The skill of a surgeon is also in knowing when NOT to operate and I couldn’t agree more

H Bates

July 2013

In November last year, I was unfortunate enough to injure my back whilst putting a few small boxes into the boot of my car... It was a simple as that! Unfortunately the pain that followed and rapidly increased, within the next 24 hours was not quite so simple and after a short period of unsuccessful , GP, Chiropractor and Paracetamol ‘adventures’, it became more than obvious that I needed some exceptional and much more specialised intervention.

As a result of speaking to colleagues, all of whom highly recommended Mr Ishaque, I was able to see him in December and was diagnosed with a ‘significantly-sized’, herniated disc in my lower spine. This meant that the inside of one of my discs was protruding through the surface of the disc and was now pressing into my spinal nerve – I now understood, exactly why it hurt so much! By now, the pain was in my back, buttock, leg and foot – accompanied by some numbness and tingling to my foot.

As well as being physically demanding, the pain  was also emotionally draining but I was hugely comforted to know, (even before X rays and MRI Scans, confirmed it), that Mr Ishaque instantly recognised the problem and was even more comforted to know that his recommended course of treatment did not involve instant surgery. The last thing I needed, for a variety of reasons, was surgery, particularly on my back, and I was hugely relieved that he was not about to take a “Sledgehammer to Crack a Nut”!

All of the options were explained to me in a clear, empathic and logical way so that I understood completely, all the treatment available to me, and I was fully involved in the decision-making process at each stage. Although in significant pain, I was still able to drive and walk short distances and it was important to me to retain this limited mobility, rather than risk surgery and the associated complications and any extended period of immobility and recovery.

In January, I had my first set of injections, followed by physiotherapy sessions and there was a vast improvement in my symptoms until the end of March when gradually, some of the pain began to return. At the beginning of April, I had some further injections – again under general anaesthetic for optimum precision and this time, the pain has not returned and I am now completely pain free!

I feel as if I have been given my life back and it is hard to imagine that only a few short months ago, that I was completely unable to lie on my back, slept with 3 extra pillows in bed to support me, was in tears most mornings before I got from the bedroom to the bathroom, was only able to walk for around 20 minutes at a time and was consuming enough CoCodamol and Ibuprofen to render a baby elephant unconscious!

I cannot find the words to express my enormous gratitude and admiration to Mr Ishaque and his team – Dr da Silva, the anaesthetist who looked after me throughout both procedures and ensured that any pain was kept to an absolute minimum and Linda Hamilton whose professionalism, communication and expertise ensured that all I had to do was literally turn up! Thank you Linda!

I know I could not have been in safer and more professional hands and at no stage throughout my treatment, did I ever doubt, for one moment, that it was entirely appropriate for me and that it would, without the necessity for invasive surgery, prove to be successful. 
As he would say himself, the skill of a surgeon is also in knowing when NOT to operate and I couldn’t agree more. “Thank you” seems so inadequate – but it is, indeed, heart-felt – Thank you!