Jan, 73, is a widow with two children and three grandchildren. Jan had walking partners whom she hiked with every day. Around 2001 she started to feel pain walking her usual route. Her back began to hurt all the time and she felt “miserable.” She tried Pilates and physical therapy; the only thing that worked was icing her back. After having many epidurals, she had an MRI and found out she had a slipped disc. The only way to fix it was surgery. Jan was so scared at the prospect; she put off surgery until it was “unbearable,” and she decided it was the best thing for her.
I'm Jan, I'm 73 years old, I'm a widow with two grown children, three grandchildren. I have been in real estate for about 35 years. I recently have cut back on it, trying to get my life together so I can travel. I used to have two walking partners that I hiked with almost every day if possible, certainly every weekend. And there was a steep hill up a canyon near my house that we always went up. Eventually you get to a flatter surface. It was challenging, and somewhere around 2000, I started getting these pains that wrapped around my hips and I had no idea what it was but I just told them I needed to go slower, and then somewhere in 2001 or two, I got a terrible pain down my leg.
I had heard about people with back issues, but it was nothing I'd ever thought I'd have and I knew nothing about what they did about it. I carpooled a lot from my house in the Studio City to Santa Monica and the drive started to just be unbearable. My back hurt all the time. I went to physical therapy and did Pilates. I had a business partner at the time and he got really aggravated with me because I slowed down, I couldn’t do what I used to do. And I would spend a lot of time bending over, touching my toes, stretching, kneading my back. That was just miserable, I said the best thing I could use in all of life is if I had a bathtub filled with ice it would be great.
It was explained that I had degenerative disc disease and they can't explain why some people have more problems than others. Often people have one level fusion, they get better, and never have any problems again. Where my discs continue to slip, so it was bone on bone rubbing and the only solution for that was to continue to have fusions.
And they kept giving me epidurals and finally they did an MRI and they said oh, you've got a slipped disc, and the only thing you can do about that is surgery. It's a big surgery and you’re out of commission for a really long time. I was scared to death. I didn't wanna do it. I was a full time working mom. So I limped around for a really long time. And then finally it was just unbearable, all of a sudden what seemed like something I was never gonna do, I said I gotta do this right away. How quickly can you get me in to do this?