Sunday, March 20, 2011

D-Day minus 1

Tomorrow's the day. I'm having a single level spinal fusion - L5-S1 - with inter-body fusion cage, pedicle screws and rods. Doesn't sound too bad when you say it quickly.
For years I've had back problems firstly with a ruptured disc at this level and then as time has passed the facet joints have collapsed and I've developed stenosis of the neural foramen, particularly on the left side. In plain language that means that the nerves that run down my leg are being trapped and squashed.
Over the past 3 years or so it's become increasingly difficult to stand - 5 minutes is generally too long now, and increasingly difficult to walk. A couple of weeks ago it got to the stage that I had to sit and re-gather myself 3 times whilst walking a single city block. It makes life pretty limited. Going to the art gallery is out of the question, travelling is a problem if you have to queue at the airport or walk to your departure gate. About 2 weeks ago I went to listen to the MSO. It was all I could do to cope with the queue and get to my seat - a real feat of endurance that left me pale and shaking.
So to surgery. The problem with something like this is that no matter how intolerable the chronic pain and reduced function is, the prospect of surgery is not nice, not nice at all. You know that there are risks, anaesthetic risks, surgical risks... and you know that you are going to face a period of acute pain, rather than the chronic pain you have been facing. You are going to be in the hands of others, dependent on their care and skill. Not to mention minor indignities and inconveniences.
I'm supposed to be first on the list tomorrow morning - around 7:00am - and I'm told that it will take 3-4 hours for the procedure, followed by a week or so in hospital and 6 weeks off work. I'll try to keep this blog up-to-date, no doubt for the first couple of days it will be entirely unattended, but as soon as I can I'll give you some details.

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