February 15th 2006 proved to be the start of an experience that I would not wish on anyone! We had been living in Asia for nine years at that time and we always looked forward to our yearly ski holiday with friends that we had made for about twenty years.
We thoroughly enjoyed our holiday and returned to Kuala Lumpur but having landed I noticed a pain in my back that I assumed was from the long flight. I had a similar problem two years previously and it was I felt, from carrying too much luggage at one time. This resulted in my visits to a Chinese Doctor who gave me excellent treatment that eventually solved the problem after about six months. A little about my personal history may as background, give an indication of how badly I had treated my body over the years.
Early days until around fifteen I was running, playing Football and the usual games that boys play.
At this age I took up a sport, not so well known, but very hard on the back. This was Cycle Speedway and for the next eleven years this was my main form of exercise. A period of inactivity then followed for about twelve years before taking up Squash at the age of thirty eight. I played squash every day at a competitive level from then, until 55 at which time we moved to Asia and due to the heat, all exercise except skiing which I took up at age 46 ceased.
Certainly this was not the best preparation for maintaining the back in good condition, especially as I was particularly negligent in warming up before sporting activities.
Back to the present, and this time the problem was more difficult to solve than previously but after one month of daily manipulation, heat treatment and massage I started to feel better.
Suddenly one evening I was out with friends and felt a sharp pain in my back. On going to bed I found that sleep was impossible and I spent most of the night taking hot baths and pain killers. The following morning I drove to work in great pain but could not get out of the car. I was carried from the car and taken to hospital where a slipped disc was diagnosed and I remained in hospital for four weeks undergoing physiotherapy and rest to attempt a recovery. This was a shock to my system because I had only been away from work for four days during my working life of forty-eight years.
After this time the recommendation was that I needed an operation to remove the part of the disc that had slipped and trapped the nerve, which was by now making my lower leg numb and giving me severe muscle pain in the upper leg.
I was told that this would entail surgery plus a long recovery period but that I had no choice and by now, I could not walk and had to use a wheelchair to be moved around.
One of the Doctors at the hospital in Malaysia then suggested an alternative solution. He informed me that there was a technique that had been used very successfully, and was minimal invasive surgery called Percutaneous Endoscopic Lumbar Discectomy(PELD) and that this would enable me to return to normal, probably faster than with the usual open surgery.
However, there was a drawback; the technique was only available in certain countries, the nearest for me being Korea, but I was informed that the hospital in this country "Wooridul spine hospital" was
probably the best for my condition.
As Korea was the nearest location and recommended by a neutral Doctor I flew to Seoul on Wednesday April 12th.2006 and was collected at the airport and transported to Wooridul Spine Hospital by Mr. Hwang Lee (James!) who is the Chief of International Patient Centre.
He was surprised to see that I was in a wheelchair and commented that usually, the patient's condition had not deteriorated so far. This left me worried that I would not be able to have the procedure or that if I was to have it, that I would not make a full recovery.
However, I was examined by Dr. Choi on arrival and to my surprise I was informed that I would undertake the procedure the next day.
The next day I was taken into the theatre and the lower part of my body was anesthetized but I remained conscious.
After a short time, Dr. Choi showed me the broken pieces of my disc, the area was protected with a plaster and I was taken back to my room. The whole procedure took maybe 30-40 minutes and I felt no pain or discomfort.
On recovery, I still had numbness and pain in the leg but no back problem. On the Saturday, four days after my arrival in Korea I left Seoul and flew back to Malaysia.
On the Monday I returned to work much to the shock of my work colleagues who could not believe that I had left in a wheel chair less than a week ago, after being unable to walk properly for nearly two months and unable to walk at all for the last month.
During my short time in the hospital I was looked after extremely well by all staff and especially the nurses. Even Western food was prepared for me although food would have been the least of my problems.
I know there was surgery, but I have no mark and there were no stitches. When the plaster was removed I had no further protection except a second plaster for one week.
Admittedly, I felt pain, from the damaged nerve but as time passed I improved weekly so much so that I could go on my ski holiday this year and went for two weeks instead of the usual one!
For me it was fantastic to ski from 9 o'clock every day until evening without any pain or problem.
At the moment my wife and I go every weekend to various locations in Malaysia armed with a Heavy telescope and Camera to take nature photographs and although some days we walk too far and for too long, I am thankful I took the chance last year and I am delighted with my progress.
I am only sorry that I did not know of this procedure sooner as I feel very strongly that if I would have been treated before the onset of the leg pains that I would have recovered even faster.
I can only say:
THANKS TO WOORIDUL HOSPITAL AND STAFF.
Vincent Marsland. Continental Sime tyre (Malaysia) June 28, 2007
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