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Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Operation Aborted

"Healing is a matter of time, but it is sometimes also a matter of opportunity."
Hippocrates

As I mentioned in yesterday's post I had a hospital appointment in Belfast today. And while I'm well aware that you may be a little tired of hearing all about my medical history by now, I thought I'd give you a little background info on the reason for my visit before I tell you how it went. 

As you may or may not be aware, I have Scoliosis. Which means my spine is curved. My mum noticed the slight curve when I was standing in the shower when she was showering me. I was around eight years old. In a very short period of time it became a very severe curve, my spine was basically an S shape. And they were worried it had begun to impact on my organs. It was also causing me a lot of pain, which only eased when I was lying down. I spent a lot of my time in school in the 'medical room' lying on the physio couch, trying to ease the pain while dictating my work to my classroom assistant. I'm not going to lie, I may have fallen asleep on a couple of occasions. 

When I was ten I was taken into hospital to have metal rods inserted in my back to stop my spine from curving more. Initially my surgeon had hoped to straighten the curve considerably, but once he was in he realised my spine had fused for some reason and he was unable to straighten it as much as he'd hoped. After my surgery a small section of the scar had trouble healing. The surgeon said my skin was like tissue paper, and very delicate. The rest of my scar healed fine, but the bottom healed kind of thicker than the rest. I later learned the bottom section was considered what is called a Keloid scar and that part is relevant to today's hospital visit. There was a lot of other drama surrounding that operation, but it's mostly irrelevant to this story so I'll spare you the details. 

So fast forward about ten years to 2010. After the initial dramas surrounding my operation, everything had gone smooth sailing. The only reminder that there's a bunch of metal inside me is the fact my nerve endings are a tad messed up. I don't really like people touching my back in certain places or in certain ways. If you touch a particular part, I get a weird tingle on my thigh etc. Nerves are weird. The metal work and the scar had been fine once it finally healed. Then one day my mum noticed a weird blister had formed on the bottom section of the scar. We weren't really sure what it was, and I was put on antibiotics and had a nurse come out to check on it, drain it and dress it around once a week. Eventually the blister stopped forming, but the small hole was still there and it would just weep fluid. My GP referred me to dermatology, which took forever. Who knew that dermatology was so popular? Dermatology ended up referring me back to my original surgeon Mr Hamilton, because they wanted to be sure it wasn't related to my metal work rather than it being a skin problem. 

After scans, x-rays and whatnot they came to the conclusion that a halo of fluid (they weren't sure what) had formed around one of the screws at the bottom of my back. Infection had tried to set in, but because it's all scar tissue it wasn't able to survive. He also thought maybe that screw had come loose. Yes, I was literally diagnosed with possibly having a screw loose! Oh how I laughed. Then Mr Hamilton told me quite nonchalantly that they'd have to operate. And because he didn't know what he was dealing with he wasn't quite sure what it would involve. He said the options were either he'd open the small section at the bottom of my back and either trim the screw or remove it altogether. Or he could potentially have to open my whole back and replace one of the rods. As you can imagine I was terrified! I was even more terrified when I told my neurologist and he was less than encouraging. When I told him I'd be under general anaesthetic I think his exact words were something like, "Oh.. what? No.. oh no, you don't want to be doing that. No, that's really dangerous. You shouldn't be going under general anesthesia, that's a really big risk for someone with your condition." His expression was priceless. After that was quite a dark period. I had a lot of anxiety about the whole thing and I ended up with a bit of depression. The worst it had ever been. The only bright side was it was a surgeon who I trusted, an anaesthetist I trusted and even though I was about twenty Mr Hamilton had requested I be on the children's ward I'd been on for all my operations. He said I would get better care there than on an adult ward. 

