Alistair Wilkinson – Testimonial
Six months ago I was approaching my 70th birthday. A still practising Chartered Accountant I led a full and active lifestyle enjoying travel and outdoor pursuits. In February a careless fall backwards from a kitchen chair jarred the base of my spine but, after an hour or so I was over the pain and thought no more of it.
It was a month later that I started to experience what felt like a nerve pain at the top of my right hip and this led me to visit a physiotherapist for massage and investigation of the problem. There followed a referral to a hip specialist and the administration of a painkilling injection but by mid May I could no longer weight bear on my right leg and could walk only short distances using crutches.
By the beginning of June the nerve spasms had spread to both legs, came on at any time without warning, and were excruciatingly painful. It was then, unable to climb stairs and wholly dependent on movement by wheelchair, that I paid my first visit to Mr Deb Pal for his examination and report on the findings of an MRI scan.
The scan showed an abnormal cyst growing on my lower spine and Mr Pal, with patience, understanding and kindness answered all my questions, stated clearly the pros and cons of surgery, and left me reassured about the procedure he planned to carry out.
On 3 July, in the Spire Hospital, Roundhay, I had an L3-L4 posterior decompression, excision of facet joint cyst and the fixation of a titanium interbody cage. Later that day in the recovery ward I was overcome with emotion that, for the first time in several months, I had normal feelings in my legs and the "cattle prod" pain spasms had disappeared.
My operation had lasted four and a half hours because the cyst was intertwined with the nerves in my spinal cord , requiring Mr Pal to use his considerable expertise in removing it without damage to the nerves. He later told me that, most unusually, the cyst had been filled with "old blood - like thick engine oil" which we both agreed probably harked back to the fall I suffered back in February.
Coming right up to date I'm still convalescing but gaining strength every day and looking forward to resuming normal life. For the first time since turning 70 I can walk without crippling pain and I owe the most enormous debt of gratitude to the whole of the dedicated team at the Spire hospital who looked after me but most especially to Mr Pal who has transformed my life (and not forgetting his secretary Bianca who gave me a big hug when she saw me last week walking tall and no longer in a wheelchair ).