Lots of folks have been asking "why is the next episode taking so long?". Well, I was *this* close to completing and posting the next episode (which I was getting pretty excited about) when something terrible happened.
Nearly two weeks ago, I was laying on the lounge watching some episodes of Game of Thrones (Season 4) with my wife. I was enjoying (SPOILERS) Joffey's sweet death, when the sciatic nerve pain running from my right hip, down the back of my leg to my foot (which had been mildly bothering me for 2 months beforehand) suddenly became excruciating.
So much so, that my wife, Sam, had to call an ambulance. The paramedics who arrived needed to inject me with 25 milligrams of morphine just to get me off the lounge and slowly creep outside to the waiting ambulance. To put that in perspective, the most morphine they could safely give me IN A WHOLE DAY without putting me into a temporary coma, is 50 milligrams.
At that point, it was the most painful thing I have ever experienced in my life. It felt like a sumo wrestlers had driven a car onto my leg, parked there and then decided to see who could jiggle their man-boobs the most.
For the first time since I was a young boy, I cried at being in such physical pain.
I was admitted to the local hospital, the same that I was born in, and the nurses promptly maxed out my morphine dosage until they could get me comfortable. I slept in emergency that night and then over the next couple of days moved to various beds until one became available in a suitable ward.
The doctors then gave me two diagnoses;
- The sciatic nerve pain running down my right leg most likely caused by a herniated disc in my back
- The swollen and inflamed right knee
Now, the sciatic pain is a fairly common problem, but I'm sure you're wondering where the dodgy knee came from.
As I mentioned earlier, this pain had been bothering me for some time. I had seen a physiotherapist, but nothing seemed to improve. The only thing that gave me relief from sitting at my desk and editing video for long periods of time was kneeling. I'd even gone so far as to buy a kneeling chair, which turned out to be the straw that broke my back. Literally.
I woke up one morning, two days before the ambulance picked me up, with very tender and swollen right knee. On getting out of bed, I tried to put some weight on it and immediately reeled at the jarring pain, shifting all the weight from my right leg to the left, causing the already herniating spinal disc in between the L4 and L5 vertebrae to bulge out even further, compressing the sciatic nerve.
The doctors couldn't do anything for my back and leg pain until the knee was fully healed from infection. If they did operate and some of the infection in my blood passed into the bulging disc or worse, the spinal cords, I'd be in a world of pain that would far surpass the one I was already in.
So, I'd have to wait on my back for nearly two weeks, being treated with four daily intravenous doses of concentrated antibiotics, until the knee was clear. I couldn't sleep, sometimes the pain medication wasn't strong enough. I had to have a catheter (a tube into my bladder via my willy to drain the wee), The medication also made me constipated and I was given heavy laxatives to counter it, and because I couldn't move I had to wear a giant nappy and have men and women that I barely knew wipe my arse for me after it routinely exploded.
But it wasn't all bad.
During this time, I found some wonderful support from friends and viewers of Stories of Bike. The wonderful Adrian, Heleana, Nick and Dan From Rising Sun Workshop sent me a care package of the most delicious ramen in the country, so kindly delivered by our friend Kate who took time out of her lunch break to bounce around Sydney and bring the ramen noodles to me in hospital. This act of kindness really touched me and had me smiling the whole week.
Various friends, Matt, Dunk, Maria, and Mark also called in on me to offer their company and drop off healthy fresh fruit (thanks Maria!), stimulating books to read (thanks Liz!), yummy chocolate (thanks Jen and Marty!), wicked caramel popcorn (thanks Matt!) to keep my spirits up.
But mostly, my amazing wife Sam managed to not panic through this whole ordeal and look after our three gorgeous kids, bring them in for visits, get them to and from school, while getting herself to work. My Dad and Sam's Mum also volunteered to come and stay at the house to ease load. But Sam was wonderful and helped to keep me reassured that everything was okay.
12 mostly mind numbing days later, I got the all-clear and an operation booked to happen this Monday afternoon to "shave" the offending disc and remove the compression on the sciatic nerve.
I can't tell you how much I'm looking forward to not only getting home to my family, but also to finally getting back to my Stories. Firstly completing the next episode featuring Jonathan Gibson's start of his journey on a '69 Enfield from Sydney to London, that I was SOOO close to finishing and then onto Part Two of Two Cities.
In a short time, I'll be given my anesthetic and then going under the knife (via keyhole surgery) to make me upright again. The neurosurgeon says that I'll notice a 90% improvement straight away. However, I'll have to take it very easy (no driving for a week, no sitting for more than 15 minutes, no picking up kids) for some time.
So, thank you to everyone to has helped me out and sent messages of support during this time. It's all really made a big difference to keep my spirits up.
In the meantime, wish me luck. I'll see you on the other side, ready to tell some stories.