I decided to get a kitten. My old cat had passed away and someone I knew was giving away this cute little ball of orange fluff. I couldn’t resist. ‘Weasley’ was so affectionate and followed me everywhere, getting under my feet at every opportunity. One morning when I was getting ready for work, he managed to trip me up. This wasn’t difficult given that I had been spending so much time sitting at the computer and my back had seized up badly whilst my legs, particularly the right one got a lot weaker. I didn’t actually fall to the ground, but I landed very heavily on my left foot. It was as though a bolt of electricity had shot through my foot up to my waist and it hurt like hell!
On the advice of my local doctor I went to the 24-hour surgery for an x-ray of my foot and to get some crutches as I was finding walking extremely difficult. If I put too much weight on the foot, the resulting electric shock sensation was almost unbearable. The young doctor who examined me after the x-ray was less than helpful. One of his legs was in a cast and he was walking with a stick.
“I see you have the same problem as me,” I joked as he ushered me into a consulting room to discuss the results of the x-ray.
“I didn’t trip over a kitten though,” he said humourlessly, and I suspected he’d sustained his injury doing something a lot more important, like snow-boarding or mountain biking. I had the feeling this consultation wasn’t going to go well and that I would end up feeling like a fool. I wasn’t disappointed.
“Your x-ray results show that there are no broken bones, yet you seem to be limping rather a lot.”
“I had spinal surgery in June last year,” I explained. “And I’m getting a sensation like an electric shock on my left side whenever I put any weight on the foot.”
“Why did you have the spinal surgery?”
“Because the MRI showed I had spondylolisthesis which the neuro-surgeon said was causing the weakness in my leg.”
“My right leg.”
“But this is your left leg,” he said, holding up the x-ray of my left foot.
“But the weakness and electric shock sensation is in your right leg?”
“No, the spinal surgery wasn’t successful, so I still have the weakness in my right leg,” I explained. “The electric shock sensation occurs when I put weight on the left foot which is the one that was x-rayed after I fell over the kitten. The one you’re holding in your hand.”
He looked at me blankly.
“The x-ray, not the kitten” I hastily added.
“But you didn’t really fall over the kitten, did you?”
“No, not exactly. Weasley … I mean, the kitten, got under my legs and I tripped and sort of over-balanced then landed very heavily on my left foot,” I said, feeling more foolish every time Weasley was mentioned. Just get what you need and get the hell out of here, I thought to myself. “My doctor said you might be able to give me some crutches and I also wondered what I should do about pain relief. I have some Tramadol still left after my surgery …”
“Tramadol? I think that would be a total overkill in this case!”
“OK, well I have virtually a lifetime supply of Panadol after the spinal surgery,” I said. “I guess I’ll make do with that.”
“I very much doubt that this electric shock sensation is anything to worry about, but I think you need to do something about that peculiar gait you’ve developed,” he said as though it were a quirky mannerism that I’d spent four years developing in order to entertain people at parties. “Have you thought about getting a little bit of physio?”
“What a novel idea! Now why didn’t I think of that?” I thought sarcastically to myself. Clearly he thought I had nothing better to do with my day than to visit the after-hours surgery and waste everyone’s time, including my own. If I had been feeling better I might have been in a position to stand up for myself but by the time I got to reception to pay the bill I was so upset that I uncharacteristically burst into tears. I could scarcely walk, had no crutches and he hadn’t signed my ACC form. Thankfully the receptionist/nurse at the counter saw my distress and organised some crutches whilst the young doctor I had seen rushed out and gave me a prescription for Panadol. He obviously hadn’t listened to a word I’d said.