Monday, November 29, 2010

When life gives you lemons... Part 1

About 9 or 10 years ago I noticed something very strange would happen each time I took Kye out for a walk.

The area we lived in at the time was very "hilly", so pushing a stroller complete with bag full of all the bit's and bob's you need for a toddler emergency was no mean feat.

I noticed that at about 15 minutes into the walk my little toe on my right foot would go numb, completely numb. Once we were home and I'd had the chance to sit down, cool down and rest for awhile the numbness would dissipate. I really thought that my runners were to blame and swore never to buy cheapies again.

Over the next 2 or 3 years I had quite a few weird little "goings on" like this. There was the time when my right leg had constant pins and needles from my knee down for almost 3 weeks. Then it went away. My right shoulder blade went completely numb too which I was unaware of until one night I asked hubbie if he could scratch an itch on my back I couldn't quite reach. He was scratching away (Heavenly!) and once he reached my shoulder blade the scratching sensation suddenly changed. I couldn't feel it. I could feel the pressure of his finger tips but that was it. The only way to really describe it is to think what it's like when your leg, arm, whatever, goes to sleep, that complete numbness you get just before the pins and needles kick in, that's what it was like.

I saw my GP on quite a few occasions, usually something to do with Kye and would casually mention these weird little incidents I was having. Because I'd had a few back problems over the years he would always put it down to that, pinched nerves or whatever and would look at me unsympathetically and blame my "problems" on being overweight and unfit. It was my fault.

2 days before Christmas in 2003 hubby and I headed out for a walk with Kye. It was a stinking hot day but we thought if we went early enough the play area at the park would be shaded by the huge Gum trees. Kye could have a little fun before the heat of the day got too much.

In the days preceeding this I'd noticed that the numbness in my little right toe had not gone away, it in fact was spreading up and over my foot. By the time we made it to the park I was feeling slightly odd, a bit spacey, not quite with it. I sat myself down under the shade of the trees while watching hubby and Kye play. I was rubbing my foot with my hand and noticed that this numbness had started to creep up my leg. I was now worried. This was not normal, this wasn't going away, this was getting worse.

I phoned my Mum (as you do) when we got home and told her what was going on. She was immediately concerned and told me to make an appointment with my GP for that day. If I didn't do it, she would. She was going to phone me back in 5 minutes to make sure the appointment had been made. So I made it. If I've learnt anything over the years it's not to argue with my Mother, alway's a losing battle! My usual GP was not available however, so the appointment was made to see another, one I had not seen before.

My appointment wasn't until about 5.30pm so we had the day to kill and so we headed off to the local outdoor swimming pool for a dip. As I lowered my legs into the cool water I realised that my left leg felt the sensation of the water for what it was...cold. My right lower leg seemed to think that the water was hot. I was instantly scared and amazed at the same time.

I headed off to the doctor's later that day, the numbness now having slowly crept right up to my knee. I was feeling nervous and also a bit silly. What if this is my fault? After all, I'm overweight and unfit.

As I drove I realised that my left foot was not fully co-operating on the clutch whilst changing gears. Every time I had to hold my foot down on the clutch it would go into, what I can only describe as a spasm. Thank God the medical centre was only 5 minutes drive away.

The wait wasn't long and the man who was about to become my GP for life (God bless his little socks) called my name. I explained what had been going on and he listened intently.
I described the drive there and my misbehaving foot and he had me hop up onto the exam' bed. He pressed his whole hand against the bottom of each of my feet in turn. Each time he did so both would go into full spasm. He then explained that he was about to phone through to the emergency department of Sir Charles Gardner Hospital to tell them to expect me. He spoke directly to the Head of that department, explaining his findings and my history, age, etc and all was arranged. I was to go straight home, grab my hubby, arrange a baby sitter and be driven straight to the hospital. Bloody Hell, I remember thinking, it's from one extreme to the other in this medical centre. He explained that when I got to the hospital they would more than likely run tests to see if I a. had a tumor b. had MS or c. I was in shock by this stage.

Stunned, I drove home. By the time I had explained my head spinner of a doctor's appointment to Dan we were both convinced that this doctor was nuts and completely overreacting. Feeling slightly calmer I convinced myself that my back was indeed the culprit. Maybe a nerve was trapped, that's what was causing all this mayhem. Mum arrived to take care of Josh and Kye and we were off.

Into the emergency department waiting room which was, as they usually are, a pretty busy place. It didn't take long to be called as they were expecting me (thanks doc) and through we the other side! I was given a bed and told to wait, someone would be with me soon.

It was around 7pm by this stage. I'd being seen by this one and that one, going over my symptoms again and again. I was poked (literally) with sharp little needles to gauge the numbness that had now crept half way up my thigh and was starting on my left foot. I performed all sorts of balance tests, with eyes open and eyes closed and was soon to discover that I could not stand up with my eyes closed without falling over.

At around 11.30pm was told I was being admitted. They needed to perform an MRI but could not do so until the next day. There had been a car accident involving multiple people, the MRI machine was working overtime . Dan went home and I reluctantly stayed. Tomorrow is Christmas Eve I thought, it'll be over and done with just in the nick of time at least.
I was transferred to another bed and wheeled down a million corridors and into a lift up to God know's what ward. I was settled in by a lovely nurse and that was that. I was in hospital and it was now officially Christmas Eve and now I was scared, very scared.

I spent a sleepless night listening to other patients of this ward screaming out, yelling and moaning in what sounded to me like fear and pain which only intensified my own fear. I eventually cried myself into a fitful sleep as the sun rose filling my room with welcoming daylight.
The clitter clatter of the breakfast trolley woke me and I sat myself up on the edge of the bed still in disbelief from the horrors of the night before. "Where the hell am I?" I thought.

I gently placed my feet on the floor soon realising that I felt nothing at all when I did so. The rough carpet under my feet did not compute with my brain. I stood up and took a step forward, then another and realised with shock that I could not properly control what my legs were doing. It felt like there were oranges inside my calf's, they were hard and stiff, my muscles were fully contracted and would not relax, my gait was clumsy and my balance was so off I needed to hold on to anything and everything so as not to fall over on my way to the bathroom.

Grateful just to make it to the loo without going arse up I sat there in total disbelief. What was happening to me? Jesus Christ, what if I was dying? By now the numbness had made it's way up waist high on my right side and was half way up my thigh on the left side. I could not feel almost half of my body.

I was about to find out that my bladder was also affected, urination was stop, start, stop, start, stop, start, stop, start.
My God, I couldn't even pee!

To be continued...


skinny latte said...

Need to know more! Now! :)

Seriously, you know how to put a person on the edge of their seat! It sounds like a terrifying experience.