There are things that happen in life that really change your direction; having a child, marriage, divorce but some things are never planned and never welcome but they happen none the less.
So, after all the running around with my local hospital I finally got referred to private hospitals, one for Pain Management and another for lumbar surgery. I went to the Pain Management clinic last week on Tuesday. I showed the consultant all my records which showed I had suffered a herniated disc. He talked me through my symptoms and history and told me he was very confused about my presentation and that it didn’t make sense. He scheduled me for an EMG and NCS on the Thursday (nerve testing) and another MRI of my back and pelvis on Friday.
Well, hello paranoia. I was convinced that he thought I was lying! That I was making things up. I was very discouraged. I went along to the nerve testing on Thursday and the MRI on Friday and asked that my surgeon be sent the results also. I walked into today’s appointment fully expecting to be told when I would have the surgery to fix my back and how long recovery would be. I had been in pain daily since April and the only times I was pain free I was either zombiefied or asleep. I needed a full fix.
The consultant was excellent. He already had my scans up when I went in and he did a full examination. It was when I sat down that he dropped the bombshell that I didn’t realise was a bombshell. I have a degenerative disc. This will never heal on its on and the pain will get progressively worse. I will need surgery at some point, not the discectomy I was originally told but more along the lines of a spinal fusion.
In fact, I have Degenerative Disc Disease and annular tears in my L5/S1 disc. This means that the pain I feel will continue, the surgeon advised that I would be best to continue with pain management until the pain becomes intolerable. He told me that I will definitely need surgery but it is not needed immediately if I can manage a decent quality of life. The reason behind this seems to be that the surgery I need only has a 50-60% success rate. The chances are not only that it may not make me better but also that it may make me worse. On top of that there is currently a funding issue so my local CCG is unlikely to approve the surgery unless I can get a surgeon in an NHS hospital to do it.
It was a lot to take in and leaving, my mind was just on how I would find a surgeon to do the procedure but as I got home and sat with myself it began to sink in. This pain I am feeling; this daily consistent ache, the sharp pain with every step I make – it was not going to get better. I am always going to have problems walking, sitting, moving. I began thinking about work. I am supposed to go back in December. Will that still be possible? If I increase my painkillers will I still be able to function well enough to do my job well? How will I manage to travel all the way to central London to do my job? Will I be able to play with my nieces? Dance? It all came crashing in.
On a better note this new diagnosis made all my symptoms make sense. I could understand the confusion of the pain consultant. When I have read up on the condition it said that the pain will not always be there. Discs degenerate in all people as they grow older, this condition is just terminology when it happens in a much younger person. The pain will stop once the disc collapses completely. The problem is that once this happens there is greater strain on the surrounding discs and they too will likely begin to degenerate.
I am trying to be positive. There are people who have suffered much worse. By no means has my life come to a standstill. For the foreseeable future my life has changed and that’s okay. I just have to accept that sometimes your life may take an unexpected turn for the worse. Grieve, adjust, succeed.