It started gradually, sneakily, over the course of several years. Having to rest more frequently when hiking or walking. Lower back pain becoming more noticeable and needing more than just a couple of ibuprofen to feel better. I blamed it on myself - I'm too fat, I need to get back to the gym more often (even though this was happening WHILE I was going to the gym regularly). Three years ago I finally had to admit that something was really wrong with me. I could no longer stand or walk for more than 5 minutes. I was only really comfortable in a swimming pool. Standing on a line was agony. Walking for too long felt like something was trying to grind right through my hips. This was not normal.
I was lucky. The first doctor I saw diagnosed me immediately. I had an MRI to confirm it and then I entered the world of injections, physical therapy, and pain. Injections didn't really help and neither did PT. I had to have surgery. I was slightly terrified, but Dr. Sandhu was wonderful. I picked him off the HSS website because I thought he had the kindest face, and I was right. He saw me through this and kept me calm. He even put up with my complaining after the surgery, when I was too impatient about seeing results. I think the thing that turned the corner for me was when he put up the pictures of my pre and post surgery MRIs side by side. When I saw my spinal canal looking so clean and clear (think Roto-Rooter) it seemed to make something in my head fall into place. After that, recovery moved much more rapidly.
Now I marvel every day over how much better I am, how much I can do without even thinking about it. I can climb stairs easily, which means I can use the subway again. For over a year I had to use cabs to get back and forth from Penn Station to my office. I can't even bear to think about how much money that cost me. Now I flash my Metrocard and I dash down the stairs like a normal commuter.
I can do the grocery shopping again - without an electric cart! I don't need my chair/cane anymore either, though it still holds a special place in my heart. Without it, I would have been very isolated for 3 years. I can stand on lines again, and I can even clean again! I tore apart my bedroom and cleaned it and it felt great.
I still have pain in my back. I have arthritis in the joints and sometimes it hurts as much as it ever did. But it takes much longer to hit that threshold and I can usually power through it.
This picture was taken on vacation in Vermont in October of 2018. I wasn't all the way back yet, but I was getting close.
I have my life back again and I will always be grateful to Dr. Sandhu and HSS.