERYONE says on my side is best, but that's actually the most painful for me, no matter how many or few pillows I cram between my legs to keep anything from twisting.
Have tried remedial massage, saw an acupuncturist (heard really good things, but it was too expensive to keep throwing money at. I DID fall asleep on his table which was nice) woke up the next morning in so much pain that my partner nearly took me to the Emergency Room. Got into doctor who gave me Endone and Valium and told me to take panadol and ibuprofen every 4 hours.
I was reluctant to get another MRI for the cost again, but managed to get into a clinic which would Bulk Bill so on Saturday, off I went to get that done. And yesterday afternoon I got a call from my physio which basically put me into shock - "I'm amazed you are even walking, let alone functioning at the level that you are. You need to go see a specialist asap. This is surgery. This is beyond anything I can help with". Got appointment with my GP, and same answer. Looked at my images and the bulge has doubled. Took a photo with my phone because i'm a creep and I like looking at my insides.
Gave me a referral to surgeon she highly regards and managed to get an appointment this morning. Unfortunately he had none of my MRI imaging just the notes. But I showed him my phone photo and he's said there's definitely no real option for any conservative treatments, we're well beyond cortisone injections. I'm picking up a disk of my MRI imaging tonight and seeing him again tomorrow to go from there, but basically have been told if I get a bad knock (car accident, bend wrong, lift something I shouldn't, fall over, etc) it's so severe I could be paralysed.
I am terrified. I'm a 27 year old female. I keep my weight down, and I try to keep fit. I wanted to avoid surgery at all costs and now it's my only option. He doesn't want to do fusion because of my age and the chance of it putting too much pressure on the discs around it. He was very reassuring that surgery was NOT a worry and that he does it so often he could do it with his eyes closed "....Please don't do that. Keep your eyes open" and that it would all be okay. I'm scared now of making sure nothing happens to give me that knock that could do undoable damage. I will have more conclusive information tomorrow and most likely surgery will be next week or week after. I'm not sure at this point if I'm venting or asking for advice and hoping that others have similar stories and can tell me it'll all be okay.
He said recovery is generally 6 weeks, and because I'm in an office job I could be back at work within 2-3 weeks though it's not REALLY recommended but understands that people need to work. My boss is pretty understanding but it's hard because I'm basically admin manager and there's a lot of things I do that nobody knows how to do and I'm not sure if my trainee is ready for the pressure. Is it likely that during my bed rest recovery period that I'll be useful enough to log in from home and work? Or am I going to be drugged out of my mind..?