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6 month progress report: round 2 with sciatica-saurus begins

Posted: Fri Apr 21, 2006 9:22 am
by randolph
Hello forum friends

I'd hoped to be making a very different report at this time ... but life happens after, and in spite of, our plans.

Until 5 days ago, I was making slow, but steady improvement using mostly the RYB program, in strength, flexibility and pain reduction with the sciatica symptoms plaguing me the last 6 months. I'd been driving the big truck successfully for the previous 10 weeks.

But five days ago, I was not careful enough while doing some yardwork (digging with a maddox - the tool, not the deranged beast of burden) and a bomb went off in my lower back ... similar to the first injury 6 months ago. Got very discouraged, downed a NSAID, crawled to the doctor, who set me up with an orthopedic surgeon (specializing in micro-discectomy - amazing technology these days!), and even scheduled the operation ... then called the surgeon back today to at least postpone the surgery, and received his blessing to give PT a la RYB another try (closely monitoring the very slowly increasing weakness in my affected leg - don't want to mess around with permanent neurological damage).

Thanks very much, those of you who contacted me and encouraged me to postpone the operation. It's somewhat disheartening that my medical care providers were rather oblivious to my discouragement and were ready to proceed with major surgery while I was not fully rational. But I think it would be unfair, to blame my GP and the surgeon for being too hasty to cut me up. I think the lesson is we all have our blind spots, and it is our responsibility to remember our doctors are human afterall ... and we have the ultimate responsibility to be as informed and cautious as possible while making big decisions. So thanks again for stepping in the gap for me while I was down.

Now it's time to take my own advice offered over these last few months: read Dean's articles and books again, and do as much as I can, but not too much. There's the bell: round 2 has begun!


Way to go Randolf

Posted: Fri Apr 21, 2006 1:42 pm
by krd
Hey Randolf. Way to go. You are in my prayers for a speedy recovery. I know that you have had a tough time with your sciatica problem. I hope that this next cycle is easier for you and that you will heal quickly. I am slowly getting better and am able to play golf again, albeit not everyday as I would like. I will be checking in on your progress every now and then. Keep up the faith brother and remember, this too will pass.


re. 2nd round

Posted: Fri Apr 21, 2006 2:27 pm
by Bill
Hi randolph,

I was very bummed when I read your earlier post about a relapse and possible surgery. I was in the process of trying to write something that would be encouraging and helpful and was just about to post it when I read this new post and so in the words of Gilda Radner, "Never mind."

Instead, I'll just echo krd and say that you will get through this. Just take one day at a time and start rebuilding again. Chances are the foundation you built up to this point will make this round go smoother.

Keep us posted on your progress,

Posted: Sun Apr 23, 2006 7:21 am
by randolph
Thanks for the encouragement, Ken and Bill. After falling down, it really helps to receive a friendly boost up while dusting myself off and getting back into the fight again :D

It will be interesting to see if, as you suggest, this round goes smoother. Thankfully, haven't had to use any NSAIDs the last two nights to get to sleep, and haven't had to use ice during the day since the first day of reinjury.

It's been a week since re-injury and still resting mostly ... being very gentle with the basic exercises and have abandoned any of the vigorous calisthenics, exercise biking, even most walking (it's too painful to even attempt these activities anyway). Flexibility has been greatly reduced for most movements like the cobra, forward bend and backward bend. So I'm taking Bill's advice to "take one day at a time" doing what I can do within the limits of the pain, and pushing into the pain very little. Any other helpful reminders are appreciated (especially from you, Ken, since you are now going thru a milder version of the re-rebuilding process yourself)!

I will be meeting a GP-recommended PT tomorrow; that should be interesting, and hopefully, helpful.

Thanks again, friends, Randolph

Posted: Sat Apr 29, 2006 11:20 am
by Dean
So, Randolph, how's it going with the Physical Therapist? Does it seem like the sessions will be helpful? Are you making any progress?

Very curious to hear your initial reactions.

Posted: Sun Apr 30, 2006 7:57 am
by randolph
Hello Dean

The PT is, largely, a disappointment ... but two small gains.

Typical visits includes 10 minutes on electrical stimulation machine and heat pad to warm up my stiff back muscles ... for 15 minutes of knee ups, piriformis stretch, on elbows cobra, a mild quad stretch, and a few minutes on treadmill (going very slow). Essentially, just a small part of what I do at home several times each day.

Their piriformis stretch is a gentler version. It might be worth including in your EZ, basic exercises that you include in your Pain Relief Manual for those in acute pain. (to stretch out right piriformis) Lying on back and keeping small of back flat on floor thruout exercise, bring right knee up, set bottom of right foot on left side of left knee; grab right knee with left hand and try to pull right knee toward left shoulder. A very nice, gentle stretch if your, or Ken's, piriformis stretch is too difficult.

