Back Pain Sucks - How I hurt my back, my story so far...
Living with chronic pain isn't fun, it affects everything and I mean EVERYTHING you do, from a simple yawn to putting your socks on or just reaching into a cupboard to grab the coffee. I am in my 5th year living with back pain and it doesn't get any better only worse...
|The haynet string snapped.|
Then in February 2013 I was feeding my horses, I had tied one haynet up and was tying the second when the string snapped and I fell backwards on to the base of my back and boy did it hurt!
After a few days I was still in excruciating pain so I went to the Dr's, he thought I had bruised myself or maybe slipped a disc, he prescribed pain killers and told me to rest... which I did for about 5 days and it was still sore but I was back to my normal self and riding again, so all was well with the world.
The Doctor recommended I had some physio sessions to strengthen my back and core which they then stopped as it seemed to make my back worse, then we tried acupuncture which never helped but thought it was worth a try.
But over time the pain became more manageable and although I did keep suffering from the odd bouts of back pain it wasn't anything a paracetamol and Ibuprofen wouldn't fix.
Fast forward to October 2013 - I was emptying the wheelbarrow after mucking my horses out, when I went to pick the fork up and I heard a 'pop' and dropped to my knees in excruciating pain.
|My MRI showing the disc herniation |
and spinal cord compression.
I was sent for an emergency MRI that showed severe disc herniation between L5/S1 causing nerve compression, a bulging disc at L3/L4 and a degenerative disc at L4/L5. I was then transferred to The Walton Neurology Centre in Liverpool by ambulance as an emergency.
After two days they decided that although it was a severe herniation causing the spinal nerve to be compressed and it was causing me a lot of pain that I was in no immediate danger as such of my bladder and bowels being affected so they would see me back in clinic to discuss surgery in the near future.
After my outpatients appointment it was decided that since I had not long had a hysterectomy that even though they thought surgery on the disc herniation was the best option that they would try less invasive treatments first.
A SNRB (selective nerve root block) was scheduled at the pain clinic at my local hospital... I had never looked forward to an appointment so much! So in November 2014 18 months after I first hurt my back I had my first SNRB, it didnt really hurt, just discomfort and lots of pressure.
Selective nerve root procedure - Lumber spine (credit: You Tube)
It did get worse before it got better but once it settled down it was great!! The pain didn't completely go but compared to before it was heaven and I started to have SNRB's every 6 months... I would count down the days when it began to wear off and started looking forward to having them done again.
My husband thought I was strange looking forward to injections in my back!!!
I had pretty much the old me back. Yes I had good days and bad days, yes it still hurt and somedays by the end of the day I would be in tears with the pain which was mainly due to me doing too much because I didn't hurt as much!
I could go shopping, look after my horses and ride most days again, granted I couldn't do much more than walk but I could ride!!! I could get back to caring for my Nan, doing the housework and I even got myself a little job!!
Apart from having the odd flare up things remained much on an even keel, but then four years on on the 17th July 2017 I went for my routine SNRB I had missed one nerve block because my kidney failed and had to be removed (but that's another story!!) so my back was extremely bad and painful by the time my SRNB was scheduled.
In the 12 months from having my last nerve block my Pain management Doctor had retired from the trust, I was nervous and apprehensive seeing another Doctor. In my gut I had a feeling, a feeling I couldn't describe and I was imagining all sorts of scenarios. My gut feeling was not wrong.
I lay face down on the table with the nurse reassuring me, I felt the sting of the anesthetic, and then pain as he administered the injections, not the usual discomfort and pressure but excruciating pain that brought me to tears, in the years on having my injections I had never had an experience like it!
As one of the injections was administered I felt a funny sensation down my leg and in my foot, then my foot began to go numb.
Soon the procedure was over, I was helped into a sitting position by the nurse, I commented on my foot being numb and the sensation in my leg, but I was reassured that it was normal and the feeling would come back, even though I had never felt like this before.
Like I said the injections can make your back worse before it gets better so I was expecting an increase in pain, but instead of getting gradually better the numbness in my foot and pain continued to get worse to the point I could not move my little toe and the two toes next to it or feel the outside of my foot. I could no longer move my foot upwards making steps and stairs hard to step up them.
By day 14 the pain was off the scale, morphine and numerous other medications wouldn't take the pain away.
