Nancy Woznuck

First post: Mar 10, 2021 Latest post: Feb 23, 2022
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In January of 2020 while boarding a plane, I hurt my knee. While it seemed to be getting better, I noticed some pain in my left leg. In March I noticed that my gate had to change to accommodate the pain in my left leg and knee. And of course Covid hit and everything shut down so I hit the pavement for my daily cardio. As time went on I began tripping. I thought it was because I was clumsy and blamed it on the uneven concrete. All the while the pain in my left leg and knee continued to get worse. In May I tripped and broke my big toe. My primary care physician confirmed the break with X-rays and after hearing my story told me it sounded like I had developed drop foot. Because of that, he put me in a full boot to protect me from tripping again. He also referred me to a knee orthopedic. 

After visiting the orthopedic for my knee, he felt my pain and the cause of my foot drop was coming from my lower back. An MRI and an EMG confirmed that my leg and knee pain as well as my foot drop were coming from my L4/L5. I underwent back injections and tried physical therapy. I was also fitted for an AFO, an orthotic to help me walk without my foot dragging. Through all of this, the pain continued to get worse and I was also starting to feel pain in my right leg, however, ironically never in my back. After another fall where I broke the same toe again, I was referred to a Texas Back Institute surgeon. She ordered more back injections which proved to be unsuccessful. 

In September I underwent a minimally invasive procedure called laminectomy. Immediately following the surgery I was unable to walk without the use of a walker. I still had the pain and it seemed to be getting worse. At my two week checkup with the surgeon, I was referred to a neurologist. After several visits with him and another EMG, he diagnosed me with permanent nerve damage at L4/L5 or chronic radiculopathy. He prescribed medication to help with the pain and sent me home. 

In December I had an MRI on my brain to rule out MS or a stroke. I also had another MRI on my lower back to make sure that there was nothing else going on. Everything checked out great with both. I had my final visit with my surgeon who suggested that if I wasn't better at the beginning of the year, I should reach out to someone at UT Southwestern. From October to January I was doing physical therapy and trying to work through the pain. In my mind, I knew my physical body was declining but everyone in my circle was continuing to cheer me on. Because of the great kindness of a neighbor, I received a referral to a neuromuscular specialist at UT Southwestern and had my first visit there in January. 

In February, I was finally diagnosed with ALS. While this news came as a complete shock to my family, deep down I already knew.