David's story was first published on the Brain & Spine Foundation website in 2011.
I played a fair amount of sport as a youngster and particularly enjoyed football. My proudest moment was playing for an FA team and also representing Middlesex 5 times which earned me a county cap.
Terrible back pain
Having eased off playing competitively following a knee injury, I was in my late 20s when I decided to join a group of chaps who got together on a Monday evening for a kick-about on an astroturf pitch. It was following one of these games that I woke up in terrible back pain, the start of a long journey which eventually culminated in lower back surgery some 15 years later.
Initially I did what you would probably expect - visits to my GP, taking painkillers, rubbing in balms, etc. I was still young and worked on the basis that although it was clearly a bad injury it would heal over time.
Seeing a neurosurgeon
The years went by and despite trying various treatments such as chiropractic and acupuncture, things didn't improve. I eventually therefore decided to seek the opinion of a neurosurgeon. Following an initial MRI scan, the neurosurgeon explained that my L4/L5 and L5/S1 discs had degenerated and that this was likely to be at the root cause of the pain. His recommendation was to initially try and resolve matters through conservative means, surgery being a last resort. This led me to my physiotherapist, who worked on core stability & improving my (poor) posture. I also had steroid injections to the facet joints which, combined with physiotherapy, provided some temporary respite, but unfortunately not the permanent relief I was desperately seeking.
As I moved into my 40s the discomfort became almost constant and although I was still able to work and even play a bit of golf from time to time, not a day went by without experiencing lower back pain. Things came to a head when my L4/L5 disc prolapsed (excruciating pain!) and it was shortly after this that my neurosurgeon suggested that I had reached the point where I should consider surgical intervention.
I will never forget the day when he described to me & my wife what this would involve - removal of 2 discs, fusion of 2 vertebrae & insertion of 1 artificial disc. If that wasn't bad enough he would gain access via the front!
It took me some weeks to mentally come to terms with this but I eventually decided to take the plunge and in January 2010 I booked myself in for the 5 hour procedure. The staff at the hospital were fantastic and amazingly I was up and about within 48 hours and back home within a week, being cared for by my loving wife, Tracey.
Virtually pain free
It is now 18 months since the operation and I am delighted to report that I am virtually pain free, playing golf regularly (handicap reducing) and every day thanking my neurosurgeon for what he has done for me.