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L5-S1 Microdiscectomy - My Story

Hello all, my name is Sam, I suffered from
the above injury just over 2 years ago now. This forum and others gave me an
insight into what I had done/ what I was dealing with and I’ve been uncertain
as to whether I should put something up about my experience, after 2 years I
have decided that maybe I should put something up.

My experience has been a positive one, I
read a lot of negative things which at the time got me down a lot about life,
as some of you will know it can be a life changing injury. So onwards!

As above, my names Sam, I’m now 29 years
of age as I write this. I had the injury start at the begging of 2018; I was 27
then. I’ve been active all my life, I started riding bikes at the age of 2 and
have continued to do so all my life, played rugby for 10 years, ventured into
many outdoor sports throughout life and finally chose a career as a tree
surgeon. So in a nutshell, I hate being inside, outside in all weathers be it
working or playing.

Start of 2018 saw a spate of bad back
pain, being in the industry I was in I just continued as it was some what a
norm to experience some pain occasionally. I continued on for 5 weeks with this
(tree work, fencing etc), progressively the pain worsened. I sort physio help.
After my first session of physio I went Snowboarding and landed on my back
heavily to the point I could no longer put my shoes on without sitting down and
physically bending my leg toward me. I came back off holiday and continued with
these issues, I still climbed at work, still managed to perform my daily tasks
for another month roughly, I got to the point where I was dragging the leg
about (foot drop) and could no longer climb due to the pain the pressure on my
left leg would cause me. Fast forward to the 20/03/2018, I saw a doctor later
on, around 6 ish (my physio had referred me the day prior). He reiterated what
my physio had said and said he could help. I had a foot drop in my left leg,
the leg was physically smaller than my right leg, the whole rear had shutdown,
glutes, hamstring and calves had stopped functioning on my left leg. He managed
to pull some strings and get me in at Leeds General Infirmary the next day. I
was to be there at 7AM on the off chance they could get me an MRI scan.

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  • I arrived at the hospital at 7, waited
    patiently and had an MRI around middayish, I received the results around 5PM
    that day. The initial doctor had already said that my foot drop was likely to
    be with me for life and that it was unlikely I’d ride a bike again, climb a
    tree again etc etc. My life was literally falling to pieces infront of me, but
    I managed to hold it together just until I received the results.

     

    The MRI showed the sciatic nerve trapped at the L5-S1 disc, this was one of the trapping points, alongside this
    it had also trapped the nerve where it leaves the spine on my left side (hence
    the lack of anything from my left leg). Gutted was an understatement, I’d
    recently met a lass, instantly I thought that was going to be over… and then
    the negative trains of thought come in but we shan’t go into that. What were my
    options?  The Doctor said, I can chance it and leave it to see if the
    jam dries up and relieves the nerve or I can opt to have the discectomy. After a
    brief discussion with my Dad I opted for the discectomy as it seemed to be only
    real option in my opinion. At first, I was worried about paralysis but the
    doctor assured me it’s a bread and butter operation. They asked me to return at
    7am the next day and if they could get me in, they would. I ended up waiting
    Thursday and Friday coming back both days. The Head consultant offered me a bed
    for the night on the Friday and they got me in first thing Saturday.

    Saturday, I went in for the op
    mid-morning, 2 days sat in the waiting area made me less scared of the op, the
    scariest part was the anaesthetic (I am terrified of needles). The op went to
    plan and I awoke around 2 ish with my Parents and the Misses. Still drugged up
    I didn’t really have a clue what was going on until a sharp reality came from a
    nurse asking me to walk and go to the toilet before I could be discharged. I
    believe my exact words were ‘are you having a laugh’.  Anyhow, I did
    it, discharged later that day. That was the last time I saw Leeds GI for 8
    Weeks.

  • Recovery, I didn’t do a lot for the first
    2 weeks, laying on the floor a lot, slowly building up walking strength. Then I
    rang my physio, she suggested I came in, to which I did. From there she gave me
    some gentle exercises to be in with for 2 weeks, in the meantime I’d shipped
    myself up to Edinburgh to live with our lass as I’d be home alone if not. I was
    out walking everyday exploring the city, doing the physio, life had taken a
    turn, my left leg was coming back, the foot drop had gone. My physio emailed my
    exercises to do for the remainder of the time I had off until I saw the
    consultant again. 8 weeks had gone by and I returned to Leeds GI to see the
    consultant, he was impressed with progress and didn’t issue me any of the
    physio from the NHS as I had surpassed it with mine. I’ve never been back to
    hospital since this injury occurred.

