Pre-operative Musings

It’s 11:08am on the first of October 2014. Twenty – four hours from now I will be back in my room at the Shropshire Nuffield Hospital having had a “Discectomy” – the removal of a bulge to one of the discs that acts as a cushion in the human spine. The bulge is pressing on the nerves that run from my spine, down the outside of my right leg all the way down to my big toe causing extreme and debilitating pain, along with a weakness that affects the control I have over my right foot which is preventing me from driving. I cannot maintain a seated position for more than a few minutes.

In the picture of my spine you can clearly see where the cursor arrow is pointing at the disc protruding into the white channel that houses the nerves. In the separate cross section picture from the MRI scan, you can see the extent of the bulge – it is almost blocking the channel leaving very little room for the nerves. Even my surgeon winced as he explained this to me!

Prior to the operation, I have had to stop taking one of the painkillers that has just about provided function these past weeks. Naproxen, an anti inflammatory, can cause excessive bleeding in operative circumstances so my surgeon told me to cease its use after the weekend. I am about to take Tramadol as an alternative because Co-Codamol on its own has not given sufficient relief. I’m a little scared of the Tram., it says it may induce hallucinations and with my creative mind that could take me anywhere but it’s a chance I’m going to have to take.

As for the surgery itself, of course there’s a little trepidation. I’m putting my life in the hands of a small team of people and trusting them to look after me and, indeed, fix me. The risks of this op include failure to relieve the symptoms, Cauda Equina Syndrome – which could lead to loss of control of my bladder, bowel or sexual function – and of course the risks of infection associated with opening up the inner workings of the human body. All of these risks are low but they exist and I am exerting my self-taught control of my own mind in order to not dwell on them. Writing them down here is a part of that control-taking process.

I’ve washed my dressing gown, bought some new Simpsons boxers (I don’t really do pyjamas!), loaded an awesome playlist and got some munchies for my stay in hospital. Later I’ll have a shave and then, at 6:30 tomorrow morning I’ll have a shower using the antiseptic sponge the hospital have provided and then we’ll be off. I’m to be there by 7:30 and I’m first on the surgeon’s list so will probably be knocked out by 9am.

The boys are being awesome despite their own anxieties bless them. Not everyday they get to drop Dad off at hospital before school. I can’t wait to get back to having adventures with them, our summer was cut short by this problem wiping me out in early August and I’ve not spent nearly enough time in the sea this year. Whilst I can’t right that last fact, I can look forward to getting back out in the fresh air in a few weeks time and it is that which will see me through these next few days. See you on the other side, I’ve dropped the Tramadol whilst writing this so I’m going to grab a quick lunch then sleep and see where it takes me!…

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