Tim Lovejoy health: TV host’s operation could have left him paralysed – what was it?

Tim Lovejoy has presented Sunday Brunch, alongside Simon Rimmer, for the last eight years, a show that fuses fine cookery with celebrity guest appearances and a sprinkle of comedic charm courtesy of Tim and his co-host. While most people pleasantly associate Tim with lazy Sunday mornings, his life hasn’t always been so rosy.


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Tim had a discectomy on his spinal cord a couple of years back, and on his Q&A podcast named Dear Lovejoy, the presenter revealed a chilling detail about the operation.

He said: “I basically had a discectomy, which is where they cut a hole in your back – shall I tell you the nitty gritty detail?

“They cut through the skin, they cut through the fat, they move the muscle away from the spine and they move the spinal column out of the way.

“Then, they neaten up your disc, and they pop you back together – and it’s the early stages of this where you’re not allowed to go out and about and do much, because you could damage the disk.”

The most unsettling part of the operation came before he had it, however.

Tim recounted how the doctor asked him all matter-of-factly if he could sign a form acknowledging and agreeing to the potential complications that could arise as a result of the operation.

The doctor then went on say that there was a probability, a one in 1000 chance to be precise, that Tim could have been left paralysed.

Despite the potential dangers, Tim saw the funny side, rating his odds of recovery.

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What is a discectomy?

A discectomy is carried out to release the pressure on your spinal nerves caused by a bulging or slipped disc, according to the Royal College of Surgeons.

As the NHS explains, a slipped disc is when a soft cushion of tissue between the bones in your spine pushes out.

It’s painful if it presses on nerves, but it usually gets better slowly with rest, gentle exercise and painkillers, notes the health body.

When is surgery required?

According to the NHS, surgery is not usually needed, but your GP might refer you to a specialist to discuss surgery if your symptoms:

  • Have not improved using other treatments
  • Include worsening muscle weakness, or numbness


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What you should you expect following a discectomy

According to advice put out by the West Hertfordshire Hospitals, NHS trust unit, you will feel bruised in your lower back but local anaesthetic will be administered to try and minimise this bruising.

“The wound will be closed with dissolvable stitches, so there will be no stitches that need to be taken out,” explains the health body.

You will be in hospital for one to two nights, and during this time nurses will explain how you need to look after your wound.

“For the first six weeks you will need to take things easy and avoid heavy lifting, as well as any prolonged sitting and standing and you

should limit activity to gentle walking and stretches,” it adds.

What causes a slipped disc?

According to the NHS, the primary causes of a slipped disk include:

  • Ageing
  • Exercising too hard
  • Lifting heavy objects the wrong way
  • Vibration from driving or operating machinery
  • Being inactive or overweight

The condition can largely be prevented by taking regular exercise, however, notes the health site.

It is also imperative to adopt a safe technique when lifting heavy objects, it warns.

Furthermore, you should also avoid smoking warns the NHS: “Nicotine weakens the disc tissue.”

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