Part One: That Time I Had Emergency Back Surgery

I’ve referenced “that time I had to get emergency back surgery” a few times on my blog, but have never really told the whole story. And people like stories, right? Well here you go. =) Please forgive me because this ended up being WAY longer than I anticipated, so I’m breaking it up into two posts and will post the rest of the story soon!

Disclaimer: I am certainly not a medical professional, so take everything below with a grain of salt! This is just my personal experience of what I went through and what I recall from it.

Part One

I can’t remember exactly when it started, but throughout college, I suffered from sciatic pain. Your sciatic nerve is the one that runs from your lower back down either leg to your ankle, and mine was always on my left side.


Sometimes I’d just have a dull pain in my lower back, and other times the pain would shoot all the way down to my leg to my ankle and be much more uncomfortable. When it would get really bad, I’d go to a chiropractor and have them do electric stimulation (those suction cups that make your muscles tense up and release) and it provided a lot of relief. The pain was never constant – it was very come and go – and sometimes it would disappear for months at a time and I’d completely forget about it.

This all changed in September 2006.

I was working at my first “real” job after college at a place called Georgetown Learning Center (very similar to a Sylvan’s Learning Center) to offer tutoring to high school kids on all different subjects.  Towards the end of the torturous training (they literally made us take the SATs and SAT IIs for every subject we were going to be tutoring), my sciatica started to flare up worse than it ever had before. I was having trouble sitting down for any length of time and the pain just got more and more unbearable by the day.

I remember it coming to a point the Friday before Labor Day in 2006. I was devastated to be making this type of impression at my first job and was crying to my supervisor explaining how terrible the pain was and how lame I felt for needing to go home. He assured me everything would be OK and sent me home to take care of myself.

I went home that day, tears streaming down my face from the pain of driving my stick shift car. When I got home and dragged myself up the two flights of stairs to my apartment, I collapsed into bed and was honestly taken aback at how incapacitated I was.

I was just 22 years old, barely even overweight at this point since I’d lost a lot of weight doing Atkin’s, and considered myself pretty healthy overall.

How can this be happening to me?

How can I be in so much pain that all I can do was lay in bed in tears?

What am I not doing that I should be to make it better?

Despite these thoughts running through my head, I somehow drifted off to sleep, but then everything changed.

The next morning, I woke up and literally couldn’t get out of bed.

To be continued…

Tell me.. what was your first job out of high school/college?

21 Comments on Part One: That Time I Had Emergency Back Surgery

  1. Holly @ The Runny Egg
    August 31, 2011 at 9:03 am (9 years ago)

    Beth how scary!

    My first job out of college was actually a weight loss counselor for Jenny Craig — I’d do the weekly consultations and sales presentations for new clients. I loved my coworkers but the work itself was so dull.

  2. Jennifer
    August 31, 2011 at 9:35 am (9 years ago)

    Whoa, that is scary! Interested to hear the rest.

    My first job out of college I was a bank examiner. Best.Job.Ever!! I still miss it. I’m pretty sure if I was still there, the banks wouldn’t be in the mess they are in today (snort). 😉

  3. Cait @ Beyond Bananas
    August 31, 2011 at 10:06 am (9 years ago)

    LIke real job? I was a math tutor for 5 months before I got my real teacher job.

    Back problems can be scary. One of my best friends woke up one more with the same problem and he had to have emergency back surgery too!

  4. Amanda @ Running On Waffles
    August 31, 2011 at 10:35 am (9 years ago)

    Wow…I’m really interested to hear how this turned out! About 14 weeks ago I developed lower back pain at work (hunching over a microscope all day isn’t exactly good for your back), and I’m still dealing with it. I don’t have the pain down the back of my legs, so it definitely isn’t affecting any of my spinal nerves and is unlikely a vertebrae problem. They actually think it’s a problem with the alignment of my spinal cord and hip bones. I know that feeling of only being able to lay day, feeling helpless, and like there’s something you should be doing to make the situation better but you have no idea what. It’s overwhelming. At it’s worst, my back was so bad I looked like a question mark and walked around like Quasimodo.

    Right after college I started graduate school (where I still am) but the summer in between programs I worked at a law firm in DC as a file clerk. It was an interesting job and I enjoyed a lot of the work I was doing, but it was also a really good way to find out that I definitely don’t want to be a lawyer!

  5. Grace
    August 31, 2011 at 10:45 am (9 years ago)

    I’m interested in your story too. My fiance’ has lower back problems too – many doctors told him it was sciatica, but it’s beginning to not look like that’s the case.

