Sciatica and Steroids

I was overweight, but not severely. I had been diagnosed with a fatty liver, but nothing needed to be done. I had had my blood and urine tested, and other than my unusual liver enzymes, I was in good shape.

One day, I woke up with stinging in my hip. It felt like I was being stung by bees in my left hip. It only felt better when I stood up.

I could not sit without this stabbing pain. I fought it and got up and moved around. While I was not comfortable sitting for long, I was better when walking.

I went to my doctor and he said it was sciatica. He gave me pain relievers and told me I was getting old, 52, get used to it.

The next week, it became harder and harder to relieve the pain. It seemed moving around made it better, but it became more and more difficult to sit. The only way I was out of pain was to lie flat on my back with my left leg extended straight. I could no longer sleep on either side. When I stood up, shooting pains would take my breath away. I had a hard time sitting on the toilet. I went back to the doctor; he put me on steroids and ordered an x-ray. He said it was all fine.

I tried chiropractic. I improved slightly, but all of the sudden, it got worse. I was immobile. I could not tolerate any sitting and could barely get to the toilet. This was weird for a woman who rode, trained horses and has had five kids. I was treated like this was a minor condition that could be lived with.

Finally, I did my research and found a neurosurgeon who did minimally invasive surgery. He had to do the steroid shots and other things to manage it, but nothing made a dent on restoring any quality of life. Finally he agreed to surgery and he removed the herniation, that only was evident by a MRI, not an x-ray. However, prior to the operation, it was noted that there was protein in my urine, which might be a sign of diabetes. My life was restored. I went back to enjoying all the things I did before.

Four months later, I started treatment for diabetes. I have lost 45 pounds and have kept my numbers good by diet and metphormin.

Four years later, I started getting symptoms again. I tried all my chiropractic exercises. I have a traction machine and worked on reversing whatever was going on. At first I managed it, but it was gradually getting worse.

Finally, back in the doctor’s office, once again I was given a steroid shot and another shot for inflammation. It helped, a little, at least I thought so. I was about to leave for a trip, so I called him and told him I improved with the shot. He ordered a steroid pack. I began the regime, however I just didn't feel right. I didn't pay it much mind and went on with my life.

A few days later, the pain went from difficult to impossible. I could not even lay in a position that my hip and leg did not feel like the nerve was literally being ripped through me and out my toes. My leg felt weak and my foot was partially numb.

I began sleeping on the hard floor, because the pressure on my hip helped with the pain. However, a few days into that I was in a state of panic, because I could not get out of the pain even with Oxycodone or anything else.

My husband made a bed in the back seat of the truck, so I could lie flat and we went to the emergency room. They gave me heavy pain meds, but it only made it tolerable. They found a neurosurgeon and sent me to him, 60 miles away. There I was in my pj's at the doctors office. I had to wait in the truck because I could not stand sitting in a waiting room. When they called me up, I had to wait standing at the door and I thought I was going to pass out.

Finally, the doctor saw me and again gave me a steroid pack, Hydrocodone and Lyrica. He set up an appointment to have a steroid shot injected into the disc area where the irritated nerve root was causing the problem.

A couple of days later, I am at least able to get to the toilet and walk a few feet. I cannot sit in a regular chair. But, we found if we open the recliner, and put pillows behind my back, I can basically sit flat and be in the living room for a change.

My husband bought a soft seat for the toilet, because the hard seat was unbearable. I started having chest pain and I felt my heart pounding in my chest and head. I thought it was probably due to anxiety or something.

However, I mentioned it to the neurosurgeon before my procedure. He did not pay it much mind, but the nurse did. After the procedure, my heart rate increased and it caused her worry.  She got permission for an EKG and it showed elevated pulse rate and PVC's. She was afraid to send me home.

We ended up in the emergency room and a two day stay to determine what was causing my heart to go crazy. The tests were done and it was decided the PVC's were benign.

However, they recommended that I stay away from steroids. My sugar levels are now requiring insulin. It is not a certainty that it was the steroids. However, I did not have any issues until I began taking them. I did not have diabetes, now I do. I did not have an irregular heart rate, now I do.

If I have a complaint, it isn't that I was treated badly. My problem, so many people say oh, this is just a little sciatica, I have that, I live with it, no problem for me. You will learn to live with it. It is just part of getting old. My life has stopped. I can barely get to the bathroom or make a sandwich for myself.

I take surgery seriously and I only want someone to operate on me who will use the most minimally invasive techniques. Fusion has been recommended for me. I have read nightmares about screws literally being screwed into the nerve. How fusion weakens the discs, above and below. Sometimes I wonder if there is any hope at all. I feel like such a burden to my husband.

My husband said I should write this, because people need to know that medication affects people differently and sometimes the side affects can be pretty serious.

I feel like I am being told if I don't use the drugs and try to fix it with that I am being irresponsible.

Does the pain just go away at some point?

How much is managing this thing with drugs, going to cost my health?

Even if you could manage it with drugs, what happens to ones quality of life, what is a reasonable expectation?

Being confined to your home, never to be able to sit, go to church, ride in a car, go to a movie or pick up the Grandbabies. Is it enough to exist going from the bed to a tilted chair?

- Penny

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