Peter, 68, is an obstetrical anesthesiologist which keeps him extremely busy and has him running around the hospital to monitor his many patients. He is on his feet most of the day. Peter is extremely active and participates in activities such as marathons, triathlons, and cycling. When he first felt symptoms in his back it “stole his life away.” He had reticular pain, which went down the back of his legs into his feet. After three rounds of nerve blocks, Peter had to see a surgeon. The surgeon said Peter had degenerative disc disease at L4/5 & L5/S1 and fusion surgery was the best way to solve the problem.
My name is Peter. I'm 68 years old. I'm an anesthesiologist. At any one time, we could have anywhere from five to 30 women in labor. Running around constantly, placing epidurals. Running into the operating room for emergency C-sections. Getting a stat call to a room because a baby has been born that's not breathing and having to run in and resuscitate the baby. I am on my feet constantly. Running back and forth, putting out... one fire after another. It's a very physical job.
And in addition to that, I've run over 30 marathons. Done a whole bunch of triathlons. And I ended up with a hip replacement. But I've remained very physically active. I'm an avid cyclist and I ride my bike three to four times a week for, it's maybe 25 miles at a pop. And so, when I started having my symptoms relative to the back, it affected my whole life. It stole my life.
And that's when I went and started the process of diagnosis, evaluation, and eventually treatment. I think that a lot of us take our health... for the most part, for granted. You know, pain is a factor which influences the whole aspect of your life. It affects your work, it affects, in my case, your exercise. It affects your mood, it affects your personality. I never had back pain. What I had was... this is a medical term, but radicular pain, which went down the back of my legs into my feet.
I noticed that, when I was working, that I would have to... sit. And I mean, obviously, if it was an emergency, I overcame the pain and ran as quickly as I could. But when I had the luxury of sitting down, I would walk for 20 or 30 minutes and then sit down for 15 minutes, because I just couldn't get through the extreme pain. I would go out for a bike ride, and then I would get off the bicycle, and all of a sudden I would have this... sharp pain going down the back of my leg. It almost felt like somebody was sticking a knife into it.
And after about three weeks of not being able to ride or do anything physical and struggling at work, and that's when I basically called my internist and told him what was goin' on. He wrote an order for an MRI, came back with the results, and I already knew what was going on. I knew that I had either a herniated disc or spinal stenosis, but I had to confirm that. Initially I had some selective nerve blocks. There's a anesthesiologist near where I live who does those, and I had a series of three.
And I got pretty good relief. I actually know people who've had selective nerve blocks, and it-it worked. They put some steroids in there and they put some local anesthetic in. And two, three years later, they're still walking around, and they did not need to have the surgery, and I was hopeful that that might potentially be me, but it wasn't. I would get three weeks of relief and then the symptoms would come back. So after the three nerve blocks, she referred me to an orthopedic surgeon. So the orthopedic surgeon and-and I both looked at the, the results of the MRI together, basically, on the computer.
And he said, You know, you've got this problem at L2, L3. L3, L4 doesn't look really good, but I don't think your symptoms are coming from there, and you have a a major problem at L5, S1. He said, I-I can do it from the back.
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