I can remember as far back as 1986-87 having ongoing lower back pain, sometimes to the point of not being able to sit, stand or walk. I also have a leg length discrepancy of 1.5 inches on my right side. I come from a family with a history of lower back problems; my great grandfather, grandfather and my father, so for me this was nothing unusual. It wasn’t until around 15-16 years of age that I thought it was time to get this looked into. For years in and out of doctors’ offices and emergency rooms, I was told there was nothing wrong with my back –everyone suffers from lower back pain! After an x-ray almost every time I visited the medical offices, I was giving a muscle relaxer and pain medications, and then sent home with a pat on the back and a, ‘Good luck!’
Well, as luck would have it, my wife had an insurance change at her job in 2004 and we needed to shop for new doctors and primaries that accepted our insurance. I had lived with this agonizing intermittent pain a good part of my life. At this point, I went to my new primary doctor with the same excruciating, lower back pain. I knew enough about my history that I knew what questions to ask: am I entitled to a MRI, should I get a nerve conductive study done? I had never had these tests completed in the past.
My new physician was extremely surprised that none of these tests have been previously done before, so she ordered a series of tests, the MRI, EMG, and an X-RAY. The MRI came back with showing results of L1, L2, L3, L4, L5, and S1 regions to be either extrusion, compressed, slipped, deteriorated, and crushed discs pressing on the nerve roots that run down both of my legs from the lumbar area of the spine resulting in a very bad mix of what I’ve been experiencing all my life. The EMG showed bad nerves from my waist down to my feet, no surprise to me cause of the numerous falls and the tired legs that I have always had. I was told that I had what is called a SPINAL CORD INJURY in the lumbar region that resulted in a SPINAL STROKE leaving me with incomplete paraplegia in the lower extremities.
From 2004 to 2008 I went at least once every 4 to 6 months for pain management, which at the present time I thought, was great relief. It was in 2008 that I noticed I started stumbling a lot more and again taking falls periodically. I went to my primary for a routine checkup and spoke to her about my recent mishaps, after some brief test in the office and a visit to a neurologist office it was determined that I had neurological problems with my feet causing DROP FOOT BILATERALLY.
I made an appointment with a script in hand for bilateral Ankle, Foot Orthosis (AFO). I wore these AFO’s from late 2008 to 2010. Everything was back to normal, well as normal that it could be, until late 2010 when I was finding myself sitting down more often than ever. I found myself extremely fatigued by mid-day, to the point I had a hard time walking and resorted to using crutches and the AFO’s to ambulate day to day.
This recent mishap had really hit home with me because of my line of work , which was a heavy duty diesel mechanic. I had to give up my work (this was a tough one for me). In September 2012, I went to my orthotist office and he evaluated me both at the beginning and end of the day to make an accurate determination of what was happening. He could see that on a scale of 1 to 5, from morning to late afternoon, I showed a huge difference of 1 being the worst that I showed more 1’s and 1.5 in the afternoon time.
At this time, he recommended the Knee, Ankle, Foot Orthosis (KAFO) brace. Together my orthotist, Jason Silke, and I researched a KAFO brace system that would accommodate my body weight of 270lbs. There wasn’t anything available except the Orthotronic mobility system (aka the C-Brace). This style KAFO was rated for body weights up to 275lbs. I was really pushing the weight limit, but we jumped in head first. I had an appointment with some very nice people from the company known as Ottobock and my orthotist Jason Silke from Prosthetic and Orthotic Associates. I was able to use the trial C-Braces and I showed a remarkable improvement of where I was with the AFO’S to where I could be with the technology of the C-Brace. So with all of the people that were in that room and seeing my brief progress, it was said that I would be a perfect candidate for the C-Brace technology. So we moved forward with the casting procedure.
Be sure to look for Part II of Del’s story in the coming week.