So after getting the good news on my knee in the morning it was off to another surgeon in the afternoon for a different part of my anatomy – my neck.
Denise Elder, at short notice, had arranged for me to see her boss, highly regarded neurosurgeon, Dr Raoul Pope. I fronted up at the office in the Poche Institute. I’d previously been here many times for treatment of melanoma. Behind the reception desk was Queen Denise lording over her kingdom.
Pope turned out to be an earnest young man and he was a bit hard to read, although he did give off an air of intense professionalism as he went through my now battered envelope of scans. I explained that I was presented with three options and that I wanted his opinion (I had already received two) on what the correct course of action should be.
Option one: Cervical laminectomy an operation done from the back of the neck to relieve pressure on the spinal cord and nerves. The bony roof (or laminae) of the spinal canal is removed and discarded, leaving the spinal cord permanently exposed. Stability is achieved by inserting a series of bolts and rods in the remaining spinal vertebrae. This is Dr Ian Farey’s recommendation. I’m not keen for no other reason than I do not have present symptoms of spinal cord compression, the pain will be horrendous and the recovery time is at least six months.
Option two: Cervical foraminotomy is a procedure to relieve nerve root compression by widening the intervertebral foramen, the space where the spinal nerves exit the spinal cord. Dr Farey recommends this as a way of relieving the pain down my arm. It will not relieve any potential, future compression on the spinal cord. This is what we called the “minor operation.” This this is probably a lot more fun than option one but I’m not that keen on having it either.
Option three: Do nothing: Yea, this is me. This is the lazy bastard in me who, really deep down, wants for the rest of his life, to lie on a banana chair, under a palm tree on a tropical island, sipping a mango daiquiri and watching the sunset. C’mon Dr Pope, you can do it – give me the daiquiri option. After lots of discussion he did. You beauty. We decided that the laminectomy was a bit premature as I don’t have any symptoms yet and the formainotomy may not be necessary if the pain settles down. He said wait six months before any decision. Excellent.
Back in reception, Denise asked what procedure I had decided on? “Vasectomy,” I replied. She seemed surprised by this prognosis.