Barry’s Back To It!

Barry, 76, decided to semi retire in 2001 after 35 years as a News Journalist. At the age of 55 he took up Marine Journalism, following his passion for boating and on-water activities. Barry says “I was invited to review vessels ranging from $8m superyachts to 5m runabouts, life was and still is, great.”

Around 2008 Barry was covering an assignment regarding the fitting of windscreens to new vessels, he fell nearly 2m to the concrete floor at a factory in Henderson. A mobile stepladder had not been secured and moved as he alighted from the boat. The ladder and platform slid away from under his feet sending Barry crashing to the ground, landing on the base of his spine. Subsequent physiotherapy and chiropractic treatment eased his injury at the time; however, aches and pains dogged him for the past decade, particularly during the summer months when he was most active boating.

“Every December my lower back problem would flare during my daily boating trips at dawn heading out to pull my rock lobster pots during the ‘white’ cray fish season. After three or four weeks in the run up to Christmas my mobility slowed as the pain in the lower back increased, plus my upper thighs would tingle and become numb and at times sting. I was glad to pull the pots in finally before the Christmas holiday break. Each January was then spent recovering.”

In January 2021 Barry was recreational fishing with a mate in the Arafura Sea off Darwin when the boat hit a small wave, sending severe pains through his spine. They continued for some months when he experienced three debilitating and painful attacks of muscle spasms in his back.

Barry recalls “The last one, I had just got out of the shower when my body froze stiff as a board, and I was in great pain. Unable to move for 15 minutes, I eventually made my way from the bedroom to the kitchen where I sat in pain for three hours, virtually motionless. I happened to have a doctor’s appointment that day but could not walk so that resulted in a telephone consult and my GP ordered an urgent MRI to investigate.

Within the week I was in the NeuroSpine Institute Mount rooms with one of the Spine Surgeons looking at images showing a severe L2/3 compression and squeezing of my spinal canal. The doctor explained my diagnosis and what the treatment would be if I were to choose to proceed to treat my complaint. I found myself a real fan of his manner and sense of humour which I found helped me overcome initial fears at the thought of spinal surgery. I appreciated the time he took to answer my questions and I left his rooms full of confidence in his skills as a specialist surgeon.”

The next week Barry arrived at the hospital and was in theatre by 5pm. The procedure involved minimally invasive surgery for a lumbar 2/3 decompression. Barry woke in the recovery ward at 8pm and moved to a private room – remarkably pain free. By 10am the Spine Surgeon called by and told Barry he could go home, reminding Barry he would eventually know what it was like to be ‘kicked in the back by a horse’.

“It was about 24 hours later that the muscular ‘horse’ pain became evident, but that was nothing compared to what I had been putting up with for years from my lower back. The horse was eventually gated in the paddock and the aches had gone after two and a half weeks. I had come off the prescribed painkillers and I have returned to walking a good hour or two daily. I feel like a new person and friends tell me I no longer stoop at the shoulders.”

NeuroSpine Institute Spine Surgeon commented that “Quite often in spine surgery, small problems that are quite easy to fix have a major impact in patients’ lives. Of course some people need major surgery, but it is so rewarding to be able to help people like Barry get back to full function with ‘one night stay’ surgery. Hopefully he will remember me when it comes to cray season next time around.”

Five weeks after surgery, Barry returned to NeuroSpine Institute for a follow up session with the Clinical Nurse, who was pleased with his progress.

“My whole experience with the team at NeuroSpine Institute has been life-changing for me. I wish I had approached my family doctor years ago to have the issue investigated. I am driving again and much more active about the home and in my workshop. I am aiming to get back on the water within the next few weeks, whilst adhering to medical advice not to be in a hurry to lift heavy objects or strain my back. Although jigging for the odd squid or baiting up for King George whiting sound extremely attractive.”

Barry enjoying the sun, sea and cray fishing !