Yesterday morning started and I thought it was very much “Same Shit Different Hospital”. We left the house just after 9, for my appointment at 10:40. We had just under 40 miles to travel, so it wasn’t too bad, but that route to Chichester is notorious for bad traffic, so we didn’t want to cut it too fine.
I was travelling further away in the hope that I can get more answers from what is plaguing my life.
So after an argument in the car park with a man over a parking space… He started it, he was ridiculous, we won. – We made our way in, and yet another morning was spent sitting in the waiting room of a treatment centre. This time Harry had come with me, and we just chatted, about random stuff and about how really, we didn’t expect anything to happen.
Typically they were running late, as is the way with NHS hospitals, but again I am so used to them now that it doesn’t phase me.
My name was called and I was moved to another waiting area whilst my doctor read my notes. I joked to Harry that we had “Levelled Up” We had made it to the next waiting area.
Eventually I was called in to the room and the typical introductions were made “Hello, I’m Mr Cripps, I’ve been reading what little notes I have on you, and the letter that I have from your GP, so can you tell me what exactly is the problem.”
So once again I relived the tale, telling him every minute detail, from how it started with a miscarriage in May 2015 and then “the appendix cock-up of 2015” as we now call it. I re-lived every detail of the operations and findings and the resulting care and problems I have had.
I remember thinking to myself as I told him “here we go again.” As I started I assumed that he wasn’t really listening, like every other doctor I have seen before him. But then, amazingly, he started taking notes, he started asking me questions “I want to know everything in as much detail and I want to get it all clear in my head.” I started to get a little fuzzy feeling inside. The more I told him, the more he asked and the more he was interested. I’m not even sure that is the right word, but he was actually paying attention to what I was saying, what had happened, what my resulting symptoms are and how I felt.
He then asked me “Why have you come to see me, if you have seen other doctors and had tests done?” – My heart sank, and I got that horrible feeling in my stomach… I looked at him like a deer in headlights for a second, and then I said to him, “Because, I don’t find their diagnosis to be true, or acceptable.” He looked back at me, and he set his pen down. I looked between him and the nurse who was also in there with me, nervous for a second. He then continued “Why is that? What have they said it is? I don’t have your notes, or test results, nothing, only a letter from the GP detailing what happened roughly, so tell me what they think.”
The feeling didn’t lift… so I went on, “They’ve told me that they think I have IBS… but I don’t believe it.” He looked at me and then he said “tell me your symptoms once again.”
So I told him, how originally, and up until a few months ago, I had bowel trouble. That I was on medications to help me go as I couldn’t but that as of a few months ago, my bowel was working fine and I no longer needed the meds to assist me in that area but how the other doctors didn’t care about this and that they wanted me to see an IBS specialist. He then asked me my medications list. Once I had shown him, he started to shake his head. The feeling in my gut was getting worse. I was waiting for him to go “You have IBS.”
But then, something amazing happened, he looked me dead in the eye and he said “Miss Stratton, you have about as much need to see a IBS specialist as I do a gynecologist.” I sat there for a little bit shell-shocked, and then suddenly I was laughing. I was elated. He went on “Any doctor who specialises, like I do, and they, in the adbomen and the bowel and that sort of area, should know that after you’ve been through an appendix operation and any operation which disrupts the bowel, by moving it, and then all the medications you have to be on after, knows that it can take 6 months to 1 year for the bowel and that area to heal and go back to normal function. You have just gone over the 1 year mark but you also had 3 major operations, noone would expect your bowel to be working normally yet! Plus all of the medications that you have been on, or are currently on, cause constipation, so the fact that you are going now, without the help of the medications such as Movicol, is quite amazing. I would go as far to say that they have been lazy with their diagnosis.”
I was beaming, I suddenly felt vindicated! All those times that I have sat in front of a doctor and been told that the pains are in my head and that I have IBS, and I said that I didn’t accept that, I have been proven right. I am so glad that I fought for a second and third opinion.
I was then asked to go on to the bed and he wanted to examine me. He felt around in my stomach and my abdomen and then lower down… He told me that he could tell I was in extreme pain, and that there is scar tissue and adhesion. I was correct again in thinking that this is what the problem is. Just to double-check he wanted to have a look “up the back passage” as the doctors always say. I was feeling so happy at this point that I even cracked a joke, which made the doctor and the nurse laugh.
Once he was done I took my seat again and we continued to talk. I’m not going to lie, I did have a little cry to him whilst we were talking, because, as I will go on to explain I didn’t get my magical diagnosis and cure.
Mr Cripps explained to me, that yes, I do have a lot of scar tissue and adhesions and he can tell that I am suffering from pain but, “at this stage there isn’t anything I can do.”
