In my 18 years of practise, I’ve come across many remarkable patients who have battled adversity and come out on top – but perhaps none more so than Carolyn, who has given me permission to share her story with you.
When I first saw her she had been in a wheelchair for ten years, having had a previous discectomy and been told nothing more could be done for her. She refused to give up and kept looking for a solution.
Throughout this period she had kept working for Disability North. We found that she had compression of the spinal cord in her neck as well as a degenerative disc in her lower back.
She had two operations: a disc replacement in her neck and a spinal fusion in the lower back. Her recovery was slow and she struggled to come off all the painkillers to which she had become addicted.
After surgery, she discarded the wheelchair and moved on to crutches. I last saw her walking out of my clinic on crutches. You can imagine my astonishment and surprise when she emailed me a few weeks ago to say she had run the Race for Life, had little or no pain and was now training for the Great North Run.
She continued to push herself and was determined to get better. She said: “I have been cocooned for 20 years but have my life back.”
Patients like Carolyn inspire me to every day to deal with all the challenges of work and find the courage, skill and wisdom to help others like her.
Carolyn’s full story should be on our website shortly.
OBESITY INCREASES CANCER RISK
A recent study of five million adults by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine has suggested that obesity is linked to an increased risk of developing ten cancers.
Each 5 kg/m² increase in body mass index (BMI) was linked with an increased risk of cancers of the uterus, gallbladder, kidney, cervix, thyroid and blood.
Just being overweight increased the risk of developing cancers of the colon, liver, ovaries, and breast post-menopause.
If we needed another reason to exercise more and eat less, this study is it.
DEATH AND POETRY
I am not sure why death makes me seek solace in poetry. Perhaps because both are profoundly moving.
I attended the funeral of a friend this week. He died suddenly from liver failure. It made me reflect on my own mortality. Life is short, and unpredictable. We have to live fully today and if we live well, perhaps we can enjoy the gift of life a little longer.
This poem by John Dryden summed it up for me: Happy the man, and happy he alone, He who can call today his own.
He who, secure within, can say, Tomorrow do thy worst, for I have lived today.
Be fair or foul or rain or shine The joys I have possessed, in spite of fate, are mine.
Not Heaven itself upon the past has power, But what has been, has been, and I have had my hour.
Manoj Krishna is a Spine surgeon working at the Nuffield hospital York. Further information of his work can be found on www.spinalsurgeon.com