The second small gain: talking with three different therapists ... each had similar experience working with those who'd had discectomy surgery: a highly variable (and thus, disconcerting) level of effectiveness ... most operated on receiving some benefit, but most left with some disability and some pain and the lingering, relatively high level of recurrent herniation possible. Each therapist was highly supportive of my decision to try PT before opting for surgery. While their evidence is anecdotal, it was reassuring ... at least of my decision to try PT again. And a strong reminder that surgery is not a take-care-of-it-forever solution, but fraught with very real, and large, risks.

So essentially, I'm still in the acute stage of the injury, muscles still inflamed and very painful to walk more than a few minutes at a time; so taking it day-to-day, doing the EZ, basic exercises and a few of the advanced exercises that can be done without much pain. No NSAIDs. The most important thing: I am hopeful the PT will be effective ... making slow improvement ... and I am well enough to use this down time to take care of some of the EZ honey-do's around the house!! (Yes, I am being very, very careful)

As for who is spiking my Bosco ... try hours each day of reading with the kids Dr. Seuss, Amelia Bedilia, Magic School Bus, Audrey Rose, Barney, Henry and Mudge, Berenstein Bears, ad infinitum ... and see what happens to your brain. It's not altogether unpleasant ... though I do appreciate the Carl Sagan and Stephen Hawking videos after the kids go to bed.

Also, I'm finding the conversation with Hugo quite helpful. It's very good to have one's ideas and sources challenged; for instance, it appears I will have to verify anything I read in with other, more reliable sources. Again, thanks for providing this website to learn from and grow up with.


Posted: Mon May 01, 2006 1:30 pm
by Dean
By the way,

Thanks Randolph for the update. I'm sorry that this thread has drifted away from your situation.

Hopefully, we can get back on track and that you'll keep us posted on any new developments.


Posted: Tue May 09, 2006 12:15 pm
by Admin
I moved the off-topic posts to the Jeers section so that this thread could get back to Randolph's situation.

Keep us posted Randolph on how the PT goes and any progress you're making.


Posted: Fri May 12, 2006 1:46 pm
by randolph
Hi y'all

Passed a big corner this last week :D ... after the 3 initial weeks following re-injury of the back with no improvement ... this past week finally able to do the basic exercises more and more, walk more, sit down again, and get back up sooner after lying down to rest up for more careful activity.

If anybody needs any more motivation for doing the exercises and giving physical therapy the greatest opportunity for rebuilding your back ... visit the forum at ... and read the 100's of horror stories of folks who have been sliding on the sometimes-slippery slope of having back surgery. :shock: I think it's fair to say having back surgery should be a very, very last resort .... sort of like amputation. It appears some are helped for varying lengths of time ... and all open themselves up to needing more and more aggressive surgery that has less and less chance of success. Seems pretty wise to do the exercises with a mixture of gratitude and urgency and diligence, considering the sometimes gruesome alternatives.

Thanks again for the encouragement. Randolph

Posted: Sat May 20, 2006 6:34 pm
by Jeanette
randolph wrote:Hi y'all

Passed a big corner this last week :D ... after the 3 initial weeks following re-injury of the back with no improvement ... this past week finally able to do the basic exercises more and more, walk more, sit down again, and get back up sooner after lying down to rest up for more careful activity.

If anybody needs any more motivation for doing the exercises and giving physical therapy the greatest opportunity for rebuilding your back ... visit the forum at ... and read the 100's of horror stories of folks who have been sliding on the sometimes-slippery slope of having back surgery.
Hi Randolph -- Sorry to be so late making an appearance to wish you well. It's been a busy spring, and I've simply not been on line for several weeks and am only just now trying to work my way through the forum. It's good to hear, anyway, that you're making progress. Perhaps having been there before allows you some knowledge that with effort, patience, and awareness "this, too, shall pass."

(I'm glad you listed the back pain support group website. I'd seen it before I discovered Rebuild Your Back, and I remember thinking, "There's GOT to be a better way!")

Anyway, I beg to differ with those who say that "pain has no memory." My last round of sciatica is all too fresh to have been forgotten, so you have my complete sympathy.

(And speaking of pain, if it helps the mushy brain, after all these years I can still pretty well recite Green Eggs and Ham from memory and find Lowly Worm on every page of every Richard Scarry book--at least those published prior to 1980 :P.)

Best wishes for a speedy recovery.

