My name is Melinda and this is my story.....

Back in August of 1998 I was 33 weeks pregnant and was being taken care of by a mid-wife. During my prenatal visit I told her that I was experiencing low back pain. She advised me to see a chiropractor. That was on a Wednesday. The following day I went to the chiropractor. After the spinal adjustment, she told me to go home and relax and to come back the next day. The next day she again performed a lumbar /spinal adjustment, and when she did, it made a LOUD pop. I jumped off of the table in tears. I told her that it didn't feel right and she told me that I needed to give the adjustment some time to set in and everything would feel better.

By 1:30 that afternoon, the pain in my back was unbelievable. My back felt like it was on fire and the back of my legs were in pain. I called the Family Care Center where I had been receiving my pre-natal care and they connected me to a Tele-Care nurse since there was nobody in the Family Care Center office. The nurse instructed me to go to the ER.

I arrived at the ER around 2:30pm and was immediately sent to the Labor and Delivery floor since I was past 20 weeks gestation. I was seen by a resident doctor in the Labor and Delivery exam room. I had explained to everyone that I had a prior back injury in 1991 which I herniated my two lowest disks and I also pinched a nerve. The resident doctor told me there was nothing she could do for me. She refused a MRI because I was pregnant, even though I told her the pain was the same as my prior back injury. Her excuse was that that she didn't know if a MRI would harm an unborn child. So, I went back home without even any pain medication because the resident doctor didn't like giving drugs to pregnant women unless absolutely necessary.

Saturday the pain got even worse. I called the Labor and Delivery floor at the hospital and spoke with a different resident doctor. She prescribed me Vicodine for the pain over the phone. She then told me to call her back if the pain continued. She never said to come back to the hospital.

By early Sunday morning I had lost control of my bladder, my buttocks were numb, and my genitalia were also numb. I began urinating on myself and I hadn't had a bowel movement in about 3-4 days. I called back up to the Labor and Delivery floor and spoke with the same resident doctor from the earlier phone call. I told her all of the problems that I was having and by then I was also having muscle spasms in my back and the back of my upper legs. She told me that the urinating on myself was normal during pregnancy and that constipation was normal as well. She prescribed me a muscle relaxer and told me to call the Family Care Center first thing Monday morning.

Monday morning at 8:00am I called the Family Care Center, where I had been getting my prenatal visits, and I explained everything that had happened over the weekend. I told them that I had gone to the Labor and Delivery on Friday and that my condition worsened over the weekend, and that I had no control over my bowels, or bladder. I told them that I constantly urinated on myself every time that I stand up. My buttocks and my genitalia were numb and I had pain in my legs. They told me that they would put my chart up and that a nurse would call me back. When they finally called back at about 9:30am, all they told me to do was go to another chiropractor. I refused and told them once again that I was still in pain and that I was urinating on myself. I also told them of my buttox being numb. Finally they called me back again at around 1:30pm. They told me that I needed to go back to the ER.

I went back to the hospital once again. I arrived around 2:30pm and was taken to the Labor and Delivery floor once again. While I was there they emptied my bladder with a catheter since I could no longer urinate on my own. I had retained over 2000cc (that is the equilivance of a two-liter of coke). They performed a sensory needle test in which they poked me with a needle to see if I could feel it. Based on the outcome of the sensory test, I was given a MRI. After the MRI, the staff allowed me to eat. The Neurologist came into my room and he told me that the disk between vertebrae L5 and S1 was pressing against my spine and that I needed emergency surgery. But since I had just eaten, I had to wait another 12 hours. He also told me that my baby wasn't a factor in the decision to have the surgery. He said that my health came first. I was in total shock.

The next day I received emergency surgery on my spine while I was still pregnant. This was done on September 1, 1998. I had a laminectomy of L5/S1. After removing the ruptured disc, they used a piece of hipbone to fuse the two vertebrae together. One of the doctors biggest fears was that my baby wouldn't wake up from the anastasia. But she proved them all wrong. She woke up as soon as I did.

After my surgery the neurologist told me that in his 15 years of experience performing back surgeries that he had only seen about a dozen as severe as mine. I also learned that my bladder would never be the same again. It had stretched beyond belief. While in the hospital I had to learn how to catheterize myself. It was the hardest thing I have ever had to do in my life. I was still numb from my buttocks to the front of my genitals. I had to sit on the bed just to use the bathroom, using a huge mirror just to see. I had to teach myself to use a catheter while sitting in the bathroom. That took some time to do. My stomach was getting larger everyday.

Finally about 3 weeks before I gave birth I had learned how to do it. But nighttime was even worse. I had to set an alarm clock for every hour on the hour to get up and go to the bathroom. I was miserable the last few weeks of my pregnancy. I got no rest at all. Finally the big day came on October 14, 1998. I gave birth to a healthy 8 pound 8 ounce baby girl. She was so beautiful and I had her all natural, no drugs, no nothing. My life has changed so much now. I am still numb even to this day.

In June of 2000, I decided to read my doctors notes and try to understand what condition I had. All the doctors had told me was that I had an incontinent bowel and bladder. I read the report of operation and learned I had CAUDA EQUINA SYNDROME.

Since then I have done some research and I found out that CES is very rare. Not many people have it. There are only about 115 known cases in the world. This has destroyed my life and my family. My friends and family tell me how much I have changed since my surgery. I feel like I have been a victim of a crime. I have been let down by several health care providers. Still to this day I have to catheterize myself. I also get severe bladder infections and I don't know that I have them because I can't feel them. I still have trouble with my bowels as well. I have to take fiber to stay regular. Sometimes I want to throw up my hands and give up. But I know that I do have two beautiful children who love me no matter what is wrong with me. I am also grateful to have a loving husband who supports me and understands what I go through.

Melinda