Friday, September 19, 2014

My First Time in a Hospital

I've been pretty fortunate in my life when it comes to serious conditions or illnesses. I've never been checked into a hospital. Sure, I've visited emergency rooms from time to time. My favorite instance of which was a basketball injury back in the nineties. In a scramble for a loose ball, another guy's cranium slammed into my forehead, opening up a gash that I knew would need stitches. Blood was gushing forth, and I sopped it up as fast as I could. I drove one-handed to the nearest emergency room, walked in, my face covered in dried blood and told the nurse at intake as deadpan as possible, “I've got a bad stomachache”.

All kidding aside, my life over the last 7 weeks has been defined by one thing: pain. It's my herniated disc. It's not really getting any better, which is how these work I've been told. I haven't been able to enjoy life. It's colored everything, and particularly when still trying to adapt to a foreign culture and challenging environment. It's left me in not only physical pain, but kinda depressed too. In following my Burmese doctor's instructions, I've been taking my meds, resting as much as possible, but it hasn't worked. Went in for a follow up earlier this week, and my doc ordered an MRI.

Here's the results. This picture was taken with my phone while I was riding in a taxi on the way from one hospital to another (explaining why it looks like there's a car in my spine). Look at my L5 vertebrae. See that mass spurting out of spine into the white line along it's back? As the MRI summary noted, that's a 'large disc protrusion in left paracentral region with compression of left S1 nerve root.' Ooo. Sounds nasty. Yeah, it's felt that way.

So, tomorrow morning at 7 AM, I'm checking into the Asia Royal Hospital here in Yangon for the next phase of my treatment. No, it's not the spinal surgery that I still may have to have down the road, but it's still considered surgery. I'm have an epidural. Before this, I didn't even know what an epidural was. I'd only heard of it in the context of women giving birth. Apparently it's also what my doctor called an 'intermediate fix'. In about ten hours from now, I'm having a needle injected all the way down to my spinal cord.

There's almost no risk in this procedure. I think it'll help in the short term. How long it's gonna last, no one can tell.

It will at least allow me to enjoy my week's vacation in Indonesia which starts on Tuesday.


  1. Good luck, I sure hope it helps! Having experienced a pinched sciatic nerve I really can't imagine your pain level with a herniated disc. Best Wishes


  2. Oh My! Hope it works out for you. Let us know as soon as you can.
    We will keep you in our thoughts. If I had a God I would pray for you.

    1. Well, I made it through. It was a little painful, but otherwise uneventful. The hardest part was having to lie there in recovery for eight hours without even as much as sitting up. I was going to say it was the first time I've ever had help me pee, but I suppose my mom probably did that 40something years ago.

  3. All the best to you ! I hope it's a better fix than you're even imagining. I'm starting to think I'm at the beginning stages of something in the herniated-disc territory in my upper spine -somewhere at/near heart/upper chest height Gave me the worst shooting pain when I twisted wrong in bed a week ago ...and still tender. It wasn't muscular that's for sure. - Keep us fans up to date as to how it goes! - John (Sea)


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