Dying for treatment!!

What crps look’s like! I’ve always been against showing stumpey, but to show people is to help them understand. I am not ashamed of stumpey!

Anyone with a chronic pain condition can testify that the road to successful treatment can be somewhat of a minefield, when you have more than one condition. This minefield becomes even more chaotic when Doctors can only see one condition, and deny the possibility, or sheer presence of another. Case in point – I have CRPS in my left stump. I also have this other, yet to be diagnosed issue. I saw a lovely Doctor (finally!!) Who I must say, seemed a little out of his depth, but couldn’t see past the CRPS. No matter how many different ways I explained the different types of pain I’m in, he just kept going back to the CRPS. Frustration doesn’t cover how I felt! On the day, I had my wife with me; and my Blesma representative (amazing veterans amputee charity) wrote a detailed email prior to my appointment, explaining the circumstances. Yet with two advocates, he still seemed to be blinkered to the possibility of something else. I started to feel like an orange ribbon, like the emblem of CRPS charities, and that’s all people see. The prosthetists, the physio, and now the 1st Doctor I’ve seen face to face (other than my GP, who is amazing!).

Symptoms of CRPS.

I am a registered nurse, and throughout my career I have been used to the medical terminology used, and how things work within the NHS, and am yet to receive any tests, or treatments, or interventions of any kind. Instead, I’ve been passed from pillar to post, around the roundabout and house’s, getting nowhere! Meanwhile, the pain and effects of pain, are taking away the enjoyable parts of my life. So I can’t help but worry what happens to those who don’t have an advocate, or a realisation of what should be happening? It’s not easy to speak up, and describe your own condition when your Doctor is telling you that what you are saying is rubbish! When they can’t see past your ‘other’ condition; or are simply out of their depth. How many people out there are desperate? Desperate for treatment? Desperate for someone to listen; really listen to them, so they can have their pain investigated and have a chance of a meaningful life. I have been a nurse for 14 years and have had the privilege of working with some magnificent Doctors and specialists, but I know first hand that anyone can slip through the cracks, or be ignored, or even not believed! This, despite the mantra which all us care givers are taught to abide – “pain is what the patient says it is”. Not all health professionals remember this! Instead we often get labeled as ‘junkies who are just after medication’, or they sometimes go to the other end of the spectrum by medicating, and medicating some more; chucking a plaster over it, instead of diagnosing it!

How many people with pain conditions have reached the point of absolute frustration? If a person is telling their care giver that they are in pain, isn’t it their duty to investigate why? And to treat them. If they refuse to do so, or ignore them; isn’t this pure medical negligence? When, my Mum was in agony with a variety of conditions, she said to me “If I was a dog, they would put me down”, yet we are left, suffering! These people who are responsible for leaving us with such suffering are basically condemning us to death, One way or another! When your pain is horrific and no-one will listen, or help… what else can you do? I was extremely worried and shocked when I learnt that according to a web based survey, 20% of CRPS sufferers had attempted suicide, and 46.4% reported suicidal intentions. This is shockingly 6x higher than those with depression, according to a psychiatry study. With statistics such as these, for my condition alone; can Doctors really justify their ignorance to people who are in pain? I would be lying if I said I hadn’t considered it. Especially with the pain of flare ups, and frustration of no intervention and poor treatment!

According to oatext.com, and I should imagine, anyone with a chronic pain condition – “chronic pain patients are at elevated risk of suicide”. Shouldn’t those who refuse to treat, refuse to listen, refuse to test, to diagnose, to intervene, be held accountable for their actions? Instead of leaving us to suffer? Shouldn’t they be referring us to those who do know how to treat our conditions? Those who may be interested! Isn’t that the definition of ‘proper care?’. Not condemning us to a life of suffering!

Happy times…

A few months ago; at college; in my English lesson, my teacher asked us to write a piece of creative writing about a time when we were happy. Usually my assignments have followed a similar path of 19th century crime; but this time I decided to use my own experience and share one of my happiest times. So I thought I would also share this with you. So this is a short story of my happiest times, by me; Lexi Alyx Chambers.

