I’m not spineless, even if I wish I was



I’m here pretty late, for me. It’s about 8:45 as I start. I’m sleepy, and sore, and stiff, and my nose is half stuffy (not normal for me).

Had an early start today, as I had an appointment with the chiropractor. I’m paying for this out of pocket, as I don’t have insurance and the NHS probably wouldn’t pay for it. If I could get them to have a look, that is.

So, a bit of history is in order methinks!

June or thereabouts, 2010. I went to my GP for something or other and also asked about the super annoying sensations on the outside of my left thigh. It burns, itches, tingles, goes numb, and just in general fells really freaking weird when touched. So, doc says he’ll request an x-ray for me at the hospital.

Now, keep in mind I’ve only lived in Ireland five years at this point, but I’ve already learned that the NHS is slow as fuck, and that my request is in no way urgent and therefore at the bottom of the probably massive stack of letters. No worries.

I sort of forgot about it. I’d remember, but didn’t get sick again so had no need to visit the doc. Also, getting thru to them on the phone is hellish. His office is literally right around the corner from my house, but I hate to be a dick and walk in just to ask a question because the phone is always busy. Busy is busy, and I’m not more important than the people who have been waiting, right?

So, a year goes by without an x-ray appointment. I’m steadily getting worse. Not really in pain as such, but I can’t stand still for long without getting sore. I growl at iDJ when he accidentally touches my leg. I finally ring the doc in May. They get me an x-ray appointment at the hospital in just a couple weeks.

Of course, the x-rays show nothing. It’s probably a pinched nerve, that’s not gonna show. So, doc says he’ll send a letter and ask for an urgent MRI, and it should be about two weeks.

A month goes by. I ring the doc, no, they have nothing. They send another letter, again urgent, again, should be getting an appointment in about two weeks. Gina (I’m now on a first name basis, I’m the only Yank and my name is a pain in the ass, so she knows it’s me the minute I say hello) tells me that she’s going to say it’s the third request, because the hospital lost my x-ray request letter in the first place. I know Gina is busy, and, I suspect, she’s so overworked that things don’t get done in a timely fashion. So I ask if I can ring the hospital and annoy them about the appointment myself.

Why yes, yes I can. I leave it three weeks and ring the radiology department. They are only available for phone calls between 10 and 12:30 every day, WTF???

They have no record of me needing an appointment for an MRI.

I call Gina back. She says she’ll ring them. Nope, no letter. She sends another one. Have to wait another two weeks.

By now, I’m keeping dates and not letting shit get one day older than it should before I start chasing my appointment. Gina tells me two weeks later that I’ll be seeing a Miss H in orthopaedics. So I start ringing orthopaedics. They say they have the letter (cue happy bluebirds circling over my head in joyous celebration)! They also say that Miss H has such a backlog of letters waiting for appointments, she needs time to read them and prioritise each one. They also say that I am NOT in any queue for an MRI, I am waiting only for a consultation, and the wait for that will be two months! Cue my bluebirds dropping, stone dead, to the ground in little puffs of feathers.

By now, I think, it is late August. I’m shitty at tracking time, sorry. Back to the doc, in person, and righteously pissed off. Because in my real life, I have gotten WAY worse. I’m in actual lower back pain now, and it is constant. I can’t vacuum the house without having to spend the rest of the day on the couch with a hot pad on my back. I’m super fucking grumpy and hate my stupid loser life where I can no longer even apply for shit retail jobs because I know I can’t stand up for 10 minutes in a row or lift anything. I’ve also broken my left pinkie toe because that side has gone weak and I’m even clumsier than usual. Oh, and the middle toe on my left foot has now gone numb! Oh, and I’d found a really fun martial art that I was good at and it made me happy because I am a clumsy git and I’d turned 40 but even though I’m feeling old, I was learning how to kill, using a sword, in elegant ways. With friends, which is so bloody rare that alone was enough to make me happy.

But, no more swordplay, no little bit of sunshine, and now I’m really pissed off at the system.

Doc is great, is upset on my behalf, and says he’ll send a letter to a different hospital in the next county, to see if they will take me seriously. Two weeks, again.

I ring the doc after exactly two weeks. Gina says she’ll ring the ‘new’ hospital. This is Tuesday. I give her Wed to ring them. Thurs the doc’s office is always closed. I call again on Friday. I get a voice mail saying the office is closed. Sheeeeit.

I call on Monday. Gina is off for the next week, and the fill in hasn’t a clue. I do get the name of the ‘new’ hospital, so I try to ring them. No answer at either number in the phone book. I find a place that only does MRI’s and call them, apologising for not have a clue what the hell I’m talking about. They don’t have any record of a letter about me. But, I might have the wrong place, or my bizarre name might be the issue. So, I wait out the week and ring Gina on Monday. Hey, we’re up to this week! Woot! Still with me? Bored yet? I am, a bit. Think I’ll take a pee break.

Ah, that’s better. Needed more booze anyhow.

Oh yes, over the week that Gina was out, I got a letter from the first hospital giving me my consult appointment on November 2. Bastards! I get from Gina the actual number of the new place and I ring them. Same story: one doc, pile of paperwork, hasn’t read any of it. Fuck YOU, sir. Ring Gina again, ask if I can have my x-rays because I’ve given up and am now going to a chiropractor.

You read the earlier fun post about picking up the films? Good.

So, chiropractor’s office. Lots of questions, the history of all the pains, etc. His diagnosis is that my sacrum is sitting crooked between my hips, due to my squealing when he squeezed my hipbones toward each other, and then another look at the x-ray where even I can see that shit is crooked. So, problem number one.

Problem number two is unconfirmed. Ya know why? Because you’d need a fucking MRI to see if I have a herniated disc or not! Isn’t that funny? But he says it’s pretty likely, as the very last vertebrae has a smaller gap than all the others. If so, it explains the screwy leg nerves as it they are either being pinched out the side of the disc, or as it runs down past my pelvic bone and sacrum.

So, an adjustment, an exercise, ice and heat, and do not bend over, twist and bend, or sit crooked. No lifting, and try to sleep on my back with pillows under my knees. Wish me luck with that last one. Back on Tuesday, 2 appointments a week for a bit, then one, then one a month, then one every few months.

I’m stiff in my upper back, but that’s all muscle because I am and have been holding myself very stiff to avoid movement and pain. My lower back feels better already!

Wish our bank account did.

3 responses »

  1. For those of you that don’t have lower back problems let me list what I’d had done over here in the US in the same time it’s taken Spiders here to get this far. I’ve had several xrays, at least two of my now 6 MRIs (it’s been 3 years for me), a couple of CT scans and two back surgeries…

    So when she says it’s been hideously slow… she means it.

  2. Pingback: Cucurbita maximas in flight! « heretherebespiders

  3. Pingback: Spinal flux, Irish BBQ, and the Fourth from a distance « heretherebespiders

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