Just Keep Running

Hey y’all!
I have been listening to the Podcast since July, I was driving from La Porte, TX to Cypress, TX for a new job and got tired of the radio and I started listening to y’all. So thanks for making the drive a LOT better.
I’m not sure my story is near as hard as those that you have had on or read, but it has been heavy on my heart to share it with you for a while now. This is kind of long so please just bear with me.
All through high school my back would hurt off and on, I just brushed it off and kept on going. When I got to college my second semester of my freshman year, it really started hurting to the point where I couldn’t lift anything and if I did I ended up in bed for a few days. In June of 2008, my nephew was born at this point my back was in constant pain carrying him and the car seat only made things worse. I finally went to the doctor and found out I had 2 bulging discs in my lower back L4-L5, L5-S1 we tried muscle relaxers and pain killers none of which helped. I then started going to a pain management doctor for steroid injections, which also didn’t help.
My leg would go numb riding in a car for ANY length of time and I just couldn’t handle it anymore so, 2 weeks before my 21st birthday I went to see a surgeon, they ended up doing a discectomy (basically picked my nerve up and cleaned around it) the surgeon said it was very crowded in there and that this should help. It helped for about 7 months, I ended up back in physical therapy trying to relieve the pain. In December of that same year, I had my second back surgery a 2 level lumbar fusion.
When I woke up, I remember being in recovery and them testing my reflexes, I couldn’t hold my toes up while they pushed my foot down on my right leg, I remember saying “does that mean I’m paralyzed” the nurses just laughed it off, I drifted back to sleep and woke up in my room. Physical therapy came to get me out of the bed and I couldn’t feel my right leg. I had to physical pick up my right leg and sit my foot on the floor, as I stood up my right foot turned all the way out and I had no control over it.
My doctor assured me that it would wake up in 3 days (what I know now but didn’t know then is I was given a nerve block), 3 days came and went and I still couldn’t feel my leg. During this time, my right leg was swollen, red, cold, throbbing, and at times would feel like someone had a hammer and would just go pounding on my leg. Christmas Eve my mom and I went back to the emergency room because the doctors were worried I might have a blood clot, after an ultrasound it came back that I didn’t have a blood clot. My mom would sleep on one couch and I was on the other, I couldn’t sleep and I couldn’t do anything on my own, I went through pain medicine like they were skittles. My mom called my doctor and he told me to come in, so we went he still didn’t know why my leg wasn’t awake. He called my pain management doctor and sent me over there he gave me another injection, didn’t fix the issue but it did help because the temperature in my leg went up.
Not even 3 days later my mom was back on the phone with my surgeon and when he asked her what my mom expected of him she said I want you to fix her, he then admitted me into the hospital where I stayed for 2 weeks. My surgeon met us there and he looked at us both and said “I don’t know what’s wrong with you, I didn’t do it and I can’t fix you so I’m turning you over to the pain management doctor” My pain management doctor came to the hospital immediately and started working on a treatment plan. During this one of the stitches in my back became infected.

So now, I have no feeling in my lower right leg, it is still red, swollen, cold, and every once in a while there is a hammer that is working up and down my leg, I’m recovering from a 2 level lumbar fusion, and have a gaping hole in my back that has to be packed every day.
I am released from the hospital and about 2 weeks later I start physical therapy again, 3 times a week 2.5-3 hours for 6 months. I had to learn how to walk away, I remember crying having to step over cones, or arguing with my therapist about not wanting to do an exercise. We started reflexology on the bottom of my foot.
I remember sitting on my couch thinking that this was it, at 21 I thought my life was over and that I would never be able to walk again, shower by myself, dress myself. I can never say enough good things about my physical therapy team, they literally saved my life.
A few years later, I started running with a coworker. I should probably add that to this day, I still can’t feel my lower right leg. In April 2014, 5 years after my surgeries I ran a half FREAKING marathon!!!!!! I crossed the finish line in tears, I hugged my mom and cried even harder. She was with me on day one and she was the ONLY person I wanted to share that moment with.
I thought for sure that my life was over and thought many times that I could just take a few more pain killers and the pain would be over and I wouldn’t be a burden anymore. It was the hardest time in my life and as much as I wish I wouldn’t have gone through it, it made me who I am today. I found out that I am much stronger that I ever gave myself credit for and as crazy as this sounds without that experience I wouldn’t have had the strength to go back and finish college, I would have never ran a half marathon, or even be TALKING about training for a FULL.

Thank you for letting me share my story, I pray that it reaches someone out there that is going through something similar.

Tammy Jo

Author: Tammy