Through the Operating Theatre and What Sophie Found There

The diagnostic operation involved just day surgery. Mike drove me to the hospital and stayed with me throughout, even watching the operation. The anaesthetic used works wonderfully on me - no bad effects or sickness after it at all, though Mike said I was very hazy for quite a while which I don't remember. They let me go home in the evening (though their normal routine is to keep a patient in over night). I wrote:

Back home after the diagnostic operation. Next appointment 16/11/98 when we get to discuss how it all went. Sore at the moment and left blood on their bed where all the needles went in. Complete ignorance as to what happened - I was under some sort of hypnotic so I did what they asked and forgot about it all.

on the evening of the operation. The following day, I was more verbose:

Dear Dr Munglani,

Since 16th November is such a long time away, I thought it might be useful to jot down things as they happen - and send them to you on email...

Last night was OK apart from some pain and soreness. I left blood spots on the hospital bed but not on my own. I slept well apart from a session awake at 2am, but was in no great pain then.

I woke at 6:10am with a localised dull ache at the base of my spine. Getting out of bed was easy - there were no additional pains. I didn't need to writhe around in bed or bath to get moving. I went to work where things have been reasonably easy (I didn't allow any appointments this morning) except for a need to adjust my chair since, although I could sit for longer than usual, it wasn't comfortable to do so. Pains are still the dull ache, but now with a slight increase as I bend forward.

Exercises last night and this morning were no problem, but then they weren't anyway.

More if there's something to report.

The soreness went away and I was easier in movement and less pained in the mornings. My tinnitus also reduced - the two things are linked!

Hydrotherapy was also beginning for real, after my evaluation sessions. Fiona taught me a whole lot of confusing exercises which I couldn't remember and couldn't fit all into the session (that now I can do in my sleep in 20 minutes!). After an early one, I wrote:

Hydrotherapy is weird. Surprisingly tiring - and reveals that not only do I not have the muscles you couldn't find, but I don't have loads of others either. Got home with a bit more lower back pain and slightly numb fingers...

As I continued the hydrotherapy sessions, they got easier to do (though 20 minutes exercising in water is still quite wearing). If you're a sufferer, then I really recommend you stick to the hydrotherapy work - its much better than dry land exercises. Since I was also still seeing the osteopath every 2-3 weeks at this stage, Dr Munglani seemed to treat me more quickly - I was on 'Maximum Conservative Care'. Another good reason for doing it!

Eventually the next consultation came:

20:10, Mon 16 November - time to see Dr Munglani again... OK, so he was running 20 minutes late... He seems very pleased with the results of the first diagnostic blocks - I haven't been in significant pain from the lower back since he did them - and wants to do another one in "the thoracic area" (shoulder blade level). Or he recommends permanent denervation of the established site, which I kind of go gulp at. Longer operation with chances of post operative pain for 8 weeks.

So another diagnostic block it is, then.

Problem time - he wants me in 15:00 hours Wednesday week. (or I think that's what he meant - he can't have meant this coming Wednesday!) Volunteers?

See what I mean about treating me quickly? But this wasn't a good time for me:

Well: 3rd osteopath visit in 3 weeks. But next week and week after are impossibly booked (I'm on the wait list for 3rd Dec but there are two other people on it already) so my next (and maybe last in 98) appointment will be 10th Dec. Ow!

Anyway, all is still horrid. The Tuesday agony turns out to be interesting: when I described it she asked if I was also sick, so I told her about Saturday's experience... There's a connection, apparently. Anyway, much T5-9 work on both sides, followed by a teeny bit on my neck and shoulder. Very draining experience all round. And drowning still to come, though Ginny hasn't noticed any effect of the hydrotherapy so far (I think I'm not having enough of it - 30 mins a week).

