Ultimately, the choice was mine


Two days after I posted about my herniated disk, I saw the Spine Specialist. Mr. P and I packed up our stuff, sat in uncomfortable waiting chairs over an hour well past my appointment time and was about to give up until we were called back. I was and still very grateful that my husband was by my side, lending his emotional support and being my extra pair of ears. I mean, we’re talking about a herniated disk. We’re talking about next steps and quite possibly surgery. And as someone who has arthritis in her back, this just elevates it to another level. I needed all the support I could get.

Well, Dr. Spine, was fabulous. What was a 20 minute appointment turned into over an hour (and explained our long wait time). He never looked at his watch, he heard my questions and then answered them thoroughly. He had experience working with patients who had ankylosing spondylitis. He had experience working with patients on Remicade. He understood the increased risks. He took my history and struggles over the past six months seriously. He understood that I had been dealing with this pain for over a year and that it increased significantly over the last three months. He understood that I took every option, every road, every opportunity to do something other than to see him first. And then was kind about it. He then heard Mr. P’s questions and then answered them thoroughly. Mr. P actually asked a lot of good difficult questions that I would’ve never thought to think about. And then it was time. To make a decision. I was at the absolute last option and I needed to decide whether surgery was right for me.

Making the decision to move forward with surgery was one of the scariest decisions I ever had to make. My parents weren’t in the room nor could tell me what I could do. And although Mr. P was the most supportive human being on the planet, he couldn’t make the decision for me. Ultimately, the choice was mine. I was the one who was going to have to go through the prep, the surgery, and then the recovery.

However, I didn’t have time or the luxury to think about whether or not I was going to move forward with the surgery. Why? Well, my Remicade medication. Because Remicade, a biologic medication, is an extreme immune system depressor, all surgeries need to be performed at the tail end of any Remicade medication cycle. Meaning either the final week or second to final week before you receive your next dosage. You see, my Remicade appointment was scheduled literally a week later. We had to either jump on this surgery train either now, or wait another 5 weeks until my medication had mostly passed.

Ultimately, I decided to move forward with the surgery since the pain and numbness I was experiencing was getting dangerous. So dangerous in fact that one day as I was driving home, I couldn’t feel my feet because they went numb. It was time.

It was time to have back surgery. Probably the scariest words I’ve ever had to say. Ever.


 FB-transparentTWITTER-transparentINSTAGRAM-transparent PINTEREST-transparentBLOGLOVIN-transparentGPLUS-transparent

It’s like a Jelly Donut | Health Update

2015-05-02 11.52.11_blog2

It’s been awhile since I’ve posted a health update. Okay, I know, I know. Let’s just skip this awkward moment and jump right into it, shall we?

The summer of 2015 was a glorious one. I participated and ran the most…ever! Accumulating over 250 miles, as well as, a few hikes.

However, ever since last October arrived, I stopped. And not because of the weather. Quite frankly, running in the autumn in Boston is one of my favorite things to do! I stopped because I was experiencing extreme pain in my legs, ankles, and hips every time I went for a run.

I remember Thanksgiving Day, I went for a quick 5k run and then I crawled home. Literally crawled home and then crawled to my freezer to pull out all of the frozen corn I could find to stop the painful madness I put myself through. Two weeks and fully rested later, I self-diagnosed and blamed it on shin splints. Which, led me to…running again. Albeit, I learned my lesson and only ran a mile, constantly checking in with myself. I would like to think of it as the great debate. The conversation went a little like this:

At the quarter mile:

Me, “So, how are you feeling?”

Stoic me replies, “Great! I can’t believe I took two weeks off. Pain, what pain?!”

Honest me replies, “I’m good…”

At half a mile:

Me, “Hi, Me again. How are you feeling?”

Stoic me, “Great! Keep going! #conquerallthemiles.”

Honest me replies, “a little bit of pain, so we should slow down.”

At three-quarters of a mile:

Me, “Well, final check-in.  What’s the verdict?”

Stoic me replies, “Ummm, we may need to stop soon. We could totally make it to a mile, as this could be a mind over matter situation, but I’m not sure.”

Honest me, “Please stop.”

So, knowing me, and how much my stoic self gets me into trouble, I stopped. I limped back home (cursing myself out) blaming my self-diagnosed shin splints and frustrated beyond words. Once I got home, I sat on my kitchen floor icing my legs with my favorite frozen corn packet with my eyes full of tears. Mr. P walked in, hugged me and said, “You need to call your rheumatologist to make sure you aren’t running on hairline fractured legs.” And so I called Dr. Rheumy.

Before the end of 2015, I saw him and he didn’t think I had fractured legs since I didn’t have bruising or any other symptoms. So, I was referred to an Orthopedic Specialist and was told “let’s fix you soon. I want you running again” [glee!]. I personally requested to see a Sports Medicine Orthopedic Specialist given my history with “Dr. Ortho-types” not believing my ability to be athletic while dealing with my type of arthritis.

Four weeks later (gotta love that), I saw Dr. Sporty (did you see what I did there?) and he requested numerous x-rays of my legs, knees, hips, and back. The result of my knees were… perfect! “Beautiful cartilage” in my knees. I have absolutely no sign of (or ever had) hairline fractures in my legs, and I continue to have the right amount of spacing in my hip joints; a problem that frequently happens with ankylosing spondylitis.

However, my back is a bit of a different story. The good news is that I have perfect posture and great proportion between my vertebrae, which is great since that could be a major problem with my arthritis. The bad news is there is one spot in my lumbar spine that looks slightly compressed (read that as IFFY or QUESTIONABLE!) in my lower back. Dr. Sporty thinks it’s possibly causing a pinched nerve down my left leg and creating all the pain, numbness, and tingling.

In the end, went for an MRI to assess this spot and see what in the world is going on. And we all know how much I love the MRI! And well, I actually have an answer!!

I have an extreme herniated disk between my L5 and S1 joint in my back. What does this mean? Well, the spinal disk is like a jelly donut. A herniated disk occurs when some of the softer “jelly” pushes out through a crack. This “jelly” is pushing on the major nerve, which has been causing all of my pain. Everything from piriformis, to sciatica, to the numbness and tingling I have down my left leg and now my right.

So, what does this mean? Well, as far as I know, they can fix it and it has absolutely nothing to do with my arthritis. However, I have to have another doctors appointment.

Yup. Dr. Sporty doesn’t do “the spine” so I’ve been referred off to yet, another doctor! This time with a Spine Orthopedic Specialist. So, although I have an answer, I still don’t know how we plan on fixing it. I find out on Thursday!

Until then, do you have a nickname for the Spine Specialist? Dr. Spine? Dr. Jelly? Looking for suggestions. Comment down below!


 FB-transparentTWITTER-transparentINSTAGRAM-transparent PINTEREST-transparentBLOGLOVIN-transparentGPLUS-transparent