Countdown to surgery

It’s Monday, I have spent the best part of the last week at home on the floor with a heating pad trying to get rid of the pain radiating from my back down my leg and through my hips. The initial pain that was in the right shin is gone, leaving a drop foot that I can only hope and pray isn’t permanent. The pain in the back is actually gone now however I can feel the near impingement almost every time I move. It’s as if the scar tissue that is apparently at fault is resting against the nerve just waiting to press against the root causing the familiar screaming pain. As far as trying to stay in shape before the surgery itself I have been able to do very little. Last week I managed to bench one day and do a small bicep workout another day. I have broken out the EMS unit I used back in early 2003 when I had my original surgery. Although my documentation of that time in my life is not great, I do have some information that I found:

What started out as a simple herniation of the disc creating pressure on the spinal nerves which causes an effect somewhat similar to Scoliosis developed into a severely displaced disc fragment that impacted the sciatic nerve. This caused excruciating pain down my right gluteus, into the quadriceps and terminating in the knee. When the cortisone injections into my spine did not help the situation, it was determined form both a CT and an MRI that surgery was going to be necessary to remove the portion of the annulus that was touching the nerve root. This was in preference to a discectomy that would have required removal of part of the nucleus of the disc in order to reduce the overall size of the disc. Most procedures that are available to patients with severe herniations are effective over time but require the procedure to be performed while the disc is healthy and normal. Even the newest and most promising procedure, referred to as “Percutaneous Microdecompressive endoscopic Spinal Discectomy with New laser Thermodiskoplasty for Non-Extruded Herniated Nucleus Polposus” as it’s name suggests requires that the disc be in a non-extruded state.So my options were limited, and under the trusted care of Dr. ****** I went in for surgery on New Year’s Eve 2002 at 4pm.
Since the surgery, I am glad to report that the localized pain is gone both in the spine and the thigh. However, there is still pain in the knee and much of the strength in my upper leg is gone. I left the hospital on crutches, unable to support any weight on my right leg. I am happy to report that I am now able to support myself without the use of crutches, however I am unable to climb even the smallest of steps. Much of the loss of feeling in my leg has also returned, however from the top of the knee I still have little or no tactile sensation. It is normal for this numbness to remain up to 9 months after sciatic nerve injury, and from what I have read, it is normally 6 to 8 weeks before the pain is completely gone and normal strength returns.Since walking requires very little bending of the knee, I am able to walk without crutches for short distances (a hundred feet or so), however any incline or decline which requires strength from the quadriceps is impossible to negotiate without crutches.

I will continue to post some of the information I can find from last time, however the most significant difference this time is that I will be going in as a scheduled surgery with a neurosurgeon named Dr. Lo at St. Mike’s in Toronto rather than being admitted on an emergency basis screaming in pain and having to be rendered unconscious in order for the techs to get me into the MRI machine.

So what happened? I hear you ask. Well, it’s a long and as usual confusing story. I wrote about the initial effects already but it’s now days later and the foot drop is still there, in fact it seems worse than in the beginning. I had the MRI, I was then told I needed to go and see a neurosurgeon to get a professional opinion. Almost as soon as Dr Lo saw the MRI he knew it was going to require surgery. I asked about the disc replacement and also the idea of fusion however his indication was that since there is no misalignment of the spine that fusion is unnecessarily risky and that disc replacement surgery would be massive overkill. He told me that the success of the initial surgery is 90% but the success of follow up repeated surgery is only 75%. However, not having the surgery would almost certainly lead to permanent disability. So I am booked in for Wednesday, I have a 3-5 hour pre-op appointment for Tuesday and once that is done I should know a little more about what is to come.







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