“How long have I had a bad back?” I asked my wife, Ronna.
“Are you kidding? Since before we got married,” she answered, “And that’s 17 years.”
It didn’t help the pain much, but I think the realization of how long this back stuff had been going on, helped me decide to “go for it.” Back surgery. “Enough is enough,” I repeated to myself.
That and the fact that I couldn’t stand, walk or even sit. The pain running down my thigh, through my knee and into my ankle was absolutely excruciating on that Sunday, May 11, 1997. I literally could not get out of bed. A doctor with a bad back once told me that the only time you should consider back surgery, is when the pain is so bad you crawl into a hospital and beg them to cut you open. I was there.
In my mind, I ran through all the things I had tried to lick the back and leg pain: Physical therapy, stretching, chiropractic, acupuncture, massage, Rolfing, Alexander Technique, epidural steroid injections, muscle relaxants, pain pills, Yoga… none had worked long term. My first MRI, taken about five years ago, showed a ruptured disk at the typical L5-S1 location. Then a second MRI taken in May, 1996 showed more rupturing at L5-S1, and a new rupture in the disk above at L4-L5. During the past 12 months, about 50% of my waking hours were in pain. And it seemed whether I exercised or not—it didn’t matter—I’d get hit with bouts of back and leg pain.