I started doing two hydrotherapy sessions a week - cheaper than the osteopath and BUPA would pay for it (though as I've noted, this too would change!). But I was getting depressed about it all again. This to my brother when he had a sore shoulder:

The current attribution of my problems is "inherited". Mum's hip replacement at 56, Dad's osteoarthritis at 50+ are viewed with a lot of finger pointing by the consultants. On the MRI scan, my first consultant said that there was a lot of wear and tear for someone who's basically got a sitting job - I'm in a worse state than he is and 25 years younger. My current consultant says blunt things like "your back's buggered" - but in a reassuring way overall. Its just that the prognosis isn't wonderful: if I go in for denervation of the three pain sites, he reckons about a 50% chance of relief for up to 5 years. By which time, I assume, some other bit of me will have decayed to a painful state.

My advice to you and Liz is to make sure you get your calcium (on the basis that that can't hurt, though both consultants say it will do me no good and is not implicated as a lack) and to make sure your back, shoulder etc get a decent amount of exercise. Nothing insane: walking and mild exercise is enough. I have to have special exercise to strengthen muscles which would normally be supported by the bones instead of having to support them. I must also avoid extremes of flexion/extension, which is why the hydrotherapy.

Ignoring things is the worse thing to do. See a chiropractor or osteopath as a first mild step. My osteopath kept me going for the last three years.

The next diagnostic block was just like the first one, but more so:

Much more pain from the needles themselves (and six needles instead of four) since Dr Munglani says the area is harder to reach. This led to a very difficult night's sleep on Wednesday, and somewhat of a difficult Thursday (in particular we had a presentation in the afternoon, and I could hardly get up and walk around - after 20 minutes, I was squirming with the pain). Thursday night also difficult to sleep (resulting in an oversleep to 7:02 am and a mad dash to get to work at my usual 7:30 (2 mins late if anyone's counting)) but it is noticeable that the post operative soreness is gone and that I have much more flexibility. Whereas I'd been visiting the osteopath weekly, I didn't this week at all (and probably won't be next week) and don't have much of a problem with this (though I did do a full hydrotherapy last night). I can reach down my legs to my ankles now - I guess toes will need to wait for my neck! This morning has been quite good, with long periods of sitting causing only a few aches and no significant pains.

Looks like this pain anaesthetist stuff is getting it right. But is an operation to kill the nerves really the right thing? I worried about this on and off over the next few weeks and kept being very mixed up about what I wanted to do.

His next letter to my GP raised an interesting issue:

''I admitted this lady for her diagnostic thoracic facet joint blocks. These were performed at T8, T9 and T10 blocking the medial branches to the joints bilaterally. There was certainly a lot of provocation induced pain despite deep sedation.

''I have warned her that these blocks are only temporary, but even if she experiences even temporary pain relief then again we may consider denervation. I look forward to reviewing her in a couple of weeks or so.''

On quizzing Mike, the bit about 'provocation induced pain' became clear - although I'm completely 'out' during the operation, I still feel the pain and react to it (by writhing around on the operating table!) which gives Dr Munglani a better idea of what's happening. I'm still going down hill, though:

> Nice to talk last evening. How are you - apart from "in"?

You rang after a particularly grim session of cautious stretches and pain, with me feeling more and more despair. Afterwards I went to bed and took two neurofen, so got a reasonable 7hrs. As I sit here, the middle of my back just feels hot, which must mean that Ginny will have a big problem on her hands. Still, she gets a Christmas card out of it, so it can't be all bad.

Hmm... 14/12/98 rolls up and I go and see Dr Munglani again. Thoracic blocks went pretty well, but now he wants to do a real denervation (on the lumbar region) on Jan 8th. Surprising myself, I agreed! Just before Christmas I went down with a mini-flu and spending time in bed, ill, made me happier with this decision - since my back went completely through the enforced bed time. Coughing while I was bent forward in the kitchen did something horrid to the lumbar muscles.

Not much sleep - too much pain from my back. Discovered that it was possible to cough or sneeze without additional pain by holding my right ankle tightly with my right hand. Expect to see bruises. Wasn't always succesful, either. No sleep at all until sometime after 3am, then only small bursts until I did something too painful. And, before you ask, I've been popping the Neurofen like smarties.

