Neurologic Progression (2019-Current)
Updated: Oct 27
By the beginning of February 2019, I was FINALLY starting to feel back on track after suffering a multitude of "unexplainable" post-op complications (re: hip surgery May 2018). I had just filed for medical bankruptcy and it began to feel like the worst was behind me! My hip no longer felt painful and my muscle strength was improving. I still had rehab work to do but that feeling...it was amazing!
This forward progress quickly ended just a few days later during an overnight shift in the ER. A patient arrived in respiratory distress from underlying heart disease. My sole ICU nurse and I lifted said patient on to the triage table to start immediate intervention when something went haywire in my lower back. The patient was stabilized and transferred to CSU's cardiac unit. My pain however, never did. My decline progressed quickly leading to a diagnosis of L5-S1 right lateralizing disc herniation, secondary radiculopathy (compressed nerve causing pain, numbness, weakness to right leg) and associated back spasms (of quadratus lumborus mm and paraspinals).
Unfortunately, because the nerve root injury was right lateralizing, my right leg became partially impaired which put an increased burden on my (still compromised) surgical leg (the left leg). To complicate things further, the referral pattern of the herniation caused bilateral groin and hip pain. It was unbelievable... I was injured, painful, barely able to walk and out of work, AGAIN! Steroids were prescribed and after an epidural, I was able to start Physical Therapy. This is when I met the amazing Dr. Rachel Kronke (my primary rehabilitative specialist at Proactive Physical Therapy and Performance Center). She has been trending my case and recovery every step of the way.
The first few weeks of PT were tough. There was slow but positive improvement! By April 2019, I developed a very small, painful nodule (almost blister like, described similarly to a hypothermic injury) on my right foot (which we now know is common in bartonella patients). Painful does not cover it, not even close. It was excruciating but worst of all, perpetuated my limp. The podiatrist was unsure of the cause and scripted a short course of steroids on the off chance it was a spider bite. Within 48 hours of starting steroids, my body felt flu-like (my now routine steroid response). While it seemed to help with the nerve pain, an onslaught of dermatologic (skin) and rheumatic (muscle/joint) symptoms followed. I developed a sinus infection, trouble breathing, severe long bone pain (along the femurs, humeri, shins and forearms), and an intermittent fever with diffuse muscle/joint pain. My body developed a severe rash with regions of coalescing hives. My skin hurt everywhere, any sensation was excruciating. Any temperature, hot or cold, felt scalding. I then began mounting more allergic reactions to various products....and my pain was at an all-time high, hypersensitive to every stimuli. This went on until the end of May 2019, my list of antihistamines, topical creams and pain medications were exhaustive. I cannot even begin to explain how grossly uncomfortable those 2 months were. It was pure misery. Around this time, my major medical insurance was canceled by my employer and just a few week later, my position was terminated. Little did I know this would be my last time to ever practice veterinary medicine again.
By end of June 2019, I was again feeling more functional and gaining forward momentum in my back recovery, but my body felt far from okay. Both hips began to feel more abnormal, my muscle spasms were occurring in new locations, and my spine was painful to almost every motion.
And so, began my third wave of specialist consultations...