23.4.12

Some disc-ursive learnings from a surprise spinal surgery


This last week was pretty crazy. I would have laughed if someone told me in advance how it would pan out. This post is dedicated to the friends and family who helped me when I was in a lot of pain and was unable to do anything by myself!

I woke up on Sunday ready to fly to Kuala Lumpar and was looking forward to flying to California later in the week. As I woke up to pack a bag I realised that both my legs were numb and that I had pain in my lower back and stomach. I went straight to hospital where I was given pain killers and was told to see a back specialist to follow up on my slipped disc from a year ago. The specialist suspected an early stage instance of cauda equina syndrome and arranged an MRI scan. On receiving the results he ordered me to  return to hospital for emergency surgery. From that moment on Thursday morning through to returning home on Monday I learnt and relearnt a number of important things which I have shared below:

1. We are only as strong as the network of family and friends that we call upon to help us in times of crisis. The many hospital visitors, phone calls and messages helped to overcome the moody side-effects of the kinds of painkillers that could floor a rhino! Thank you to friends and family, old and new. I really appreciate it. I never knew how many talented doctors, physios and therapists I had access to until I needed them the most.

2. Humour is a healer. It relaxes the mind and frees it from stress and worries that can hinder the resting process. Laughter helps us to heal quicker and distracts us from problems we cannot solve. My friends and cousins know this about me and worked hard to make me laugh and giggle like a fat toddler throughout the week.

3. Doctors and nurses do the hardest jobs in society but are amongst the most under-celebrated professions. This makes no sense to me.

4. Listening to the advice of friends and family is a good idea. They usually know what is best for you when you are unable to make smart decisions or are in shock.

5. Always be prepared for help to come from the most unlikely source. Make sure you show your gratitude to those who help you and let them know explicitly that you are always there for when they need your help. Serving others is as rewarding as seeking their help.

6. Stretch everyday and stretch well. It takes 10 minutes to do and provides a disproportionate return of health and happiness.

7. Patience is a virtue. You already know that. I do too. But I never know it when I need to know it.

8. Smile when you are not sure how else to react. A nice smile warms people towards you and is the reassurance that a stranger needs when you ask them for help. Chocolate also helps.

9. Always be ready to learn. Be especially ready to relearn skills that you think you already have. I had to learn and am still learning how to walk again. Resist the temptation to run before you can walk. I am doing particularly badly at this but need to learn how to do it.

10. People may mock the sterile nature of Singapore but on occasions like this you want things quickly and you want them to work. This makes me love living in Singapore even more than I already did before.

I now have a few weeks of rehabilitation ahead of me and am already in deep gratitude to the friends and family who will help me back to 110% health. Thank you. :)