You may well be asking what the good old NHS was doing all this time. For a good few weeks nothing at all. I had occasionally been referred to orthopaedic surgeons for various things but they had all dismissed me as Not Having A Problem. I had long decided that there was no help to be got from that quarter. Not for my back, at least. And still no scan. Every time I asked it was knocked back as an idea. Don’t get me wrong, I love the NHS and think it’s marvellous, but I’m not blind. It has pockets that can and need to be improved. (Side note; that improvement will not come about by starving it of funding, making insanely complicated management structures, or selling bits off to private companies. All of those are massively counter-productive.)
I’d been seeing a chiropractor for years and she had been marvellous at getting me back on my feet time and time again, so I went to her initially. Before I did that I did go to the GP, because I wanted them to see me as I was. So that if the chiropractor couldn’t do anything and I needed more help weeks later, I didn’t get sent away with ‘Let’s wait a week to see if it goes away by itself.’ I know why GPs do this, honestly I do, but occasionally they could give credit to those of us who are quite well-informed about things and have already done that week’s wait on their own. Anyhow, some weeks the treatment worked marvellously and I’d have a blissful few hours, but I’d always slip back. After 6 weeks of this the chiropractor told me to go back to the GP. She obviously wasn’t getting anywhere – she knew it, I knew it, it was time to get a scan and see what was really going on.
‘Let’s wait a week and see if it goes away by itself.’
Yes, really. I sat there just looking at my GP wondering if he’d even heard what I said, and remembered that I’d been in that surgery 6 weeks ago with the same problem. He figured I’d pulled a muscle in my buttock which was constricting the nerve. There needs to be a button on every GPs desk. When you press it they get to feel exactly what you do. Only for 5 minutes, I’m not a sadist. It would really help as a diagnostic tool. The fact that it might just stop some GPs being dicks would just be a side-benefit, honest.
So off I was sent to physio. I knew it wouldn’t work, but I recognised it was a stage I had to go through. The GP was only going to refer me to a consultant if an NHS physio said so. Hey ho. So after a good few weeks of this I was sent back to the GP, because nothings had worked. Surprise! Oh, a word about pain scales here. The physio wasn’t very impressed when I said the background pain was a 3-4, occasionally spiking to a 7 or 8. She asked me to rate it on a scale of 1-10, with 10 being the worst. As far as I was concerned 10 was when you passed out from pain, and I hadn’t quite done that. My husband told me I was an idiot, and under-estimated the pain levels, so he asked me where childbirth was on my own personal scale. I considered and reckoned a 4, mainly, spiking to 6, perhaps 7. I cleared up the misunderstanding next physio appointment. So, always make sure your pain scale is calibrated the same as everyone else’s!
So back I went to the GP. I wanted a scan. I needed a scan. The only way I was going to get a scan was through an orthopaedic consultant, which didn’t fill me with joy given previous experiences, but that was the deal. The only thing was, the GP was still reluctant. In the end we asked if we could do it through my husband’s corporate BUPA scheme. The GPs eyes lit up, he wouldn’t have to pay! That’ll do nicely.
No. I don’t know why we didn’t think of suggesting that earlier either. Brains were probably fried from pain and painkillers on my part and extreme exhaustion trying to keep up a 12 hour working day and look after 3 kids on my husband’s part. I’m physically useless at this point, remember?
Anyway, we’re off to a consultant. This is a breakthrough, so I’m happy.