Holy Shit

Well… As I sit here an enjoy my last pre-surgery cigar(probably forever) and glass of brandy, everything has finally sunk in.

I’ve had ~4 holy shit moments in my life so far.  One was the death of a dear friend, Rich. The next was visiting the Pantheon in Paris and standing next to the tombs of Voltaire and Rousseau.  One was visiting Uluru.  The last, was the birth of my daughter, Nora.  I had one tonight as the countdown to July 13th finally sank in.  It’s make or break.

There are a lot of other bloggers out their posting their progress in various stages of their decision and recovery processes.  I’ve added them into my links section for anyone else that cares to read up.

Singapore got back to me finally and wanted to pursue a more conservative approach through dynamic stabilization based on my MRI report.  They didn’t get a chance to view the actual MRI for logistical reasons and came in pretty close to what I’ll be paying in the UK.  I like and trust Mr. Boeree, so it isn’t enough for me to change my mind.  Not to mention it’s a f*#$!^g long flight to get there.  Too long for my back.  Costa Rica at 7ish hours was hard enough last week.

The money is transferred, the MRSA results are back for me to pick up tomorrow, I’ve signed the documents, completed as much as I can of my app for short-term disability, booked the hotels, flights, filled out my application for reimbursement with our provincial health system(good luck!) and have my last appointment with my GP on Thursday.  I leave for the UK on Saturday to onboard a new hire in London for the week and head out to Eastleigh on Monday the 11th of July.  Hopefully if all goes well, I fly back to Calgary on the 22nd of July.  Fingers are crossed.



Operation Spitfire is a Go

I just found out that Eastleigh is where the great Supermarine Spitfire hails from.  Anyone that knows me, knows also of my love of aircraft.


Anyway, I’m visiting the bank today to wire my money across the drink.  I depart for London on the 2nd of July and return on the 22nd (executive class – nice!).  I’m terrified, but hopeful this might allow me to get on with my life.


Singapore Silence

Nothing back from the contact at Overseas Medical Services here in Calgary… Singapore might be bust.  If anyone is interested, I’ve done my own poking around in Singapore and these people seem to be the leaders for Medical Tourism in the region.


I believe they do disc replacements and are front runners in a lot of the stem cell technologies, do to some lax laws on cell procurement and very forward thinking scientific practices.  It’s definitely worth a look if you’ve got the time.  They might also be cheaper than Europe.  Just don’t spit any gum on the street!

The best part is that my GP is now gone on holidays, so I can’t request the diagnostics I need!  Sneaky.  Walk-in, here I come!

Odd Meeting With My GP

I was terrified to go in and see him, because I circumvented him to get the MRI scheduled last year.  I walked in and apprehensively waited for the meeting and inevitable scolding I thought I’d receive.  He walked in with his usual demeanor and I went through the course of events that had led me back into his office to sort out my pre-op MSRA and MSU tests.   Before I was able to finish, he interrupted me and said I need to look into Singapore before I make any decisions on Europe.  WTF!  He said they are probably the best on earth (next to the French) and that he can provide me with some contact details of someone that can help.  We’ve come full circle from a grumpy doc telling me that I want to avoid back surgery at all cost, to admitting the shortcomings of our own system and pointing me in the direction of someone that can help me out in Singapore!  He was also genuinely happy that he could help… and shook his head at our two year waiting list.

I’ve come to the conclusion that we have great doctors in Canada, but it seems like they are being held back and discouraged by what is actually possible.  We do great for life-threatening conditions, but something like debilitating back pain will never, ever be a priority.

I’m not sure how to break the news to him that I’ve picked my surgeon and really like him – but I think I’ll have to run through the Singapore motions just in case.

I’ve got until 2 weeks pre-op to get the results to Nuffield Health.


CALEO Follow-Up Booked

I called CALEO to book my post-surgery follow-up and inquire about my consultation with Dr. Bouchard.  My appointment with the surgeon is set for June, 2013.  Seriously.  It will be a 2 year wait to see the surgeon in Calgary for a potential disc replacement.  There is no way my facets will be able to tough that out… so that would probably mean a fusion in 2 years.  I realize that it is by no means life threatening, but 2 years is crazy.  I thought maybe 2 years for a surgery with a consultation at some point in between.  Nope.  2 years to talk to the guy, then maybe a procedure a few months afterward to help me with my increasingly achy legs and shitty back.  I think we might need some reform in the Canadian healthcare system for non-life threatening joint replacements.  At least in Alberta anyway.  Technically it’s 2 years plus eight months, as it took 8 months to get the referral in the first place.  I’ll be writing a letter to my MP.

