Some frustations with consultants

The first part of the story can be found here.  From 2008 onwards my mobility vastly decreased.   I swiftly went from sticks, to wheelchairs, to sometimes a few steps being too much.  The chiropractor I was seeing at the time advised she thought my facet discs may be getting worse, but wasn’t entirely sure.

By this point I had a diagnosis of Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, was aware one of the issues is that it causes joints to degenerate a lot quicker than they should as they are hypermobile and moving out of place all the time, which then in turn causes them damage.  So it’s sensible to keep an eye on it, as you could technically end up crumbling away!

Last year I brought up this issue to my GP.  While I understood and generally accepted the condition, and the general levels of constant pain, I was worried about what was going on in my lower back which has been the worst pain I have for some time.  She agreed with me it was a valid concern, but said she did not have the authority to send me for an MRI unless it was for a surgical reason.  I pointed out that I was unsure if it was surgical until it was scanned, but as she could find no symptoms relating to a disc pressing on a nerve – which is not my worry anyway, there was nothing she could do.

Instead she wrote to my two EDS specialists.  One my specialists I really like – he listens in appointments, and makes lots of referrals.  The other one comes across as slightly dismissive, and mostly spend her time trying to get me to lessen my painkillers – which wasn’t going to happen, after finding my current regime the best I’ve had so far.  The problem with the first specialist is that he doesn’t seem to respond to GP letters.  I realise he’s busy, and should have retired years ago – but local doctors just don’t have the skills and knowledge to treat EDS most of the year, and we shouldn’t have to wait for a check up just to get a simple question answered.

The second specialist did come back, however – to say she felt the answer to my issue was exercise.  I have to say my letter back her from my GP and I wasn’t particularly polite.  Oh, exercise!  Silly us!  I’ve done all the bloody stretches and exercises they have given me, and it’s ten years later and my lower back is simply getting worse.  This is not an issue to simply dismiss as ‘have an exercise sheet.’  I have to say all my trust in her immediately evaporated at that response.

My GP then tried again to a local Pain Consultant.  I have to say I’ve never liked this pain consultant.  I saw him before I had a diagnosis, and he seemed to immediately take against me because I’d already tried the suggestions he normally makes to patients (acupuncture and a TENS machine…  Yep, that’s it.)  On my first appointment I asked him if he thought it may be Fibromyalgia, and he responded, “You can call it that if you like, but I don’t as it’s too American.”   On my second appointment he said I was on too many painkillers, and that I needed to come off one of the painkillers.  On my third appointment he said I wasn’t on enough painkillers, and upped my morphine dose.

http://www.dreamstime.com/stock-photography-doctor-receiving-punch-angry-boxer-image20844792

But I still wasn’t expecting the response I got back from him that stated in black and white that to give me tests/injections into my spine would be “medicalising her condition, when she should be seeking psychiatric help” or something to that effect.  He also seemed to have forgotten I have a diagnosis Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, and stated my condition was Chronic Pain Syndrome instead.

Luckily, my follow-up with the first specialist was due a few months later – and he agreed with me I should have an MRI, as we don’t exactly know what the issue is – whether it’s something that’s got worse, or something new.  The bad news is that they are transferring existing EDS patients from my preferred hospital of UCL London, to Stanmore – therefore losing him as my specialist, and making the other one my primary.

Two weeks ago my GP phoned to say now that my consultant has agreed in regards to the MRI, I can now go on the waiting list!  I wasn’t sure how long they were taking, and hadn’t heard anything when  couple of weeks ago I received a phone call from the MRI department asking if I was aware I had an appointment in a couple of hours, as I had yet to confirm it.  Um, no, I certainly did not.  I thanked her profusely for calling me, if she hadn’t I would have gone down as a Do Not Attend – and gone to the back of the waiting list at best, discharged at worst.

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