Posted: Sun May 21, 2006 12:10 pm
by krd
Hey Randolph

Sorry I haven't posted for a while. Glad to hear that you are doing better. I thought I was until yesterday when, like you, I was doing some yard work and felt a "strange" pull in my back. Feeling kind of down today. Sciatica is back, albeit not as bad as last time. I am taking it easy for the next few days and then hope to start rebuiilding again. Was playing golf again, even played 3 days last week before this happened. Hope that it is short lived. Anyway, enough about me. I hope that you heal quickly and regarding your surgery as a last option statement, I have 2 good friends that have had numerous back surgery with little if any success. I an just going to hang in there. Later and rest up.


Posted: Sun May 21, 2006 9:01 pm
by randolph
Good reminder, Jeanette: this too shall pass!

Did you hear that too, Ken: this too shall pass!! Glad to hear it was "only" another tweek and not a debilitating explosion in your back. Look for the silver lining around this latest dark cloud. :D

My brain keeps entertaining fantasies of opting for a microdiscectomy (that insurance will cover) ... so thanks for the encouragement to "get real". The fantasy is: everything will be all better after the surgery. The reality is: surgery is a roll of the dice ... and I'm not really sure the odds are any better than Vegas.

Came across a list (similar to Dean's) on conditions warranting seeing a surgeon:
1. loss of bladder/bowel control (cauda equina syndrome)
2. severe/disabling pain
3. progressively worsening neurological deficit, such as loss of muscle control in leg(s)
4. profound nuerological deficit, like foot drop

All of which can be summarized: if things are getting better with the exercises, keep doing the exercises and forget surgery. Remain patient, persistent ... and enjoy the time off!!

Started going to the local YMCA last week. The hot tub, sauna, and swimming all feel really good. It will be interesting to see if they are anything more than a short-term feel-good.

I'm coming across more anecdotal evidence concerning the value of traction devices, such as the one you've mentioned, Ken. What exactly is the machine you use? I'm ready to shop on e-bay for equipment to give some variety to the exercise routine.

Thanks again for the encouragement :D



Posted: Mon May 22, 2006 6:57 am
by krd
Hey Randolph

I use the Teeter Hang up inversion table. When the back bothers me like it is now I don't use it for a few days until the main muscles start to loosen up some and then I will be back on it. I could tell you the site that I got it from through an email if you want. I know that Dean doesn't want us to post some things on this forum and I don't want to look like I am promoting anything. I just think that decompression of the spine makes sense. Let me know if you would like to know. And Dean if you want me to post the site let me know. They also have some info on the advantages of inversion. Thanks to all of you out there for all the info given on this site.


Posted: Tue May 23, 2006 12:45 pm
by Dean
Hi Ken,

Sorry to hear you've injured your back again. I hope it is just a minor tweak and that you're able to get back on the road to recovery soon.

As far as posting the link in the forum is concerned, I've got to go with the no commercial links policy. I know there are times when those links can be helpful, but it just opens the door to spamming which would degrade the credibility of everything else posted here.

For a while, I had a section in the new community area of the forum where I was going to allow members to post links, but I was uncomfortable with it from the start and since that new section is slow to get going I decided to drop it for now.

If you know of a site that you feel is a good resource for information, you can always email me a link to that site and I can go check it out. If I agree that it's a valuable resource, I can add it to my "Resources" page.

That preserves the integrity of the forum by keeping it free of spam while still providing a way to pass on the information.

I'm currently evaluating one that Randolph sent me the other day that is chock full of research-based articles ... (that's the good part) but (as he pointed out) ultimately ends up promoting some faulty ideas. I don't get a warm fuzzy feeling from the site, so I'm holding off on endorsing it for now.

Hope you get feeling better fast,

Posted: Tue May 23, 2006 4:28 pm
by randolph
Thanks, Ken, for the inversion table info. After googling up pictures of the device ... I think I can build one from stuff in the bone-yard in and around my shed.

And thanks for the decision, Dean. I think you're right. The important info on the site is available on other sites, such as those in the Back and Neck Pain sites of your home-page Resources. What made it helpful was the convenience of finding so much in one place, and the webmaster's diary of his battle the last three years with sciatica, including his failed microdiscectomy. Too bad there was so much info promoting faulty chiropractic treatments.

And now that the subject of chiropractric has come up ... Botnick on claims that 75% of the DC's out there are less than competent. Don't know if it's that many ... but you've got to wonder about some of them. Just saw the site of one CA DC who is selling water for over $30/qt. The claim is that his water has been altered into a more beneficial magnetic and electronic polarity ... which when drunk, prevents subluxations! After extensive research, I've studied the science of water polarity ... and have discovered a process to give other, beneficial polarities to the water. My water, when given in just teaspoonfuls to your favorite plants, prevents garden pixies and leprechauns from killing your roses and other valued landscape plants. E-mail me if you want to get in on the ground floor of this exciting MLM opportunity!