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, that is,” I quickly added.
“But you didn’t really fall over the kitten, did you?”
“No, not exactly. He was 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.
After that nasty little episode things got progressively worse and I had to take nearly two weeks off work which seemed odd given that the kitten tripping thing was a relatively minor incident. I went to my local doctor and was prescribed anti-inflammatories. Unfortunately these gave me horrendous stomach cramps and then I started to go numb around my midriff which affected my ability to empty my bladder and bowel. Thankfully I wasn’t incontinent, but I literally had no sensation of when I needed to use the toilet.
My daughter had been away on holiday in Europe and the day after she arrived home, my legs gave way completely. She called an ambulance and I was admitted to Christchurch Public Hospital. In the evening I was given a comprehensive MRI, not just of my lower lumber spine like the one’s I’d had previously. This time they scanned my entire spine and brain.