This is where I began to cry. Not a full on snot running down my face cry, just a few tears. He handed me a tissue as I apologised, and he said “no need, I understand it is a hard thing to hear.” He then went on to say things that made me feel ok. This is what he said…
“Now, you mentioned before how a surgeon said he would go in and have a look and see what he could do. This is wrong, I won’t do that, I think it will make things worse, and I think that you are so desperate to be well again you are willing to try anything to make you better, but please trust me when I say, this won’t make you better. It must be hard to accept what has happened to you, because it is not through your own body failing, it is because of a man who didn’t do what he was supposed to do. In my opinion, with what you have told me regarding the miscarriage and the bleeding being vaginal and the pain you described at cramps and not located in the appendix area, you should not have had your appendix removed. I would have done the laparoscopy, but once the gynae team had said there was nothing wrong in their area, and the appendix looked healthy and turned out to be healthy, it shouldn’t have been removed. He should have come out and closed the wounds and left. But he did a bad job, made the wrong decision to seem like he was taking action but he did the wrong thing. Now hearing this, won’t change what has happened, but I wanted you to know that I agree with you, I agree that he was wrong in what he did. I want you to know that someone is listening to you.
However saying this, this is where things get tough for you again. There’s nothing I can do at the moment, other than sending you to specialist pain clinics and people to help you manage the pain and help you get your life on track. But this won’t be the end. I am going to send you for blood tests now, I am also going to request all of your notes and scans and operation notes to do with this case, so that I can have a proper look at what I think needs to be done. Once I have seen all of this I might send you for more tests, to monitor the growth of the adhesions and check that they are not interfering with organs.
But the fact that your bowel is now working again is great news. It would suggest to me that the adhesions are starting to soften and with massage and other treatment we might be able to help them further. But, should anything happen, where you get blood in the stools again, or your bowel reverts back to not working, I want you to contact me immediately, so that we can deal with it, as it would mean the adhesions are creating a blockage.
I know this isn’t want you want to hear, but I do believe that with a little more time and help you can get your life back. Just don’t rush. Also the distention you get in your stomach, I think this will go over time also. I think that is still to do with the abdomen recovering from the trauma you suffered, and that within time, maybe 6 months or even a year it will have stopped. The pain can be worked on.
I see the engagement ring on your finger, when’s the wedding?” I told him, and I mentioned, what about having children… “In my opinion, if gynaecology said that there is nothing wrong with your tubes or any part of your there, you should be fine. I would however start considering it as soon as possible. But go and see the pain clinic and tell them about your wishes to have children and they will work out a plan for you, with regards to medication and managing pain during pregnancy.
I want to warn you that you might not get pregnant first time, because of the amount of trauma you have had in that area, but I see no reason what so ever why you couldn’t have children now. Your adhesions should continue to soften and the body is an amazing thing, and your organs will move to the most covenient place to make room for the baby. But like I said, start straight away…” I interjected with “Well, I’ll let him get home first.” Again Mr Cripps and the nurse laughed.
“Miss Stratton, I don’t want you to worry. You will get your life back and it will be as good as you want it to be. I promise, and I will do everything I can to help you get there. You clearly know your body and mind well, you knew it wasn’t IBS and you weren’t happy with that diagnosis and you even said you didn’t think you needed your appendix removed in the first place. If there is anything that changes or worries you, contact me. Go for the blood tests now, and I will be in touch once I’ve seen anything, and if I need to send your for tests or if I see anything. Otherwise, see the pain clinic, keep resting, because you still aren’t recovered, you’re still tired and your body is exhausted, I can see that. But slowly, and with help, you will get back to normal.”
I felt a weight lift off my shoulders, I went for my blood test and Harry and I made our way home, via McDonald’s drive thru.
We talked about everything Mr Cripps said, and the plans for the future. We talked about the kids thing, cos Harry has been so worried about getting me pregnant, as we didn’t know what it would do to my body because of the adhesions.
So we’ve said I’ll tell the pain people I want to work to start making babies in March of next year… and that is what we will aim for. Until then, as Harry said “We can have a lot of fun practicing.”
Yesterday, I didn’t get the news that I can be fixed with a simple operation or anything like that, and that it will be an ongoing thing that I will have to learn to live with and deal with, but I also feel happier. I feel like I will get somewhere and that it was good news.
I am so pleased that I was so strong-willed, and I honestly urge everyone to go and seek more than 1 opinion from a doctor. If your diagnosis doesn’t feel right to you, keep searching, because nobody knows your body like you. You know how you feel and what is happening. A doctor is just making a guess off what you tell him and what he see’s in front of him on paper. Some doctors are lazy and look for the obvious answer and try to treat you for something you don’t have because they can’t be bothered to keep looking for the cause.
Anyway, I am off, to start getting my life back. I’ll write soon… I promise.