I know it's half way through February and I haven't got round to writing any blog posts yet in 2019! Yikes, what a terrible person I am!! Well, hopefully when you read this you'll have some understanding as to why.
In December last year, I saw Dr Rogers who suspected I have a problem in my spine that is referring pain down my leg. This sounded like it could have been a good explanation to my struggles.
Being in the UK and treated by the NHS for the last seven months, I've figured out ways to get seen quicker. It's basically a case of pestering people on the phone. On December 18th I was referred for a lumbar spine MRI scan. On the 19th I began calling the hospital, and on the 20th I got a cancellation and had the scan.
Waiting for the results would be the next challenge as Christmas and New Year would slow down the process. And then, getting an appointment to see a doctor that is very high in demand will be an even tougher challenge.
Anyway, I persisted and spent a lot of time on the phone pestering my way to get things moving. By the way, this is really not my normal style, I'm far too reserved and 'British' to be pushy but this is me being tested beyond my limits!
In the mean time, I was to take a new drug which should help me with the pain if it is nerve pain from my spine. Unfortunately, you can't take this painkiller with the anti-depressants I was taking but this drug is used for that purpose too. I stopped taking the Sertraline that I was on and gradually increased Amytriptyline to address both issues.
Dr Rogers told me that I could begin running again gradually as I won't be making the condition any worse. I figured I'd do 30 minutes every other day and monitor how the pain changes as I increase the drugs. I thought that I was coping alright as I'd begun to run and spend more time outdoors which helps me mentally. I was crying a lot but assumed it was due to having no diagnosis still. I think actually it was down to being depressed and not treating it enough. (I might have had people tell me I was slipping!)
After being a massive pest I managed to secure myself an appointment to get the results on January 11th. As I walked into Dr Rogers room I saw my MRI scan on his computer. It was clear to see that one of the discs was a different colour to the others. He explained that this was the area he suspected there would be a problem. And that the darker colour was degenerative wear and tear.
There's a slight bulge in the same disc but really not dramatic and not impinging the nerves. He said that if someone came to him with this scan in no pain at all he wouldn't be surprised. It's pretty normal.
As I was listening to the prognosis I could feel emotion building up inside me. Yet again, no definite diagnosis. I was only just managing to maintain my cool but I kept back the tears until leaving his room. Walking down the hospital corridor despair took hold of me. What is wrong with me. I don't believe Dr Rogers thinks my spine is the cause. I don't believe it's the cause.
I have no choice other than to keep increasing the drugs to see if they make any difference to my pain. The doctor wants me to have an epidural steroid injection in my spine. If this cures the problem then it proves the problem is from my back. Unfortunately, I have to wait quite a while for this and have other consultations first. More waiting!
My mum had kindly come over to Manchester to attend my appointment with me. After all of these appointments, scans and tests I'm starting to get quite a lot of anxiety when I see a doctor so having someone with me is great. We spent the day together and chatted lots. When we got back to the house and I spoke to Emily (one of my best buddies) I got even more emotional. The frustration is just unimaginable!
That night as I lay in bed still crying, I reached my limit. I just need a break from it all. I can't escape from my pain unfortunately but I need to do something. I never ask for help. I'm far too stubborn and independent for that. But this last year has taught me that it's okay to ask for help and if anyone I care for was in need I hope they'd ask me. I messaged my boyfriend and asked if he could pay for me to visit him until I need to return for my next appointment. Thankfully he'd been thinking exactly the same thing.
Within a week I was on a plane and travelled back to my home in New Zealand that I've been away from for eight months.
Anyway, 2018, thank you for being the worst year of my life and teaching me many lessons. And 2019, please be better!