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Tony's story

Tony started having back problems in 2009. He used his experience to give something back to the Brain & Spine Foundation by participating in the Brainiac Big Swim in 2015

I was getting a lot of lower back pain and kept on going to see my GP all he kept on giving me painkillers, I was referred to the Queen's medical centre in Nottingham to see a spinal consultant. He tried me on spinal injections which seemed not to work. In September 2009, I was listed for a L5/S1 discectomy which would help me as I had pushed my disc out and it would not go back on itself. It seemed to help me for a while, then I was soon feeling the pain I had before and some numbness on the left side. I went back to my GP and he referred me back to the same consultant and I had pushed the same disc out again and I was listed for a revision L5/S1 discectomy which was in April 2010. Following the first discectomy, I suffered a cerebrospinal fluid leak due to the nerve being cut during the operation. I had to lie still for 24 hours and it felt like I had been run over by a bus.

I have been suffering ever since I have been going to pain clinic since, have had more injections and a lot of pain meds, at present I am on Citalopram 10mg one daily, codeine 30mg 2 – 4 times daily, Diclofenac 50mg 1 - 3 times daily, Omeprazole 20mg once daily, paracetamol 500mg  2 - 4 times daily, Pregabalin 300mg 1 – 2 daily and Nefopam 30mg 2-3 times daily.

I went to see another consultant in September this year. He had a look at my MRI and said it shows a reduced signal intensity and disc height at the L5/S1 level associated with left paracentral prolapse and compression on the left S1 nerve root. Part of the disc appears to be sequestrated. I was then in discussion with consultant for further surgery, which then I was listed for a revision L5/S1 discectomy and fusion. I am on a 10 month waiting list and still on pain meds, also I have numbness from my buttock down the back of my left leg and into my left foot, at present I can only feel my big toe in my left foot. I still work full time to try to keep myself active try to keep my mind of the pain. 

I am going for a pre-assessment on the 23rd January and scheduled for surgery on the 31st January, had surgery had a posterolateral fusion with instrumentation using my own bone as well as doner bone. Very sore at the moment but taking it easy. I got out of hospital last night, have to wear a soft corset when walking and sitting down, have a follow up appointment in 6 weeks time. I went to see district nurse yesterday to get my wound checked and it is healing very well.

I ended up back in hospital on the 1st March with an infection in my wound, I later found out it was Staphylococcus. I ended up having surgery again as they had to open my wound and flush it out and I was given a course of antibiotics with a irrigation system in my back with a saline solution going in at the top and two drains at the bottom for five days which was very uncomfortable. Ten days later whist still in hospital I had to have the same operation again with the washout but this time I had E.coli which now on IV antibiotics and the irrigation system in again. I am with a team called OPAT so I was discharged from the hospital on the 25th March and are giving my own IV antibiotics at home with the support of OPAT nurses, for two weeks then go on to oral antibiotics for three months. I go back to see my consultant in two weeks time for a check up, back is getting better just a bit sore. I also had to have a blood transfusion with three units of blood as I was that unwell. I am keeping my chin up and trying to get back to normal.

I ended up back in hospital with a  high temperature of 40. I went back on the 3rd April and had another wash out on the 4th April and another blood transfusion. I was in until the 15th April. I am doing fine at the moment and go back to see the consultant again in six weeks. The only concern I have at the moment is my left leg is numb quite a lot, but it comes and goes.

I went to see consultant on the 3rd June and was sent for an x-ray to see how my fusion is doing. I was given the ok to go back to work at the beginning of July, and my fusion is fusing ok.

I went for my 18 month review in July 2014. My back has fused together and I was discharged from the hospital as there is nothing else they can do now, just left with a bit of numbness in back of leg and in left foot. Trying to get back to normal now in full time work and enjoying life. I am also now planning to do the Brainiac Big Swim for the Brain & Spine Foundation as swimming is one of the few forms of exercise I can do and I would like to give something back to the charity after the help they have provided.

Many thanks for reading my story.