I booked my surgical follow up with Dr. Meerholz on August 10th, 2011.  That will be roughly 6 weeks post op.  I believe I’ve absolutely made the correct decision at this point.  I am a surgical case and conservative care is just expediting the deterioration of my back.  I simply can’t wait for Canada to catch up to me nor can I really afford to do this right now…. but I can’t afford not to do it more. 🙁

I go in on Thursday to request my MRSA and MSU tests from my GP.  This will be an interesting visit as I haven’t seen him since last October when he told me to suck it up.  I’ve got 9 opinions contrary to that.

What is taking so long with the simple, injectable, biological repair products!?


T-Scores Arrived

Left Femur T-score: 1.6

L1-L4 T-score: 1.5

T-score Category: Normal

Therapy: Keep taking Vitamin D, Calcium and Exercise.

Any prospective ADR recipient should have a bone density scan, regardless of sex/age


Well, almost D-Day… I’m 4 days and 67 years off that fateful day in 1944.  But today, I made my decision and I’m set for my own European invasion.  Surgery on July 13th with Mr. Boeree in England.  I’m apprehensive, but feel I’ve made the best possible decision with the information, technology(mechanical, biological or otherwise) and surgeon currently available.

I had my follow up appointment with Dr. Meerholz today.  It was VERY different from our first meeting, let me tell ya.  I think I was probably way too nervous, upset and ill prepared for my first visit with him.  This time, I arrived prepared and composed and I think the Doctor appreciated it.  He was far more compassionate, thorough and really gave me the time to voice my concerns over not doing anything and went through all of my international second opinions with me.  He fired up my MRI one more time and noted the large facets and said there was an 80% chance Dr. Bouchard won’t even touch me here in Calgary because we are so conservative.  He did book me in for a meeting with Bouchard, but indicated I’d be waiting quite a while for surgery if I’m deemed a candidate.  When I brought up Europe, he said they are far more advanced than we are and really know their stuff.  Essentially, he said if he were in my shoes, he would choose Europe.  Specifically, London.  The Germans are great, but London is the place.  I didn’t need to hear any more, but he also reiterated that $30k is small in the grand scheme of things, and it will help me to get my life back.  They are also cheaper in Europe and more advanced than the US.  Meerholz knows his shit!  4 weeks vs 2 years?  I’ll take the former.  Dr. Meerholz also said there would be no issue doing my follow-ups with Caleo and a revision to fusion isn’t the end of the world if the ADR fails.  I am a changed man right now and I feel calm and confident in my decision going forward.  Also, I asked him outright if I would see any improvement after 8 months of my current condition and he sadly shook his head. My canal is too narrow to improve and any little change like my disc at L4-5, will result in greater symptoms than someone with a normal canal.  Nora and “Tank” are doomed to the same fate in spinal canal and foot size!  I can only imagine what losing L3-4 and L5-S1 will do to me at this point.  I pray I will never have to face it.

I have full support at work from everyone, including the CEO for my time off (3-ish weeks) and will be able to work my surgery into my visit to London for training in early July.  I can’t even begin to explain how thankful I am to work for such a great company.

My wife has also been so good to me during this ordeal.  She’s been understanding of my lack of energy, pain and complaining over the past while and is all for the surgery if it will make me better.  She’s 6 months pregnant, so I can’t imagine how annoying I’ve been to her while she’s going through some pretty major changes of her own!

Now I just need to break the news to my parents… I’m going to need to bring one of them over a week early to look out for me post surgery.  They were planning on being in Scotland on the 20th of July anyway, so this could work out perfectly.

Just as I was leaving the office, I got an email from Mr. Boeree with some post lumbar patients to speak with about their recoveries and ordeals.  I’ll talk to them soon and one of them is a stuntman!  I’m still waiting to hear back from CWURUGGER and I hope he’s doing ok.

Thanks to everyone for helping me to come to this difficult decision.   Flights will be booked today or tomorrow.