The title of this article is probably the longest ever, kinda how my year felt last year.
For those of you who don’t know, I was bedridden all year from horrible back and nerve pain. Like, literally, all I could do was lay in bed. ALL YEAR.
Q: What happened?
A: In October 2020 we got our sweet pup, Mr. Darcy, and while potty training him, we had puppy gates up to block where he could go in the house. One day while going over a doggy gate, I felt something pop in my right hip; that’s what started everything… At first, I couldn’t really walk, because I had shooting pain down both legs and in my back. In the spring of 2021, I went to PT, and they said they couldn’t help me anymore. I did my own PT at home and thought I was getting better. The pain moved from my legs to my low back, and it was manageable. That summer, I planted about 200 plants in our yard and hauled pea gravel, mulch, etc to finish our yard. Surprise, my back got worse. It was tough to walk and sit again. Come December, I was hurting and couldn’t sit for long. By Jan, 2022 I was having lots of pain walking, SI joint stuff, or so I thought. Shooting pain into my left bum. I was going to a chiropractor, thinking that if I got things back in place, I’d get better. Then one day mid-January, I walked in feeling better; the treatments seemed to be working. Then he adjusted me as usual, and I felt different. Right away I knew something bad had happened, and it was from that point on that I was bedridden. If you know how much I love to do DIY and home renovation projects, then you know that it literally was killing me to not be able to do anything.
Q: What treatments did you try?
A: I tried Chiropractic treatments, Physical Therapy, working out, injections, nerve blocks, pain patches, and pain meds. I also signed up to work with someone to help me with my inflammation and celiac stuff that I’m sure wasn’t helping anything. When I went to my physical therapy appointment, I couldn’t walk without assistance and I was in so much pain that I couldn’t do the exercises, so the PT suggested that I see a pain management specialist to get my pain levels lower so I could try doing physical therapy. I got an MRI in January 2022 that showed a 3mm disc herniation in the L5-S1 area that was pressing on my spinal column. The pain management office first wanted me to try the typical pain drugs, nothing even touched the pain I was having, so they wanted to try injections. The injections made me worse, same with the nerve block attempts, so at that point, we started looking for a surgeon. By the time I had surgery, the MRI showed that the disc herniation was at 7mm and completely pressing on the spinal column.
Q: When did you have surgery and why were you in pain for so long?
A: I wish I knew then what I know now. I wish I could have had surgery in March of 2022, instead of the end of November 2022. The quick answer, we didn’t have the best insurance, providers, or help. Every appointment was at least a month’s wait, then another two weeks for any referral for meds, treatments, etc. So everything took forever. Then, in July, I finally got in to see a surgeon that my neurologist highly recommended, and the guy was a creep. He literally wouldn’t look me in the eyes and was just staring at my chest and talking down to me the entire time – and with my husband in the room too. We were both caught off guard and didn’t know what to do because I was so desperate to get out of pain that we thought we just had to put up with that kind of behavior. But then I got mad and decided to file a claim against him and I kept pursuing other options. We couldn’t switch our insurance until January 2023, and I couldn’t wait that long for surgery. By God’s grace, I was able to switch my primary care provider to get into a different insurance group, and see the surgeon that I’d been trying to see for MONTHS. He and his staff are amazing! His name is Dr. Bagheri! After months of trying to get my insurance to approve of me seeing him, I was able an appointment the second week in November. He rearranged his schedule to get me in for surgery less than two weeks after my initial consult with him. I was writhing in pain at that point, and constantly at a level 10 pain with no meds that helped and nothing to relieve my pain.
Q: Did the surgery help?
A: 100% the surgery helped! I was feeling really great two weeks after – like I could walk and not feel shooting nerve pain, vs not being able to walk at all before. I had residual nerve pain from the nerve root being damaged, and pain from the surgery, but the pain meds were helping and I was able to get out of bed. Then it happened. I was trying to feed my dog dinner, and suddenly something popped really loudly in my back and it was painful and shooting to my left bum area. Since then, I still have that pain and I have to wait until 3 months post-surgery to see if it got re-herniated. Such a bummer. But even with that pain, I still feel better and better. I can’t sit for more than 30 minutes, or stand for more than 10 minutes, and I have to lie down throughout the day, but anything is better than how I felt last year, so I’m just grateful for what I can do now!
Q: What do you feel like God taught you through this process?
A: There were a bunch of things. I felt so useless because I literally couldn’t do anything, and I couldn’t really focus my thoughts because of all of the pain and pain pills. The length of time being unable to move, go outside, get out of the house, and do normal daily stuff was really wearing on me. I felt like a burden, and often times I felt hopeless because of the ridiculous process with the insurance. A major thing that God showed me was that my self-worth isn’t defined by what I can do, but by what Jesus did for me on the cross. Another big one was that there is ALWAYS a reason to hope. No matter how bad it gets or how desperate you become, because God exists, hope exists.
Q: What do you recommend I do for my friend who is going through something similar?
A: Hang out with her, call her, bring her food, watch movies with her, etc. I felt so isolated, because I was. It meant so much to me when my hubby watched a chick flick with me and made me dinner, or when my mom and sister came to stay with me to help take care of me; and when my friends stopped by for a visit and brought me food or offered to help do dishes. They did what anyone can do – they showed up, smiled, and talked about what God was doing in their lives, and it gave me so much joy. The pain was honestly too much to bear on my own, and I felt God’s strength through the love of others.
James 1 talks about being glad during difficult times, and honestly, it was tough for me. At first, I was better at it, but then I was just kinda over it. Debilitating pain is tough, and I went through a lot of ups and downs, mentally, emotionally, physically, relationally, etc. But something I desired more than I desired to be pain-free was that I wanted so badly to not waste this season of pain that God gave me/allowed me to go through. So even when I didn’t feel glad for my pain, I tried to muster whatever faith I had left to thank God for it.
What about you? Have you been through something like this? If you’re going through it right now, please message me so I can pray for you; you are not alone.