So it looks like I'm not going in for surgery on my sciatic nerve in the next few weeks after all. Since having my back sliced open and a very clever man rummage around next to my spine was a fairly serious undertaking, I decided to get a second opinion. I was lucky enough to see another highly regarded neurologist, who sat me down, moved my leg around a bit, listened intently to my screams and said "You know, this sounds like it could be your hip - go and have a hip MRI." This annoyed me a bit, because he wasn't following the gameplan. He was meant to quickly and easily agree with the sciatic diagnosis, concur that the operation was the best thing to do, approve the specialist I had chosen and direct me to the nearest operating theatre. Still, going to the trouble of getting a second opinion and then ignoring it would have been pretty damn stupid, so I went and had my hip scanned.
It turns out that I have a tear in the cartilage in my right hip joint, with a 3.7cm cyst formed nearby. This is rather impressive, as there isn't a lot of room inside that part of the body. It's also a rather more compelling issue than general swelling on my sciatic nerve, which really only got the guernsey because it was the only other thing that turned up in my dozens of scans. Now, I still have what the doc refers to as "sciatic symptoms", which might mean that I'm still due for a bit of sciatic jiggling in the future, but for now, my hip has taken center stage. The plan is for the doc to go in with a fiber-optic camera and repair the torn cartilage, drain the cyst, and possibly re-vulcanize my tires. It's day surgery, and very similar to a knee arthroscope, which fixed my left knee up nicely a few years back. I don't have a date for the procedure yet, but naturally he's completely booked up before Christmas. Let's hope he can squeeze me in in early January.
It's a bit frightening to consider that if it really has been the hip all along, I might've had sciatic surgery and had no improvement whatsoever. The hip stuff still might be a waste of time. That's definitely not a good thought, but at least seeing the cyst lit up like a blazing star amongst the dark interstellar clouds of my pelvic region made me think it really might be what's been causing all the trouble.
I also stopped taking Feldene, the anti-inflammatory drug I've been on for perhaps the last six months. It was interesting to note that I didn't really have any change in pain. I still get sore, but not really any more or less than when I was taking the drug. I've also noticed (along with others) a significant improvement in my focus, general alertness and cognition. This means that I've essentially been high for the last six months for no good medical reason. This is annoying, but generally harmless - unless I find I've invested my life savings in ostrich-mounted weaponry or clothes made of silly putty. Thinking clearly is the right choice, although were people always this irritating?