Sharing My Journey with Spondylolisthesis

Welcome! While I am not a doctor, healthcare provider, nor a specialist of the spine, I am most certainly one very experienced patient! I write about my various chronic health conditions and medical adventures, or rather, my struggles, so that I may share my gained knowledge and personal experiences with all of those whom seek help, support, information, resources, along with facts and opinions, in regard to the spine condition Spondylolisthesis. At the time I was diagnosed, the internet was in its infancy, which made it a challenge to find additional information on the condition, let alone connect with those who had already taken the long journey of which I was just beginning. My hope has been, and continues to be, that through the power of the internet, and sites like Blogspot, that I may be able to reach others facing similar circumstance. By sharing my story, knowledge, research and continual experiences, I hope to offer a little guidance, and bring some comfort and empowerment where I had none. This condition, especially when severe, can certainly turn one's life upside down, and I know first hand that proceeding blindly into such a situation can be very overwhelming, painful and scary. If you have any questions or comments, and would like to contact my directly, please check out my Blogger Profile or email You may also contact me by way of my profile here and/or submit a comment at the end of each post.

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Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Spondylolisthesis: My Story ... Round One

Between the ages of 13 and 14 years old I began to experience pain beyond comprehension. I spent a great majority of my time pretending that my back didn't pulsate in pain, that strange shooting dagger like sensations didn't throw down my legs, and that my body hadn't come to look deformed in the trunk region, with the actual Sacrum protruding out approximately an inch from my low back. I was entering my teenage years and everyone else was fine, so why shouldn't I be? Besides, I had been to a number of doctors starting around the age of 10 or 11, all of whom said I didn't have a problem ... no cause for pain. So, it must be in my imagination, I thought ... Or rather, everyone must feel this way, right? Wrong. After playing many sports throughout my childhood, all of which I loved and enjoyed dearly, I had come to a point at the age of 12 where I could no longer take it, I simply could not run, move and interact in the same fashion that I had always known. Mind you, at this point I complained rarely, as once again, the doctors, the authority figures of my health and body, said that I was just fine. Not one made mention of a spinal deformity becoming so severe that it may ultimately take away my ability to walk, even to function and survive in the future, should there be no intervention or treatment. I didn't want to create problems ... I didn't want to be so different that my world would be flipped upside down for the rest of my life. But, I knew that there was something terribly wrong and that I had to voice my fears and concerns once more to both my parents and doctors.

On a weekday after one of my first days in high school, I was sitting in my father's living room, I gulped and sweated in silence, trying to figure out a good way to show him the ever increasing lump on my back and share the pain that I was in. I had already sporadically displayed minor amounts of discomfort in my parents' presence, especially after quitting all sports, but nothing that would truly display and outline the extreme fear, pain and uphill battle we were all about to face. I cannot recall the details, just the look on my dad's face when I lifted my shirt to show him the painful protrusion. Just like my skin appeared for that last year before my surgeries, his face went a pale grayish green and I knew the severity of the situation. I began to cry, tears flowing from my face faster then I could stop them, and I finally let go. He held me in his arms and began calling people for immediate appointments. Finally, my parents knew what I knew, and that this was no figment of my imagination, not a ploy to gain attention or get out of playing sports, as the doctors had once suggested. This was real ... extremely real. And it had to be addressed with emergency speed.

I was sent to several doctors in my city, all of whom, thankfully, referred me on to the bigger and better specialists in the Orthopedic field. I had Spondylolisthesis at a degree that was so severe it made the doctors both excited and fearful. In all actuality, due to the degree of slip, my spine was labeled with the condition Spondyloptosis, as it was beyond that of a grade 5, the most severe slip on the Spondylolisthesis grading range. My spine at the L5 had not only slipped from the vertebra below, but it had collapsed, fallen to a degree of more than 3 inches, so that the L5 was actually sitting parallel with my S1 or my Sacrum. The severity of the situation was such that a surgery, or rather, series of surgeries and procedures, must be scheduled within the next year, but preferably, the next six months.

Thursday, September 2, 2010


Spondylolisthesis is a spinal condition in which one of the vertebra (usually the lower Lumbar region & Sacrum) slips forward from the vertebra below. Spondylo means spine, and the word listhesis, literally means to slip. While this condition is actually fairly common in general the population, it is rare for the condition to slip to a degree which is great enough to create problems. Physicians and the medical community label the varying degrees of slippage, from least to most severe, as grades 1 through 5. A complete slip, beyond that of a "grade 5," where the vertebra no longer sits on the respective vertebra below, is called Spondyloptosis. This condition can occur at any vertebra level, but is more commonly seen in the lumbar region of the spine. This is the area in which I experienced my Spondyloptosis. I am now considered a grade 5 Spondylolisthesis following a series of surgeries, procedures, a full body cast and extended therapies. My spine is fused from the S1 (Sacrum) through the L5 & L4 (Lumbar).

