The Spinal Cord Tumour Forum

Benign Spinal Cord Tumour Support & Information


My first trip to the GP resulted in some painkillers and advice, but I was back about 3 weeks later when the painkillers ran out but the pain was no better. This second trip resulted in a referral to a physiotherapist who I saw for the first time in September 2007.  The physiotherapy didn’t seem to help much and after a couple of months referred me to a pain specialist after she saw me on a really bad day.  Around this point I also saw a very un-sympathetic locum GP who told me I was a hypochondriac and my pain was all in my head as I was depressed!  My symptoms were similar to those of disc problems so that was what everyone assumed it to be and the pain specialist referred me for a pain relieving epidural injection.

The epidural was scheduled for 31st December 2007 (I was in for a fun new years eve) but thankfully the anesthetist just had a gut feeling that something was not right and refused to do it as she wanted me to have an MRI first.   I decided to pay for a private MRI and the pain specialist was happy to refer me.  The scan came as a total shock.  I had begun to believe the pain was all in my head and assumed nothing would show up on the scan so when I was brought out of the tunnel to see several people looking at me and be told not to move; it all felt very surreal.  The consultant radiologist calmly told me they had found something and wanted to do some contrast images (this would cost extra money but he kindly waved his fee so it was less than it should have been).  This was the first time surgery was mentioned.

The following day my pain specialist phoned and said to expect a call from a orthopaedic surgeon as she had requested his opinion on my scan results.  It was the orthopaedic surgeon who referred me to the neurosurgeon but at this point no-one had mentioned the word tumour.  I had a cruise booked round the Caribbean for my 30th birthday and I was determined to still go so against advice I went.  If I hadn’t I would have seen the neurosurgeon for the first time on my 30th birthday but as it turned out I saw him a couple of weeks after when I was back in the country..  He explained that my problem was due to a tumour in the spinal cord which needed to be removed.  He explained the surgery, how rare it is and that he thought it was a schwannoma but it could be any one of 3 types of tumour.  He also explained the risks and asked if I wanted to go ahead.  I then went to work and informed my colleagues that I needed an operation (I don’t think they realised I would be off for so long or how serious it was though).  Up until this point I had only had two weeks off sick from work just before Christmas as I had just battled on.

Things seemed to happen quite quickly then and after the operation I spent 3 days on flat bed rest (the worst bit as it was so boring) 6 days in hospital, 10 weeks off work and returned to work part time for 7 weeks.    I am thankful that life is pretty good now.  I take painkillers when the pain is bad but I prefer to live with the pain when it is at a low level rather than feel the fuzz of the painkillers.  I have some numbness mainly in my right foot and some other minor issues but feel incredibly lucky as my life it almost normal again now.  I have had to come to terms with the fact that life will never get back to how it was and the chances are I will never experience a pain free day ever again but compared to what could have happened and how bad things were before the operation life is good!