Monday, 20 February 2012

victory over the GP's

after losing a battle for the past few weeks to have Diazepam continually supplied to me, after they stopped my prescription, i went to see a different doctor, but took some paperwork from a professor of pain management at the BMI lancaster hospital, who said that i am on good medication such as Diazepam, the GP had no choice but to back down! this gave me a certain feel of satisfaction, not just that i got the pills i need, and should have supplied to me without question, but i also got what i actually wanted without a GP sticking their galactic noses in!

unfortunately, i have discovered something rather worrying about one of the doctors at my GP practice, LIES! i applies for DLA under the instruction of my adviser at the Citizens Advice Bureau, so the DWP (Department for Work and Pensions) sent out a form for my GP and the professor at the BMI to fill in. the professor gave a full and detailed explanation of what my condition is and any previous treatment i have received, unlike my GP who plainly stated that there was nothing wrong with me. it looked clearly to me, that he hadn't even bothered to look at my file as certain information was left out. he said that the MRI scans have shown "no structure" to my symtoms, even though the MRI results are freely available on his computer, just a click away. i am getting so very angry with all medical services, as they clearly have no clue what they doing. a blind monkey with a pin could do a better job.

we should be in a day and age where there in no such thing as "doctors opinions". the advancement of medical science should be able to clearly state what is wrong with the patient and what needs to be done to fix him/her. thats it. none of this faffing around with having many many scans, then waiting for 6 months for a follow up, then being told i will need more scans and injection that i don't need! are there any doctors and surgeons out there who know what they are doing, if so, please feel free to contact me so i can give you a congratulatory medal for DOING YOUR JOB!

Friday, 17 February 2012

good day

well we have friends around this evening, playing games, having a few drinks and basically having a laugh. im having a good day generally, apart my trip to, yes, again, ASDA! this time to get some spare keys cut, an couldn't be bothered getting a wheelchair, so walked with my crutch as it wasn't far from the door. unfortunately, this damn near killed me. it seems now, that every day, i am able to walk less and less, and this is kinda frightening. i don't want to sound like i droll on and on about my problems, but this is a blog about my problems, and i use it to get it all of my chest.this helps me, as i can see things in context. and it helps to get it out of my mind so im not thinking about it as much.

the day of my appointment with the neurosurgeon grows ever closer, and me and my partner are still doing our homework on possible operations and procedures that could be done and which ones would be best. i know that this is a form of building up hopes, but this sort of thinking has to be done, as i don't want to be surprised when the time comes. i will probably need the time to mull over which procedure is best for me and my condition.

Thursday, 16 February 2012

Day to Day

well, today has been very hard, and i haven't done that much to be honest. got up around 9am, went to ASDA, came home and had dinner. albeit now, when i go to places like ASDA, i have to use a wheelchair, and that scares me, as i haven't been out much on my feet, and if i can't get round a smooth floored supermarket, how am i going to manage when out on the rough pavements? so, it seems the time has come to get myself a wheelchair. i knew this day would come, i just didn't think it would be this soon. i have dreaded this day from the very moment i thought about it. but all i know is that i cannot carry on the way i am, i need some king of mobility help, and if a wheelchair makes my life 1% easier, then so be it.

i am crossing all my finger and toes, and praying to every god that people believe in, that this is only temporary, and that i will soon be back on my feet, though i don't raise my hopes too much, as i don't want them dashed if nothing comes of it. luckily, our car is an automatic, which means i am still able to drive. if the day comes where i cannot drive, i would go stir crazy as i love driving, even with the amount of idiots that their are on our streets these day, but that's another topic for another blog. hmm, a blog about idiot drivers, sounds like a plan....

