I Will Be Having Lower Back Surgery

Yesterday I was told that I needed to have spinal surgery to remove a herniated disc that had protruded onto veins in my back. These veins go down my right leg which because of the protrusion makes it painful.

Three weeks ago I tried to lift something too heavy for me and I felt an immediate sharp pain at my lower back. The pain subsided after some rest but there was lingering pain days after. I thought it would go away after more rest.

In the weeks previous to this I was walking briskly and swimming nearly everyday. Then we went on a weekend trip and on the 3 hour drive back the pain was back.

Finally a day or two after that after a trip to the bathroom I tried to take a small jump into my bed like I usually do but this time I felt sharp excruciating pain across my lower back, after which the slightest movement from my legs and hips caused similar pain. I was taken to the hospital via ambulance that evening.

After a lot of pain killers and an MRI the doctor said that the three of the lower discs on my spine were ‘dessicated’, meaning they were devoid of liquid that allows them to be flexible. This happens naturally as one ages. The middle of the three (L4 – L5) though had ruptured into nearby veins and this was causing the intense pain I felt across my back and right leg.

This video helps explain what’s going on:

He had two recommendations:

a.) Perform an operation where he would remove the material from the disc that is pushing against a nerve going down my right leg. This would relieve pressure from the nerve and stop the pain, however there was a risk that the 1st and 3rd dessicated discs would in due time rupture as well, either due to injury or old age.

b.) A second and more expensive option recommends that in addition to Option A, steel inserts will be screwed onto my spine. This would not only stop the pain but also remove the possibility that I would experience the same pain from the other dessicated discs in the future. It is a far more complicated procedure and would be several times more expensive as well.

After sleeping over it Jill and I had decided to pursue option A. It will cost approximately P150 – 200k, still much less the cost of option B. We will be spending a day or two early next week gathering the necessary clearances from a cardiologist and a nephrologist, the latter due to the fact I am also suffering from early stages of kidney disease albeit it seems controlled. We were advised that this surgery needed to be done ASAP.

I am unsure about this but some Googling reveals that the operation is routine and should be over in 1.5 hours. I should also be able to go home within the day or the next at the most. Bed rest should take up to a month.

Of course the idea of spine surgery scared me but only at the start. It then dawned on me that finally I would be rid of this ridiculous back pain that had been bothering me for at least a decade and a half. I had experienced this same extreme pain in the past. I remember a similar episode in my twenties when the pain was so intense I literally wondered if I was a minute or two away from death. I would rate that experience as 10/10 on the pain scale.

But although that was traumatizing, the real frustration comes from the times I felt constant, lingering pain ranging in the 3/10 to 6/10 scale, which would then go on and on for weeks or even months. Those are the times when it takes 10x more willpower to do the simplest things because all you want to do is stay in bed. And because I had limited information about the problem at the time I would often blame it on my own laziness or extra weight, and then try to exercise harder to ‘fix’ it, when in truth I was actually making it worse because rest and patience was what was needed. The lack of productivity and resulting frustration and exasperation I would feel at the time was terrible, compounded by the nagging irritation and pain.

The idea that I would actually be free of this nagging continuous pain is making any sacrifice I need to do worth it, and the end of this following week when I could finally do it cannot come any sooner.

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