I have spondylolisthesis. This is the forward movement of one vertebrae over another. In my case, it's the lumbar region and effects L4, L5, and S1.

Lots of people have this and never know. It usually starts in childhood, and especially in athletes who participate in sports like gymnastics.

I was never a gymnast. My back problems started when this guy, who was already on probation and shouldn't have been driving, must have decided he didn't like me or my vehicle on the road. In his rage, he hit my SUV on the passenger side at the rear at about 55 mph. My car, in motion parallel to him, started spinning as if it were on butter. We crossed 3 lanes of traffic, spinning and spinning, hit a curb, and flipped a few times. Jason sped off, leaving me and my passenger to our fate.

I remember Carol exited the vehicle very quickly. It had landed on its side and I found my head in the dirt. All the windows had exploded and there was glass everywhere. Someone looked in from above (he had climbed up the car and was looking down at me through the passenger window) and told me not to open my eyes because glass was all over me. I got up, but I couldn't exit the vehicle the same way Carol had. My legs just didn't work right.

When I did finally get out of the car, some nice man was doing triage on Carol and he asked me to lie down. I told him that I didn't want to because my back was on fire. But, I was too tired to argue. When I did lie down, my right leg twitched constantly. This was the first sign there was something very wrong. That was January of 2002.

Anyway, I've had several doctors take care of this over the years including PTs, a chiropractor, and two orthopedic surgeons. Every now and then, I get an epidural steroid injection in my spine to reduce swelling and aid in healing. I can only do 3 or 4 of those a year because of the implications to the liver and bones of repeated steroid use. I take Neurontin to reduce the symptoms of the nerve pain throughout my body that mimics peripheral neuropathy. Ibuprofen is my friend.

I had my last epidural steroid injection on Sep 26 after a few weeks of, well, really excruciating pain. This was the kind of pain that makes it hard to focus on work or family. That's when I go back to the doctor. That's what it takes. I can walk pretty well now and am in PT again. PT. Pain and Torture.

PT isn't that bad at all. The hard part of this time around was with the lecture he gave me on my first visit. My spine is unstable. It has slipped and slipped again. He said that what I have should be viewed the same as someone with diabetes or high blood pressure. Someone with diabetes HAS to take insulin or pills to live. Someone with high blood pressure has to take pills every day. What I HAVE to do every day is exercise my core. That's the "tape" around my spine. If my core isn't strong, then the vulnerable area of my spine will continue to degrade and slip. Eventually, stenosis will cause permanent damage to nerves. I know I haven't been doing my part.

I thought that wakeboarding, snowboarding, playing softball and such were good things. He explained they were not unless I had a strong core. Yeech.

My grandmother and an aunt have the same thing. Recently, I found out that my grandma can't walk anymore, even after back surgery. She's been in pain most of her life. I think I get it now. I'm off to exercise again.

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