This is more of a vent rather than a reflection. The injury first happened on the 9th September 2018. Playing golf of all things. Not a sport you would think would be that strenuous. However, when you break it down it’s an explosive motion followed by a steady walk, then another explosive motion, steady walk, explosive motion, steady walk… If your body is not in the right physical condition it’s only a matter of time before an action can lead to injury. Just look at Tiger Woods, and no I am definitely not comparing myself to him. In my case this happened quite suddenly in the fairway bunker on the 10th hole at Royal Golf Club Du Hainaut, Belgium. Beautiful course I would highly recommend playing there if you have the chance. Anyway… On the downward motion of my shot I felt an unbelievable pain shooting from my lower back right down both legs. I shanked the shot over the green, which the guys I were playing with were probably expecting considering how I had been playing. What they didn’t expect was to see me bent over double grabbing hold of my trolley for dear life so not to fall over onto the floor. Through sheer determination I made it back to the car, scrambled my clubs into the back, and drove home. When I saw the doctor the next day, he put it down to a pulled muscle and sent me off home with some painkillers. After 3 weeks off I managed to get myself back into work but lasted just 2 and 1/2 days before having to go home and lay down again. This time I was sent to hospital where I got a CT scan. The Belgian doctor said I had a partially slipped disc and spondylolysis. At this point I had no idea what that was, but they said I needed an MRI and bone density scan to clarify the situation. After those scans the Belgian doctor confirmed their initial thoughts and said they could clear it up with surgery, providing the British doctors gave it the go ahead. My GP said, “no that’s not how we do it we’ll see how you get on with some stronger painkillers” and sent me off to the physio. The physio took one look at me and told me that they wouldn’t touch me as they said, in their own words, “didn’t want to break me”. At this point I was a little confused as to what I was supposed to do and how I would get fixed. Fast forward to February 2019 and after bi-weekly appointments with the doctors trying all sorts of drugs, and being signed off work. I was then referred to go and see the rehabilitation specialists at Stamford Hall. I thought great news, we’re getting somewhere. Me and my wife went to the appointment where we saw a whole room full of specialists asking me to try and do various movements and asking me a million questions. At which point I mentioned what the Belgian doctor said and the scans that I had, including a CD I had brought with me with them on. This is where they said, “we don’t treat scans, we treat the patient”. We thought that was a strange thing to say as they show the problem, but with them being the experts we agreed with them. They then went on to say they would get me on a 2-week programme and I’ll be fixed within a couple of months of that with physio and rehabilitation. Why would you argue with that having been told to do very little for the previous 5 months? After becoming positive about my treatment for the first time I received a phone call on my way back to Belgium telling me that we had 4 weeks to pack up and move back to the UK as they can’t support me and my family out there any longer. After some very frank discussions with the bosses about the lack of any support in the previous 5 months it was decided that we had 6 weeks to sort our lives out. I think my laid-back nature was taken advantage of there as I could have, maybe should have, kicked up a bigger stink about it. Especially when I was going to be on this 2-week course during that period leaving my wife to fend for herself in trying to get everything sorted while I was away. The 2 weeks away did help a little bit as I now knew that I was able to get back to some sort of movement without being frightened that I would do further damage. But it still hadn’t solved the problem. How could 2 weeks of light gym work fix a stress fracture? Once we arrived back in the UK, we started getting the support we needed. I was getting bi-weekly welfare checks. As well as more support from doctors and physios. The doctors took a completely fresh look at the situation and, once again, changed my medication which worked out better for me as I could function more as a human. I was also going to see the physio once a week for manipulations. All this was helping me get back on my feet but still no closer to going back to work. I went to see the occupational health team and they suggested getting a specialist chair and desk to enable me to get back to work. That was in June. By the beginning of September, a desk had arrived but the chair they ordered was the wrong one. This was because the chair that was recommended was made on a medical in confidence report. This meant the guys in stores making the order had no idea as they couldn’t access that report and just ordered a normal chair. It’s unbelievable ridiculous to make the recommendation and then not allow the people who order it know what they are ordering. When the wrong chair arrived, I was there with the sales rep and told him exactly what was required and he told me they didn’t do those ones. So, I had to go into the back of his van and try out some others he had with him. Thankfully there was one that worked for me but I couldn’t have that one, obviously. So, had to wait until November for it to arrive and start back at work. While all that craziness was going on, I was sent to see a specialist spine consultant. He said pretty much the same as the Belgian doctor and a fusion is the way forward. I thought Hallelujah! Something is going get done. Then he said but… he couldn’t do it as his surgery is in Luton and I lived too far away for aftercare. Random excuse not to do the surgery but OK. He then passed me onto another consultant, and to have another MRI scan in the meantime, with the appointment being a couple of months away. When that appointment came in October, he explained the hole condition to me, that I had spondylolysis pars defect, basically a stress fracture of the L5 vertebrae which is causing the problem, and that surgery is the best option to fix it. This time there was a however… He was retiring and wasn’t comfortable doing the surgery and not being able to do the aftercare. Which I understood, begrudgingly. He was then going to refer me to consultant number 3 and have a further X-Ray in the meantime. He said the new consultant would go through the surgical options and plan when the procedure would happen. This didn’t happen. I was being referred back to consultant number 1 for injection treatment. A procedure that I had been told was not the best option, but after further explanation was needed to be completed so they can say they have tried everything prior to surgery. Whilst waiting for the injections I managed to compete my ‘Graduated Return to Work’ program thanks to my hierarchy. They allowed me to get on with it my way while getting work done. The one I worked with most closely on one of the tasks was also going through back problems and knew exactly where I was coming from and gave me some invaluable advice. For which I will be always grateful for and will keep in touch with. As soon as I completed the program, I was told I would be moving again. Exactly one year to the day since we landed back in the UK to be precise. Once again, I won’t be there to help with the removals and actual move as I will be on a course which I need for my new job. Pretty sure my wife thinks I do it on purpose! My injections were on 6th February 2020, 4 years to the day since I proposed to my wife. It seems a lifetime ago since then. Not in a bad way, but we have come through so much since I bumbled out the words in the restaurant we were in, “you can put that one while I pay the bill”. Who says romance is dead! Anyway… The injections were up there with the worst pain I’ve had. Having suffered the indignity laying face first on the bed and have my boxers pulled down to my ankles to have my lower back and arse to be painted in iodine, the injections were horrific. The little nurse sat in front of me constantly had to remind me to breath as I was burying my head into the pillow trying not to scream. I was then wheeled out to the recovery room where the nurse checking my blood pressure just casually told me, “probably won’t work anyway”. Thanks for that! I later checked that 1 in 5 feel any sort of benefit, with almost all not fully recovering past 6 months. This has made me a little angry as if they know it hardly works why even bother in the first place. For the first 5 days after the injections I was in a worse position than I was before. Currently awaiting the second part of the injections to kick in. About 3-4 weeks apparently. I’m not holding my breath. But even after all this everything is not lost. There is yet another fresh start on the horizon. A move down south and back into full time work. So, I guess thing’s maybe turning around for the best. Or yet another demon to drag me back down. Only time will tell.
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