I think it was gradual. I remember an episode in 2015, i was living in the UK at that time. I was assembling an IKEA drawer preparing for my son's birth, and i felt a sharp incapaciting pain that made me fall to the floor immediately. My wife massaged me for a bit, hot water bag on my back and regular applications of Voltaren/Voltarol whatever basic Diclofenac compuond. I was working at Wiggle, a sports warehouse, doing picking and packing so i still went to work in having some pain, but otherwise controllable if i kept my lower back straight. Never ever had any serious episodes since until 2 days ago, was bending over to pickup a diaper/nappy to change my son and i felt the same kind of pain i felt 2 years before. It was worse this time, as it reached a point where any movement on that area produced pain like i never felt in my life.
When the ambulance came i had to endure all that pain, getting down through the stairs (no lift/elevator) and then on a wheelchair and finally a stretcher to the hospital. All kind of stuff went through my mind, life, work and even i thought that i would have to give up on my hobbies and sell everything. Specially after realizing that normal drugs weren't of any help.
Things started to get better after quite the dose of morphine, which i kid you not left me mumbling the words of Pink Floyd's comfortably numb, which was really how i felt after experiencing so much pain.
I really took a mental note of how important it is to keep mental sanity during these times, which can be difficult. There was a point where this lady, who was really a sweet person, kept annoying me how god would take care of my and all would be fine. At first didn't bother me, but after a while for a very anti-reigion person like me it really became a bit obnoxious.
As with all life experiences, live and learn is the lesson to take. I had my 2018 year resolution of finally getting an IBM Music Feature card for my 386, but getting healthier just jumped ahead. 🤣