There are a number of debated "fixes" (surgeries/procedures) for Spondylolisthesis, but due to the infrequency of the condition becoming severe enough to require surgery, they are more experimental than common practice, in my opinion. I am not a doctor, nor am I an expert on this condition, that is, if you consider an "expert" as someone who has specialty credentials in the medical field. Rather, I am simply an individual whom has dealt with this condition first hand for my entire adult life, not to mention the majority of my juvenile years as well. My hope for this page on Spondylolisthesis is to utilize the power of the internet in order to reach as many individuals, in all age groups, who may be dealing with this condition in their life. Whether the condition is labeled at a grade 1, or a case more severe, I hope that my personal experience, insight, and research with regard to the spinal abnormality, may help as many individuals as possible. This condition tends to be less well known than other conditions and diseases, and due to this fact I found it difficult to connect with any fellow sufferer's during my painful, tough, and life altering struggle with this extremely painful condition since my initial diagnosis, I hope to create new dialog and connections within the orthopedic community.

As I mentioned previously, there are several treatments for this condition, which are ultimately determined by the grade level found in any given patient. I believe that it is highly important for anyone whom faces decisions regarding this type of serious medical intervention be able to obtain as much information as possible prior to moving forward with any treatment plan. My recommendation is to thoroughly researching the condition itself, the various surgical and non-surgical options, statistical outcomes, possible side affects, and even the prospective physicians whom specialize in this very unique condition, as all of these components are essential when it comes to advocating for yourself as a patient with Spondylolisthesis. Not only are there several more commonly practiced surgical and medical procedures offered as treatment, but there are also a few alternative options that may work well from both an intervention standpoint in addition to that of preventative measures. The better bet is seeking a combination of treatments, which may result in a more rounded and promising future for a patient. 

Treatment is often determined by the severity, but even in the most severe cases, there are a few options that may not be presented or addressed by a provider, therefore limiting options, and resulting in a rush for the operating table. Now don't get me wrong, I am not opposed to surgical intervention, as my condition was very severe, and without immediate intervention, my overall quality of life would have been bleak, even fatal. I would also like to note, that like many surgeries, whether it be on your spine or your heart, surgical intervention may assist in increasing the overall quality of life, but it rarely, if ever, makes one "normal" again, nor "fixes" the health issues completely. This is a myth. There will always be a sort of "life long up-keep," which is required to assist in allowing your body to function in the best way possible, in a less than normal state. Again, this is my opinion, which is based simply upon my personal experiences, observations, and research.

I hope that anyone who may be just learning of this condition (parents who are educating themselves with regards to their child's recently diagnosed condition, any adult that has just been diagnosed, and is seeking information, resources, options and help, along with those veteran Spondylolisthesis sufferers), may take time to research the condition to the best of their ability, ask many questions, thoroughly investigate all options that may be available (both western medicine and alternative health care), and feel free to contact me with any questions, advice, stories, or anything else that may be prevalent to the goal of assisting each other in making the pain, along with our general quality of life, a little better.

This condition is a life long presence and battle. It can be very scary, painful, and all around difficult. I will share my timeline from my earliest pain and symptoms, to my surgeries, and ultimately, my current struggles. I pray that this page may help both those facing a Spondylolisthesis diagnosis, along with anyone whom finds themselves seeking support for a family member or friend. Even if I only manage to reach just one person struggling to stay afloat in this overwhelming process, I will be grateful that my painful experience was able to make another's less frightening and isolating. I know that there are others out there, and I cannot allow those whom are facing the same daunting unknown, struggle through the darkness, when I have already walked the journey.

Please feel free to comment ...

About Me

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My interest for all things related to health & illness arises from my own struggles with chronic health conditions. I have found it most therapeutic & empowering to write about my many experiences within this realm. Through education, my own research, and my ongoing personal challenges, I am teaching myself how to become my own best advocate. To learn more about me, please see the page entitled "About Cat" located at the top of the page. If you have any questions or comments, you are welcome to contact me through the "about" section listed above, or email me at Please note that this address is also linked through my profiles. Blessings of health, energy and peace.

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