The date that I will never forget. The very day that I was wheeled into the operating theatre (OT). Even though that was my 7th times into the OT (previously were 4 C-sects, a D & C and an appendicitis), but this time the feeling was more scary because I don't know what to expect.
I was diagnosed having slipped disc in June 2012. It started when I was having a terrible backache after lifting not-so-heavy plastic box in my bedroom. I thought it was just another episode of muscle sprain, so I went for a massage by the usual masseuse that I used to call for. It was so painful as it was like shooting pain that I felt from the back till right below my left calf. I kept on putting heat rub and heat patch. After a week the pain did not subside. I dragged myself to see the doctor at the clinic that I normally go. The doctor gave me painkillers to take for a week. Unfortunately the painkiller did not do any good, so I went to see the doctor again. She suspected something unusual so she referred me to the specialist.
I went to TMC which is near my house for further check. I did the MRI and based on the MRI, the orthopaedic (Dr. Soong) confirmed that I was having slipped disc. I was so sad thinking that I have to avoid many activities that I love to do. I had to stop my gym activity, I could not lift heavy things etc. Dr. Soong scheduled a series of physiotherapy for me to undergo. The physiotherapy ranges from what is called 'traction', putting cold pack on my back and electrical nerve stimulation.
Due to the physiotherapy, there was a slight reduce in the pain but I cannot sit for too long. As and when I need to lie flat on my back just to relax for at least an hour.
In July 2012, in the middle of Ramadhan, we went back to Banting to celebrate fasting month with our family there. It was on 29 July at about 10.00 am I was lying down reading novel, I felt the pain on my right leg just like the one I had on my left leg. And suddenly I felt slight numbness from knee below. I was so surprised as I do not know what to do. I just applied deep heat. The next morning I called Dr. Soong informing him about my condition. He asked me to go to the hospital which I did. Another MRI was done and based on that, Dr. Soon told me that my condition is getting worse. The disc has bulged out from its place. I was immediately warded and was scheduled for a minor procedure which is called 'facet block injection' the following day. It was basically injecting the medicine into the problematic disc. I asked to be put under GA but refused by the anaesthetist and she put me under local anaesthetic instead:-) I had to stay in the hospital for another night.
The following week I met Dr. Soong again. He suggested to undergo surgery. It was to take out the problematic disc and putting the titanium plate to support the missing disc. The word surgery really scares me. This is a different one from those I had before. The fear is one thing and the costs involved is another. If I were to do it at TMC, it will cost RM35,000 - RM40,000 without any complications. I told him that I need to go for second opinion.
A few days later I went to KPJ Seremban with my good friend Noura to meet the spine surgeon there i.e. Dr Shukor. He suggested the same option i.e. surgery and the cost of having it there is not more that RM20,000 if without any complications.
All the costs for the treatment I had was covered by my hubby's employer via insurance. At this point the insurance coverage has decreased to slightly less than RM20,000. That is why we had a tough time to decide on the surgery and which hospital to go. I met Dr. Soong again and told him that we couldn't afford the cost if I were to do it at TMC. He suggested me to see his friend Dr. Tan who is a part-time spine surgeon at TMC but is a full-time surgeon at Hospital Putrajaya. I got to meet him after Hari Raya.
When I met him he explained to me what is the procedure like in details. He also gave me the assurance that the cost to do it at Hospital Putrajaya will not exceed RM20,000. This gave us better hope. The surgery is scheduled on 6 September 2012. I had to be admitted a day earlier i.e. 5 September, in the afternoon. Alhamdulillah the admission process went smoothly. I was put in a 6-bedded room in the orthopaedic ward. My first experience in a government hospital. By Allah grace, many good things happened; that night Dr. Tan informed me he manage to get 50% discount on the cost of the titanium plate which will be put on my back (the original cost is RM10,000/pair. In government hospital, the cost of equipment used is to be purchased separately and is not included in the hospital bill). I was asked to start fasting from 2.00 am on 6 September.