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

the facts of my problem

the image above is the original MRI scan taken 3 years ago, things are a lot worse now than they were then. but even 3 years ago, an orthopaedic surgeon said that this was not right and i would need surgery in the near future. im no doctor or spinal expert, but just looking at this picture, even i can see that something is wrong. i will probably be having another MRI in the coming months and will try and get a picture of it to compare how things have progressed.

any spinal surgeon reading this blog and looking at this image, will see that i have "central protrusion of discs L4/L5 and L5/S1 with possible nerve damage (hence the sciatica and weakness in my left leg).

after doing extensive research into spinal problems such as mine, i have seen that when spinal discs empty themselves, or "rupture" of the fluid contained within them (nucleus pulposus). emptying the fluid into the spinal column, therefore, causing severe pain in the legs, feet or arms. pain in the legs is called by fluid on or around the sciatic nerve, commonly known as "sciatica".

sciatica can have several symptoms, such as burning or radiating pain through the buttocks and hips; severe shooting pain down the legs; burning pain in the feet or toes; weakness, tingly sensations or pins and needles in legs or feet. extreme cases have been know to cause partial paralysis. in my case, i have radiating pain in my buttocks and hip; severe shooting pains, often down my left leg, but occasionally down my right; occasional burning sensations in my feet; and severe weakness of my left leg, causing me to use a crutch, and quite often, a wheelchair.

there are many surgical options that are available for this scenario, these of which i will consult with my neurosurgeon in my forthcoming appointment, that is if he decides that surgery is the best way to go, but at this stage, i dont see any other option. if he says "no surgery", then i will be willing to pay privately and get it done as quickly as possible.

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

valentines day

Well, as valentines day draws to a close, i hope everyone had an amazing day. i have enjoyed my first valentines day with my beautiful, amazing girlfriend. i cant thank her enough for the help and love she gives me, but i do feel constantly guilty. i feel guilty because i cannot help her as much as i want to. it hurts me to see her running around after me. plus the day has been filled with fear, fear about the upcoming neurosurgery appointment. things go round and round in my head. "what if they can't fix me?" "what operation will they want to do?" "what if it goes wrong and i end up even worse?". currently my head is a mess with thoughts. but tonight is all about my partner, and all my troubles and woes are going to take a back seat, at least just for tonight.

i hope you all have had a brilliant day, and will have a fantastic and romantic evening with your loved ones.

Monday, 13 February 2012

GP's and drug costs

As i said in my previous post, money and what finances the GP practices receive are all based on what pills the doctors prescribe to their patients. an today i had it confirmed by one the better GP's that are in my local surgery. he told me that there was nothing i could say that would get Diazepam prescribed to me again. he started going on about money and costs of the drug. now this might just be me, but when someone goes to a doctor with an ailment, they want to know that they can get everything they need to get themselves on the road to recovery, or at least ease any pain they might be in. but it turns out that this simply is not the case. even though we pay national insurance at huge amounts these days, the NHS and GP practices, will not pay for drugs that many people need. in a way he felt sorry for me and wished me luck for an appointment with a neuro surgeon i have in march. at least he is a competent doctor, my actual GP told me last week to rub ibuprofen gel on the affected area and go for a massage....

now im no expert in this, but for someone who has central protrusion of two spinal discs, nerve damage and severe sciatica, putting pressure on the spine is not the best idea. i've even been told by one massager a couple of years ago that they would not touch me!  i wonder if some of these GP's get their medical licences out of a kinder egg! i think from now on i will only use GP's to repeat my prescriptions, well, the ones they can "afford" to give me anyway.

GP's any good??

For the last 3 years i have been on Diazepam to help control my muscle spasms in my back, that was until 2 weeks ago when i put in a repeat prescription for them. it was denied! i picked up the prescription slip only to see Diazepam crossed out with a squiggly line. So i made an appointment with my GP, who, ive learned, is one of the owners of the practise. he said i shouldn't be on Diazepam, i told him what i need it for, but he wasn't going to shift. instead, he prescribed Citalopram which is an antidepressant, and a rubbish one at that. I have been prescribed antidepressants in the past to eliminate depression, and was soon taken off it again. 2 weeks after being prescribed Citalopram, i saw another doctor, who swiftly told me to stop taking them and that i dont need them, he, again, prescribed me Diazepam. It turns out that, and i want to make you all aware of this, that GP's get their money from something called the QOF (The Quality and Outcomes Framework). This points system means the GP practice gets paid from the way they treat you. I have learned that the more patients get prescribed drugs such as Diazepam, the LESS money the practice gets, and the more patients get prescribed drugs such as antidepressants, the MORE money the practice receives. so now i have a doctors appointment with a doctor who is not an owner and doesn't have much responsibility with the practices income. I for one find the fact that GP's are more concerned with getting lots of money, rather than treating patients correctly, to be disgraceful. If you are on drugs such as antidepressants, and you are questioning yourself whether you need to be on them, see a GP who is not an owner of your practice, and ask them. I am not depressed, i am in pain. I do not need mood stabilizers! I know that Diazepam is a form of Valium, and this is the ingredient that i need to control my muscles. Here is a brief description from website about valium and Diazepam:

