SURGERY! (How Sad That I’m Pleased)

I am not going to moan about how much pain I am in today, or how slow the NHS system is. I am not going to complain that I have spent 18 months banging my head against a virtual brick wall to get someone to fix me. I am not even going to gripe about having to spend all day today at hospital, after a 9am neurosurgery appointment was late by 20 mins, and then having to wait 1 hour for an unplanned x-ray, having to wait for what I was told would be 2 hours in the planned assessment team, but turned out to be 4 hours. I am certainly not going to bang on about not being to go to work at all having told them I would be in at about 10:30am, or using up all my mobile phone battery reading mumsnet posts and not being able to call my husband to get me (had to use a payphone, how old fashioned is that?).

No. Not moaning. Because, I have FINALLY been put on my neurosurgeon’s waiting list for discectomy. Finally, someone has said they can do something to fix me. YEY! Ok, he has not given me guarantees, but the odds are pretty good though I think – 80/90% chance of an 80/90% improvement in leg pain. But, only a 15% chance of any improvement in my back pain.  That’s not so good, but I was expecting him to tell me something along those lines so not a surprise.

I liked this neurosurgeon. He was pleasing on the eye which is always helpful, and spoke to me, not at me. He was pretty honest, but was interested in my view about it all. I didn’t feel rushed and ignored like I have with so many other health professionals, a number on a list to be spoken to and ticked off/kicked out. I was expecting to be talked over and the decision already made; pleasantly surprised.

The recent MRI shows that the vertebrae of L5 (the top one of the L5/S1 section) is out of alignment, something called Spondylosisthesis - it’s sort of pushed forward over the top of the vertebrae below and this is probably why the disc prolapsed. He doesn’t know why this misalignment happened – could be injury, could just be the way my spine developed/a joint stopped working so well. The disc is now bulging into the nerve space, and there is still an annular tear which may well have been the shower curtain hitting my back (read my previous post about the theory of how the tear got there), but the disc would probably have already been bulging at that point and so an ‘easy’ target.

Mr Neurosurgeon said he would not normally enter into the idea of spinal fusion with a prolapse such as mine and right at this moment he is not intending to do so. He does not believe the success of fusion generally is good enough to put someone my age through that trauma, and that back pain itself can be caused by many many things and so fusing is too random. However, this vertebrae that is not in the right place, along with the fact that the entire rest of my spine is in perfect condition with little sign of degeneration, indicates that there is a large enough coincidence between me having severe localised back pain, my back ‘going’ regularly and the potential instability of the vertebrae. For that reason he is considering fusion.

So I have had some x-rays on my spine with me moving around in different positions (ouch!) to see if the segment is moving at all. Pretty undignified it was too, dressed in the silly gown with a gaping back, and having to reverse into the loo else show my butt to the very full waiting room.  If the segment moves, he will review his decision and consider fusing the vertebrae when he preforms the discectomy, if no movement, he will wait and try the discectomy first. If the back keeps going after the op and recovery (a good amount of time) he will fuse the spine. AND he told me how he would do it. OUCH again.

Recovery is quick for the discectomy – 4 weeks if I’m lucky!  If all goes well, I could be bodyboarding within 8-10 weeks – maybe even this summer!

6 thoughts on “SURGERY! (How Sad That I’m Pleased)

  1. Hello, Congrats on your surgery, I had the exact same one and it was the same part of my spine – I have to say it was they best thing i ever had! Im shocked its took so long for them to sort this out i had mine a few months after my first visit to the docs – it is brilliant no doubt about that, the first few days after where a shock to me as i expected to be perfect but after a week i started to feel human again!! The hardest part was remembering not to do to much as i felt i could do so much more than i should. Good luck with it all xxx

  2. I read this with so much recognition. 13 years ago had 2 small children and a horrendous disc herniation. I couldn’t walk to my front gate. The pain was unbelievable, and after 6 months had a L5S1 discectomy. For 13 years I have had a goodish outcome, working full time most of the time, but always punctuated by episodes of pain and weeks in bed. And it’s only been this good because I see an exercise physiotherapist 2 or 3 times a week and a masseur 1 or 2 times a fortnight. You read that right, keeping me at work costs my family around 200 per week in non claimable medical expenses, without this my pain would be too high to work. Lucky I have a good job right. So I don’t want to rain on your parade but please please please seek a good exercise physiologist first and spend 3 months seeing how much improvement you can get that way. I just got back from casualty tonight with pain like in childbirth again….a discectomy is not a golden solution for all of us. Try a serious targeted remedial exercise professional first I beg of you, you might get more improvement than surgery and you won’t have all the scar tissue problems.
    If you want to know what sort of exercise professional then I seriously suggest looking for an ex army PTI, sounds mad but they are seriously trained in rehab and I have never had any duds this way.

  3. We can’t judge the pros and cons of back surgery. It will be painful for some people and some of feel pain free after surgery. Any which ways patient has to take the chance. Only some of experts can assure you for pain free life after surgery.
    Hope all will be fine with you. Wish you the pain free life.

    God Bless You!!!

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