What happened

I really was unsure, should I keep this personal, it is after all quite invasive surgery, my Bulgarian teacher said ‘your books are very personal perhaps you should share this too.’

Sam Manicom suggested posting on my behalf, I was reluctant, I’m not a fan of sympathy seeking posts “hugs hon, thinking of ya’’ I do remember when I posted a photo of myself hooked up to a drip last year with kidney stones the response was overwhelming I could see how someone could get addicted to such things.

But in a moment of morphine fuelled spontaneity I gave Sam the go ahead.

What can I say, it’s absolutely mind-blowing ,the response has been truly emotional, my fingers shake above the keyboard and a lump comes to my throat just trying to find the words to express what I received in the way of best wishes, love, advice, encouragement and offers of help. Stunning.

I want to reply to everyone, it’s so impersonal not to, and I will try to, but that may take a while and in a now reduced state of pain killers I decided a brief explanation and update was the way forward. As I can now sit up and type, albeit in short bursts.

So briefly what happened was, and I’ll try and keep it short as there is nothing as boring as someone going on about their ailments

About 18 months ago, shortly after I came to Bulgaria I moved a big rock, with Stonehenge equipment but less man power. It was back breaking work, apparently literally.

I continued to work on my house and get contradictory advice as to the cause and cure of my problems, over the course of that time I attended wheelie school, rode twice to Romania, did The Iron Butt Challenge, and built a shed and an upstairs bathroom among other things.

The sciatic pain started last July and a CT scan revealed that the L4 vertebra was 11mm out of place, I had a slipped disc, disk hernia and a trapped nerve, exercise would sort it but again I was paralysed by contradiction as to which exercise.

Then with the big snow last month I got out the snowboard and took the pain to a new level. It was time for some more advice. The recommended chiropractor in the capital sent me to a surgeon on the Friday. I rode the Triumph, it’s faster, cheaper and easier to park than my truck, plus with the snows melting it was the first ride of the year. I saw the surgeon at 11am and was in the MRI machine ten minutes later, by 4pm he told me of all the issues I was already aware of and also that the 11mm displacement was now 17mm and ended his synopsis with a casual ‘and there is a fracture’

‘Did you say a fracture?’

‘Yes and if you don’t get it sorted soon you will not be able to walk, you should think about surgery.

‘OK’

‘OK, when will you decide?’

‘I have, OK, I’ll have surgery, what’s to think about?’

He said ‘well it’s not urgent, so come in Wednesday’

I was in shock and rode back home like there was no future, what the fuck, I’m already broken.

I spent the weekend goggling him, the operation and asking a lot of questions, there was a 90% success rate, 5% of the failure was not illuminating the pain and the other 5%? ‘Well you know what that is’ he’d said, in a way that made me not want to ask.

Talk about a tough decision, if this goes wrong I would long for this limited mobility and manageable pain I have right now but that is not going to last.

 

I made my decision and drove myself to hospital on the Wednesday. I was led to various places to check I was in operable condition, heart – multiple breaks, blood- intoxicated, x-ray – transparent.

Thursday morning I got up and shaved, like a man going to the death sentence, I thought of the Johnny Cash song 25 minutes to go

What about the 10% chance of failure? There is maybe a 10% chance I will sway the girl I currently have a crush on, and in  her case I like those odds, it’s worth persevering, in that context 10% is optimistic, but in a failure rate?

I signed forms I couldn’t read and at 8am was gathered up with the other operatees to go up to the floor of fixing.

I have a new definition of scary, not setting off to ride half way round the world alone, not even riding into Iraq on my own or standing up in front of an audience to speak, now it’s this: Laying on an operating table in my underwear, in a land I barely speak or understand the language, with a mask being held over my face by an anaesthetist, knowing that I’m about the loose consciousness and be cut open to have 6 screws and 2 rods put into my lower spine. In an operation that is to last 4 hours.

