The pain started about a month ago. Could have ben 25th April. The day we went paintballing. I don’t recall much but it was just this pain from the back, between the shoulder blades. Bending and tiliting one’s head hurt, alot.
On 26th, I went to do my level 3 course, and after that I went to lead. It was the first time leading in 2 weeks. I found I had very little strength in my thumb. I couldn’t clip the draws properly. Next day at work, I found I couldn’t type properly. My thumb and little finger felt clumsy and weak.
Over the next 5 weeks I would continue climbing. Climbing seemed to loosen the muscles and made me feel alot better. The pain always seemed to subside alittle with climbing. I first went to see a GP around mid-May maybe, because the pain wouldn’t go away, even though the strength returned slowly. I found that my left arm was much weaker than my right though. I just couldn’t hang as long on my left. GP gave painkillers and some cream. I didn’t take the painkillers. Didn’t like them.
The pain persisted and on 21st May, I went to see a TCM. The TCM treatment was acupuncture at the neck and shoulder, and then cupping, and then the ‘shifu’ cracked my neck left and right. It felt better for a while, and then it felt alot worse. That Sunday, 24th June I went climbing despite the pain and it didn’t get better. It was so bad.
Tuesday I saw a chiropractor who told me to stop climbing. Thursday I saw a sports doctor who said that it was likely that something is wrong with my disc. It is compressing my nerve. He suggested that I go for an MRI. I was stunned. Friday I did my MRI and was supposed to see the doctor on the following Thursday, but on Friday, I rescheduled my MRI for Tues. The doctor gave me Lyrica and Nuerotin to eat. Afterwards I found out that the Neurotin was given wrongly–I should have been given Methycobal.
Over the weekend, I went to Malacca and that nagging tingling in my nerves just didn’t go away. I was pretty depressed, but visiting Malacca helped take my mind off. Tues I saw the Sports Doctor and was given devastating results – herniated disc at C6-C7 and another disc protrusion at C5-C6. You probably can’t avoid surgery, was his advice, although he did seem slightly surprised that I had responded to the drugs already. That night I couldn’t sleep. My hand kept feeling numb and I would wake up before it did. That went on the whole night.
Weds was a mad crazy day at work. I went to see a neurosurgeon whose advice was also to do a surgery, of the 2 discs that were the culprits. For various reasons, I handled that information slightly better, although it still scared the hell out of me. But I suppose, at least I knew what I could do–if I wanted a surgery, I could get it done within 3-4 days. That night I slept very well and woke up on Thurs feeling pretty happy. It helped that the night before, I finally plucked up the courage to read online about my situation and was hopeful that perhaps surgery may not be needed–I could wait for the herniated portion to dissolve and be absorbed by the body. I hoped.
This afternoon I saw another specialist. I came armed with questions on how to do conservative treatment. But this neurosurgeon gave the same advice–surgery or risk further nerve damage and muscle atrophy. I wasn’t so much sad as I was angry this time–why did I hope? Why did I think I could have a chance to recover without surgery? Why did I think I could resume my activities just by waiting it out? Why did all the roads point to surgery?
Came back home, trashed things out with my Dad. I told him that at the start, I had reduced functions of my fingers, but now some of that strength has returned. I only stopped climbing about 2 weeks ago. Shouldn’t I give my body a chance to heal on its own?
There are no perfect answers and I may regret the day that I stubbornly refuse to do surgery for nothing more than a lack of faith and trust in medical science. I don’t know. But I will watch myself closely.