Had a very necessary relaxing bath this morning. Only a certain amount of pain in getting out again. Currently I'm up and dressed on the grounds that more time in bed is only going to make my back worse, though its not a help for the rest of the ailments. Wearing lots of layers though.

Life had one more thing to throw at me pre-operation. I had to move my desk:

Quiet day at work, so I did more moving of things from old desk to new desk (last done last year). They've decided to move me next week, so I can go slow, which is just as well since at 5 magazines a load it will take forever. Thoracic spine now making itself known...

Mike was away on business, so Mum and Dad came to do the necessary driving and I had to be content with an email from Mike:

> All the best tomorrow, Sophie

Parents here already. Rang hospital this morning and confirmed that I am going in (then found hospital letter on the mat at home this evening - it had been to Bourn in spite of being correctly addressed). Parents got here midday and have made themselves at home (Dad is watching a programme on Wherries). Done a hydrotherapy session and had a long word with my therapist about what next - I need to learn some new exercises apparently.

And then...

...and I'm home again. Just have to wait for first the anaesthetic and then the nerve blocks to wear off for the true measure of agony to present itself. Seeing Dr Munglani 15th Feb.

So, after a tricky weekend (below) I went to work the following Monday as normal - well, a bit less flexible due to taking it easy. People were interested, so I wrote a big summary for them:

Some of you know some of this, but it provides a comprehensive picture of the state of my spine.

Operations to examine what can be done about the pain I get from the degeneration of my spine have been proceeding since Oct 98 - these were "diagnostic blocks" where a large quantity of an epidural anaesthetic were injected precisely at the root of nerves in areas where pain from degeneration was greatest (e.g. the nerves on spinal facet joints and on degenerating discs themselves). The diagnostic block wears off, but if successful in the short term allows the surgeon (a specialist in pain management) to confidently carry out a more permanent operation, this being the only treatment available since they cannot cure the degeneration of my spine (due to "old age" or "wear and tear") at present.

On Friday evening, I had the first "denervation" operation on the lower spinal area. This is probably the ultimate in keyhole surgery - all work is done through a knitting needle sized probe which is directed by X Rays to the previously established site from the test operation. Six nerve roots have been killed and a large lump of anaesthetic dumped on the site in a manner similar to the diagnostic block operations. Because of the anaesthetic, the main pain from the operation at present has been from the probes tearing through the lumbar muscles to get at the lower spinal facet joints: I have not had much sleep Fri/Sat/Sun because of this, though it is getting better quite quickly (Sunday night was noticeably better than Sat, though I only got half a night's sleep). The muscle pain greatly inhibits motion - taking anything out of a Sainsbury's shopping trolley was impossible on Saturday morning). As the anaesthetic wears off over the course of the next four weeks, pain levels from the operation site will rise (Dr Munglani says I'll be cursing him in a month) before it all settles down in around eight weeks. The operation should be fairly successful - the diagnostic block here was wonderful and Dr Munglani predicted 50% chance of relief for at least five years (by which time something else in my lower spine will have decayed, I assume).

Meanwhile, I try to make the muscles in my back stronger by doing very strange exercises in a hydrotherapy pool (very warm shallow swimming pool) since my spine cannot be relied on to take the strain of carrying my upper body and anything else. I've been doing this for a couple of months now, but am still extremely limited in what I can carry for how long what angles I can bend at when carrying something. (lifting six magazines off the bottom shelf and putting them on the top shelf half a dozen times is a hard day's work)

As Dr Munglani gains confidence in this treatment programme he will do more denervations in my thoracic and cervical spine (mid back and neck areas) though a diagnostic block in the thoracic area was not as good as the one in the lumbar area due to the greater difficulty of reaching the nerve roots (more pain and lower time).

And today, I'm supposed to move my desk...

