So here we are the 8th September 2011 and it’s been three days since I came out of hospital.
Firstly, I would like to thank Dr ERICK MEYER, [seen here in 2009], for all that he has done. Bear in mind that for the past two and a half years I have been in constant pain in my lower back and down my left leg. Weekends, bank holidays, Sundays: I didn’t have a day off in all that time.
Secondly, I would like to thank all the staff at the CHITS hospital in La Seyne-sur-Mer in the Var department of France. The nurses were quite simply fantastic; it’s obvious to see that these people are in a vocation not just in a job.
So, what happened?
In 2005 I had a spinal disc herniation; a slipped disc if you like. I didn’t really treat it as I should have done. The pain went after a few weeks so I thought little more of it. Then in 2007 I had a second herniation that again wasn’t treated properly [by me not by my doctor] and that too waned after a few weeks. Then in 2009 I had a double herniation and that was the start of the daily pain.
Again, I didn’t really do too much. It became more a process of getting used to the pain and adjusting my lifestyle accordingly: I didn’t even take one day off work…and in hindsight I’m not too proud of that.
Then at the beginning of June this year I was in the garden with Liam doing some tidying up. We walked together across the garden towards the shed when I planted my left foot on the ground and my body simply crumbled under my weight. I couldn’t move for three days and spent three weeks laid up. During that time my doctor suggested that I take an x-ray and after that a cat scan of my lower back. At this point it was evident that the herniation had progressed and that I had a crushed disc.
My doctor had already sent one of his patients to see Dr Meyer some years before me and he was kind enough to make an appointment for me. This was programmed for the end of June 2011.
Dr Meyer seemed a good guy. He explained in great detail the operation that he had in mind; to replace the crushed disc with a ceramic one. He warned me that this was not a recognized medical operation in France and as such was not covered by any social security or BUPA type medical insurance. The R&D department of the hospital would cover the cost of the operation itself as well as the hospital stay but the prosthetic disc would be at my expense; 900.00€. It seemed a good deal to me. He asked that I take an MRI scan to be sure that there were no other hidden problems that could prevent the operation. Once this was done he was certain that I could undertake the operation and booked me in for the 1st September 2011. [All very quick in France, isn’t it?]
So last Thursday I was in the block at 08h00. The operation was to take about two-three hours and consisted of attacking the spine from the front. Basically an incision was made just under the belly-button down about 5 inches. Body organs, nerves and veins would be moved aside to get to the spine where the L5-S1 vertebras would be pulled apart and the prosthetic disc would be hammered in place. Once in place the vertebras would be released and would clamp the ceramic disc in place. This would mean that the muscles and nerves would still be ‘stretched’ by about 1cm, the height of the ceramic disc. Dr Meyer told me that this would give me lower back and leg pains for about two months to give time for the body to readjust itself to its new positions.
On Friday night, once the morphine had stopped I crashed down to earth with a bang. The pain was incredible. It was like someone had cut a letterbox out of my stomach, flipped it over and shoved it back in place. If I coughed it bloody hurt. If I hiccough upped it bloody hurt. Thankfully I didn’t sneeze!
The nurses kept asking if I had any wind yet. I didn’t. But, once I did it was quite a strange thing; try as I might I couldn’t fart! The air bubbles just kept circulating in the bowls that simply intensified the pain in the stomach. Finally, on Sunday night I had flatulence and it relieved the pain somewhat.
I came home on Monday this week and since then the pain has subsided. It still hurts a bit but I can finally appreciate the efforts of Dr Meyer: there is no sciatic pain in my leg and no pain in my back.
As I said; Doctor Erick Meyer; a good guy!