Smart man smiling at desk

Consultant: Mrs Anne Mitchener

Spine

Pain management

Phil describes Mrs Anne Mitchener as a miracle worker following his microdiscectomy for a ruptured and fragmented disc in his back.

Severe pain left Phil completely debilitated and in need of a solution to get his life back.

Phil’s severe pain began suddenly in September 2020 and included pain to his left glute muscle, hamstring, calf and sole of foot, all on the left-hand side. He was in a high level of pain and could only weight bear for 30 seconds. At this stage he didn’t specifically have back pain. No physical position would alleviate his pain completely and whilst painkillers took the edge off, his pain remained at eight out of ten.

Phil’s first appointment with Mrs Mitchener was a week later, he was recommended to see her by a friend who she had previously operated on. Mrs Mitchener carried out a physical examination and diagnosed disc herniation, subsequently confirmed by an MRI scan, and recommended a pain-relieving injection. Phil’s pain continued after this injection and they agreed that a surgical procedure was required, and Mrs Mitchener would perform a microdiscectomy. This is a minimally invasive surgical procedure to remove portions of the herniated disc to relieve pressure on the spinal nerve. This took place in early November. Of relevance Phil had 2 previous episodes of sciatica treated conservatively in 2014 and 2017.

Phil’s hopes for his treatment were: “For it to be sorted without any complications. My expectation was that this could happen, but it was not a done deal. I hoped that once the operation was successfully completed, I could gradually begin to rebuild my life and get my fitness back.”

The surgery went well as Phil continues: “From the moment of waking up from the GA, I have had no pain. For me it’s a miracle, every day. I cannot describe the joy of waking up, moving around freely, living my life. The weakness in my left leg caused by the problem has been a challenge. I still walk with a bit of a limp and gyms being closed has made recovery harder. But I’m persevering and can feel my body responding well. I could not do anything before apart from limp to the bathroom and back, so the transformation has been amazing. I thought I would be fully back to normal, even though I had been told it could take up to a year (I thought I would be different!! ahahah).” 

His advice for patients with similar problems: “I’ve already recommended Mrs Mitchener to a friend who has had back problems. My advice for patients with similar problems is get expert advice as soon as possible, even if that means going private. Build a community around you that can support you. Be gentle on yourself with your own expectations. work on core fitness, and proactively address the problem. I lost 3 months from my life. I lost my fitness. I lost work opportunities. I had been the fittest I had been in 35 years, eating healthy, taking care of myself, feeling good. To get to this had taken a long, slow route of years. This injury undid all that work and I felt like I was back to square one. It was depressing. The two months before the operation were dark times for me but I was fortunate to have a great family and community around me. I’m so grateful for that. I work from home using Zoom etc so could do little bits of work here and there but in constant pain.”

Phil summarises his treatment with Mrs Mitchener: “A miracle-worker is maybe a phrase that you hear banded around too much these days, but in this case, Mrs Mitchener deserves the title. When my L5/S1 disc ruptured and fragmented, disgorging its contents into the nearby nerve bundles, the subsequent pain and disruption to my life, all within the limitations of lockdown, were significant. 24/7 spasms even partially mitigated by high levels of morphine resulted in two months pre-op of agony, sleep disruption and anxiety around work and impact on my family. Having had Mrs Mitchener recommended to me by a friend who had greatly benefitted from her care, I did what most folk do now – headed to Google! The information and testimonies of Mrs Mitchener’s work gave me confidence to approach, knowing that this was a serious life event. Mrs Mitchener’s care, empathy and professionalism from moment one was clear. She explained the different options that lay ahead but with a gentle certainty that she could offer the help I needed. My radar was on alert for a kind of medical sales pitch ahead of our first appointment, but I was quickly reassured by Mrs Mitchener’s approach to my case. Although the initial route of the spinal injection operation was not successful, Mrs Mitchener had prepared me well and helped manage my expectations around new options. I always had lots of questions and Mrs Mitchener fielded them with grace and patience. Her care for me, together with all the staff at the Schoen Clinic, was exemplary. The operation was a total success, and I awoke from the general anaesthetic pain free, and have not had a single spasm since. Mrs Mitchener’s help and support throughout, and her interest in me as a person, rather than just as a patient, helped me feel valued and respected. I am on my way back to fitness now, keeping my expectations in place and determined to make the most of this new chance I have been given. It’s four months since the operation now and I still have regular bouts of thankfulness for Mrs Mitchener, the miracle-worker.”

Mrs Mitchener concludes: “I am so pleased Phil’s pain is a thing of the past and he is able to get back to enjoying life. I wish him all the best.”

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