A drive that Friday from Cambridge to Bristol and back didn't go too badly. Some numbness from immobility before a break but no significant pain. Perhaps this denervation lark is really good after all? A trip to Newbury the next week was even less of a problem (though the traffic system there is dreadful!). Recovery was slow and a bit wobbly - as was I:

7hrs plus sleep (we're getting there) but on the morning loo dash my protesting muscles (hey, they may only be weak protesters, but they have a statutory right to protest) walked me in a neat semi-circle rather than loo-wards. They're better after a baf.

A similar strange effect was in the pantomime. I was playing Star, the 'good fairy' character. At the end Star does a twizzle as she leaves the stage for the last time - this hadn't been a problem, but it was now as I kept colliding with the scenery. And at the beginning, Star is in heaven - by standing on a chair (high tech stage show!) and I had to be helped on and off. I won't put you off, since I'll reveal now that I eventually regained most of the lost coordination - I guess I was relying on some input from the dead nerves to move and I had to learn a different way of moving.

I'm all late today - difficult night's sleep with sore throat and sore lumbar region. Very slow moving around - a full turn ends up being only 3/4 of the way round. Ah well - two sets of hydrotherapy, an osteopath visit and tonight's call on Dr M. to come. Forgot my costume for hydro, so I'll have to go early to get home first.

And so we come to the next visit to Dr Munglani:

So I worked and worked and worked. Went home and picked up my forgotten swimming costume and the post - I have run out of BUPA funding for consultations, physiotherapy and osteopathy and they only paid four pounds seventy four pence out of a one hundred and twenty pound claim. Also the hydrotherapy owners are claiming BUPA hasn't paid them, while I've got letters from BUPA weeks ago saying they have... Anyway, I went and did my pool exercises (usual sick feelings in the thoracic area - I do those exercises first to give them a chance to go away), dashed back home for food and then off to the hospital to see Dr Munglani (and get some book reading done while waiting...).

Dr Munglani gave me another picture of my back with needles stuck in it to add to my collection. He tested the lumbar and thoracic areas to see how they were (OK and OUCH!) and said he was very happy with the work on the lumbar area and he would like to denerve the thoracic. It hurts a lot at the moment, so I said OK... He wants to do it as soon as possible, but this seems to translate into the 9th of April (the Friday after Good Friday) since he wants to use the (better) Lea hospital machines rather than the (merely adequate) Evelyn hospital ones. And even that date is provisional, since he has been off lecturing and has to review his lists anyway. In the meantime he has recommended that I go to an accupuncturist for "intra-muscular stimulation" to help alleviate the current thoracic problems.

We talked a bit about the lack of BUPA funding - he's used to this situation and will reduce his consultation charges to half their normal level in order to limit my expenditure - but there are at least another four consultations plus some odd physiotherapy (forty pounds a go) and osteopathy (twenty five) treatments every three weeks and now accupuncture joins in. So long to the 1998 bonus! (just as well I didn't visit Jane's...) BUPA will, however, still be paying the in-patient costs which is just as well since the denervation was nearly two thousand pounds.

So there's the BUPA Gotcha! - a limit on funding for out-patient claims. Its at really quite a low level if you're into physio, hydro, osteo etc! Intra-Muscular Stimulation - Acupuncture for Masochists! meant another chance to visit the www for information. It doesn't tell you the following, though:

Well, just did the Acupuncture thing. Very prominent stabbing feeling, fading gradually to a dull lead weight. Currently feeling like I've been beaten up, but Jane says this should fade over the next two days. Like the other people who treat me, she says I really need this fixing - the neck and thoracic muscles she pierced were in deep spasm.

IMS remained painful, though not quite as bad as the first session. And it did help get me over what was quite a bad patch (Mike left me on March 9th). Next denervation scheduled for 16th of April due to the wobbly planning. Mum and Dad took me again and it was much the same as before, though a bit stiffer. I was surprised that at the pre-operation examination, Dr Munglani was also suggesting that he should denerve the right sacro-illiac joint and he should do diagnostic blocks on my neck.

