the backbone’s connected to the hip bone

WARNING! TMI…not the inappropriate kind but just lots of detail that will interest only a few. Still…

A couple of months ago, a friend in our church requested prayer for her back surgery to correct spinal stenosis. That sent me to wikipedia, where I read a list of the symptoms I’ve dealt with in varying degrees of severity for the past six years. For a long time I connected my troubles to our bike wreck, since the symptoms began as I was stroking back from my injuries. For six+ years I’ve kept a journal of all the healthcare professionals I’ve seen for pain relief—3 chiropractors, 4 physical therapists, 1 sports therapist, 2 acupuncturists, 1 naturopath, and 1 back specialist. I hung upside down from an inversion table recommended by one of the chiropractors. I bought a funky machine that was supposed to relieve back pain. I wore a Serola sacroiliac belt. I rubbed special sciatica cream on my back. I held true to a restrictive anti-inflammation diet for six months. Anything anyone suggested, I tried. Some things helped for a time, but nothing removed the pain that shoots through my back and hip and down my right leg.

Year after year at my annual physical, my doctor worked his way through a standard list of questions (Do you smoke? Do you have a fire extinguisher in your home? Do you take a multi-vitamin?), but my real trouble didn’t measure very high on the scale. Finally, last summer I insisted we skip past that nonsense and talk about my crummy back. I showed him my journal; he ordered an MRI. I usually leave test-result interpretation to the professionals, but one word, used several times, was clear to me: severe. A referral to a neurosurgeon would be my next step when I was ready. Ha! I was ready! Just before Christmas I met with Dr. Rohrer for an evaluation. First he offered me the option of steroid shots. “What’s the success rate?” A third notice considerable improvement, a third minor improvement, a third no change. “If I landed in the first category, how long could I expect relief?” A week to a few months. “Really? What’s the point of that?” He shrugged.

Turns out I’ve lost nearly two inches of height as arthritis gnaws away at L4, L5, and S-1, the technical terms for my lower spine, which causes pressure on my sciatic nerve, which boldly registers its displeasure. And over the past two years I’ve grown noticeably crooked. Pain takes the fun out of walking, yet standing in place is the hardest. Thankfully, my job is mostly sitting, which has been bearable most of the time.

This is getting kind of long. Sorry.

So the doc says he can fix me, and I shout YAY! let’s get on with it! He said I won’t be ducking through any doorways, but I’ll get my lost inches back. If you’re interested, here’s a very short video that explains most of what the doc will do. Choose “Play with narration.” Don’t worry—it’s animated, no gore. CLICK HERE I find it interesting that nothing is wasted. The disintegrating bone he removes will be ground up and reinserted, not only where the video shows but also between the sections of spine to adhere to “shims” (for lack of the actual term) he’ll add where needed.

The surgery will take five hours, and I’ll be in the hospital three to five days. When I was with my “kids” after Christmas and they learned about my surgery, they said: “Research!” I guess they don’t want just any ole neurosurgeon cutting on their mama. Quinn knows someone connected to the medical field, so she asked him to check: “I looked into Dr. Rohrer and he has great results.” So there you go!

Speaking of Quinn, she’s flying up tonight for the surgery tomorrow. She’ll be watching my back. Ha ha. Pun intended. I hope to fare well enough to go home while she’s still here.


A 4- or 5-day vacation at a resort hospital with a round-the-clock trained staff to take care of my every need, full-menu room service, husband and daughter at my side to cheer me on and remind me to breathe. We should all be so lucky.

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14 Responses to the backbone’s connected to the hip bone

  1. deborah johansen says:

    Thank you for this Sherry. I will be thinking of you and praying for the doc!

  2. LizW says:

    WOW! Sounds so exciting and promising! I hope the surgery and recovery go smoothly and as expected – and you’ll be up and moving pain free very, very soon 🙂

  3. Kevin Hoffer says:

    We will be praying for you! And not sure about that hospital out there but the “room service” isn’t so great at our hospitals over here 🙂

  4. Paula Hampton says:

    Yay! I’m glad you finally got a diagnosis — even if it is “severe.” And I’ll be praying that this will be successful and bring you relief.

    My own stenosis is under control most of the time. I find that the more I move, the better. Sitting in an office chair is the worst for me, or staying in any position too long. Am holding off the surgery option as long as I can.

  5. Cheryle Takacs says:

    You shall certainly have my prayers, dear friend. I shall begin my day tomorrow thinking of you and end my night tonight with you on my mind. Surgery is never a ‘first thought’ but sometimes the best answer. Six years of pain in definitely enough.

  6. Lisa N. says:

    I’m so glad to hear there is something to help! I’ll be praying for success and pain free moving for you very soon.

  7. Ridgely says:

    Your life will be revolutionized….been here, done this! Good job on the research…I called and asked all my other docs who they would have do the surgery if they were in my shoes and most all recommended one guy who turned out to be a miracle worker! Prayers shall follow you!

  8. Janet Peck says:

    Sherry – we will be praying for you! So sorry for what you are going through. We are going to believe God has healing in store for you. Janet

  9. WendyM says:

    So glad you are finally going to get some relief. Will be praying for you.

  10. Janet Strokosch says:

    Prayers for you, my friend!

  11. Janet Tandy says:

    So happy relief is on the way for you!! I’ll be thinking of you and hoping for the speediest of recoveries! I’ll be praying for you, Sherry!

  12. Elizabeth Archers says:

    I’m sure thinking of you, Sherry, and hope your recovery is fast!

  13. David Schick says:

    It is now the day after – how are you doing. Millie had the same surgery done 2 years age so maybe you guys can compare notes. Prayers and love to you all

  14. Mary Austin says:

    Praying for you. Thankful that you found a doctor to help with your recovery. Blessings to you.

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