hospital hallway

Herniated disc healing – Part 1

I’ve wanted to write about this topic for some time now. I was too afraid to do so because it’s a very personal experience. While reading Brene Brown’s “Braving the Wilderness,” I had no idea that I was about to have one of the most critical vulnerability lessons of my entire life. By the way, I highly recommend the book.

This was the reason why you didn’t see lately any new articles on my blog related to travel. Of course, it also was the COVID crisis, but even now, when things seem a bit more relaxed travel-wise in Romania, I still have to stay at home.

When the shit hit the fan – I was not expecting that!

It took 2 weeks from the moment I moved into my new apartment until my herniated disk chronic problem evolved into a horrible crisis. Or better said, “the shit hit the fan.” How did that happen? I knew I had this problem with my lower back since 7 years ago. It all started while I was still dancing Tango Argentino, a long time ago. Unfortunately, I had to give up dancing because of that.

I did several treatments over the years. But it was when I stopped doing sports that my condition started to degrade severely. Now, when I look back, I cannot understand, sadly, why all of the doctors that treated me over the years failed to explain to me the big picture of the herniated disk healing process (with or without surgery). All of them were giving me several treatments for the symptoms: pills and physiotherapy. At first, I was not informed that I should do them regularly every 6 or 12 months. Then, I had no idea that this disease could develop in the way it did, with numbness of my right leg and that the disk could actually break. This is what happened in fact, and the broken fragment fell on the sciatic nerve of my right leg, causing partial paralysis.

At some point after my surgery, somebody recommended me this website.

If you experience problems or pains in your spine, check out the information on the website. It explains clearly the conditions, causes, and possible treatments. I wish I had known about it earlier before I had to go through the surgery. Whatever you may experience, if it aggravates, see a doctor.

I had to decide what to do and the timing was so bad

When the lumbar crisis happened, it was in the middle of the COVID situation. So, I was so afraid to go to the hospital or call anyone to ask for help. I thought that if I get sick also from COVID, it will be a disaster. After a few days of excruciating pain, a friend convinced me to call the ambulance. Thank you for that, Mary! 🙂

When I realized that I couldn’t feel my right leg, I decided that this is serious enough for me to do something about it, other than waiting for the pain to pass. I contacted a doctor who made a similar surgery on the spine for a friend of mine. This man proved to be a specialist in this field and a kind person demonstrating patience and empathy. He was there for me anytime I had a question about my condition. And believe me, I had lots!

Ironically I’d seen a neighbor brought home by an ambulance just a few days before. He had a plaster foot. I was thinking to myself how unfortunate he should have been to have this accident right in the middle of the COVID crisis.


When the ambulance came for the first time to take me to the hospital to do an MRN, I had to sit in a wheelchair. I’ve never felt more helpless and ashamed. Why ashamed? Probably because I’ve never experienced something similar, and somehow I had to admit to myself and to the rest of the world that it was a situation that I couldn’t handle. I couldn’t make it alone, and I didn’t want anyone to feel pity for me.

No sleep, more pills – nothing worked

The pills didn’t work anymore. I couldn’t sleep because of the pain (I didn’t sleep for almost a week until I had the surgery). If I tried to get up from bed, I had pretty much 30 seconds to jump around in 1 leg and to lay down rapidly before I felt my ears clogged, buzzing, and getting dizzy. Later on, I found out that my blood pressure was rising because of the pain, giving the clogged ears symptoms.

I’ve spoken to a lot of people during that week. The most helpful conversations were with the ones who had experienced surgery of the spine for similar reasons. They understood everything I was going through, and they all were very supportive. Also, my friends and family were by my side, even if they were not physically there.

The least helpful were those who had no medical studies but were advising me what to do, like healing through meditation, let the body heal on its own, acupuncture or physiotherapy at home.

Now, when I look back, I realize how dangerous it can be to advise somebody who is sick without having medical expertise or knowledge in the respective area.

I am sure that they’re intentions were good, but I believe that the best piece of advice that you could give to somebody who is ill is to see a doctor. Each case has its own particularities and should be treated as such.

When I look back, I still don’t know how I dared to decide to have the surgery so quickly. I asked for a second opinion on the case at another neurosurgery medical center. These guys were extremely responsive even in the COVID crisis and on a Saturday. I received a response to my email in 20 minutes. I send them the MRN, and we had a conversation over the phone. Of course, it is less than a face to face consultation, but at that time, nobody would receive patients.

physiotherapy equipment

At this moment, 3 months after the surgery, I still don’t know when I will completely recover my right leg. I am doing my work, though, exercises and everything the doctors recommended, but the progress is slow. The back has improved altogether. I didn’t expect that other parts of my body to protest to the 6 weeks of inactivity. My joints are weak, and I have problems with tendons in the shoulders, knees. I feel like I’ve grown old all of a sudden.

Somehow, through the process of healing my herniated disc condition, I could find a silver lining. I had a lot of time to search for it and to ask myself what could be the benefit of all this.

First time standing after surgery 😀

To be continued. 🙂

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