Julie, 45, is married with three boys ages 11, 9 and 6. In her late 20s Julie would run every morning to the beach. Looking back, she thinks she pushed her body too far. After her third pregnancy she began to feel significant lower back pain. She was adjusted by a chiropractor and felt better for about a year. Then the pain got worse and stayed longer. An MRI of Julie’s spine showed she had a herniated disc which was pinching a nerve L3/4. The doctor said surgery was the best and most “obvious” solution. It made sense to her, so she filed paperwork with her insurance. When she was finally cleared for surgery she was scared and questioned herself, but she ultimately decided she could not live like this.
I'm Julie. I'm 45 years old. I live in Los Angeles. I'm married. I have three boys. And I used to work full time in advertising, in production, and I've kind of worked less and less since I've had kids. I used to run every morning, go down to the beach and I'd go run for a couple miles a day, and I'd get to a point when I'd push myself a little too far. That was probably the beginning of feeling a little lower back pain. I was probably in my late 20s. But I'd just sort of scale it back. I'd buy some new tennis shoes, it would go away. It was never anything that I had to deal with. With my pregnancies I was fine. I never had any trouble. And after I had my first-my first son I was fine, second son I was fine.
After I had my third son, I think it was carrying him and dealing with all that, I would get this pain in my lower back, and it shifted between my left or my right. But the first time I had it, I went to the chiropractor and he adjusted me, and it didn't come back at all for about a year, and then I think it switched sides, so it went from lower right to lower left. And same thing, I went about a year later, I had one adjustment, it went away, it was gone, then I went back the next year. So it was on year five that I had a really bad pain, and I thought oh, I'll just go and get it adjusted, and my chiropractor said-same guy I'd been going to every time said this is gonna take a few times, this one.
Just getting up in the morning and just starting your day, and normally I'd get up and I'd struggle into the kitchen to get some coffee, but it's just-the first step out of bed, it just is so hard to take the next one and the next one, even just to get the coffee, and then I still have to make breakfast and get the kids dressed and get them to school. And no matter what you take, it doesn't help. I kind of kept seeing him through September, October, November. I finally started to feel better, and then I he told me just to walk on flat surfaces, not do too much exercising, try not to lift anything too much.
And it just it seemed like it was at bay, and then about February, I was on a field trip, and just carrying stuff around, nothing too major, but I felt it, and I made an appointment to see my chiropractor that night, and by the time I got there, I couldn't even walk, I couldn't take another step it hurt so badly. And then I got this pain in my leg that was just pulsating right at my knee. And I think I asked him what I could do, the chiropractor, and he said, oh, you need to hang upside down. And at that point, I went I need to call a doctor and actually see what's going on inside my body.
And there's some things that the doctors would prescribe that were really strong painkillers, and sometimes that would help you sleep for a couple of hours. But it was something I didn't want to take during the day, and so sometimes I'd take it right before bed, and then I'd sleep for a couple of hours, but then you have tossing and turning all night, and I didn't want to take it again too late, because I had, you know, to drive the kids to school in the morning. And yeah, it's like a vicious cycle. I felt like there was nothing comfortable. Like, standing, sitting, laying, nothing was comfortable. Every now and then, someone would tell you a good story or you'd get into a good conversation and you'd forget about it. The conversation would end and you'd be right back to the pain, and it was like, oh, yeah, there it is, it's still there. [LAUGH]
But for me, it was always sort of the same, no matter what I did. It was hard to think sometimes. It's hard to-to do your normal daily routine. It just made me slower to do everything, and I remember I would go to the Grove, and they give you that parking ticket, and I would lose that parking ticket, 'cause I couldn't remember where I put it. Like, I was just sort of not clearheaded at all. My son's teacher had had back surgery, and so I contacted her and she gave me a referral, and I went to go see him. And they gave me an X-ray and they said, you know, basically you can't see what's going on with-you can just see the bones on the X-ray, so they said you need to go do an MRI.
And I think I came back a couple days later and did the MRI. I had a disc that was broken, and just a piece of it was sitting on my nerve, of the L3, which runs directly to my knee where I was having the pain. And at this time, my back had stopped hurting. It was just my leg that hurt. It just killed. So it was really hard to just step.