One patient’s story of her journey from fracture to treatment and her decision to go private following months of waiting and agony...
“I kept waiting for the pain to come back, but it had gone. It was like a weight had been lifted and I can’t express how grateful I was to have it done”
In January 2012 Helen Simms, a healthy and active 25-year-old office worker fractured her foot. Sometime following the fracture she developed pain in her right leg, which was originally thought to be related to her broken foot. This then led to developing pain in her lower back.
As the pain became progressively worse, Helen visited her GP who diagnosed a muscle strain and she was referred to NHS physiotherapy. After eight long weeks of painful waiting while still continuing at work, Helen was able to have physiotherapy.
June 2012 – PHYSIOTHERAPY
Following physiotherapy, Helen still had severe back and leg pain and was referred for an MRI scan. This took place in August and her scan results were eventually received in September. During this time she took a holiday to America but the horrendous pain made it hard to enjoy the experience and Helen realised that this injury was now seriously affecting her life.
September 2012 – MRI SCAN RESULTS
Following the scan results Helen was offered referral to the NHS but would have to wait for 12 weeks to see a surgeon. Helen was in such pain that, she says, “I used to cry myself to sleep. I couldn’t do anything – even lying down and getting up was hard”.
September 2012 – ‘GOING PRIVATE’
Helen had a holiday booked to Australia for 7 October, which she’d been looking forward to and was determined that her pain was not going to ruin it for her, so with this in mind she decided to ‘go private’ and pay for her surgery. Helen decided to see Mr Rod Laing, Consultant Neurosurgeon at Spire Cambridge Lea Hospital.
Helen spoke to Mr Laing’s secretary, Annie, who booked her in for her initial consultation on 18 September. At the consultation Mr Laing reviewed the case history and carefully examined Helen. He then showed her the scan of her back, which revealed that her pain was caused by a disc prolapse pressing on one of the nerves going to Helen’s leg. He discussed the treatment options and offered her day-case, minimally invasive lumbar discectomy, and she was booked in for 28 September 2012.
28 September 2012 – THE SURGERY
Helen came into Spire Cambridge Lea Hospital for her surgery and had some really positive things to say about her care and time at the hospital. When Helen arrived in the morning with her father, she was incredibly nervous (as she doesn’t even like needles), but she was first on Mr Laing’s surgery list at 7.30am so didn’t have to wait anxiously in severe pain. Says Helen, “Everyone was really nice, trying to reassure and relax me and trying to make me laugh”.
When Helen woke after surgery she felt tired and groggy but was looking forward to going back to her private room. Mr Laing came to check on her in the afternoon and confirmed that all had gone well and that she would be fine to go home the same day. Helen left the hospital at approximately 6pm.
30 September 2012 – POST-SURGERY
With minimally invasive surgery the recovery time is a lot faster and patients are able to resume normal activities quite soon and Helen started driving again just a few days following surgery. Helen says, “I kept waiting for the pain to come back, but it had gone. It was like a weight had been lifted and I can’t express how grateful I was to have it done”.
7 October 2012 – THE AUSTRALIAN HOLIDAY
Ten days after surgery Helen flew across the globe for her Australian holiday. During this trip she carried a 14kg backpack with her – something that would have been unthinkable in the weeks leading up to her operation due to the severe pain. While in Australia, Helen completed two skydives. Thrilled with the memories, Helen said “It was the best thing I’ve ever done”.
What next for Helen?
Helen plans to work for another 18 months and will then go travelling again in Asia, Australia and New Zealand.