> Glad to hear you've "survived"!

Survived - with depression/pessimism.

> Sorry to hear there's another threat lurking...

Its all going very pear shaped. What can I plan on being able to do in the future? Mum cut my grass on Sunday (not seen my gardener since before Easter) and she's not up to that, but wants to stop me getting hurt.

In early May, I flew to the States for the first time since any operations. Things were certainly a lot better - although the flight was uncomfortable - lying on the floor was preferable to sitting in the seat! - I didn't need to take any pain killers. To my parents:

> Hope your back and neck are treating you well. There used to be an old joke
> which asked - "Is life worth living?" and the answer was "That depends upon the
> liver..." One feels it now more in respect of the spinal processes I suppose.

I just did a trip to Bristol yesterday and don't seem to be bearing many ill effects. On the other hand, at rehearsal on Sunday, I pulled a muscle in the left shoulder blade area simply by getting up from a kneeling position. I guess I'm better than I was before (no painkillers needed on flights) but the over all forward outlook does look bleak.

> Lovely to see you on Sunday--best of luck with the new lot of work.

I was glad you could pop in, though the house is a bit of a state. Still, I did do all the ironing the previous weekend - it hadn't been done since before the operation!

I bought a new car (the company car having been taken away from me). Critical items were seat comfort, getting in and out and could I reach into the end of the boot. One car (Seat Toledo) I had to kneel on the ground to reach the back of the boot! Cars that fitted my back were the Mercedes A Class and the Lexus IS200 - I bought the Lexus since the Mercedes was very unhappy on the little back roads around my village. The Lexus salesman said I was the first person to ask for the accessories, too (I wanted parking corner sensors, so I didn't hit things when reversing, mudflaps, heel scuff plates and a cargo net in the boot so little things don't get out of reach). The Lexus has proved to be a great help on the longer journeys - car seating comfort is worth taking a lot of care over! But it didn't help over night (indeed, learning to get it into reverse was quite taxing!) and June was fairly bad. To my American pen-friend, Lynn:

> Sorry to hear about your back. Hope that you can
> stabilize the problem. From the various times I've
> been down one way or the other, I've sure come to
> appreciate the blessing of even the simplest of
> days when health is good.

I get very pessimistic about this, and also feel (as do other patients of the same consultant that I meet when doing hydrotherapy) exceedingly cheated. I've sat in front of computers or books for most of my life, not doing anything spinally damaging like bungee jumps or down hill skiing, and I'm now condemned to be uncomfortable at best. One of the other patients is a proof reader - our stories mesh to a remarkable degree. Strangely I've enjoyed some of it - meeting people at the hydrotherapy pool that I'd not have met in other circumstances. But when the hospital receptionist recognises you on sight and the nurse who checks you in skips half the questions on the forms since she knows the answers in advance, then that's a big hint that you're not at all well. 2 investigative op, 2 denervations done so far (lumber, thoracic), 2 more weak spots currently waiting examination (cervical, sacro-illiac).

I just did hydrotherapy - pool empty save for Betty who I've not seen for a month since she's been on a coast to coast walk across England. Betty isn't really a patient, but has some age induced loss of flexibility in her spine. She likes to copy my exercises as I do them (she's not seen one of the physiotherapists for her own tailored set of exercises, so she does the more obvious back related ones of mine). She's amazed by how high I can lift my legs (I can high kick to my shoulder height, and side kick to about 6" below that) but can't understand how I got so flexible. (in my perspective I've lost flexibility - I can't do the splits like I could when I was young - but most of it is inherited: I have double joints and am generally loose (which probably has contributed to the spinal wear rate - flexibility comes at the price of the joints not holding the bones firmly to the hard wearing surfaces)). After hydrotherapy, I came home to a microwaved meal - with my normal working day being 7:30 am to 5:00 pm I can usually cook a proper meal, but hydro after work means there's no time.

And to my parents in early June:

> Hope you are well. Regards and best wishes for the Harlequins.