I woke up at 1.00 am to have some light snacks i.e. hot tea and some biscuits. Then I performed 'solat hajat & solat tahajud' (voluntary prayers). Then I read some surahs from the Quran. It really calmed me down. Then the waiting began. I was informed that I will the 4th person for the orthopaedic surgery. My hubby came during the visiting time and he stays with me as the hospital allowed next-of-kin to stay. My brother Alang also came in the afternoon. Their presence some how or rather gave me sort of calmness.
At last I was called into the OT at around 4.00 pm. Pheww! such a long waiting plus the hungry stomach!:-( Hubby accompanied me until the OT door. I keep on 'zikir'....I was so scared.....
When in the OT (it was around 4.30 pm), the anaesthetist (could not recall his name) introduced himself and explain to me what he'll be doing. Then came Dr. Tan and the anaesthetist injected the anaesthesia then it was all dark for me;-)
I heard somebody calling my name and I asked him to pull me a bit to the right as I felt so painful and he did. I saw his blurry face and I assume he was the anaesthetist. I was wheeled into the ward. I asked hubby what time it was and he told me it was 10.30 pm. Then I saw my sister Akak, my brother Acek, my SIL K. Ana, my niece Nazira and my nephew Ikram. After talking to me for a few minutes, they went back home. Then the anaesthetist came and told me to press the button on my hand if I ever feel any pain. It was heroin as the pain killer and I was put under it till the following morning. The next morning Dr. Tan came to see how I was doing. I was to lie flat on my back for 3 DAYS. It was quite difficult as I felt the pain on my feet as I could not move my body to the left and right. Everything I did need to be assisted...brushing teeth, eating, getting things.... I felt so helpless and sad. The pain on my back was indescribable after the 'heroin' was disconnected.
It was a long 7-hour surgery. Earlier Dr. Tan mentioned to me that it will be a mere 2-hour surgery as was considered as minor surgery. But according to him, there are complications so lot of time needed to untangle the nerves in the disc (layman term...can't remember the exact medical term though). My hubby told me that everybody was so worried that after 2 hours I was not out of the OT. So many things came into their minds especially when we had the experience in which my father passed away on the OT bed:-(
The next morning I was allowed to have my first meal AFTER 32 hours. I had bread, porridge and coffee. Alhamdulillah... That afternoon I was transferred to the 2-bedded room. That night Akak accompanied sleeping in the ward. At least I have somebody to help me and the following night hubby stayed in. During the day Akak went to Adik's house to rest. She even cooked for me the snake head fish soup that hubby bought at the market. That is our family's signature dish for anybody who is recovering from any surgery.
I am also thankful that many friends, family & relatives came to visit, be it my STF SK86 friends, my ex-Jakartans, my ex-Celcom, hubby's office mates, children, siblings, nephews, nieces and my in-laws. Their presence really cheered me up.
I was discharged after 8 days in the ward. I needed to put on a brace on my waist to ease my movement. I needed to really careful with my movement and the wound need to be treated and dressed accordingly. The wound was 6 inches long just above the lumbar. It healed properly within 2 weeks (the outer part).
The pain due to slipped disc was gone. What left in me is the numbness from calf below on my right leg and pain on my butt if I sit down for too long. It really affects my movement as I could not run anymore, I have to really watch my steps especially on uneven space (I tend to trip and sprained my ankle) and sitting for too long esp while travelling. Therefore, a walking stick is my best friend now. If I ever in any journey by car, hubby will stop at least every 2 -3 hours. Well, according to Dr. Tan the numbness may go or may stay permanently. I just hope it will go permanently someday.
I had another procedure of 'facet block' sometime in the end of 2013 to treat the pain on my butt. But it did not go away. I still feel the excruciating pain if I ever sit for a very long time. Therefore, I will always walk around or lie down to ease the pain. I cannot perform 'solat' as the normal person do, I need to do it while sitting down on a chair instead. As much as possible I will avoid sitting down on the floor as it is very difficult for me to get up.
During these 2 years, apart from the continuous check-ups at the hospital, I have tried some alternatives treatments i.e. Islamic medical treatment, cupping (bekam) and acupuncture. I am yet to find the right solutions/cure for the both numbness and pain. As of now, I need to go for bi-annual follow-up with the doctor.
Alhamdulillah I can still do many activities, go anywhere which my health & money permits me, manage my family and serve my Creator....