I was scheduled for an x-ray prior to meeting with Dr Ayllon and I have to say I was impressed, especially for the Spanish! Bless the Spanish we always diss them for being late and slow and yesterday in the hospital they blew me away - we arrived at 17:45 for my x-ray and by 17:58 I was out having 2 x-rays done, waiting in reception for my results! In the UK you have to make an appointment which takes weeks, wait around for ages for the x-ray, pay an absolute fortune and it gets very tiresome, then you make another appointment weeks later to see the Dr with your x-rays.
I turned up at the USP Hospital and had my x-rays done in 13 minutes, walked to their other office to see Dr Ayllon and was in for my appointment with him on time - bloody marvellous, but hey I guess that is also the beauty of private healthcare, however, my last x-rays in the UK cost me 199 GBPs for one x-ray compared with €68 for 2 x-rays in Spain - they just don't compare, especially when you also compare speed of results and the lesser waiting times, where are the UK going wrong? Too many people skimming off the top of the NHS system I reckon, lining their pockets with tax payers money and consequently it all goes tits up!
Anyway, back to the job in hand, I could go on about the health system politics of the UK for far too long! - my appointment with Dr Ayllon.
He looked at my x-rays that I had of me bending forward and bending back, good news on this front. My lumbar spine is working together rather than vertebrae being lopsided or off course - excellent.
Dr Ayllon is sending me to Spine School for 4 weeks as he wants to see that I am exercising the right muscles, I did tell him that I force myself to be very active and I have never been one to sit around and complain whether I am in huge amounts of pain or not, but I see his point, he wants to be the judge of whether or not I am doing enough to help myself.
I wish I was as confident as he is about spine school giving me great benefits but right now I am not sure, don't get me wrong I will give it 110% but I have been doing many variations of exercise over the years, everything from Yoga to Walking to Pilates, Cycling (stationary bike), Swimming and other variations of exercises from different books (one being Pain Free by Peter Ecogscue). The spine school is a combination of pilates, muscle manipulation and physiotherapy, I will be in a class of people ranging from 4-12 adults with various spine problems, I start on 2nd October for 4 weeks with 2 sessions each week - Monday and Thursday from 19:30 to 20:30.
Once I have finished spine school I will have another review with Dr Ayllon I expect and discuss how I am feeling, has the pain eased and so on, I will of course continue to document how I am feeling and report on my sleeping patterns.
Should spine school not help me all that much then I have another option which is to have a small operation to insert a device called the "Wallis Interspinous" - I have yet to do research on this device or meet anyone else who has had this inserted but so far what I have learnt from Dr Ayllon seems promising.
The Wallis device is inserted bewteen 2 vertebrae to act as a shock absorber, give me back some support and hopefully reduce the pain from the discs that are wearing out.
Studies have been carried out about this device and patients have reported a 95% success rate with the Wallis, this gives me great hope for the future as I have not been offerred this kind of way out by any Dr before Ayllon.
As I said earlier I need to do further research on the Wallis device but right now I am positive about moving forward and gaining more of my life back, I am fed up with fighting pain all the time but like Dr Ayllon said I do have a life right now and he would rather keep it that way than fuse anymore of the spine.
I think the underlining factor is that he would rather see me manage my pain than have further fusion which may cause other problems in the future and while I can still get about let's try and keep that way. Besides all that, surgery us final, there is no going back, with the Wallis device I can have it removed if it proves to do nothing for me.
Don't misunderstand me here, I never went to see Dr Ayllon in a hope of being offered surgery, that is not what I am about, who wants to volunteer for surgery anyway? Let's face it nobody really would like to go through any kind of surgery, let alone major spine fusion!
I went to him to see if I can find answers and see if there is now another option for me, yes I can get about during the day, yes I can go on holiday, yes I can do gardening and swimming and walking but if I am really honest I have a lot of bravado about me, I cover up a lot of what I am feeling for fear of becoming a complete numpty, I don't want to complain all day long of pain, my friends wouldn't want to spend time with me if I was like that, so I am a silent sufferer where a lot of my pain is concerned.
In the mornings (3AM) when I wake up because I am hurting I feel awful, I struggle to walk or stand straight and the forcing myself to stand or walk is complete agony, short sharp pains up the spine like electric shocks and what feels like muscles spams around the hips - bloody murder! This is when I feel at my lowest, my mind goes off on a tangent and I wish I could end it all, life seems grim at that time in the morning when everyone else is in bed and I am laid on the bathroom floor hugging the side of the bath!
However, during the day when I am more mobile, these thoughts go away and I get through my days twinges, aches and short sharp pains by thinking about those who are in a much worse position than myself - there is always someone out there worse and I guess when you look at it like that - life isn't that bad after all.............. But again at 3AM when I am screaming down the house in pain because I can't move, I don't think about those people, all I am thinking about is how I am going to get myself out of this situation and continue smiling and acting like I can handle it - the long and short of it, at 3AM I CAN'T HANDLE IT!!!!!!!!!!!
One other thing before I go, I don't have flatback syndrome which is fantastic, I believe the biggest factor in play there is because my fusion ends at L1, all the harrington rod patients I have met over the years have had a longer fusion to L2, L3, L4 and even L5, they are the true flatbackers - Dr Andreen said "of course you have flatback syndrome, you have a harrington rod" (the harrington rod can cause a loss of lumbar lordosis) in 2004 but that it was nothing to worry about because my fusion didn't go that far into my lumbar spine - phew! I always thought that the reason I was sooooo stiff and bent over almost double when I got up from a chair was due to the small flatback syndrome shining through - Dr Ayllon said that was not the case and it is my muscles going into spasm instead - good stuff :)
Well I will love and leave you now and look forward to any comments you may have about harrington rods, flatback syndrome and most importantly - the wallis interspinous device