Lessons from a Slipped Disc

A pain in the neck can easily become a pain in the butt.

In February, MRI scans revealed that I had a herniated or slipped disc in the cervical vertebrae (neck). The pain drove me to the Net, where I found a “pain specialist”, a master salesman, who in the end, ripped me off several thousand bucks for a percutaneous epidural neuroplasty that essentially did nothing for me. When I visited him a couple more times for follow-up he ushered me out of his office, saying “God will heal you”, and put me on expensive pain-killers – with terrible side effects – 24 hours a day for two months.

I next visited an orthopedic surgeon in Singapore General Hospital who was such an arrogant prick. He said, “I’m a surgeon, I operate.” When asked how the surgery would be done, he said, “in front, from the neck.”

Why neck?

“Well, if from the back I would have to cut through skin, muscles, etc.”

Will there be a scar?

“Yes, a 3-inch scar, permanent.”

How much would it cost?

“23,000 bucks.” Remember, this is SGH, not Mount E.

When I flinched at the cost, he said, “Well, this is not a haircut.”

Any alternative to surgery?

“Well, headache take Panadol, neck pain, take pain-killers lah.”

His attitude took a turn for the worse when I showed no interest whatsoever in contributing to his retirement fund.

In the end, it was a friend in the UK who is a world-renowned orthopedic surgeon, an expert in micro-surgery of the hand, who dispensed advice and a prescription which led to an eventual cure.

Sigh, Singapore specialists, what a disappointment they’ve been!

I also wish to thank senior acupuncturist Chiu Kah Fatt at Tan Tock Seng Hospital’s Complimentary Integrative Medicine Clinic, and Philip Cheong, senior physiotherapist at SGH who contributed to my healing.

Our over-paid specialists could learn a thing or two from Mr Chiu and Mr Cheong!

They are our medical profession’s shining lights!

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