I am Helen, in the UK, near Stratford upon Avon. it is 2am, and i cant sleep, so guess what? Yup - I have joined another forum!
I think I only ever come on forums when I cant sleep, I never seem to be on them at a sensible hour ;o)
Anyway - my story:
I have always had prob's with my back, which is why i lost weight on a total food replacement plan last year, but just before xmas i fell down stairs when playing with the dog. (I have a boxer) I didn't really notice anything unusual at the time, aside from some numbness in my left leg. Little pain really, and intermittent double incontinence. I mentioned it to my gp, who wasn't really that worried, so i left it.
I do see a rheumatologist regularly for fibromyalgia and mentioned it to him - and he suggested an MRI thinking i had a slipped disc. The MRI come back showing a critical prolapse in the T10 area of my spine and i was told i'd need a 'routine' op to repair it and was referred to a neurosurgeon that day (privately). this is now 5 weeks after the fall.
My gp rang with results of a blood test for something else and i mentioned about the mri results and the op to him and he said 'its highly unlikely you need an op, prob just physio and antiinflamatory tabs... Final last words!
Well i saw neuro surgeon, this was end of january, and he said my disc was very critical and i was at risk of being paralised from that point down and needed urgent surgery!
Also the ' routine' op had turned into a, i quote, 'big big op' with a small but very real risk of: death, paralasis, pulmonary embolism, infection, and a list of other stuff that sounded scary!
I was admitted 2nd february and had the op the following wednesday (4th feb). I was in intensive care for 5 days, high dependancy for 4 days, in a single room for 7 days and on a ward for 2 days. I was allowed to go home the day after the bed rest ended, mainly cause i kept nagging them to let me out! I had more bed rest and have to take more time off work than someone i met who has had open heart surgery (a triple bypass!) I dont know how successful the op has been yet, although there are improvements already, the idea of spinal surgery is to prevent worsening rather than to repair. I am less numb than i was - But it could take upto 2 years to see the full benefit. I was suffering from incontinence of the bowels, which seems to have improved, but its hard to say as i am still on strict rest for another 4 weeks. moving about seems to get things moving if you catch my drift! I am not incontinent of the bladder anymore
To do the op, it is very complicated. If i had a neck or lower back op it would have been easier, less traumatic and require less after care and time off. But because it was in the chest area of the spine, they had to operate quite close to the heart. To do this they removed a rib, deflated my left lung, removed the disc, put a titanium mesh thing in, and put me back together again. I was in theatre 10.5 hrs. Prob 8 hr op taking time off for anesthetic etc...
When i came round i had 3 lines in my left arm, one in my neck, a lung drain, a spinal drain and oxygen. I looked a right mess.
After 14 weeks on a diet to get a bikini body, i now have a 25cm scar from my left side to the middle of my back!
Ever feel like you have wasted your time on something?!
I am now resting at home, i need chair/bed rest for another 4 weeks (6 in total) so have borrowed a wheelchair so i can at least get out a bit. I am off work for at least 3 months, i'm a carer.
I have to wear a corset, its not really anything like a corset at all, i look like something off irobot! it is white, plastic and totally enclosed. very unsexy!
I am going quietly mad sat and lying around all day, although i am trying to crochet myself a jacket at the moment, and have about 100 magazines to read that my mum gave me! so if anyone wants to talk to me i am all ears!
I hope my story hasn't scared anyone off from this type of op, it is quite rare as procedures go (1% per annum of population in the UK)but it is better than the alternative. I am very grateful it was found before it caused any kind of paralysis
My message is this: never ignore numbness or incontinence and dont always trust your general doctor! see a neurosurgeon.
Thanks for reading.