I Broke My Butt…Sort of…

In my lifetime, I have….acquired?…many an injury to myself by doing something I probably shouldn’t have been doing. Running through the house barefoot and kicking my toe on the dresser leg which ended up requiring surgery and two pins in that toe comes to mind as my most recent big mishap. But I think I may have topped that one.

On July 2nd, I went roller skating on the path that goes from Manhattan beach down to Hermosa beach and back. I’ve walked this a million times but I’ve never roller skated it. Since it was a friend’s birthday, another friend and I thought it would be fun to take the birthday girl (who recently moved here from Seattle) to enjoy our sunny beaches and partake in her new hobby of roller skating. The birthday girl has been practicing a bunch so she’s very comfortable on skates. It’s been a couple of years since I’ve skated myself but it’s always been a thing I pick up quickly once I get back on them. My other friend, however, hadn’t skated in 20 years so she needed a lot more time to get comfortable skating again. We all took our time, prepared for the inevitable falls by wearing elbow, wrist, and knee pads, and headed down the path.

Our plan was to stop for birthday brunch at an outdoor cafe I’ve been to pretty much every time I do the walk down there. We had succeeded in making it through the first part of our skating experience completely unscathed….until we didn’t. I was barely rolling when my not-so-sure-footed friend announced “I’m going down!” as she lost her balance and landed safely on her side. However, on her way down, I happened to be in front of her and when her legs shot out from under her, she accidentally kicked my right skate out from under me so fast that I didn’t have time to react. It was just *kick* and I landed full-force down on my right butt cheek. It hurt so bad and happened so quickly that I had to just sit there for a minute to process how this unbearable pain suddenly happened.

With the help of a nearby vendor who saw the whole thing happen, I got back up on my feet, and so did my friend. My fall was so hard that I wasn’t sure if the impact or the pain was what caused me to feel nauseous for 20 minutes. Honestly, I think it may have been both.

We ate our brunch and still had to skate all the way back to my car (this route is about 7 miles total) which was incredibly painful for me for about 5 minutes but once the blood started pumping through my painful butt cheek, I started to feel better. When we got back to my car, we all stretched, got in, and I drove us home. When we got to my house, my butt was killing me. I iced it and took Aleve, and figured I’d be better by morning. What I woke up to was a giant, grape jelly colored bruise the size of the palm of my hand on my right butt cheek and that side was visibly swollen, but otherwise I felt ok.

It took 2 weeks for that bruise and swelling to go away and once it did, I developed a new pain down my left leg. It felt like cramping muscles, so I spent the next 2 weeks trying to carefully stretch and use a foam roller to get my leg to relax. Weird pains started happening in my sacrum and it worried me so I went to my orthopedist on August 2nd, where he took X-rays and determined nothing was broken, it was just sciatic nerve pain. He prescribed 6 days worth of steroids to reduce the inflammation and recommended physical therapy to open up the vertebrae where the sciatic nerve connects (L4.) I felt a tiny bit of relief on the first and second day on steroids but the pain was still there, and physical therapy wasn’t going to start until August 9th.

The morning of August 9th, just two days after finishing the steroids, I was still in bed when I heard a loud crash in my kitchen (that’s a whole other story I’ll share another time) and in my panic at that sound, I launched out of bed to see if everything was ok. I made it about 6 steps when suddenly I couldn’t put any weight on my left leg, and the left side of my back was completely spazzed. I figured I tweaked myself with the way I jumped out of bed and hopefully just some gentle stretching would make it better.


That night, I did not sleep. Instead, I spent the entire night writhing in pain, unable to get comfortable in any position except being tucked into a ball face down with my butt slightly elevated because it was opening up my low back and sacrum, which took all the pressure off of it. The next morning, I called my orthopedist to ask about getting an MRI because the sciatic nerve pain was still awful, but now I also have numbness in my calf, the top of my foot, and the bottom of my left toe. My ortho was out for the week and the other doctors in that office were fully booked, but they have a second office in another nearby city where one of the orthopedists there could see me. I took that same day appointment and drove myself out there while sitting on a donut pillow to ease the pain.

The orthopedist was able to access my X-rays since the offices share that stuff. He darkened my X-ray a bit and could see compression in L4 and L5 (lower lumbar) and after examination, prescribed me some meds to calm the nerves, meds for pain, and meds for the muscle spasm in my back, and then ordered an MRI to be done asap. The MRI place suggested I take all my meds before coming in because they suspected me needing to lay on my back was going to cause a lot of discomfort, so I had a friend drive me to and from the appointment so my drugged up self could get this done.

I have had a few MRI’s done over the years but this was the first time I had to have them stop 3 TIMES because I couldn’t handle my pain, even on all those drugs. The 15 min procedure ended up taking closer to half an hour because of all of my stops. I held back tears as I met my friend back in the waiting room to get the images on CD for my orthopedist appointment this past Friday.

So….um….it’s about how I broke my butt.