Higher degrees of back pain at present (cold weather induced?) - needed to take pain killers last Tuesday to get through the night. Osteopath has moved me to 2 week treatment period from 3. I'll be seeing Dr Munglani tomorrow, anyway. Still, I did a trip to Bristol on Friday and one the week before without undue problems (provided I stop every hour!).

So life was settling down to a regular treadmill. 2 hydrotherapies a week after work. Keep having nerves killed (the next operation being a thoracic block on the 16th of June). Keep seeing the osteopath as required. Then on the 21st of June, I learnt that 'they' had decided to close the hydrotherapy pool - originally by the end of June but then for the end of July. Shocking - I was reliant on that pool and there are very few others around. The physiotherapist, Laurie Woolfenden would be made redundant by this and she decided to start up a new business on her own ("Physiomobile") and she managed to get some time during the summer in private school pools (The Windmill School that summer, later on The Grove School). So there was some treatment, but during summer, I got less than I had been getting. To Lynn, on the day after a lovely barbecue (the OORL one at Andy Hopper's house):

Bought a hosepipe for the garden so that I don't have to carry a watering can anymore. Otherwise lay around all day, but that's only to be expected since my back has been in major pain all week - obviously sitting/standing/crouching talking to people at the barbecue was too strenuous. No chance of an extra appointment with the osteopath, since one of their team is ill, so the rest are trying to deal with all the extra workload, so I'm just waiting and hoping it will fix itself. Its still bad, too - putting tights on this morning was a lie on the back screaming job.

So Element 14 was formed on the 26th of July and I hit the jackpot with Dr Munglani - he decided to do three denervations in a row. Among the people I emailed was the Element 14 CEO, Stan:

> > I've really hit the jackpot this time - just did the consultation
> > with Dr Munglani and he's going to do three denervation operations.
> > He'll start Sept 2nd with my right S-I joint and possibly other
> > L2 related stuff, then Sept 17th and Oct 1st he'll mount a
> > concerted attack on my cervical spine. This will bring my back
> > operation total to 8 (3 nerve blocks, 5 denervations) which will
> > win me a free entry into the wheelchair-for-life sweepstake.

> Won't having no nerves be a problem?

Yes: I'm clumsier and walk into things more often. In the Harlequins' Feb 1999 panto which was just after the first denervation, I had to twirl as I left the stage for the last time - no problem in rehearsals before the denervation, but in the performances, I kept missing the hole in the curtains or nearly falling over. I guess this is because my brain doesn't get signals that allow it to know precisely what position my spine is in. Or I could just be getting clumsier...

Anyway, its not the ideal form of treatment: I was very depressed when I first found out what they offered ("doctor, my back hurts, please fix it" "no, we'll just stop you feeling the pain") and more depressed last night contemplating another 3 operations.

Still, I have been in a lot of pain for the last two weeks or so. Life without pain is preferable to life with it, even though I'm certainly not getting any better. Bit like our networks, really...

Lynn responded to the same email:

> Gads, I hate to even think
> about it. But will it solve the pain problems? And will you be
> able to be more active? Whew, hope so - - - .

Hope is all I've got left on that one.

I cried last night. I'm more depressed about this further set of denervations than I was about this being the treatment in the first place. But there seems to be absolutely nothing else.

Into the bargain, the closure of the Bottisham Hydrotherapy pool has now occured and I'll only have 2 hydro appointments all August - after a routine two per week (it would have been 4, but flying to America and a board meeting get in the way).

and I went on another trans-atlantic trip in August. Which - surprisingly - went kind of OK. I didn't take pain killers, but did lie on the floor of the plane! And so September rolled around. I did all the operations - one:

Latest back operation: as well as can be expected. Exceedingly sore when I try to lean slightly forwards or any further. Next back operation 2 weeks away and then again two weeks after that (which will be 8 operations in total). (new readers can ask for a longer description - suffice it to say that all backs are not created equal and sitting still for 20 years can be as harmful as bungie jumping).