     

    After week 4 I think I’d been back on the
    bike as gentle cycling is good for strengthening the lower back region so I’m
    told. I carried on with this, I started getting back into work, I didn’t do a
    lot for the first month or 2, just focused on the paperwork side of things,
    running jobs etc. Weekends tended to be more walking until July time when I
    started getting back into the climbing at work, more saw use etc. The lads I
    worked with kept on top of me and stopped me doing anything stupid. Kirsty and
    I had planned a trip to the Alps prior to all this happening and it was looking
    like it’d happen.

     

    The time came and we went to the Alps, it
    was all going well until I got carried away and had a rather large off, I bruised my left glute, to the point half my arse had gone black within a day. However the back held up.

    I
    continued to do the tree work and ride bikes etc, live life to the full until
    October last year. I paint a good picture, I’ve only really had one bad episode
    with it and that was September 2018, apart from that I’ve been good. That said,
    I’ve put the work in, I did exactly what the physio told me to do, I stopped
    lifting heavy weight at work, I don’t slouch when I sit or stand, I keep active
    and above all if something starts hurting, I stop. Knowing when to stop is
    probably the most important lesson I’ve learnt from this whole ordeal. Tree
    work is notorious for matcho guys, in the past I admit I lifted things that I
    and my previous work colleagues wouldn’t entertain now.

     

    When I say Tree Surgeon, I was primarily
    on the Power Lines, I’ve been fortunate enough to work all over the UK doing
    it, mainly in good old Yorkshire where I wanted to be permanently. Fast forward
    to October 2019, the dream, finally out of contracting and into the regions
    Electric Company. Apprentice linesman (like the tree work but steadier and at
    home) what more could one want in life.


    April 2020 -  I experienced a
    lot of negativity on the internet when searching about this procedure online,
    it is an eye opener as I am lucky to have recovered to the state I am today
    however it hasn’t  been an easy road, mentally it’s not being easy
    and physically it’s been hard. I make it sound like a breeze but you’ll have to
    adjust, don’t expect to be going back to the big hits if you’re a rugby player,
    accept you can’t just bend down to pick something up like you used to, change
    is about to come, don’t expect to be able to pick that item up that used to be
    a doddle. Changes do come but overall would you rather be in pain for the rest
    of life?

     

    I hope this restores some faith in people,
    don't expect it just to heal, you'll get back what you put in, eating right and
    exercising helps.

    Massive thanks to Leeds General Infirmary
    as my life would be over if they hadn’t given me a second chance that day.

    My Physio has been amazing throughout, she
    is very experienced and is ex NHS. 

    Hope that wasn’t too boring a read for you
    all. Take care and keep active!

    Little note, I did have pictures to go with this, however it appears not to be loading them.

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  • Apologies, however it was that long  I wasn't allowed to have it all in one.

  • Welcome Samthornton we’re glad you’re here!

    It's always nice to hear a success story, we don't get a lot of those, members come here before surgery, have surgery, get better and never come back after all goes well, so thank you.

    While you’re waiting for a reply to your first post, please take a few moments to review the Code of Conduct and FAQ section, located under Forum Tools. There you will find important information about posting in the forum and helpful tips for new members.

    You can also find information about lumbar surgery on Spine-health.com,All articles are authored by expert health professionals and reviewed by our experienced editorial team. This rigorous editorial process is modeled after that of a medical journal and ensures all of the articles are accurate, comprehensive, and unbiased. I hope you find this information helpful.

    Again, welcome to the Veritas Health Forum.

    Chip 

    Veritas Health Forum Moderator

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  • I don’t think the site supports pictures I’m afraid :(

  • memerainboltmemerainbolt IndianaPosts: 4,718

    Samthorton

    Thank you so much for your story. Positive stories are not many we get, most members recover and just move on. If you do not mind, I would like to bookmark your story for future reference to other members that are looking for a good recovery. On my computer, your formatting was fine. We do not allow pictures to be posted, though.

    Again, thank you for your story.
    Sandra
    Veritas Health Forum Moderator


  •  It's always nice to hear a success story, we don't get a lot of those, members come here before surgery, have surgery, get better and never come back after all goes well, so thank you.
    I second this. Well said.
  • Hi Sandra, 

    Yes by all means keep it for reference, I'm glad I've been able to give something positive to read.

    Cheers


  • memerainboltmemerainbolt IndianaPosts: 4,718

    Samthorton

    Don't be a stranger. You have a lot of great information to help other members with.

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