Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Oh my aching back...

I have struggled with back issues since I was 17 (in case you forgot, I'll be 24 in less than 2 months).

It was when I was 17 that I herniated two discs in my lower back.  In case you didn't know, a herniated disc is when part of the disc (or the squishy part that sits in between all your vertebrae) gets forced out of its proper place.
This usually happens from an accident where your spine gets seriously jolted somehow.  Mine happened when I was playing the Juniors versus Seniors powderpuff football game and I got picked up and thrown by two Seniors.  The real issues arise when the part of the disc that is sticking out presses up against the nerves in your spine.

My doctors advised me NOT to have surgery since my sister happened to herniate the exact same two discs (trampoline accident), had the surgery, and the discs just re-herniated.  I just did intensive physical therapy for almost a year and was able to manage the pain.

Fast forward to last year - my back was getting REALLY painful again, so I went and so a specialist.  Turns out the existing herniation lead to "degenerative subluxation" in my lower spine.  Basically a "normal" spine would look like an S from the side, mine looked like a question mark since the lumbar (aka lower part) of my spine was straightening out.
My back was in between "Phase One" and "Phase Two"
Again, I did 6 months of intense physical therapy and I was able to manage the pain.

Well pregnancy is doing horrible things to my back!  And I can't do my normal exercises anymore because, well, I'm pregnant (they're all ab exercises, basically) and my belly just doesn't do that anymore.  And I've been bad and haven't been stretching properly.  Well, it got to the point where sometimes I can't even carry my own weight (there have been a few mornings where I couldn't walk down the stairs so I had to sit and scooch down like a small child) so I brought it up at my OB appointment yesterday.

The doctor (my Old Swedish Midwife wasn't available so my appointment was with another doctor) did some basic reflex tests and turns out I have a reverse reflex on my right side (instead of my leg kicking forward, it swings back) which is a sign that the herniation is back and better worse than ever.  We want to avoid doing any other diagnostic tests (MRI, x-ray, etc) since I don't want to expose the baby to that kind of radiation so I'm just going to start physical therapy again ASAP.

Physical therapy means seeing a doctor "in town" (aka a civilian doctor) since there aren't any physical therapists at the hospital on base.  That means I'm waiting on a referral, which kinda stresses me out since we all know how well that went last time I needed a referral from the OB clinic on base!  Hopefully this referral will go smoothly and I'll be able to start physical therapy within the next few weeks.

On top of that, I need to meet with the anesthesiologist sooner rather than later because herniated discs and epidurals don't really get along.  Even though I would like to have a natural childbirth (mainly because of my existing back issues) if I change my mind the anesthesiologist is gonna have to know my spine inside and out in order to be able to give it to me.

Oh, and if I lose feeling in either of my legs I have to go straight to labor and delivery because it could trigger labor and I might not even know it.  Since The Sailor isn't here and if that were to happen I wouldn't be able to walk (or drive) I'm gonna have to casually bring it up to some of my friends on base so if I call them and say something along the lines of, "hey, my right leg doesn't work anymore, will you bring me to the hospital?" they will know what's going on.  I still haven't decided if I should warn them that if my back gets that bad, it isn't uncommon to shit your freaking pants (literally - since you'll lose control of your sphincter muscle), hahahahaha.  That could be a really fun surprise during an emergency trip to the hospital.

This is all really overwhelming.

So, has anyone else struggled with serious back problems during their pregnancy?  Did you have to do physical therapy?  What the hell do they have pregnant ladies do during physical therapy, lol?

By the way, I'm counting this as my "week 25 update" since this is really all I care about that's going on; nothing else has really changed!

Until next time...

Don't forget, if you want to see the whole progression of belly photos, you can do so here!
Personal Photo

1 comment:

  1. As a PT I can tell you that they should definitely be able to do some core exercises with you that are just straight abs that should help! You may be laying on your back for short periods of time but it will be helpful. They may also do some hands on therapy while you are lying on your side. (At least I would hope that they would do all these things!)


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