Valium (diazepam) belongs to a group of drugs called benzodiazepines. Diazepam affects chemicals in the brain that may become unbalanced and cause anxiety.

Valium is used to treat anxiety disorders,alcohol withdrawal symptoms, or muscle spasms. Valium is sometimes used with other medications to treat seizures.

So for a doctor to refuse Diazepam to someone in my condition is not only wrong, but unethical!

Sunday, 12 February 2012

DLA Cockup!!

After seeing a consultant at lancaster CAB (Citizens Advice Bureau) who told me that i should be claiming disability living allowance, i she helped me fill in a claim form, which took a while, there was alot to write about. so, finally, the form was ready to be posted, this was before christmas, and only this week, i received a letter telling me that i had a medical appointment on the friday just gone. so, with help from my girlfriend, i struggled all the way up the steep slope to the medical examination room, i was knackered and hurting alot. these days it is so  hard to walk more than a few steps. so, i arrived at the door, to be greeted by a piece of scrappy paper blue tacked to the door saying that all appointments for today are cancelled and further appointment will be sent out in the post. i was so angry, i had come all that way, which to me, feels like 20 miles, for no reason. i rang them up an nearly shouted at them down the phone. they apologized profusely. i asked for a home appointment as i wasn't willing to make that journey again. i was told that a doctor would have to write to them to request a home visit, so i am at the doctors on monday to request this.

getting fixed?

my story begins 7 years ago, when i worked at a salad production factory, working with HGVs, fixing and loading them. one day, a wagon came in complaining of a gas leak, this wagon was full of tomatoes, so these ha to be shifted before any maintenance could begin. as i was moving a pallet (which weighed in excess of 2 tonnes), it started to tilt. me being the fool, i went to catch it, and felt a pop in my back! (for the record, i did successfully prevent the pallet from toppling).

so, my NHS adventure began that day in early june 2004. i got taken to hospital, where a "genius" doctor pronounced me as having slipped a disc in my spine. (i could have told him that). anyway, he had to do an XRAY to make sure. i was off work for a month, letting the pain subside. nothing really happened after that apart from the occasional twinge in my back.

the next year, a very similar accident occurred, again, i was taken to hospital, this time no XRAY, but still, they said slipped disc and to rest. off work again for another month.

in 2009, while working at a EMI nursing home, i bent down to pick an empty bin liner off the floor, i couldnt stand back up. i went to the hospital straight away, the immediately booked me in for an MRI scan. the scan showed that i have DDD (Disc Degeneration Disease). DDD often occurs in older people as an ageing process, most of the time no pain is felt, however, when it is caused by injury, it can become quite serious.

i was under Mr Ampat, a orthopaedic surgeon at southport and formby general hospital. as i was also starting to get strange pain in my legs, he referred me to the walton neurological centre in liverpool, for further testing.

after the tests had been completed, i was seen by a registrar, who said that the discs where causing irritation to the nerves that come out of the spinal cord. he said it will need surgery in the future, i asked will my symptoms become worse, he answered with a simple "yes". my heart sank as i new this was going to affect me for some time, and could start to ruin my life. i was off sick from my work, a job i loved. after about 6 months, my boss alan called me in, and said that they would have to let me go on grounds of incapacity. a tear came to my eye at this point. alan felt so sorry for me and said he wished there was something he could do to help, but he had done all he could. things at this point now where really starting to get to me.

so, as the days ans weeks rolled on, i found myself in ever more pain, increasing all the time, several bouts on near depression, to which the doctors wanted to put me on antidepressants, of which i said no, except one antidepressant, Amitriptyline, only because it was proven to help with nerve pain, didnt really feel much relief from that, but at that point in time i was willing to try anything.

