I will try and provide all the details that I can. If I missed anything, please feel free to ask! For a discussion, read the post on the Spine Patient Society thread!
Preparations and Arrival
Paperwork with the clinic was a breeze. After I got approval from my insurance company, which covered 100%, I booked my ticket with Continental Airlines. I booked an economy seat on the way over and a first class seat on the way back. I made sure that I booked a return flight with the new flatbed seats. I'm staying in a Holiday Inn that's 3 minutes away from the Hospital. I highly recommend this hotel! The food is fantastic and the rooms are efficient. Plus, it's probably the best value near the hospital. It's very business oriented too.
I arrived in London Heathrow with two family members. We had 6 big bags and decided to take the train to Eastleigh. BAD IDEA. Take a taxi or hire someone! Not only will it be a shorter ride, but you won't be switching buses and trains with 6 bags and a bad back.
We arrived in the hotel, had lunch, took a quick nap, and headed to the hospital for some pre-op assessments.
The Nuffield Wessex Hospital isn't ostentatious at all. It's very humble and to-the-point. Eastleigh, the town, isn't the most exciting town in the world, but that's not why I'm here!
I met with an assessment specialist first. They ran a series of tests, including bloodwork and EKG's. After that, I met with Mr. Boeree. He has a very kind presence to him and i'm very pleased with the the topics we covered. A few important ones:
-He stressed that he is not operating for a cure, but instead an improvement in symptoms.
-In the case of a revision surgery, fusion is the only option.
-He does do some work during the operation that would make a revision surgery easier.
-I can stay longer than 5 days if I need to, free of charge.
-The M6 has worked wonders!
-He said my L5 and the Sacrum are partially fused in the transverse processes. This could explain why my L4/L5 is degenerative, given that it took all the load that was supposed to be distributed between two discs. He also explained how i have a pretty nasty annular tear in my disc.
He also showed me the M6:
I was given a few guidebooks and guidelines on how to prepare for my surgery. I was allowed to have water up until 2 hours before the surgery. They recommended that I have as much water as possible. They also said I should bring swimming trunks and comfortable sweat pants. Fortunately, I bought plenty of plain hanes shirts and cotton sweat pants.
I arrived at 7:00AM and the operation started at 10:00AM. The slight delay was due to some X-rays that needed to be done given that the ones I brought couldn't be opened. No biggie!
I met the anesthesiologist, who by the way, was very clear and thorough on his tests. I walked over to the operating room and they put me to sleep. I asked them if they could take pictures with my camera, and they did! Here is a pic of my operation:
I woke up in the recovery room, but I can't remember anything from it. Then they took me to my room with my family waiting for me. I had a huge smile in my face.. I was very happy!
I immediately fell asleep again and kept waking up randomly probably due to all the checks that they did on me. If there's something I wanted to say about the staff, it would be: WOW. They are thorough on their checkups and they couldn't be nicer!
Pain was minimal and increased as the anesthetics wore off. I had a morphine pump that I could control, but I barely used it. Pain was very manageable!
They gave me a sandwich to eat last night and then I fell asleep.
This morning the doctor and the physio came to visit me. Mr. Boeree said he found a severely damaged disc inside, with a very complicated annular tear alongside the back of the disc. He also said there were no complications and the surgery went beautifully. I managed to stand up and walk around the physio with no pain at all! This is me walking:
Everything is looking great so far!