To Dr. Roger V. Powell Doctor of Chiropractic
This narration is written without prejudice, and outlines the state of my health over the past 3+ yrs. My name is Archie Pillay, who was healthy and strong, and worked in the information technology department of a tertiary institution in Kwa-Zulu Natal. That is, until the fateful day in March 2001.
On 14th March 2001 I arrived home to Verulam, which is on the north coast of KZN, feeling very tired, after a turbulent flight from Cape Town via Bloemfontein. I slept that night and awoke the next morning only to experience my legs buckle from under me. A short while later I experienced pains across my right shoulder and the thoracic area of my back. I was as sick as a dog that entire day.
That evening, the 15th March 2001, I visited my family doctor who associated my tiredness with the plane ride, and the pains with a muscular spasm. I returned to him three days later, on realizing that I was not getting any relief from the medication that he had prescribed previously, complaining about stiffness and severe pain in my shoulder and neck area. I was referred to a physical therapist that treated me over two or three sessions. On realizing that the pain was worsening after these sessions, I informed my GP accordingly and stopped the consult with the physiotherapist. At the beginning of April 2001 I paid my GP another visit, this time complaining about numbness and the loss of power/strength in my right hand. There was this continual nagging pain in my right shoulder and running down my right hand. He suspected I had a severe case of cervical spondylosis. An x-ray of my cervical spine taken on 10th April 2001 showed the narrowing of disc space between the cervical vertebras C4/5 and C5/6. On taking this report back to my GP, I was referred to a renowned neuro-surgeon on the 17th April 2001 who gave me an opinion, after sending me for a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan. This neuro-surgeon recommended an operation as he considered my case to be severe, and informed me that I would become totally or partially paralyzed if this condition was not attended to very soon. He was going overseas and would be back in two weeks and I had that time within which to make a decision. When I asked about alternate therapies, especially about chiropractic, I was informed that with my condition it was too late for any of these therapies to help me heal. He also outlined some percentages of successful cervical operations he had performed. At the end of the day he could still only guarantee a 50/50 chance of success.
I relayed this message back to my GP who saw fit to send me for a second opinion on the 20th April 2001. This second so-called renowned neuro-surgeon gave me a similar, if not the same opinion as the previous one. This one told me that it was irresponsible of him to even let me walk out his surgery door on looking at my MRI scan. He warned me that I could break my neck if I had to trip in my present condition. He outlined all of the symptoms that I would experience if not operated upon soon. He asked to me make up my mind to have an operation as soon as possible. The common factor between these two neuro-surgeons was their aggressive attitude. They tended to be bullying and put one under tremendous pressure by frightening you with their opinion of ‘you may become totally or partially paralyzed’. Was this just scare tactics being employed for them to earn income and keep up their life styles, or was it out of genuine concern for my well-being, the patient?
On the weekend of the 21st /22nd April 2001 while shopping, I started experiencing dizzy spells, shooting pains to the head and over the heart. An excruciating pain was ever-present in my right hand too. This was a scary situation and something totally new to me. I did not know of anyone who had undergone a similar experience and who could thus advise me accordingly. They may have been able to point out the pros and cons, and the action they had followed in overcoming their condition. It was more out of ignorance and fear that I gave consent on Monday, 23rd April 2001, for the C5 corpectomy operation to be performed on Thursday, 26th April 2001. Vertebras C4, C5, C6 were fused together with a piece of bone taken from my hip (iliac), and held together with a titanium plate and screws. Was I just another sacrificial lamb to the slaughter…?
After the operation, I have suffered endless pain in my neck, shoulders, hands and legs. On subsequent post-operative visits to the neuro-surgeon, I was informed that I unfortunately fell into that .1% category that does not recover fully. I had great difficulty in walking, sitting and standing, thus not being able to fulfill my tasks at work. The neuro-surgeon still did not see it fit to send me for another MRI scan, even though about a year and a half had expired since the operation. I eventually ended up with lumbar spondylosis and was treated by an orthopedic surgeon. He suggested an operation to sort out same, but appreciated my refusal and concern based on my experience of the cervical spine operation. This orthopedic was more human and one could see genuine concern. He did not pressurize me, but advised that if the lumbar spondylosis started affecting the control of organs like my bladder, bowels etc., I would have to seriously consider an operation.
I’ve been hospitalized several times with cervical and lumbar spondylosis since the operation in April 2001. I thought that the post-operative care of a patient is most important after such major surgery, but the neuro-surgeon concerned had little time for that. He seemed too busy performing these operations on new patients and did not have the courtesy to attend to me during my last hospitalization in September 2003. I have spoken to several people recently who have voiced the same dissatisfaction with this individual. He claimed a 99.9% success rate with the cervical operations, but on speaking to people who have undergone the same, one has to wonder if it is indeed not the other way round. Due to my medical condition since the operation, I was boarded from work in May 2003.
My life has become a living hell, and sometimes I believe that I was in a better state prior to the operation I cannot help wondering if I was operated on or just plain right ‘butchered’. This winter I had a torrid time with all the aches and nerve pain wracking my body. My GP and the physiotherapist tried to provide whatever relief they could between May and July 2004 but with very little success. My doctor eventually mentioned that I should possibly consult with a chiropractor. This came about after listening to his dad earlier that week, relating the story as to how he had overcome his spinal problem ten years ago. Not through the surgery he was scheduled for, an appointment he did not keep, but through chiropractic.
That is when I obtained your name from a family member and first visited you on the 19th July 2004. Already on the second visit I received so much of relief from the constant nagging pain. After the first adjustment my spine, which all seemed welded together, released, and my movement was much improved. They say angels are here on Earth living amongst us, and I agree. I believe it was part of fate or karma for me to undergo these unpleasant experiences and for our paths to cross. My faith in God has pulled me through these difficult 3+ years, and prevented me from sliding into a state of depression. I know that God is working through you to make me as whole as possible.
To all those people out there experiencing similar problems, I trust you will learn from my mistakes and not travel down the same difficult path. Take charge of your life and don’t be pressurized into anything. Stand up and be counted….
“Love is God and God is Love”