    First job out of college was just as a 411 operator. I had moved back to my hometown, where there were absolutely no jobs, so I was desperate. I didn’t last very long – they had us split up our days – something like 6 to 10am then coming back to work a night shift from 6 to 10pm. I can’t remember the exact hours, but it was a real pain in the *@%, so I had to get another job asap.

  6. My Blonde Moments
    August 31, 2011 at 11:13 am (9 years ago)

    My first job out of college was working for Kaplan Test Prep doing teaching/tutoring for SAT/ACT and then as their Marketing Manager. How funny we had almost identical first jobs! And yes, I had to take the darn tests, too. I think it’s a way to see who will last through the torture haha.

  7. Ash @ Good Taste Healthy Me
    August 31, 2011 at 11:23 am (9 years ago)

    Wow, this is crazy!

    My first job was where I am now. I’m in product development at a small company and it rocks!

  8. Jamie
    August 31, 2011 at 12:24 pm (9 years ago)

    My first job after college was in a daycare center. Not what I had planned but I also didn’t plan on getting pregnant my senior year. I took it because they offered me free daycare and I wanted to be close to my baby for a while longer. It worked out well in the short term, I was able to breast feed and got to spend more time with him than I would have otherwise.

  9. Mary (A Merry Life)
    August 31, 2011 at 2:32 pm (9 years ago)

    Oh wow! That had to be scary. I can’t wait to hear how the rest of the story goes, although I’m glad to know you are healthy now and it at least has a happy ending. 🙂

  10. Lisa
    August 31, 2011 at 3:38 pm (9 years ago)

    This is awful. 🙁 My boyfriend went through something similar this year. For over 4 months he had excruciating back pain–I think what you went through. Seeing it first hand was really hard. I couldn’t do anything to take away his pain!

  11. Sarah
    August 31, 2011 at 6:28 pm (9 years ago)

    Oh my goodness!! I hope your back is doing better now. My sister had a tumor on her spinal cord and had three surgeries so I know back injuries/surgeries are no joke!

    My first job after college was as a geospatial analyst (I make maps) for a defense contractor and I’m still with the same company (a whopping three years).

  12. Marlena
    August 31, 2011 at 6:48 pm (9 years ago)

    Back problems are no joke! I feel for anyone who suffers from them.

    My 1st job outta high school was working at Lane Bryant. I worked there all throughout college. I loved all the clothes & the discounts we’d get!! But now I’m too small to work or shop there. 😉

  13. Stacy @ Every Little Thing
    August 31, 2011 at 7:36 pm (9 years ago)

    I’m interested in hearing what happens – I believe I have sciatic pain. It flairs up about twice a year, usually when I’m inactive for extended periods (typically over Christmas break when I do a lot of sitting, eating, and no exercising). The more active I am, the longer I have between flair ups. I also have some lower back pain, especially in the mornings.

    Anyway, first job outside of college was summer camp assistant director at the YMCA in New Mexico! I was only there for the summer so it was a great temp job. I loved it!

  14. Sara
    August 31, 2011 at 8:31 pm (9 years ago)

    Oh my gosh! This reminds me of the time I had to go to my principal and beg to go home and miss our “Meet the Teacher Night” while crying because I was in so much pain…I ended up having emergency surgery the very next day to remove a staph infection that had gone un/misdiagnosed for two months. I’m definitely interested to hear what happened next!

    And my first job out of college is the same one I have now – I’ve been teaching at the same school since they hired me the summer after I graduated. This is my eighth year!

  15. Laura
    August 31, 2011 at 8:41 pm (9 years ago)

    I want to read the rest of your story…

    My first job after college was working at a college. I worked at the office of student activities advising student groups, event planning and even teaching a class. It was great experience and I ended up moving to NYC and working at NYU for a few years.

  16. Amanda
    August 31, 2011 at 10:50 pm (9 years ago)

    That really reminds me of the back issues I used to have. My back would totally go out on me and I couldn’t stand straight, I couldn’t lay down, I couldn’t sit, etc without extreme pain. When my back when ‘out’ it would come on so fast. Other times I just had the dull pain you explained. I haven’t had that for years but that could be because of my breast reduction and because I have been working out since 2010. Not really sure.

    My first real job I worked at Conseco Finance as a receptionist.

  17. christine
    September 1, 2011 at 2:33 pm (9 years ago)

    i remember when you had surgery.. good thing its behind you now!

    i’m still doing the same job i was doing out of college (sort of)… just 6 relocations later. and a few raises. but its all the same for the most part.

  18. Allison
    September 2, 2011 at 2:20 pm (9 years ago)

    That sounds awful :/

    My first job was life guarding at our country club… It was the easiest job! I regret ever complaining about sitting outside, in the sun, by the pool- I’d do that any day now!


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