Over the passed year or so, I've seen so many medical professionals and had so many misdiagnoses that I take everything with a pinch of salt. I returned to the UK from New Zealand (back in February) specifically for an appointment with a vascular specialist. If you have read my previous blog you will know that I took steps ahead of this and paid to see one in NZ as I was so worried about flying. Anyway, at the hospital in the UK, I explained all of my symptoms and told the very long story of my leg condition.
After lots of information being given and various scans being looked at the consultant said my problem is definitely not vascular, he 100% believes it isn't vascular and must be musculoskeletal. WTF!!!! He even said his leg would hurt too if he sat on a plane for a long time! Seriously! Well, I've kinda got used to basically being told there isn't anything wrong with me. He can keep his opinion. I'm going back to NZ where I've found a doctor that listens and knows what he's on about!
So, I only went back to the UK for that appointment which I was expecting to be far more productive, and to pack up my stuff and say goodbye to family and friends. Four weeks later and I was heading back to Queenstown, this time for good.
I flew in to Christchurch as I had an appointment for a procedure on my leg there a couple of days after landing. If you aren't up to date on the prognosis with my leg check out the previous blog.
In this procedure, Sclerotherapy, they were planning on killing off some veins that are growing in the wrong place. This would be the correct plan of action if my issue was purely vein related not any other vessels.
Thankfully, the first thing they do is inject the problem vessel with a dye which is visible on this clever machine that you see in the picture below. The dye was injected into my vein, and then, as if by magic, it swooshed straight into my artery! It also went straight into a deep vein.
So that was it for any medical treatment that day! They couldn't do the sclerotherapy as the glue they planned to inject into the vein would have gone into my artery and down to my foot. It also could have caused deep vein thrombosis which is not desirable!
As the original vein diagnosis was a minor problem, this is good overall, as it means that this is way more likely to add up to being the cause of all these major problems I've had for so long. Yes, it will mean a bigger operation to fix but getting it fixed RIGHT is the most important thing.
So, what is actually going on in my leg?
As far the doctors can see there is an Arteriovenous Fistula. A connection that has formed between a vein and an artery. This is not supposed to happen. It should go Artery - Capillaries - Vein, and vice versa. The circulation in my leg is all very confused.
This is the most likely diagnosis but again, when I return for my operation they will do more testing with dye and check out exactly what's going on.
On August 19th, I will be going into hospital in Christchurch again. This time it will be a bigger operation with two surgeons present. I'm very lucky that they are the two best doctors for this specific problem that I have. I will be heavily sedated but not under general anaesthetic, so I'll be able to communicate through the whole procedure but not able to feel anything.
A catheter will enter my artery in my groin and travel all the way down to the location of the fistula which is about four inches above my ankle. Out of this will come a micro-coil. This will be placed in the fistula and my body will create a block. Voila!!! Then my vein and artery will hopefully run independently.
If this all goes to plan, I should be out of hospital the same day. I'll have a weeks rest and then I can get back to doing everything I love!
Why do I have pain all the way up to my groin?
Vein walls are made to withstand a low blood pressure that is pumped back to the heart by the contraction of your muscles. As I have a connection directly from an artery to a vein, the pressure of the blood flowing into my vein from the artery is pretty high. It's believed that this is the cause of the pain going all the way from the bottom of my foot to the top of my groin. Hopefully once the correct pressure is where it's supposed to be everything should return to normal.
How's my head doing these days?
Since being back in New Zealand and having more focus with my art I've been feeling a lot more positive about life. I stopped taking the anti-depressants over a month ago and I feel really good. I think one of the main things that caused my depression was not feeling listened too, to the point where I doubted the pain was real. I felt lost and hopeless. Having a diagnosis and a doctor that has listened to me has made the world of difference to my life.
This isn't to say it's gone for good. I think I have depressive tendencies and I definitely use exercise and the outdoors as ways to deal with that. Having those options taken away from me highlighted this. Over the passed couple of years I've had to learn other coping mechanisms. This can only be a good thing as we never know what the future holds and now at least I have more tools to tackle every challenge.
Hopefully, the next blog you see from me will be about living pain free and getting back into my running. Fingers crossed!!!