Neil Kandalgaonkar

hacker, maker of things

Spine operation cancelled

My spine operation has been cancelled, probably forever.

Given that I haven’t had any trouble in the last few months, my surgeon decided the risk of operating was greater than the risk of doing nothing.

There are many people like me who have a spinal stenosis, who never have symptoms, and who never need surgery. I may have had related back pain but the stenosis surgery is really if you are losing coordination, and I never had that.

We only had a really clear look at it last year, in a couple of scans. The doctor ordered another MRI and they can’t detect any difference between last year and this year. So, whatever is happening has either halted (maybe years ago) or is moving very slowly right now.

The surgeon seems to think that I can go about my business until I notice something wrong, which could be decades in the future, or never. As long as I don’t let inflammation get out of hand, or overwork myself at the gym, it seems to be okay.

They say that that about 3% of patients are like me - the situation seems to require surgery, but they spontaneously get better (or don’t degrade as expected). Also, this is kind of a surprising plus for Medicare, but the fact that I waited a whole year for this non-urgent surgery allowed them to make this decision. Had this happened in the USA, I’d have had unnecessary surgery very quickly, and I’m sure I’d be paying the medical system some ludicrous amount of cash, even if I had good insurance.

So my career was a bit in limbo for a year and a half, but otherwise no harm done, and no money spent by me. And I got seen by one of the best surgeons in Canada for this sort of injury.

I originally posted in this space that it felt anticlimactic, but I’m feeling better about it. Last year I wanted to do something – anything – about the problem, but maybe it isn’t really a problem.

I’m more aware of my own mortality, and how my whole existence is identical with my flesh, but curiously, that flesh is a lot like an information network, with similar foibles.