A few months later, i went to see my GP for a regular check up, and he told me about a trial drug the NHS has been testing on patients with nerve problems, its called Pregabalin, or Lyrica. i found this drug to be much more helpful than the Amitriptyline, so i came off that and started taking Lyrica at small doses to begin with, after a week i increase the dosage up to 600mg a day, the effect where noticeable. i am still on this drug to this day. that, mixed with the Tramadol, causes me to feel quite "high", but does relieve the pain somewhat.

my story became quite the same for a while after that, i carried on taking the necessary drugs everyday, and tried my best to live life the best way i could. Then, after i moved up to lancaster with my partner, i started seeing a new GP and he wanted to send me to Chorley hospital for another MRI scan and to see the resident orthopaedic surgeon at the hospital, so after organising a lift down to Chorley from a friend, this was because i cannot lie still for 20 mins, its impossible, so i had to drug myself up, i successfully completed the MRI and an appointment was made for me  to come back for a follow up and results at a later date. 

I felt optimistic, i hoped that things were finally going to get sorted, and hopefully, this orthopaedic surgeon would be able to fix me. that was until the appointment day. i arrived on time for my appointment, sat in the waiting room until my name was called. i followed a woman into a consultation room, i thought at that time she was the surgeons receptionist and the surgeon would be along shortly. instead, she introduced herself as his physiotherapist. i was a bit puzzled at this time, but maybe he was busy and she was just going to give me the results to which he had decided. instead, it turns out that the surgeon had not looked at the MRI scan at all, instead, she decided to give me her results. this is what she said. "there appears to be a very slight misshaping of a disc, but there is nothing wrong with you". at this point i got angry and upset. i knew they did the MRI wrong when they put my legs up on a high foam cushion, i asked her, "if there is nothing wrong with me, how to you explain the symptoms that i am getting, and the fact that i have been diagnosed with DDD by 2 GP's, an Orthopaedic surgeon, and a neurosurgeon". she couldnt answer this, and looked at me with what could only be described as a look of hatred. (i guess these people don't like to be proved wrong). all she said after that is maybe there is a problem further up my spine, of maybe in my head, oh joy! does she really know what she is talking about?? im guessing not! anyway, the receptionist made me a follow up appointment and said she would ring lancaster hospital to arrange for an MRI scan, to save me having to journey all the way to Chorley. well the letter came through for the follow up, but nothing about the actual scan. i left it a bit, thought maybe lancaster was busy, so decided to give them time. the follow up was coming up fast, so i rang chorley, only to be told its not their job to ring for MRI scan appointments. i was livid!! i rang lancaster to see if there was an appointment, but there wasnt enough time. 

Right now, i had given up on the NHS, id worked all my life, and paid alot of money into national insurance to be treated like a number. i was fed up. but my girlfriend kept me going, she has been my rock through this. now i was determined to get myself fixed and get back to work, so i went back to my GP, demanding that something be done. so he referred me to a private hospital in lancaster for an epidural injection. the professor i saw there spoke the most sense to me that anyone else had in the past. he told me exactly what was wrong and exactly what was needed to fix it, surgery. unfortunately, he said no neurosurgeon would touch me until everything else had been tried first. so he made an appointment for an epidural 3 days later (i wish i could afford to go private, i would have been fixed by now). 

so the day came for my epidural, i was a bit nervous, id never had one before. i got taken into a treatment room, was told to turn onto my left. the sensation of the injection was very strange, and slightly painful. but i was discharged a few hours later and was told to rest for 24 hours and come back for a follow up. the chances of pain relief were marginal, and indeed, nothing really came of it. so i was booked in for another one. this one didn't quite go to plan, he must have hit a nerve, even though he didn't admit it. i had never felt pain like that before in my life. it felt like my leg was literally on fire. this went off after a while, and again, i was discharged and came back for a follow up. again nothing really came of the injection. that was the end of what he could do for me as he was a private professor and couldn't refer me on, but did give me the name of a neurosurgeon who he recommended. so my GP referred me on to this surgeon at the royal preston hospital. the appointment is in march.