Tuesday, 19 October 2021

Been to docs, and hospital

 Having examined me this morning (not just my foot, but everywhere!) very thoroughly and done loads of tests on my feet and legs, the very nice youngish GP changed his mind.  He didn't think it was a vascular or heart problem, he thought it was a nerve or spinal problem, probably related to the ongoing back problems I've had for 40 years.  He tested the strength in my toes and said I have very pronounced weakness in my right big toe - I hadn't even noticed, but when he did the test it was blindingly obvious.  He thought that was probably related to nerve damage.  Anyway, he said he would get in touch with a spinal consultant, told me to go home and wait for him to call me back.

Which he did about an hour later, and things moved rather quickly after that - he told me to go straight to A&E to have an emergency MRI scan, he said I was booked in and they were expecting me.  He said both he and the spinal consultant were concerned that I might have something called Cauda Equina, never heard of it but it's some kind of nerve damage that is a spinal surgical emergency (good to know! ๐Ÿ˜ณ).

Well, to cut a long story short - I don't have that, thank goodness.  But I do have a prolapsed disc (for the 2nd time, I had one when I was 19).  The consultant said to take painkillers REGULARLY (she stressed that, having ascertained that I don't take them at all regularly), she was referring me back to my GP and said it was up to him to work out the next moves.  She said my numb big toe is caused by the prolapsed disc pressing on a nerve.

However, she said my case was unusual - the particular numbness and back/leg pain I have is normally caused by a prolapsed disc at L5, whereas mine is L3 and 4.  And, even more unusually, I apparently have one extra vertebrae than normal, which the consultant said may exacerbate my back pain and may possibly be the reason why my particular prolapse is not the usual L5.  (So I'm special! ๐Ÿ˜‰๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ˜‚).  I was so astonished to find out only at the ripe old age of 61 that I have this extra vertebrae, having never been told before, despite having back scans and xrays over the years, that I didn't even think to ask what it means for the future, if anything at all.  I will apparently have been born with this extra vertebrae.

It's very strange, this isn't the first time I've found out I have a problem that no doctor has ever thought to mention before - when I was in my late 30s (may even have been my 40s), I was told by a GP at the new practice we'd joined, having moved house, that I have a mild congenital liver disease, it showed up on blood tests.   What?!?!  I've had loads of blood tests, nobody ever mentioned it previously!  It doesn't actually affect me in day to day life, but could give me jaundice if I'm ever seriously ill or in an accident.  So really something that's useful for me to be aware of!

I'm very tired (having not slept much last night) and in even more pain now, the MRI scan is not a pleasant experience - very claustrophobic, very noisy and having to lie perfectly still and not move a muscle for about 15 or 20 minutes, flat on my back, gave me pins and needles and cramp.

I do feel better for knowing the cause of my problems, but don't yet know what's going to happen next.


  1. Well... I guess it's good news in that there's no emergency. At least now, you're on the radar and hopefully, they'll investigate further to work out a treatment plan. I think (hope) that medical professionals are now more open about things that could affect you later on. It used to be that, although it's your body, you don't need to know! xx

  2. It's reassuring to hear that our NHS really does kick into action when it's needed doesn't it. I'm glad to hear that it doesn't appear to be as serious as it might have been.

  3. You are right, you are special. You have some very rare conditions, and I hope they quickly find successful treatments for you.

  4. I'm pleased for you that it's not cauda equina, as if that's not detected quickly it can lead to paralysis.

  5. Thank goodness it’s not cauda equine, that is accompanied by all kinds of nasties.

    I know that you will be, but please be extra if you are using paracetamol. My husband sadly died in May, he was taking paracetamol to alleviate sciatic pain and due to an undiagnosed, decompensated liver (likely genetic on his Mother’s side, she passed at 52), he took a therapeutic overdose of paracetamol over a period of a few days. The levels of paracetamol that he took would not harm me, or anyone else with normal liver function, but it was enough to push him over the edge. We (I keep saying we, I) have subsequently discovered that his estranged maternal, younger, step brother is also currently in liver failure. We had no idea or we would have had David checked out. Sorry, that’s become War & Peace, such an innocuous but deadly, otc medicine. David’s death is now with the Coroner’s Office and I wouldn’t wish this on anyone. Take care, Julie C xxx

    1. Thank you so much, it’s a tough journey. From totally healthy with no liver decompensation symptoms, to dead in 3 weeks. You just don’t know what’s going on on the inside. Xxx

  6. I am glad that things are moving forward. How strange they didn't tell you before now about the extra vertebrae.

    God bless.

  7. It's a big step forward but wow, what a lot to take in. Thank goodness it is being followed up as a matter of urgency.


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