Thursday, August 13, 2009

No, no, not the knife! Oh, not yet? Ok.

So the verdict the other day was that I have a herniated disc in my neck. I was referred to the lovely people at the Neurosurgery and Spine office affiliated with Maine Medical Center. I went there this morning. This is what I found out.

I have "significant" cervical spondylosis. Cervical spondylosis is a general term for age-related wear and tear affecting the joints in your neck. Also known as cervical osteoarthritis, this condition usually appears in men and women older than 40 and progresses with age. Although cervical spondylosis affects both sexes equally, men usually develop it at an earlier age than women do (courtesy of The doctor's response after viewing my MRI (which is so kick-ass cool it's not even funny) was that I have a spine of a "much older person" (I'm not old, I'm 37). I have "black discs" and one herniated disc, with two other discs looking like they want to join the party. All in all, I'm a mess.

However, there is a bright side, for now. First off, I'm going off the Percocet tomorrow! I'm going on Prednisone for 10 days, and I get to reduce the muscle relaxant medicine to once a day. While I'm not thrilled with the side effects of Prednisone, I can DRIVE again!!!! With Meg starting school on the 31st and Drew the week after that, I NEED to be able to drive. I haven't driven since July 27th and that has sucked. I'm also starting physical therapy on Monday. We'll see how that all goes and I'll return to the neursurgeon's office in early September for a re-evaluation.

What this doesn't rule out is surgery. A couple of you asked what happens if they remove the herniated disc and I HAVE NO IDEA (maybe I'll become the Bionic Woman!)! For now I'm avoiding Googling, partially because with the degeneration, I don't know how much other work they'd want to do. I'll be asking those questions at my next appointment. So, no knife yet, but it's still a possibility.

What really blows about all of this is I'M NOT OLD! I'm 37! I shouldn't be in such sad shape. I already had a broken bone spur in my lower back a few years ago, and now this mess. What a wake up call this is becoming for me. Of course I don't know how much of this is hereditary as I know my mom has back/neck issues. But, I'm going to get well. I have to get well.


creative kerfuffle said...

wow kristin. first i'm glad they've at least discovered what it is, because not know is horrible. also glad you are able to drive. i'm crossing my fingers that surgery isn't necessary.
wait---i bet i know how this happened to your back---have your kids been stepping on cracks?

Kay said...

I found you through a comment you left somewhere else (don't ask where, I forgot already), and had to comment here.

I'm not old either (will be 31 in Sept) and also have the spine of an "old man". Gee, thanks doc. I have a herniated cervical disc, along with "extreme" cervical spinal stenosis (narrowing of the spinal canal?)... both of which contribute to lots of fun nerve pain and weirdness on my left side.

Right now, I'm without insurance, so surgery is NOT an option - and I'm not too keen on that idea anyway. Because as great as the docs seem, none of them have been able to give me odds that seem worth going under the knife for.

I hope the prednisone works for you - I know what the chronic pain and inability to function feels like. Living on pain meds, to me, is simply existing, not living.

Astarte said...

If you aren't old, then maybe you're a MAN, baby, yeah! (sorry, Austin Powers suddenly took possession of me... it happens.)

Seriously, though, I'm sorry you're such a mess. My spine is a mess, too, from two pregnancies w/ scoliosis. When we're older, we can rock the wheelchairs at Walmart together. Teenage drivers will have nothing on us!

Anonymous said...

Ugh. You poor, poor girl! I've had some issues with my neck, but nothing even remotely similar. Mine were all taken care of with a few visits to the chiropractor.

Don't Google anything. I can't. I am forbidden to Google any medical symptom I have.

Hang in there--it WILL get better!!

matt g said...

i had a pretty bad cervical herniation about 6-7 yrs ago. it took a few years for the regular pain to go away. then a few years of periodic pain punctuated by some pretty bad pain (all over my upper back and neck) anyway, what i found out was this: exercise. once the extreme pain and stiffness starts to go away, lift weights directly with those muscles in the back and neck. work your stomach muscles to compensate for your back. for some reason, lifting weights alleviates most of the pain you feel. i have no idea why...i just know that it worked for me almost everytime. just make sure you keep good posture and control when lifting. and, don't be wimpy with the level of resistance. maybe it's the lactic acid buildup in the bloodstream or something...either way, it increases oxygen flow to areas that need it, so they can start healing.