Junior Elizabeth Pundmann Suffers from Herniated Disks in her Back

Credit to Riley Witherbee

By Shivani Bondada, North Star Reporter

Life is unpredictable. In one second, one day or one year anything can happen in a person’s life. Around the start of this school year, junior Elizabeth Pundmann’s life instantly turned upside down.

Elizabeth started to experience sudden, severe back pain during her tennis season. Her back pain was caused by two herniated disks in her lower back. A herniated disk is when a disk between the vertebrae slips out and irritates a nearby nerve. She experiences pain in her leg because of the disk pinching the nerve that is connected to her leg.

“One day, I could be having shooting pain down my entire leg,” Elizabeth said. “Another day it could just be throbbing and then other days, it’ll feel like my leg feels 20 pounds heavier than the other one.”

Her bothersome back caused her to visit all sorts of doctors, beginning with an orthopedic doctor, next a neurosurgeon, afterward to a pain management doctor and finally a physical therapist. Her physical therapist helps her by giving her stretches and her pain management doctor gives her injections in her back.

“My physical therapy stretches help and I just need to be relaxing,” Elizabeth said. “I can’t be mobile or anything which aggravates my back a lot.”

Elizabeth wasn’t able to do everything she wanted. The herniated disks disturbed every part of her life such as social, health and education. Elizabeth misses school every other week to go to her pain management doctor.

“I couldn’t really go out with my friends,” Elizabeth said. “I couldn’t walk at school, I couldn’t sit through a class period, I couldn’t sleep and I wasn’t really able to enjoy my daily life.”

Elizabeth told her family about her daily discomfort after receiving information about her condition from her doctors. Her parents and siblings were in complete shock after discovering her condition was very rare for someone of her age.

“I was upset and in shock to hear about it because we both did not think it was something this serious,” Elizabeth’s mother Irene Pundmann said.

It’s been more than six months since Elizabeth developed herniated disks. Every day she is fighting through the pain. Trying to get rid of the herniated disks by avoiding surgery, she continues to go to her physical therapist and her pain management doctor. Throughout her experience, Elizabeth learned valuable life lessons about enduring pain.

“[I learned] not to take your health for granted or not take your physical well-being for granted,” Elizabeth said. “I really wish I would have taken more  for granted whenever I wasn’t in pain because now I don’t know what it’s like to go a day without it.”