Well, technically I didn’t break my butt. What I did do was have an X-ray on august 2nd that showed compression, and then I had an MRI on August 17th that showed that compression had turned into a full-blown severely herniated disc that is bulging into my spinal column and pinching a bunch of nerves, which is why I have the numbness in my leg and foot.

So anyway, this is my very long-winded way of saying this 52 year old woman who fell while roller skating now has to have back surgery this week to get that pressure off the nerves before it causes permanent damage. Super.

But hey, at least I didn’t jack myself up running through my house and kicking furniture.

And because I am on Team Gross and always want to see my insides, here’s an MRI image where you can see my vertebrae, with healthy discs in between, and then….darkness where a healthy disc *should* be but instead, it’s smooshed and bulging inward. Apparently this is a very quick procedure with a small incision that’s stitched from the inside and superglued on the outside and heals in about a week to 10 days, with 6 weeks of don’t lift anything heavy afterward. Thanks, modern medicine!


20 thoughts on “I Broke My Butt…Sort of…

    1. Anne I feel your pain, I had an L5 discectomy in August 2019. It’s a quick procedure (normally 24 hours in hospital) and as long as you are careful with yourself you should recover very quickly.
      Be kind to yourself x x x

  1. Oh wow, I hope the surgery goes well and you heal up quick. My ex-wife bruised and/or broke her tail bone. You don’t realize how much the human body is all connected until you hurt a part of it really bad. Good luck and speedy recovery.

    1. Ouch! My tailbone was a little uncomfortable and at some point after surgery, I was stretching and kind of tucked my pelvis and I felt a little adjustment at the end of my tailbone. I guess that part corrected itself on its own!

  2. Hi. So sorry you have to go through this much pain. You are not alone though in your tendency to get injured. It is a standing joke in our family how often I injure myself…..especially my feet and toes.

    I will be thinking of you. Be good to yourself and don’t push to recover to quickly. You are a lovely person and deserve the best.

    1. Thank you. It’s been 5 weeks since I had surgery and I think today is the first day I have the closest to normal in quite some time. One more week of healing and then I can start physical therapy. Looking forward to getting strong again because WOW have I lost all of my muscle mass.

  3. I had to have an L4-L5 fusion five weeks ago, but similar experience, minimally invasive surgery (all things considered), slightly longer full recovery (Two bones have to become one), but in the meantime, I’m functional and pain free!

    I hope your surgery is smooth and your recovery is fast and complete!

  4. Oh Anne, that sounds so painful and I hope you get the relief you need from the surgery. Sending you the very warmest of wishes from over here in England. On a lighter note, your mentioning where you were when you fell has taken me back to my honeymoon in 1999 – we were going to go to Scotland, but ended up in Los Angeles instead! We were invited to stay with a lady I’d been talking to online, who lived in Redondo Beach, and on our first day there we went to Hermosa Beach and had breakfast on the seafront. It was my first time overseas, so quite an adventure to fly from England to LA as my first plane ride! Sorry, I’m waffling. Take very good care, and so hope you’re back to full strength very soon! xx

  5. Anne, I’m so sorry to hear this! No back surgery is “not a big deal”, but I’m sure you will bounce back the way you always do. I inadvertently tried to remove my left little toe a few weeks ago and immediately thought of you. In this one way, and only this one way, we are very similar.

    Please feel better soon and I hope to see you next March for the Cruise.

    Love, Laurie

    1. I’m feeling a lot better post-surgery but I know it’s going to take more time before I feel back to my old self. I hope your toe is ok!

      We have been invited to the next cruise so fingers crossed all works out so we can be there!

  6. Aw man! I remember falling on my tailbone *hard* while rollerblading once, and that was highly uncomfortable…I can’t even imagine how bad your fall must have felt :/ And then you had to skate all the way back, yikes.

    I hope you have a smooth and speedy recovery!

  7. I remember you posting pictures roller skating. My immediate thought was no one had on helmets and I was worried someone would fall & hurt their head. I guess I was worried about the wrong end? I’m not even sure there is any type of safety gear that would have worked for what happened to you. You always give us the best stories-I just wish you weren’t injured in some of them. I love your attitude about it though. You know what will make people laugh (even if we’re also moaning in sympathy).

    1. I’m comfortable on skates and even though I did not hit my head when my friend knocked my skate out from under me on her way down, I did come home and order a cute helmet that matches my elbow and knee pads. I’m just not sure I’ll ever be able to skate again after this injury. 🙁

  8. Oh geez! I was planning on getting some roller skates because it’s something I wanted to get back into but now I think not so much, being 64 and all!

  9. Oh my freakin gosh. That sucks! Heal well. I took my kids ice skating not too long ago and got hit by another kid from behind and suddenly found myself on the ground. I broke my wrist with that one.

    1. Yikes! Sometimes I forget we may feel comfortable in what we are doing, it’s the people around us that we have to watch out for.

  10. I had similar on 2015. Most days, it’s all good, but sometimes I still get the top of foot cramp, or outer edge of calf numbness. Your treatment was sooner than mine, but even if you have some residual issues after PT, know it keeps getting better, and you’ll adapt and recover better than you might think.

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