So fast forward to today. It had been over a year since I had heard anything. The last I was told I was on the waiting list for the operation. However during that time the little volcano on my back had ceased erupting. You can still see the little mark where it was, but it hasn't given me any trouble in a long time. I decided then that rather than risking them fixing it worse, I wouldn't go through with the operation if it stayed in it's current state. After that, I kind of even forgot that I was supposed to be on a waiting list for an operation. Then a couple of weeks ago I got a letter through for my appointment today. An x-ray and a consolation with my surgeon. It kind of brought everything back to me, and I couldn't believe it's been almost four years since it all started! As much as I had decided in myself that I wasn't going through with the operation, I was still nervous of today. I guess even though the thing had been dormant for over a year, I was worried there was still something going on internally. I mean it's not like screws just screw themselves back in! 

So my dad and I headed off up to the Big Smoke (Belfast) for my x-ray and consultation with Mr Hamilton. 


Luckily we didn't have to wait too long for the x-ray. Nothing worse than waiting around for ages to be seen. After that we had a slightly longer wait to see Mr Hamilton. When he finally came in, he had his nurse with him and two student doctors. He basically just asked me how I was and if it was giving me any bother. I told him it hadn't for quite a while now, and he had a look at my back. Then he said what I had been waiting to hear, "If it's not causing you bother, I won't touch it." Even though I already decided I didn't want it, it was still felt like a weight had been lifted hearing him say I didn't need the operation. Though I realised when I had left that his wording was a little obscure. I probably should have asked was there still something showing up in the x-ray that could potentially be causing me bother. Shoulda, coulda, woulda.. I guess. The important thing is there's nothing bothering me right now! And I no longer have the prospect of having an operation looming over me like I have for the last three years or so. I guess though, in a way I'm glad they didn't just jump right into giving me the operation and they took as long as they did, because it gave the problem time to heal on its own.  

Mr Hamilton also asked me what I'd been up to and being the uninteresting and awkward person I am, I gave him my usual answer of, "Nothing really." He kind of laughed a bit and said he hoped to be doing the same very soon, my dad took that as a hint that he's maybe retiring. If that's the case I really hope this whole back thing doesn't recur in the future. If I want anyone slicing my back open and tinkering with the metal work, it's him. He also said I was looking very well.. luckily I think I handled the random compliment well. I didn't shout "NO YOU!" at him like I usually do when people give me compliments. 

When I was outside I mentioned him saying I looked well to my dad and my dad replied, "It's amazing what a bit of make up can do. Slap some make up on and you look the picture of health." ...My dad, always the charmer. He's not wrong though, and I did like my make up today. I was even having a good fringe day.


So yeah, I basically just told you an extremely long story about why I needed an operation that I ended up not needing. After all that background info, the fact I don't need the operation is probably an anticlimax. Gosh... it would have been a great blogging opportunity too! Oh well.

To finish this post up I thought I would tell you a couple of other things that happened today. My other Bomb Cosmetics stuff arrived today!

The Scones and Cream and the Blueberry Sundae candles are mine and the Never Mind candle was a little treat for my sister Eva. They all smell so good. 

I kind of wish the candles I got were a little less pretty, then I wouldn't put off lighting them for so long. Still, they all look nice sitting out on my desk with Lady Rainicorn, my glass of empty pens and paint brushes and the art mannequin. My parents brought me back this lovely handled Kilner jar from their day trip to Portrush with my grand parents yesterday, so now it's sitting on my desk too. Not quite sure what I'm going to use it for yet. 


Last but not least, my dad FINALLY got the crap out of my wheels. It's amazing the stuff that gets caught around them, and even more amazing how much easier it is to move once it's out. I always think I'm losing strength in my legs until my dad cleans my wheels. He has to fully remove the wheels to do it and usually it's no bother, but there was so much crap around one of the wheels the screw wouldn't budge. He must have worked on it for about an hour, ending up having to burn away some of the crap and oiling it with WD-40 before it would come out. Naturally I took a couple of pictures of my dad at work.


So yeah, now I can glide along as free as a bird. All in all, it was a pretty good day. This has been one of my busier weeks with being out at the weekend, doctor/hospital appointments and then the dentist tomorrow. Getting dressed in outdoor clothes and putting my face on gets tiresome. I'm looking forward to a nice relaxing Friday of doing nothing in my PJs! 

Until next time. 


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