So, it has been a while since I gave an update on my back situation and quite a bit has changed/happened.
Things with my lower back have been put on the back burner. There are still major issues there, but they aren't the main focus any more. The good news is that the latest MRI shows that the discs in my lower back are no longer herniated. The bad news is that they aren't herniating because they have degenerated so much due to "degenerative disc disease". So we will just have to see how things go. I still have a lot of lower back pain, but it isn't as bad as before.
Unfortunately, the reason we aren't focusing on my lower back is because we are having to focus on my neck. Back in July, when I had my car accident, the MRI showed a bulging disc in my C5-C6. The disc was actually herniating to the right and inward and indenting the thecal sack. (The sack around the spinal chord that holds the spinal fluid in.)
I met with a neurosurgeon and we discussed different options including a disc replacement surgery. My neurosurgeon, is the "go to" guy for this specific surgery. It is a relatively new surgery, but he has done this surgery numerous times. The surgery basically goes in and takes out the damaged disc and then a stainless steel disc is attached with screws. The reason it is the best option is because the recovery time is a little less than a fusion but mostly because it allows you to still have mobility in your neck and also doesn't put added pressure on the surrounding discs like a fusion does.
About 3 weeks ago, the situation took a severe turn for the worse when I was rear-ended. The guy behind me was texting and I was stopped at a light on Bangerter and he hit into me. I noticed an immediate increase in pain, especially in my neck. MRI's confirmed that the disc in my neck that was bad before, was now a lot worse. The disc is now actually in contact and flattening the right side of my spinal chord. It is also in direct contact and impinging the main nerve coming out of my spine . My doctor described the pain pretty accurately as it feeling like having an open root canal in my neck. It has been very painful and because it is nerve pain, it is often not responsive to pain meds. The biggest concern is that this nerve is being compressed and "impinged" by that disc and over the past few weeks I have had my whole right arm and hand and fingers etc. gradually become more and more numb to the point that I am in right now where it feels like my arm and hand is always asleep and gets tingly, etc. and doesn't ever go completely away. The reason this is bad, is because that is the sign of the nerve being damage. And as you probably know, nerve damage is not repairable so once it is damaged, it is gone which if it keeps being damaged, will end up in eventual paralysis in my right arm and hand.
We have tried some other options like physical therapy and traction but they haven't helped much. I went to have a steroid/pain relief injection this past week but there were complications due to the bad inflammation and they weren't able to even complete the procedure.
I have an appt with my neurosurgeon on the 11th and was supposed to have a surgery date of the 12th. But that all changed this past week when my neurosurgeon broke his finger and had to have surgery on his hand. He has postponed doing any surgeries for an undetermined amount of time, but they are hoping that he will be okay by the 26th. The problem with that for us is that at the rate that I am losing feeling, muscle strength, etc. aka nerve damage, we don't think we can wait until the 26th and risk permanent severe nerve damage and paralysis.
So we are incredibly frustrated and nervous about all of this. Because of the holiday weekend, we haven't been able to discuss this with any other doctors or get any other recommendations of what we should do. What we have been told by all of the doctors is that the best thing that I can do is limit my activity level, no lifting, bending, etc. which of course is impossible with 5 kids, including 2 little ones.
So please keep us in your prayers as we work towards figuring out what we are going to do. This has been a very big struggle for our family and we are trying our best.
Rob and Marci