Thursday, 11 April 2013

Can I have an MRI scan please?

Keep in mind when reading this that I'm doing 'cold turkey', coming back from the land of tramadol and amitriptyline, and I don't feel brill just now.  I started this blog a few years back when I didn't feel so brill and it really helped then, in more ways than I could have ever expected!

So, what's up?

Well I think it all started down in London at the beginning of March, I stupidly carried some very heavy boxes, and they were very heavy. Stupidly, because I have a history of lower back spinal degeneration, and even though it will allow me to play badminton, it does not allow me to lift heavy stuff. No pain after the lifting, but a bit of a niggle the day after, thought I'd got away with it.

It was that weekend up in Glasgow, we were with Karen and David and my back was hurting, and hurting bad! Suddenly, I simply couldn't take another step. I froze with pain and Beverley helped me back to the hotel.

It was early of the following week, starting the 11th March, that I went to the doctors about the problem, but by then, the pain had spread from my lower back, into my hip, down the front of my leg and into my left knee. I saw a doctor, can't remember his name, but he thought the symptoms were of a trapped nerve, highly unlikely related to Prostate cancer as my PSA 4 months ago had been negligible. He gave me some tramadol, which I could take 4 times a day for the pain, and some amitriptyline, to take away the nerve pain. I had taken tramadol in a much smaller dosage after surgery 2 years ago, but was unfamiliar with the other drug.

After a week, I returned to my doctors, a different guy, a locom, but he was very sympathetic and I felt in good hands. The pain had now moved, in the main, from my lower back and was now in my thigh, but from my knee down to my ankle was completely numb. You could stick a pin in it, and nothing! He tested the reflexes on my right leg, fine. Then on my left leg, nothing at either the ankle or the knee; and I mean nothing. He was concerned enough to make me an 'emergency' MRI appointment. Because he was new to the practice and its systems, he asked someone who worked there how to do this, then he did it while I was there. It was rejected because a message came back saying that, 'unless the patient had displayed symptoms for at least 6 weeks, an emergency MRI could not be booked'. He seemed stunned! He phoned the hospital while I was there and spoke to someone in the MRI department who confirmed that this was the case, the reason being that most people with these symptoms would heal themselves before 6 weeks. Witchcraft or magic?! He explained that he was a doctor and had just examined me and that I had no reflexes in my left leg, and that he considered that I needed to be seen as soon as possible. The doctor left it at that, thinking that he had now booked me in for an 'emergency' MRI scan. Not so! Beverley phoned the hospital earlier this week, only to be told that I was not on the emergency list and it could be months before I get an appointment!

I don't know if I'm in danger, but I'm putting this all down in writing now because I know how much that helped me when trying to recall events of 2 years ago, when they left me without treatment for prostate cancer for 4 months before taking any action.

I'm not eating much, lost a stone in the past month and constipation only being eased by prune juice; yummy! 

Shame we had to cancel our holiday to Italy too, I know Beverley really needed that break but I couldn't have got on the plane. She wouldn't go without me, though I tried to make her, but that's how lovely she is.

Are they joking????
I've done my research on tramadol and it's a scary drug. I was on 500mg a day for 3 weeks and felt no pain, in fact looking back I hardly remember anything. I took 30mg amitriptyline every night, and this got rid of the nerve pains, which was a blessed relief I can tell you. But on further research, this drug is also prescribed for depression and I was taking it at it's max dose.

During this time I went to Becky who practices in a similar way to a chiropractor, tried to straighten me out, massaged all my bad bits and manoeuvred my back and legs to try and undo the problem. I gave up after 2 sessions because there was no improvement. She was a lovely person and tried so hard to give me confidence that it was temporary, and I think that what she does can really work for some.

Then the danger signs...

Beverley warned me that I was losing touch with reality earlier this week and said that I must do something to bring myself back. I was becoming a different person, and not a nice one! We both researched the problem I was having and the drugs I was on, then on Monday I cut down on the drugs. Wednesday, I decided that enough was enough and I quit completely…could have been a mistake, I don't know. 

The last 2 nights have been hellish! Little sleep, anxiety like I've never had it before, sweats, shakes…everything really! Day times are a little better, but still high anxiety. The back and thigh pain is not the main problem now, they are minimal, though the numbness from the knee to the ankle is the same in my left leg. Beverley takes me out during the day and I can walk a little, it's just nice to be with someone who cares so much. I'm dreading tonight, it's a whole different place where you're all alone and the demons visit.

This morning I went for a no.2, bang on time, no constipation, maybe I'm leaving the land of tramadol? I feel better now that I've written all this down, its sort of left me and I can relax a bit. I wrote a 3,000 word essay while I was in the land of tramadol, all about my personal reflection on wildlife conservation. I'd better read that again before I submit it, I think! I remember writing that the 'conservationist's bubble would be the last to burst in the cauldron of hell, where one day we will all meet our end'. Phew!

What now?

Well I'll write to PALS tomorrow, and ask how an 'emergency' MRI appointment, sent from my doctor to the hospital, managed to turn into a routine '6 month if you're lucky chap'?

I'll keep you posted, of course!


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