We never think we will ever need any kind of surgery, we assume we will live healthy and happy lives with no glitches. Yes I thought that too. Up until late last year. I had always considered my self quite fit and active. Whilst at school I was in the netball, hockey and volley ball teams.
Once I had left school and finished with education and started working, I joined the local gym, and also took up yoga. Having moved to Thailand I continued with yoga, sometimes attending classes three times a week. I can’t profess to be any good at it but at least I was exercising.
Late September 2016, I acquired what i thought was a “hamstring” injury in my left leg. I did the usual, took pain killers and rubbed in that cream that emanates heat. I even went to see acupuncturist, who helped a little. He gave me massages and made me feel OK for a short time. But the very next hour the pain was back. It got to the point that it was painful to walk that’s when I started to take it all more seriously.
I couldn’t quite understand how a ” Simple hamstring injury “, could hurt so much. I was unable to get up and sit down or get into the car without wincing. The pain steadily got worse. I took more and more painkillers. it just didn’t go away. Even at this point, I never thought I would have to end up needing surgery. This just didn’t occur to me.
It was a very busy time for us, we were due to move home, by now we are in mid October. I had packed up the old condo and shopped for and arranged the redecorating of the new one. And all with the aid of those lovely pink I buprofen tablets! I was probably, well not probably, I was very, very foolish. I even went on a weekend away to Singapore!
On my return, I was in agony, felt pain like never before. I fell out of bed and couldn’t stand. It was then I relented and finally listened to my husband, we had to go to hospital. I was examined and an X- Ray was taken, pain killers were prescribed and I was told to return in five days if I was still suffering. I returned in four! I had an MRI and that’s when the true extent of what had happened to me was exposed. I had a herniated disc, in the region of L 4 and L 5 , herniated by about 50%. I was offered physio therapy. Which I had for six sessions over two weeks.
Even at this stage I refused to believe, and to be fair the doctor didn’t tell me, that I would need surgery. I was living in the hope that the lovely young physiotherapist, fresh from university would be able to heal me. It took an old friend to see me at an early Christmas bazaar, ( yes I was still going out and about ), to stop me and ask why I was limping. After hearing my long saga, she insisted on me going to see the orthopaedic surgeon her husband had seen in at Bumrungrad hospital.
At this point I was completely in denial … I was convinced with more medication and physio therapy, I was going to be healed and this was all just a temporary hiccup. Thankfully my husband stopped listening to me protesting that I didn’t need to see a specialist in Bangkok, and an appointment was duly made. I need to back up a little, on the odd occasion during our life here, that we has discussed hospitalisation of any kind, I always insisted that we would just jump in aeroplane and go back home. Home being the UK. We had private medical cover and I had also worked for the NHS. I was confident that we would never need any kind of surgery in Thailand. It just wasn’t going to happen to us!
How ridiculous do I sound ! What idiot chooses when to be sick and unwell? No one wants to have an accident, do they? Well that idiot was me ! How arrogant was I.
In the doctors room , I was shocked into silence. The situation was bad. I needed surgery immediately. He wanted to admit
me straight away. I cried and cried. I wanted to fly home, I wanted to fly to Singapore. I was afraid of having surgery in Thailand.
Why ? I didn’t know. I thought it would be better for me, at home or where my brother lives in Singapore. I now realise I wanted to be where my family was. I was alone, well just my husband and I. How would he cope, with me needing help with everything afterwards. I was being childish and just needed the comfort of having my parents and sisters around me.
I was afraid. My husband is very capable, we have two children. But this was very different. I was not in control. I was admitted the next day, due to some administration issues. I had time to absorb what was going to happen. This was good for me. The surgery went well thankfully. I stayed in hospital for two nights. The night before and the night after the surgery. I was able to walk, without pain as soon as the anaesthetic wore off. I was so relieved to be pain free. I can’t say it’s been an easy recovery. Any kind of surgery it tough on the body. But I’m getting there, I can walk pain free and my mobility is much improved. Why I doubted the surgical abilities within the hospitals here, I don’t know? Fear perhaps? I live here, where and why would I go elsewhere for surgery. I trust my dentist, why not my orthopaedic surgeon?
What I’m trying to say is, please don’t wait and do not make excuses, as I did. If you need medical help, if you need surgical help. Seek it. Thailand has some of the best surgeons in South east Asia. They are fluent in English and are hugely experienced and here to help. I can’t praise the surgeons at Bumrungrad hospital enough, the nursing staff and health care assistants were amazing. The technique used on my back was a pioneering non invasive one. With a tiny incision ,that’s hardly noticeable. In hindsight, I wish I had sought help sooner. It would have saved me a lot of pain and anguish.
But hey, I will know next time !!