‘The operation was a success’ I hear when I’m woken, the light reflecting on the door was low, what time was it?  5pm. The operation had lasted 7 hours, there found multiple fractures, and they had removed bone and cartilage, and freed up a very damaged nerve.

I was laying on my back as full consciousness occurred the pain was immense. I was sedated and spent an endless night in ICU. Not knowing the time was a greater torment than having a woman in the bed each side of me and not being able to move, another threesome opportunity missed, there was a lot of pain in that room and we were all very subdued.

When it finally got light, beds were manoeuvred and I was first out, pushed buy a toothless woman who clearly doesn’t drive or even understand the basic physics of movement and steering. I was bumped to the CT scanner, my back was used to lever the bed around a 90 degree corner and then the agony of the transfer onto the CT table, utter pain. But once back in my room the relief was immense.

I was made to stand, and in a feverish sweat I made it to my feet before nearly fainting and laying down again. Pathetic; however there was no sciatic pain and there is no bigger motivator to gain mobile independence than having a catheter in. And the next day it was removed, although I may get one for those lazy winter weekends when you just want to stay in bed.

I walk like Ozzy Osborn in slo-mo, the pace of life is definitely going to drop several gears for a while, the perfect time to watch springs daily changes to the countryside.

Yesterday evening, long after I imagined he would have been off duty my surgeon came in my room with two photo copied x-rays, a before and after. I think he is quite proud of what he managed to do to my back, it is realined, he has every right to be. He said, glancing at his phone ‘I have been looking at your books; box set’ hint or what?

Sir, it would be my pleasure.

It was suggested I keep one book back, just in case I need another visit.

 

My posture is perfect I stand straight and tall, taller than before in fact I think the next time I see him it will be because I hit my head on something I used to walk under.

And that is the story so far.

 

 

24 comments

  1. Lea February 28, 2017 at 6:42 pm

    Reply

    Dude! Very eloquently put as ever and may you continue to walk tall! Nothing like a shock like that to make you appreciate the daffodils coming up. Love and peace 🙂 x

  2. Graham Wilkinson February 28, 2017 at 6:44 pm

    Reply

    Crumbs, those screws are huge!
    Probably titanium, which is good because your Harley is heavy enough already.

    I’ll treat this as a cautionary tale: Bikes = Good, DIY = Bad.

  3. Lolo February 28, 2017 at 6:56 pm

    Reply

    Wow. You just can’t help having adventures even when your not trying 🙂 Glad your on the mend

  4. Stevie Simpson February 28, 2017 at 7:07 pm

    Reply

    Wishin’ you all the best towards a full recovery Flid. CHEERS !!

  5. Fi Newman February 28, 2017 at 7:13 pm

    Reply

    Dear Flid,
    I’ll keep it short as I know you will have hundreds of emails to read. Wishing you a very speedy recovery. Take it easy, enjoy the coming of Spring. A few tots of medicinal whiskey never did any harm ( although with morphine maybe not………….. but then again !!!! ) to help you sleep! Take care of yourself – maybe see you in the chippy at Mersea again soon.
    Fi Newman (Green) from school xxxxx

    Ps I still have a snigger about the night a load of us spent on Mersea beach (then on the floor of somebody’s garage?!?!?) with a very large bottle of vodka! There are few more memories but I think I’d better keep them for another time!!

    • Flid March 1, 2017 at 5:57 am

      Reply

      don’t remind me…actually do, but on here.

  6. Doug Mullett February 28, 2017 at 8:01 pm

    Reply

    A story well told, although one which you rather not have had.
    May your recuperation be complete.

  7. Dave Horrocks February 28, 2017 at 8:24 pm

    Reply

    Nice to see your sense of humour is still intact. Crazy days. Take it easy man.

