Monday, December 21, 2009

A Pain In The Neck (part 1)

A pain in the neck that stays for too long is not something you should take for granted even if you can stand the torture...

Here's the 1st part of my story, from the beginning to the cure, which spanned almost 2 years.

The first strike.

It was the month of March, year 2004 when I found myself staring at my own skeleton. There was this not so obvious thingy which is not supposed to be sticking out, actually sticking itself out into another part of my anatomy, which puts pressure into my nerve which goes into my arm causing numbness that runs down my right arm down to my thumb and sometimes my last finger. Follow?

Prolapsed Disc. That’s how the specialist described it after looking at my MRI scan results. There were half a dozen A2 sized slides showing what looked like fossil bones dug up from somewhere (if only I know what I'm looking at) and that’s what the doctor said was the cause of my pain in the neck.

“…there is a central to right para-central prolapse disc with posterior osteophyte at C3/C4 and C5/C6. The cord is compressed and the right lateral recess are narrowed at these levels,”… which almost seemed like Greek to me, until I started looking for these terms in

I had actually had the pain for a little bit too long, like more than a month, before I realized it wasn’t normal. There was also that tingling down my right arm. Several visits to the doctor later, he gave me a note to refer me to a specialist. That took me to Lam Wah Ee, Penang.

The attendant ordered me to get into my birthday clothes, remove all rings, dentures (if any), watches, wallets, credit cards…(boy, did I feel naked without my wallet) and given a ‘nightgown’ to put on. I had to lie down on a contraption which somewhat resembled a medieval torture rack, strapped in, donned a pair of ear-mufflers and before she rolled me into what looked like a tunnel she told me it would take 30 minutes, and don’t move! I almost panicked. I thought claustrophobia and stared at the roof of the tunnel which was so close to my face I felt I couldn’t breathe! The gizmo went grrrh-grrrh-bump-bump and started to increase in tempo and resembled a rock concert disc that got stuck in mid-track. Ages of Namo Amitabha later (it was only half an hour?) the noise level went down by like a few hundred decibels. And I also discovered I was still breathing. She pulled me out of the hell-hole. That rock concert blew a RM750 bill for my health insurance to sweat out.

Now that we found out what gave me the pain in the neck, the nag-in-the-pain (I mean the nagging pain) was classified as the 33.3% theory. 33.3% of people with this condition get worse, 33.3% have to bear this forever and 33.3% get lucky, I mean, get better. I told the doctor I’ll get better. That was after he told me what was involved if I opted for surgery and about the chances of improvement or the other options of therapy and self-improvement exercises. I didn’t bother to ask about the cost of surgery though. By the time I got the verdict (oops) diagnosis, I’d already made up my mind there’s to be no surgery involved. From the time when the pain first hit me until after the ‘rock concert’ I‘d already realized the pain wasn’t that bad anymore. He told me it would take 6 months to know which way it goes.

It’s been a year since then. I stand among the 33.3% lucky folks.

But wait. There's more to come.

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