In January of 2009, about two months after the car accident that left me with a herniated disc, I learned I was pregnant with Vincent. It was a surprise blessing - one that I was incredibly elated for.
However, there's a reason my Mom's response to news of her first grandchild was "Is that even safe?"
My chiropractor had warned me against getting pregnant with my fresh herniation because the weight and stress of growing a child within my womb would make a bad situation worse. John and I hadn't planned for Vincent, but we weren't going to shy away from the blessing now that we'd finally be granted him!
Armed with such determination, my wonderful chiropractor altered my therapy in consideration of my pregnancy. I was still going three times a week, but I was given different exercises in lieu of the electric shocks my back muscles typically received.
Almost instantaneously, my back pain intensified. I knew that during the first trimester, ligaments stretch and hip bones begin to spread to ready the body for labor. I was warned that my pain would be much worse than is typical because of where my herniation was. A small price to pay, in my mind, for a healthy child.
Midway through my pregnancy, I thought I was going to pass out from the intense pain. It was different from the normal pressure of the herniation, but the doctors kept reassuring me it was because of my herniation. Three times I went to the ER because the pain was too intense, and three times I was sent away with percoset because it was chalked up to the herniation. I refused to take the percoset because I was worried about effects on Vincent. No amount of "It's safe, I swear" could make me take those pills.
In tears, I told my OB that I needed to find some solution to the pain because there were times I had trouble breathing. She did an exam and set me over to the ER yet again because she was sure I had kidney stones.
Doctors kept writing me off (three times!) when they saw my charts label "disc herniation." They assumed any and all pain in my lower - mid back was caused by the herniation. No one ever thought to check me for kidney stones. I ended up freaking out over the prospect because I realized that I'd have to face this every time I had back pain going forward. Would doctors write me off because of the herniation? Would they mistakenly release me when I was actually dealing with a life-threatening gall bladder attack or kidney failure???
Considering this is how a friend of mine passed away (doctors misdiagnosed her kidney failure. The pain pills she took masked her symptoms until it was too late to save her.), I was an anxious wreck.
I was beginning to realize just how much of an effect this car accident was having on my future.
Fast forward to the end of my pregnancy. I was in such intense pain (Vince was a 9lb baby!), and I could barely sleep at night from the spasms my lower back was having. Again, my doctors told me this was part of the herniation and there was really nothing to be done to help alleviate it. I kept trying to remind myself that the pain was worth my son, so I offered what I could (begrudgingly, I admit) to God so long as I got a healthy baby in return.
Finally, my water breaks and I'm admitted into L&D. I was given an epidural, but the meds had to be administered THREE TIMES. The nurse explained to me that the reason it wasn't "working" is because of the placement of my herniation. Sometimes folks with herniations have difficult times taking to the epidural because the meds aren't able to get where they need to go in order to "flood out" the pain receptors.
Yet again I found my herniation causing my problems.
I luckily have a brief delivery and Vincent comes into the world. I figured my back pain would be a done deal now that the excess pressure was gone.
Yet God loves proving me wrong.