  8. Dave Rivers February 28, 2017 at 8:24 pm

    Reply

    Glad to hear the good news mate JD HONEY on me next time
    Errrrrrrrrr hang on its always on me

  9. Carol February 28, 2017 at 8:43 pm

    Reply

    Blimey Graham you big brave geezer!! So pleased it all went well you truly are an inspiration. Good luck on the road to recovery we’re rooting for you back here. Sending hugs. Xxx

  10. Paul Blez February 28, 2017 at 9:12 pm

    Reply

    Looks as if you had the operation in the nick of time Graham! So glad it was a success!

  11. Dave Prigel February 28, 2017 at 9:24 pm

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    It all looks and sounds promising!!

  12. Georgina February 28, 2017 at 10:16 pm

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    Shame about the threesome lol – get well soon Graham xx

  13. Shirl Stevenson February 28, 2017 at 10:30 pm

    Reply

    I love your written word, and perfect sense of humour

  14. Shirl Stevenson February 28, 2017 at 10:31 pm

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    Looking forward to reading more

  15. Alistair Scott March 1, 2017 at 6:44 am

    Reply

    Ouch. Glad to se luck was with you And you went get it looked at before permenant damage was done and that you found a skilled surgeon who dealt with other matter quickly and efficiently. Hope the pain abates soon and that you make a speedy recovery Graham.

  16. Rosey March 1, 2017 at 6:44 am

    Reply

    Dear sweet Graham, well it has taken me some time (ok a long time as a matter of fact forever or so it seems and will seem)
    you will get thru it and will feel a lot less pain. Your DR will mention you will be okay in 3 to 6 months . don’t be alarmed if that does not happen as DR’s do lie! Since you are in great shape ..you will do just fine. MY wish for you is an easy recovery.
    Glad to hear it was a success… all the best, love Rosey

  17. Mary Bolton March 1, 2017 at 7:19 am

    Reply

    Well done that surgeon!
    Glad you’re mobile again. Hope the pain has 100% gone and you’re walking and riding tall soon xx

    Ps. Is this whole incident an attempt to have a pity threesome? 🙂

  18. Rod Shaw March 1, 2017 at 7:32 am

    Reply

    Flid…I wish you hadn’t had that experience to write such a great story.
    Enjoy the spring!

  19. mike March 1, 2017 at 9:09 am

    Reply

    All the best Graham.We need you back fit and well to write some new adventure’s.

  20. DUSAN MITROVIC March 1, 2017 at 10:18 am

    Reply

    Wow Graham, (new nick name the Terminator or the Six Million Dollar man!), feck you have been in d wars, you are literally screwed, glad you have come thru it all ok, and hope the recovery goes fast and well, nothing like lying on that operating table for a little reassessment of life is there, wish ya all the best m8, regards from blighty, and the Essex clay! Dusan in Halstead, ya never did come for a ride on the lanes m8! 😉

  21. Doug Smith March 1, 2017 at 12:01 pm

    Reply

    Hi Graham, not seen you for a while but I’ve been keeping up with what’s been going on. Glad that you’re staying positive – that’s always a good place to start from. Pleased to know that everything is working out OK for you.

    I know what you mean about your ICU experience I’ve worked in one for 17 years now. Keep taking the pain killers and stick with the physiotherapy programme – it works. I hope we’ll be able to meet up again sometime. You need to compare notes with my wife; she had spinal surgery (no implants though) before we met, probably in the days before anaesthesia!

  22. David Jones March 1, 2017 at 8:23 pm

    Reply

    Good to see the op worked. Wishing you all the best for speedy recovery.

    Colchester’s answer to Barry Sheene.

    Dave.

  23. Megan Barritt March 2, 2017 at 5:38 am

    Reply

    Graham, my lumbar spine looks like yours. I just tell people I have a titanium spine, which usually impresses a couple of people 😁 I’ve been through 3 surgeries, last one in 2011. I was to the point pain-wise I’d had to stop riding. You will be very glad you had the surgery, I promise. I’m working on my 400,000 BMW miles now. Take it easy for now!! ❤️

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