Microdiscectomy

“Discectomy is surgery to remove lumbar herniated disc material that is pressing on a nerve root or the spinal cord. It tends to be done as microdiscectomy, which uses a special microscope to view the disc and nerves. This larger view allows the surgeon to use a smaller cut (incision).”

I’ve written before about issues with my lower back. It all started with a herniated disc pressing on my spinal cord and giving me nerve pain, the worse pain there is.

Well, this year, a new MRI showed that the disc was ruptured and there was material and pieces of the disc in the spinal canal, between the nerve root and the spinal cord. According to most doctors I visited (orthopaedic surgeons and neurosurgeons mainly) it was a textbook operable case.

Check out my back in a box:

Back in a Box

It could only get worse, according to them. And to be frank, I tried every trick in the book. The only people that were against surgery were not educated to have an opinion on the subject at the best of times.

But my biggest anger goes towards physiotherapists. I am not against what they do, but they should count their words when they are speaking about things they don’t know, as they didn’t buckle up to go to medical school.

This comes from a NHS physiotherapist that reassured me that the “soft tissue injury” aka the hernia of the disc is already repaired (after the six first weeks of the injury) and now the disc is stronger than before.

In his words, what I am left with is “the memory of pain”, maybe some inflammation of the nerve as well, but everything was supposedly fine. Maybe he was trying to avoid calling me an opiate addict on my face.

Well, Mr James, physiotherapist from the NHS (in Herts and Essex hospital), I am now 8 days post op, I have no pain whatsoever apart from my stitches itching and my muscle being a bit sore and I don’t even take an aspirin or plain paracetamol. Yesterday I walked around 4 miles and the only thing that was sore were my leg muscles.

So, not, it wasn’t psychological pain or opiate addiction. It was you giving me exercises that ruptured my disc in the end. Maybe it was better for things to go this way though, as otherwise I wouldn’t have gotten worse and I wouldn’t have the operation.

Now that I am opiate free my patience towards stupidity though has hit a new low, I have to mention though. Just breathe in, live and let live I have to remind myself every day. Hello my good old self, I missed you.

Anyway, if you are suffering from a herniated disc and then you wake up one day pain free, be aware. The disc may have fixed itself or may have burst. I’d advise you to do an MRI to confirm.

And that brings us to the next joke the NHS has become. It has been a year now I have this issue and they won’t perform an MRI unless you can’t control your bladder. The recipe is take some pills, go to physio and you’re going to be fine.

And I can’t blame them as they are stretched to the limit, but the only people losing by this are people in pain, like me. This is why you should make sure you have some money aside, sadly. I had to do everything privately to make sure everything is done right. And it did cost a pretty penny, but when it comes to a severed quality of life, there are no shortcuts, are there?

Now the operation itself is pretty simple but very delicate at the same time. Even though general surgeons or orthopaedic surgeons may be doing it, I would never let them touch me. One small mistake and you will be limping for the rest of your life. Find a good neurosurgeon that you can trust.

It is mostly a mechanical issue, imagine like there is debris not allowing the nerves to move freely and causing pain. The incision is pretty small and you can walk the same day of the surgery. I had to wait an extra day as my incision needed to be a bit bigger in the end (too much disc material pressing on my nerves). Then the other day they send you home.

And this is where the real struggle begins. You feel fine, but you are not allowed to do anything other than walking. I was pain free for the first time in a year, yet I had to be confined in a “prison”. You really need to take it easy though as the first six weeks after the operation are the most critical for the operation’s success. And if you re-herniate the first six weeks, odds start being against you.

The most annoying part for me is the fact that I can’t drive and I need to avoid being a passenger in a car as well. After the first few days though, you get used to it, it is not a big deal.

Anyway, contrary to what many people believe, discopathy is mostly hereditary, it is in your DNA. Which means that your discs are not as strong as other people’s discs. Of course, after that, you can make things a lot worse by gaining weight or by doing things that put extra stress on your back.

Which goes to show that according to my Royal roots and blood, I shouldn’t do much and people must serve me. 🙂

And finally, here comes the disclaimer. Everyone is different, thus, everybody’s case is different. I am not advising for or against surgery, I am just describing my case that ended up being a good case for surgery. Most people will herniate a disc some time in their lifetime and they’ll be fine in a couple of weeks.

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