I had spent days lying on the floor I couldn't do anything because of the pain I was in, I couldn't sit, stand or walk and had to get to the bathroom on my hands and knees!
Eventually I could not cope anymore... I even looked at my painkillers an thought about taking them all just to make the pain stop!
My husband took me to A&E (the emergency room) I travelled to the hospital by lying down on the back seat I just couldn't sit on the seat, I cant even remember getting from the car to inside the hospital as I was so consumed with pain. After a short wait I was seen by triage and prescribed diazepam and couldn't understand why it never touched the pain.
Whilst waiting for the Doctor I was actually rolling on the floor in absolute agony.
After giving me some hardcore pain relief I was admitted to the ward and stayed for four days for them to try and manage my pain and find out what the hell was going on.
Scans and x-rays showed in four years my back only showed minor change since my last MRI.
Scratching their heads they discharged me, my pain wasn't quite as severe due to all the pain meds when I left hospital but I was still in a mess.
I walked in to the hospital on the 17th July 2017, with my usual back pain and left with increased pain and a numb foot, so things seemed to point to the SNRB.
Over the months and weeks there were many hospital appointments, pain management appointments and phone calls trying to get to the bottom of what had gone wrong.
It turns out the Doctor that had administered the SNRB had gone a little too deep and pierced my L5 nerve root. It was severe nerve pain I had been experiencing, that's why the normal muscle relaxants and the like never helped with the pain.
That day (17th July) changed my life and my family's life forever. They say that the neuropathic pain 'may' get better but its just a 'wait and see'... so no one really knows.
Everyday I have to live with chronic back and neuropathic pain, I have to take a multitude of opiate drugs to help me function and cope with day to day life but I am never ever pain free.
We have had to sell the car as I couldn't press the clutch pedal with my numb foot to change gear or sit to drive, I lost my independence... We have had to get an automatic car at great expense in the hope that one day I can sit long enough to drive myself independently somewhere.
I can no longer work, I can not walk any distance and no longer walk my dogs. I can not sit for any length of time as it it far to painful, I lie (usually on the floor) to travel in the car I have to kneel in the foot well and lean over the seat.
I do not sleep because of the pain, I'm lucky to manage 3 hours a night.
I have to rely on my husband and children for cleaning the house, food shopping and laundry, my husband also helps with my personal care.bathing and washing my hair etc, and putting on socks which on my own is an impossibility! I can no longer do what I want to do with my children and we can no longer go on holiday as I can not tolerate sitting on a plane, everything I do causes pain.
My poor husband now cares for my horses as well as working 13 hour days and I feel so guilty...
On good days I go to the stables to seem my horses but gone are the days of riding everyday and it breaks my heart.
Most of my friends have dropped off as I have to make excuses why I can't go or why I have to cancel last minute. At present although I do have good and bad days there is a lot more bad than good.
I now have to walk with a crutch (which I get so embarrassed about having to use) as I can fall due to the numbness in my foot, I also now have a limp, that makes me very self conscious and have lost all my confidence and now have very low self esteem.
People with chronic pain always say 'I'm fine' even when were not, we are experts at hiding how we really feel behind a forced smile and jolly exterior, our good days are your bad days, I may look ok on the outside but I'm not... the pain I feel on a daily basis is a pain that is like electric shocks at the same time as being stabbed by a 1000 knives, its exhausting, debilitating and takes over your every thought and every second of your life.
Unfortunately I can now no longer have my 6 monthly SRNB, to be honest I don't want anyone near my back after what has happened, and now as I am 5 years on from the original injury and nerve compression surgery is not an option either there is only a small chance of improvement as the nerve has been compressed for so long the damage is now done, there is actually a possibility things could get worse.
It has all been and still is very upsetting, I suffer anxiety and understandably depression, its has been very hard accepting that this could be me for the foreseeable, a life of taking opiates and suffering chronic pain on a daily basis is something no one wants to think about or face.
When we questioned the hospital asked 'what went wrong?' they answered 'this can happen to 1 in 1000 patients, there is always a risk... its not negligent on our part its simply unfortunate'.
This blog is not with the intent of receiving pity I just wanted to share my experience with others that may be living with the same thing so they know that they are not alone.
I would love to start a support network for chronic pain suffers, unless you've been there and experienced it it it hard to understand.
Please leave a comment & share your experiences below.
Please watch out for my next blog post: How I cope - 'living with chronic pain'