Once the disk actually ruptures or your bony spine shatters to the point your spinal cord is compromised, they will operate pretty much immediately and will (usually) admit you to hospital until they can operate. If you are assessed as Category 1 or 2, it will be reasonably quick (within a couple of months). My experience is via person i care for who has had a number of spinal surgeries/treatments/interventions, many in SE Qld.
If you are (assessed by the hospital's neurosurgeons as) Category 1, it's less than 1 month. If 2, as long as 2 months. If 3, maybe a year or more. Note, this assumes you are actually on the waiting list for surgery, (and not just "on the waiting list to get in to see a hospital specialist and so get onto the pre-surgical waiting list") and your waiting time will also depend on your (assessed) condition.
I'm not sure what category I'd fit into, but I suspect it would probably be 3, maybe a 2. And I guess that's if they decide they can (or want to) operate.
I recently spoke to a friend who is in a similar position (but slightly better off in a number of ways), and he was told he'd have to wait for as long as he could, and even then, they'd only operate if he lost weight.
I guess at the moment, it's all a waiting game until I see the neurosurgeon and get some definitive answers.
Hi again Darren,
Just lost a lengthy message by pressing the wrong button - so excuse this one sounding like i'm barking points - i'm trying to remember what i said!
The hospital should notify you within a month or so of your GP referring you there. They'll say "you are assessed as Category X" and either give an appointment or say you will be notified when they have one.
It's ok to ring and check they received the referral and it's underway, but leave it for a month or so, then call, and always be polite. It's so novel for the poor people on the hospital phones (that someone is polite and understanding) they'll often take the time to explain exactly what's happening. Your GP doesn't have time to do this kind of thing - it's up to you.
Spinal surgery is a last resort - it's still risky, it's still something they try to avoid. However, outcomes nowadays are usually excellent, providing the surgeon is a neurosurgeon by training. There's been an orthopedic surgeon with a god complex operating in SE Qld (privately) who is not a neurosurgeon but thinks that shouldn't hold him back, and the results have been mixed.
Pain relief - there are other options other than pills (and more pills). Mr has the problem that his pain isn't responding to drugs (any kind, not opioids like the various oxy-whatsits or codeine containing drugs, not things like Palexia IR or SR, not diazepam, not Norflex, not Norspan, not Fentanyl, not Lyrica, not Amtriptiline, and so on - though Diazepam aka Valium and Norflex do help with constant spasming of his muscles, but who wants to live in Valium-land?). Radio Frequency Nerve Ablation (a temporary stop to the ability of the nerves to carry pain signals) is one of his few current options. Mr is about to have that here
and he's had it before so is looking forward to (hopefully) good outcomes.
He already has one fully prosthetic disk (C6-7) and so i know the reason they're so fussy about weight with that op - outcomes of the op on even slightly obese people are really not good. You need to be moderately slim and fit for it to really help and for you to recover. Makes it difficult as most people with spinal injuries gain weight, but that's the facts of it. Mr has degenerative disk disease, so will need more of these, so we're trying to keep his weight down.