Friday, October 23, 2009

The NHS: guilty until proved innocent

Ok lets get this out of the way before we move on. Is the NHS to blame for the fact I now have terminal cancer? Well here are the facts. In early summer 2007 I noticed my right leg was swelling in the heat, more than my left. We were in France in our lovely little house in Perigord. As soon as we got back to the UK I went to my doctor who sent me immediately to have tests for a DVT; none was found but I was signed up to have an abdominal scan which I did a few weeks later; they found a DVT in my groin and I was immediately put on Heparin for 7 days and Warfarin for 6 months initially. At my hospital in Birmingham the regime is that you just go for blood tests once your INR is stabilsed; you do not see a doctor again; in any case the doctor I saw who confirmed the DVT diagnosis was only an SHO not a consultant.
I continued on the Warfarin and my leg continued to grow! I was not prescribed special stockings and was not getting any follow up treatment. I went back to my GP to see if it was normal for my leg to be gettiing worse and he kept a watching brief on it for a few weeks. By November it was still not improving and so he referred me to a cardio-vascular specialist. I went and I saw a senior registrar who said all was Ok except I should be wearing compression stockings; he prescribed some - Grade 1only and told me to come back in 3 months. I did and this time saw a consultant except he hardly saw me; he asked if the stockings were making the leg better and I repled yes a bit; asked if I was well and I said yes Ok and then he left telling me to keep taking the Warfarin and to come back in another 6 months for a Doppler test. It was now Spring again and we left for France.In July I got an insect bite on my fat leg and it started to turn nasty. I went to the French doctor in our tiny village. He sent me immediately to the local hospital for a Doppler scan; I saw a consultant that afternoon; she didnt like the look of what was in my vein and so hospitalised me for 7 days while they did tests. On the 7th day I had an MRI scan which showed that the DVT was not a DVT at all but a tumour. They operated the next day and found it was a leiomyosarcoma; very rare.

I now find I have lung mets and my life is in danger. Do I think the NHS could have done a better job of avoiding my present predicament - of course I do.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

One door closes and another opens

Come in he says; how do you feel? fine says I except for my fat leg; mmm says he you will probably have that for the rest of your life and a cloud comes over his eyes or do I just imagine that now. Bad news he says from the scans, he says, seeds in your lungs have grown and more are showing up. Oh no say I for want of anything better; what does it mean what should I say? I've never been able to grow a seed in my life apart from the babies of course. He talks about evidence and sounds hopeless about treatments and I start to think is this really me and is it really happening; how should I behave? I ask about prognosis recognising its a big word but catch the eye of Stewart as I do so and he has the look of a dying man. There is talk of evidence and averages and it doesnt sink in that he is telling me I might be dead in 1 year's time or sooner; I do the maths and think I will opt for the upper end of the averages thank you and then he tells me to go off and do everything I have ever wanted to while I feel well and I cheer up; something to work on; another door opening as long, that is, I dont look at Stewart.