Today I trotted off to Lewisham Hospital, for the day has finally rolled around when I get to see a consultant to find out what's wrong with my foot. It didn't start very well when the x-ray guy didn't want to take a third x-ray of my foot, what with the previous two having shown nothing. "Go see the consultant, and see if he wants to send you back," he said. I was disappointed; I'd been hoping to start developing superpowers.
So, after getting very very lost, I found the consultant. The Orthopaedics Clinic is run from what looks like a stationery cupboard. This wasn't comforting either. The consultant took a look at the previous x-rays, said there was nothing to see (well, no, that's the point with x-rays and stress fractures, that's why I had an MRI last time), and suggests I go for a bone scan.
The following conversation will be made up of three people; the consultant, the me in my head and the things I actually said.
Me: Oh. Hang on. What is a bone scan?
Consultant: It's a procedure where they inject you with a small amount of radioactive substance and then they scan the area to see if it's "hot" – if there's activity – or if it's "cold".
Me In My Head: WOAH! Injection?! And what do you mean, "hot"? Does it diagnose a fracture or what?
Me: Ahahaha. No, I'm not good with injections. They terrify me. What else?
Consultant: [sits back, looks at me] What's wrong with an injection?
Me: I really, really hate them. Needles. [I am starting to shake; I'm afraid he's going to make me do this] I'm just… I really don't like them.
MIMH: BECAUSE IT'S A FUCKING BIG NEEDLE COMING AT YOU AND YOU CAN FEEL THE STUFF GOING IN OR OUT AND IT MAKES ME FEEL SICK oh god I'm going to be sick right here in this stationery cupboard.
Consultant: [silent for a few moments] Well, there is an MRI but I don't think it will be much good right now.
MIMH: It was fine for Blackheath two years ago, where they don't make you sit in a stationery cupboard.
Me: This injection… is it a one-off, or do they leave it in there, like an IV?
Consultant: It's just one injection –
MIMH: OK. OK, this might not be so bad. I might be able to do this.
Consultant: – the scan takes about half an hour, then they might take it out –
Consultant: – or if they need to do some more…
Me: [nearly in tears] No. No. No way. I can't do that. Not for something where it's not desperately urgent and I already have something that's treating it. For cancer, yes. For this, no.
Consultant: [stares at me for a minute]
MIMH: Don't try and intimidate me with your silence and your qualifications, you sadist bastard. I'm middle class now. I will not be intimidated. I'm on the verge of having a fucking panic attack in your office; what else do I need to do to convince you this isn't going to happen?
Consultant: Weeeeell. You could come back for an x-ray in four weeks. We should be able to see something then.
MIMH: YOU UTTER BASTARD. The other option is waiting a bit more – which, let's face it, by this point isn't going to make any fucking difference – and you were determined to push me into doing something that clearly terrified me? I HATE YOU.
Me: That sounds good. I'm sorry for being a coward, but it's not like this is urgent any more.
So then I went, still shaking, to the x-ray department to book the next appointment, where I discover the consultant has – for the third time that day – written down the wrong foot to be seen. This, also, does not fill me with confidence.
And when I came home I Googled bone scans – obviously – and no, a bone scan doesn't necessarily show a fracture. It just shows "activity". Further exploration may be needed to discover exactly what's wrong – in other words, an x-ray or an MRI. What manner of sadist cuntbucket (sorry, I'm still a bit worked up) tries to push a petrified woman into a procedure that only identifies "activity", when the history and some poking around has already demonstrated quite clearly that something's going on?
I am still without diagnosis. I would also like to take a moment to compare and contrast the timelines of my two foot-hurty incidents, now and in 2007.
Last weekend of September, 2007: I visit my parents.
Last weekend of September, 2009: I visit my parents.
First couple of days of October, 2007: My foot starts to hurt a bit.
First couple of days of October, 2009: My foot starts to hurt a bit and I think, oh fuck, not again.
14 October 2007: GP sends me for an x-ray. Nothing to see. He sends me for blood tests (which, given my hatred of needles, I really fucking love; but it's only for a couple of minutes so I sit there, panicking, which is probably why they can't raise a vein in my right arm and have to really have a look in my left) for all manner of things, including gout. I feel quite insulted. But there's nothing. Without any 'traumatic incident' to raise the possibility of a break, the GP diagnoses tendonitis. However, I have private health insurance because I'm still, at that time, in full-time employment, so he makes a referral.
16 October 2009: Not my usual GP sends me for an x-ray.
23 October 2009: I get the results back from the x-ray. Nothing to see.
3 November 2009: This is the earliest date I can get in to see my usual GP. He agrees it's probably another fracture. He starts the NHS referral service and I discover the shitiness of Choose and Book.
6 November 2009: I exchange £96 for a plastic boot.
c. 10 November 2007: Following a consultation where my description of symptoms and some prodding 99% diagnoses a stress fracture, I have an MRI at Blackheath hospital where they give me headphones that play Radio 2. It picks up the stress fracture.
14 November 2009: In another attempt at diagnosis, I go to A&E. Sent for another x-ray. It shows nothing.
15 November 2007: I am given a plastic boot at Blackheath hospital.
11 December 2007: I have this here x-ray at Blackheath, to check my progress. See, it shows the healing bone (and my bunion, yay). This is the point at which x-rays detect stress fractures, people.
14 December 2009: Two sets of specialists at Lewisha
m decide it's pointless x-raying me.
1 January 2008: I stop wearing the boot. Actually, after getting the boot covered in mud on a hill in Barnet, I throw it out.
11 January 2010: I'm due back at the stationery cupboard to see if anyone can detect my – probably by then healed – problem.
I mean. WHAT THE FUCK?
Incidentally, I'm now left with another dilemma: namely, what do I do with this boot? Going by last time I should stop wearing it some time between Christmas and New Year. But what if it's not actually a stress fracture? What if the reason nothing's appearing on the x-rays isn't because stress fractures just don't appear until they've started to heal, but because it's something else? What if I stop wearing the boot and totally fuck it again? But that would mean still wearing it to mid January and it's already getting a bit rank from absorbed rainwater and foot sweat. Hmm. If my first post of 2010 is just "OW" repeated a hundred times, you know I've tried to go to the Co-op in normal footwear and it was a disaster.