Wednesday, November 26, 2008

No-man's Land

I saw a new specialist yesterday about my back. He's the head of physical therapy at Plymouth's largest hospital, and he specializes in lower back pain.

I'm not in quite a sufficiently poor state to justify surgery at this point. Most days I can function just fine. It's really only about 1 day a fortnight when I'm genuinely unable to do basic things for myself like get dressed and wipe my ass. Most other days I have pain on and off throughout the day, but I can do the things I need to do, albeit a bit stiffly.

The problem is, I've already just about exhausted all the non-surgical options. I'm fit, healthy, strong, and flexible. Given that, there's very little I can gain from further physical therapy. There are a few things that can be worked on, some movements that I can't do, so they are giving me an NHS physio who will give me more/new excercises, etc. But The Expert said he couldn't guarantee it would have any real impact on my quality of life.

So I'm in a bit of a medical no-man's land. If I were any worse, they would operate, but I'm too healthy to benefit much from phys. Arg.

I asked about my long-term prognosis. His response? (And this is a direct quote) "You have a bad back."


The one small segment of silver lining is that if I do get any worse I'm an absolutely perfect candidate for a particular kind of back surgery that no one else had discussed with me. Instead of removing the disk and fusing the vertebrae, which I thought was the only option, they can add little rubber springs to my L4 and L5 vertebrae on either side of the damaged disk to give it more stability. It's only got a 50-70% success rate, but because I'm such a perfect candidate for it (young, healthy, fit, and with a single-level problem (ie only one affected disk)), they put me at the top end of that estimate, and maybe as high as 80%.

So in the meantime I muddle on as best I can, unlikely to get better, and waiting to get worse, so that then I can get better.


Ezri said...

I hope that your back feels better soon! That totally sucks that you're not quite eligible for the surgery yet- hopefully they'll change their criteria so you can get in!

I'll keep my fingers crossed for a miraculous and unexplained recovery. Then you can make up a new and interesting saint and claim that it was all because of those weekly cookie offerings :)

In the meantime I'll practice my "never trust people who wear masks" rakish attitude. I definitely need it- a friend attended fencing last week and said my bout looked like Strawberry Shortcake and Olive Oyl were having a smack down. Clearly I need to cultivate a more Errol Flynn presence instead.

Annie A said...

Happy thanksgiving Chaucer's. I hope you get all fixed up soon. xxx

Ezri said...

Hey Annie, great minds and all that :) I was just logging in to wish CB a Happy Turkey Day :)

Hopefully it involved lots of good eats, and more important, good company :)