Some of you know I have been dealing with back issues for about fifteen months. Although I thought I never had any major issues throughout life, I do recall the first time my back "went out." It was 2006 and I reached down to grab a dumbbell off the ground, and came up in pain. It was like an old peep moment as the weight wasn't anything strongman heavy. Ha! From that point, my back "went out" maybe once every fifteen months or so. Apparently I seem to have short term memory loss, as I hadn't remembered that this was the start of back issues or that I've actually been dealing with a back issue here and there for some time. It was probably overlooked by my ever constant knee shenanigans.
Over the last fifteen months, I had had three separate episodes of back issues. The first two were extremely painful and I was laid out for some time. I had an MRI after the first episode and it showed a few things. 1) a herniated L5-S1 disc 2) two discs above were slightly bulging 3) there was some degenerative loss of disc fluid. Although not good, it sounds scarier then it was. The herniated disc was an issue, the other two were not quite as shocking with my athletic background over the years. It happens. I was appreciative to get an actual diagnosis and visually see what I was looking at. At the time, I had a meltdown in the chiropractor office while looking at the MRI because I had been the most active and best shape of my life. I didn't want to stop doing the activities I loved to do.
It took a good six months of recovery before my back felt good again and I could train at the level I was training previously. Then five months later, back "went out" again. Seriously?!!! Ain't nobody got time for this! I was in serious pain, but knew the protocol of what to expect. Although it did get better and felt ok, this past February I started getting serious sciatica down right hip and leg. With the two previous episodes, I was in serious pain, but couldn't walk well and was more contained to being laid out flat on my back. This time was different. I was fine walking and moving around, but the sciatic nerve pain was so uncomfortable. I couldn't sit or drive for over ten minutes without being in a pain cave!
After three months of waiting, hoping it would get better, it didn't. I got another MRI that confirmed that the original herniated disc was worse and pushing on the sciatic nerve root. Well that explains it. I had tried physical therapy, chiropractic, acupuncture, prednisone, blah, blah. After three episodes, and this time no relief, I opted for microdiscectomy surgery. I not only want to still be an active person, but more importantly, I want to be able to play with my kiddos, travel, and just enjoy movement. It was now about quality of life!
You do not appreciate the ability to move, until it is taken away from you. Talk about debilitating when the simplest things cannot be done comfortably or at all. Quality of life is extremely diminished. In the grand scheme of life, there are people who deal with far much worse, and I really just tried to reflect on my gratitude and appreciation for movement. It can definitely be taken for granted.
This is the first of a series to document my recovery process. In researching before surgery, I couldn't find much information on specific recovery for the truly active person. I still think of myself as an athlete, and look forward to getting back to CrossFit as strong as ever. I'm hoping that this series can help others that are active and looking to get back to their previous intensity and activity levels.