Referral To The Orthapedic Consultant

Following on from ‘The Trigger For My Health Challenges’ post. This part of my journey continues from the summer of 2002.  I had returned to work following the back care course.

Link to ‘The Trigger For My Health Challenges’ post:

I had an Occupational Health appointment at Exeter Hospital. I needed to pass the medical to begin a place on the Nurse Training course in September. More than anything I wanted to be a Macmillan Nurse (specialist cancer nurse). During a conversation at work one of the Staff Nurses advised me to ‘go through the pain’, as she had done, to pass the physical examination. So when the doctor lifted each leg to see if there was ‘nerve root involvement’, I put up with the pain. Looking back on this it was a bad decision. Becoming a Macmillan Nurse was all I could think about. I stayed focused on my goal. Within a week of the appointment I experienced shooting pain down my left leg. It was debilitating pain, I had to keep still and allow the pain to finish before continuing. I saw another GP. She told me there was probably something compressing on a nerve in my spine. She referred me to an Orthopedic Consultant who would order a scan for me to see what was going on. I was quite irritated that it took so long and my health had to become a whole lot worse before any investigations were carried out on my back.

I can’t remember how long the wait was to see the orthopedic Consultant. He referred me for an MRI scan. At that time our main local hospital didn’t have an MRI scanner. They rented a mobile one routinely, so the list was very long. When my appointment came through it appeared to be 6 months away. We joked imagining if it had been 18 months away. When I re-read the appointment letter, it actually was 18 months away. How can that be justified? How can people carry on for that long not knowing what is wrong with them? How much more damage can people do to their bodies whilst waiting for the scan to be done?

I remained off sick at work, whilst beginning a part-time course on natural therapy at college ( I left this within a few months due to the stooping making my pain worse). In September Chris and I were married. We had our blessing a week later in his Mum’s village. This was a challenge as I had to stand through the whole ceremony. No-one had put seats at the front for us to sit on. It’s a shame that such a lovely day had a negative aspect to it due to my pain. The Nursing Sister from work was invited. During the reception she told me I needed to go in for an appointment with her and a member of staff from personnel.

I came down with a virus in October, which is normal with having children at school. Unfortunately our house didn’t have central heating or double glazing. It was so cold in the winter. We had two oil-filled radiators which we moved around the house to wherever they needed to be. It was normal for Ben to have a wash with a bowl next to them in the front room. The coldness affected my virus, which led to a chest infection. The coughing made my back pain a lot worse than it had been.  It was not a good time. I ended up being admitted to hospital as I had difficulty passing urine and was becoming numb around my pelvic area (back and front). They sorted out my pain medication. This gave me the ability to do much more than I was previously able to do. More than anything it helped me sleep much better.  The pain had woken me up each night, making the subsequent days more difficult to manage. The most horrible thing to see whilst in hospital was the MRI scanner outside, which I still had to wait well over a year for.

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