So the time has duly trotted round and Brian W chauffered me to and from the lastest operation on the right side of my neck. A great deal more primary pain, so two painkillers to sleep the night. Dr Munglani quite confident on this one - he was surprised at the problems he could feel in my neck, but surer therefore that the denervation would be a help for it. Nice to be back at the Lea hospital (the previous operation having been in the Evelyn) where everybody knows me - confusing Brian once, who thought a male nurse was Dr M!

and three:

So that's the last one done for at least a while - I don't even have another appointment to see Dr Munglani, though I expect that he will want to see me in 6-8 weeks time, if only to talk about the www site he's setting up!

Strangely, the left side of my neck is much more troublesome than the right side was. Two big painkillers worked pretty well last time, but this time I've had a really inadequate night's sleep of about 3 hours and its quite painful now. More pills soon - I expect I'll be OK by Sunday... Meanwhile the 4 weeks and two days ago lumbar and sacro-illiac denervation is beginning to act up as the mega dose of drugs wears off. October *is* going to be a fun month, isn't it? Anyway, I have the next week off work, though not off aquamobility, osteopathy and hydrotherapy.

The last two operations being on the cervical spine (neck) and very much more painful than previous ones! I'd found a way of getting more time in the hydrotherapy pool - an aquamobility class as well (always at the Windmill School with Hydrotherapy at the Grove School in term time). Getting over this lot was a problem even with the time off work and aquamobility:

Lower lumbar area frozen up over night - awoke in agony at 4am (without having woken at 1:40!) and spent an hour moving in mysterious ways before dozing off again and waking 10 mins ago starving and hurting. So Mrs Beeton's potato cakes for breakfast and then I'll relax in a bath to try and make some of it go away before seeing the osteopath (ah, timing) this afternoon.


Quiet classical evening with a surprise end of 15 mins of Rachel's maths homework. Difficult to get to sleep, woke at the celebrated 1:40 am and couldn't get back to sleep. Eventually practised one of my cunning tricks - added an extra duvet to the bed even though the room was still quite warm (21.3 deg C) - and slept 'til 6:30am, but stiff neck and sore lumbar region. :-( Hydrotherapy today, but no prospect of that fixing it a great deal.

Eventually I dragged my carcase back to work, and things gradually improved. I was exceedingly ill with a stomach bug during November, which put a little kink in my back, but nothing like as bad as before. I saw Dr Munglani for the last time in 1999:

As predicted, he's not going to get me in a hospital again this year. He is suggesting I go for Intramuscular Stimulation again (IMS - acupuncture for masochists) with particular attention to be given to the section between the thoracic and cervical spine and will write a referral note to a new specialist for this. He will also write again to Laurie Woolfenden (the physio/hydrotherapist) suggesting more new exercises for me to do. I still (as my osteopath had found) have a lot of healing to do on the left side of the neck and generally - he is hoping that after this has occured, and with the IMS and extra exercises, he won't have to do another set of denervations. I can't tell if this is to gee me up a bit (probably not - he seems impressed with my 'motivation') or he really does expect to forgo another holiday in Bermuda...

He'll set an appointment for some time early 2000, or if things don't improve, I should go to him earlier.

(bad news tonight - Windmill School Hydrotherapy pool isn't available this week (they've jacked up the building for repairs and not finished on time) so no hydro 'til next week)

And so I was referred to Robin Shepherd, the new IMS guy. Bearing in mind what had happened before with IMS, I was more than a bit tense, but it all went very much more easily than with Jane. Painful at the time - Robin suggested painkillers for the first week - but several sessions at the end of 1999 and the start of 2000 seemed to be very effective (and bridged a time of few hydrotherapy trips - aquamobility having had a christmas holiday). Robin has a www site at and at - may be worth a visit...

What will happen next? Go here to find out!

Words (c) Sophie Wilson, 1999-2000. Back to my Home Page. Or go to my remedies page.