Micro-Discectomy: 6 Weeks After

I am making steady progress recovering from my micro-discectomy, which took place 6 weeks ago now. The scar has healed well, I am mostly standing straighter and the sciatic pain in my left leg has continued to improve significantly. The decision not to decompress the right side of my L5/S1 lumbar disc has not gone unnoticed though; there is pain on my right side. I am at this stage unclear if this pain was always there but not noticeable due to extent of my left sided pain, or if this has increased. I personally feel like it has increased a little, and there has been the odd day where the progression of pain has followed a similar pattern as that of my left leg, but it’s not continuous so I shan’t complain (much). I have had a couple of frightening days, in particular one evening where my left leg started hurting in exactly the same way as it had on my bad days prior to the micro-disctectomy; my calf became sore, my ankle tightened and my foot went numb and fuzzy, my entire leg became weak, with my hip feeling like it would snap. An odd and altered sensation in my groin area meant I almost went to A&E and I felt scared it had prolapsed again. But, after about 2 hours of panic, and a reasonable sleep, it felt better in the morning.

My back still ‘pops’ though. I have had several horrible moments when I have bent over ever so slightly, reaching forward or something similar and found myself stuck, having to hold on to something to get myself straight again. I have had several scary moments when I have bent down using my legs to take the wait as I have been told to do, to find that my back has wobbled on the way down and I am stuck in that position. I have also had some frightening moments where my back has completely given way and I have found my legs having to collapse due to the pain and found myself stuck on the floor. In between these more serious moments (probably once a day) I am getting many times when my back ‘pops’, or grinds, I can feel something moving. I suspect this has always happened, but prior to my micro-discectomy, the movement of my vertebrae would result in my disc being pushed out more and hitting my sciatic nerve, with a cascading effect of inflammation, pain, and a period of bed rest. Now, I am just trying to ignore it.

I am disappointed to note that I do not get to see the neurosurgeon for 3 MONTHS! So, someone cuts open my spine, pulls and prods me around near my spinal cord and nerve bundles, closes me up, sends me home and I see no-one for 3 MONTHS! I had been told by the Registrar who discharged me that my neurosurgeon would see me in 6 weeks. My GP thought I would be seen in 6 weeks. Yet, having not received an appointment by 5 weeks, I have been informed by the appointments team and the Neurosurgeon‘s secretary (curtly) that 3 months unless there is a clinical need to see him earlier. My GP also said that he has received no report regarding my surgery and so, had I not shown him my lovely scar he would never have known! It’s a shame as my continued back going means that when I am on my own I have to continue taking my crutch in case I hit an uneven patch. I have to take it anywhere there might be uneven surface as anything other than flat office floors etc have my back collapsing. It’s annoying more than painful; although it is painful too, it’s still nothing compared to how much pain I was in before my micro-discectomy, due to sciatic pain.

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5 thoughts on “Micro-Discectomy: 6 Weeks After

  1. Sounds like there is some improvement. I insisted I saw the neurosurgeon earlier than 3 months (as I was paying) and to be honest it wasn’t worth it. He just said ‘give it time, you expect too much’! I was still walking with my poles when going a long way after 6 weeks. My back definitely still grinds lots even now. 6 weeks is early days in terms of looking to be post op pain free. Keep looking after your back and give yourself time xxxx

  2. Hello, I am very pleased to hear you have had your surgery. It is still such early days and I agree that the 6 week check is pretty much useless as everything will still be inflamed at this point. My GP also had no record of my procedure and in fact when I went for my 6 wk check the surgeon thought I was there to discuss a possible discectomy not one that had already happened. I am surprised you’ve been swimming?! I was told that the first 14 weeks were critical and to not do any exercise other than walking as these first few months are when you are most likely to prolapse again.
    I’m 10 months on from my discectomy and I only started physio/pilates 4 months ago and swimming last month, I have been v cautious though as my back has flared every single time I’ve done any exercise. My physio said it is to be expected as I was barely walking for a year and the muscles had understandably wasted away quite a lot, you have to build them up again and teach them to support your back. My back is mostly ok now although it has ‘gone’ twice, both times when I did too much and forgot to focus when standing up. Both times I saw my osteopath who was able to re-align me and I rested for a few days. Scared the shit out of me though. I was just so elated to feel somewhat ‘normal’ that I became complacent when actually my spine doesn’t work without some mindfulness on my part. The surgery truly was life changing for me and I am so grateful. I have some nerve damage in 1 leg which is pretty numb and doesn’t seem to be returning and I get some foot pain after about 40 mins walking but compared to the sheer soul destroying agony that came before I can live with that! I do get a bit of a pang when I think about never running again but then I remind myself that I spent a year barely able to walk and I couldn’t bear to go back to that EVER. I am learning to accept my limitations and try not to let them get to me as I know how much worse they could be, the memory of that pain has not faded at all and every time I walk down the road I say to myself – look at you taking multiple steps without stopping and weeping in agony.
    Oh and i also had a few episodes of severe leg pain in the few weeks after which my Dr told me was everything trying to settle down.
    I wish you well in your continued recovery, I am so happy to hear your pain has reduced.
    X

    • I got given a back surgery leaflet from the hospital with guidance and info about how to manage/timescales etc, and it said that swimming is ok after around 3 weeks! I thought I was being gentle. I do have pain afterwards, but guessed this was normal and if the guidance says 3 weeks and I am at 5-6 then surely that’s to be expected? I am not like going nuts and doing 10 lengths, and going really slowly, but, I feel like I got to do stuff now. I am not at work yet and going a bit stir crazy! And, I am still in a little pain most of the time, and like you exercise causes a flare up, but swimming is pain free as long as I avoid breaststroke and I like being completely pain free. But, I will take heed to what you are saying, and slow it down some more!
      I keep seeing runners everywhere, sweaty, red faced, fit, and I so want to run! I know that’s not going to happen, I can’t even walk fast ;) I have accepted that I won’t kayak or bodyboard this year though. Next year is my aim. Thank you for responding and so pleased to hear things are feeling better for you xxx

  3. Hi, I was sent home with no information at all, it’s actually quite frightening how greatly the advice varies! Everyone seems to have vastly differing opinions and advice. I guess we have to just pick and choose what works for us. I met someone yesterday who is three years on and running again so there is hope, not sure if I’ll ever be brave enough to attempt that though! x

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