Food And Arthritis

Add the RIGHT foods to your diet to REDUCE arthritic pain and inflammation.
Include the WRONG foods to your diet and INCREASE arthritic pain and inflammation.
My choice? A life-journey based on a low-oil whole-food plant based diet.
Whatever your current state of health, make yourself healthier - you deserve it. Start your plant based diet journey today.

Thursday, 3 August 2017

A story of a broken health service and back pain with an arthritic ending

My apologies if this seems a long story...

The ending of last weekend has not been my favourite, not by a long chalk.  I, we, have lost one child and the merest inkling of a possibility of losing our other is beyond comprehension.  And so as last weekend ended that was how it felt to me.

[Let me just insert a point here, I am trying to tell this story from my own perspective because this is my blog.  That is not to diminish in any way the equal and great love and concern of my wife and my son's wife and indeed my 8-month old grandson (who was reacting to the escalating emotions and lack of access to his Dad).]

The weekend itself was full of fun and joy, lots of new babies, three generations of friends, lots of happiness and photographs.  And then time to go home.  Except that my son's back pain exploded into a such a state that he could not move.  He had made it upstairs to bed and as Monday unfolded (and other guests disappearing) found that coming downstairs was an increasing impossibility.  Not only that he could make it to the toilet, could not move any which-way without spasms of pain wreaking through his entire body.


To see a human in such pain is an awful experience.  Though I am sure my son would say to be that person is much much worse!  For us it is that feeling of helplessness.  This is a moment in the UK you turn to our beloved NHS.  The first question is whether to phone the 111 helpline or 999 emergency helpline.  Is this a life-threatening emergency? We decided, despite the pain, no.

So we called 111.  They said we needed to call our local GP first.  And so a call to Sixways medical centre in Charlton Kings area of Cheltenham began our dive down a black hole of the NHS system.  You see my son is a visitor to Cheltenham.  So to get a doctor he needs to sign on as a patient to a local GP.  We tried two GP services over several calls and neither would nor could not help.  The final recommendation was to call back after 6.30 pm when the out-of-hours service would help.  We called back then only to be told to call the 111 service!

And so we found ourselves in a no-man's land.  The 111 service (largely staffed by tick-box people) would not send anyone to help.  The local GP refused help.  Time to escalate and call 999.  Except because this was not "life-threatening" that 999 called replied that we must call 111.

A black hole.  Remember here we have someone writhing in pain.  I say writhing.  My son could not writhe.  He could not stand, could not sit, even lying down was not a place where anything like comfort resided.

Let us briefly talk medication.  Before the weekend my son had had back pain.  Nothing like what he now had.  From his own GP he had been prescribed codeine and dicoflex.  The latter raised alarm bells with me because being based on Diclofenac this is the drug that brought me to my knees with my Rheumatoid Arthritis.  And codeine is one of the other drugs that I took as my own situation deteriorated back in late 2015.  Bells are going off in my brain everywhere.

If you want to say panic set in, then I was "this" close.  I like to think I am a stable person who thinks rationally and acts on best information.  But here was my son, his health deteriorating rapidly and a UK health service unwilling to help.

Hours are going by here.  Phone calls left hanging.  Very, very fortunately we had the help of an amazing family, our weekend hosts, who had been there, done that - including experience of back pain.  They took the strain of dealing with much the problem off from our shoulders.  For that and so much more, we can never thank them enough.  They made call after call trying to navigate local GPs, 111 and 999 with skill, patience and diligence.

Eventually, eventually we were told a paramedic would visit our son in 4-6 hours.  This was now around 7pm so we are talking about someone coming around midnight.  With everyone exhausted we needed sleep.  The door bell was checked to make sure we would here the impending arrival of help and fitful sleep started.  I "awoke" around midnight to our hosts dressed and on their way out of the door.  It turned out this "fabulous" health service had failed again.  They had taken a phone call from 111 service to say that there was no on-call doctor available that night anywhere in Gloucestershire.  Our lifeline of someone who could help had evaporated into the ether.

Let me repeat that.  The entirety of Gloucestershire had no doctor available for Monday night.

As a replacement they said that a prescription for Diazepam was available for collection.  Of course the NHS could have prescribed this 6 hours earlier!  That would have been a cheap and sensible alternative to the charade that was being played out at my son's expense.  That, in my opinion is where 111 should have finished the job.

Whatever at that moment our hosts drove off into the night.  I tried to stay awake expecting our friends to be back at any time.  Instead sleep took over and it was not until early next morning that I found out they had travelled many miles to Gloucester Hospital and back.  With Diazepam inside him my son's back spasms somewhat subsided allowing him to get some sleep.

I'd like to put a shout out here for Craig, a local acupuncture and therapeutic masseur at this point.  He came on Monday morning at very short notice to do what he could to give my son some relief.  Thank you, Craig.  I was not present since I was walking my grandson in his pushchair around local streets.  I don't know if what you did helped my son.  It certainly did not harm him and I feel your advice and assistance was of great value.  You ensured what you did caused no conflict with the process of our pathway through the UK health service.

As Tuesday rolled by the back spasms were reducing slowly.  The cocktail of drugs was helping him to get some rest and with that the healing process began.  We are now coming towards the end of the story.  Our sanity is returning.  Yes, our son clearly needed an MRI scan to ensure no actual damage had been done internally to his spine.  But he was finding a smile and that can never be a bad thing. This brilliant thing called the human body was doing what it was good at, healing itself.  That is not to say my son was out of bed and running around - not by any stretch of the imagination.  Late Tuesday afternoon a call came from our son for help.  It turned out that he had actually been able to get out of bed and stand up and walk to the door.  That is a small miracle.

This miracle is where I would like to draw my story to an end, and an arthritic end.  You see I have spent the last two years studying and learning about my disease.  A lot of that has been learning about the way the body deals with attacks such as broken bones, arthritis - and as it turns out back pain.

It was Craig who brought me to see something.  After visiting my son, Craig said, that as likely as not Arthur might probably suddenly find some pain relief and good improvement in his condition.  That had actually happened.  What was going on?

The body, when attacked develops an auto-immune response.  This is the liver producing a flood of CRP (C-Reactive Protein) that is carried through the body via white blood cells.  In Arthritis this flood never stops, especially if you continue eating foods that cause further floods.  In my son as soon as the Diazepam stopped the lower back spasms he had his last flood of new CRP.  He then had only to wait for the CRP to die back.   That CRP flood and associated die back has a predictable pattern that is well documented.  The life-cycle of CRP means that within 18 hours to two days my son would feel relief.  That is exactly what happened.

Yesterday, Wednesday, my son was well enough to get downstairs and even travel in a comfortable car the 100 or so miles to his home in Loughborough where his own doctor was able to see him.  This is well away from Gloucester and Cheltenham's health service.  Never have I been happier.

Yes, my son has a way to go in his recovery.  His doctor is convinced that there is no internal damage that would not be healed by good rest and the assistance of a relevant physiotherapist.  That task starts today.  He, his amazing wife and our beloved grandson are home and safe.

Thank you for reading.  If there are any errors here they are probably because at the moment I am not even sure what day it is.  But to be sure it is a better one than yesterday, and I know even more about arthritis than I did before.

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