When you dream at night; or even have an afternoon daydream; what is it you dream of? For me, it’s simple – running. The feel of running along soft sand, dampened by the early morning tide.

I used to run at the first blush of each morning. From one end of the ocean front to the other, and back; in one continuous unbroken effort; culminating in a charge up and down the rolling dunes. 

Years previous, I would have balked at the idea of running so far, so often; but at the time, I relished the prospect. Donning my ritualistic combination of runners apparel. My Asics Gel running shoes, and double layered, hyper-absorbent 1000 mile socks. My favoured, somewhat garish shorts made from tangerine coloured shell suit material; lightweight and easy to run in; although unfortunately rather decadent of 80’s fashion. More of a reminder; a level of familiarity to where it all began.

Thick beads of sweat would drip down my face; leaving a salty sting as they dampened my eyes; leaving behind a salty taste of the sea. My gate, almost silent; as my shoes kissed the sand beneath. Each step became miles; which passed in a wonderful, exhilarating blur. Movements so often practiced that they had become an automatic sense of perfection.

Some like to listen to music, traveling to the beat of an inspirational tune. I loved to run and think. Daydream of a better life. If only I had known back then; that I was already living it!

Each delightful morning would follow the same trajectory, culminating in roosting upon the ridge of the tallest dune. I would kick off my tight, suffocating running shoes and peel of my nasty socks dampened by the lather of my run. Feeling the morning breeze caressing my face; my feet; slowly drying the beads of effort from my expelled energy. Breathing in the salty flora; that fragrance which conjures a sense of delight, of peace, or joy to soothe the soul. The light would rise upon the horizon. A gift to anyone who dared to open their eyes to see the world awaken. Growing brighter with every passing moment; welcoming a brand new day.

Walking forward from the hills; the large masses of sand formed by aeolian processes. From the ridge of energy; standing to feel the steady warmth from the crystalline blanket of white. A million molecules of muted earth beads, massaging and exfoliating my weary feet; whilst sinking between my toes.

I would make my way to the darker hue of sand; dampened by the morning tide. The cool water soaked sediments relieving the heat. Waves crashing upon the shore with a soft hiss. Retreating slowly; inhaling. Then peeling away and reworking sediments; exhaling; spewing the torrents in an undulating surge and swell of the tide. As if the earth itself were breathing.

There stood I. Alone, content. Barefoot upon the sand. Breathing deeply the ocean carried air. Miles of dune fields amidst vacant pearl and copper sand. Hypnotised by the percussion, rhythm and steady roar of breaking waves. Feeling the cool breeze, within the pallet of colours, which grew brighter; dappling the sky; imparting their warmth, and comforting my tired sensibility. Hearing the happiness within, without uttering a word. Lost within the atmosphere; within my thoughts.

I was yet to find that life would decide to augment itself, with a lesson which I am yet to fathom. I was to learn a cruel sense of irony; to have surgery for pain in my foot; caused by the very thing I loved most; running. Only for the very thing which was supposed to be my cure; meaning the end of running for me. The multitude of surgeries were supposed to get me back there; back to running; albeit with the assistance of a carbon fibre half-leg, to replace the obsolete one which I was born with. Now, over a year later, I could not be further away.

At first my dreams felt shattered, but if the very activity I dream of taught me anything, it was to never give up. So although my dream will always be to run along the sand, and feel the cool water upon my feet / foot. Temporarily, I shall embrace the reality of my racing wheels, replacing my running legs; racing from afar, upon the beachfront.

The simplicity of running taught me about life. Every little thing can be broken down into one step at a time. If you look ahead at the whole journey, you remain lost in its longevity; but if you just take that first step, you never know how far you will be able to travel. It let me escape reality and gave me a focus to give everything my all. The past which I took for granted, has now become the dream which I long for. But for the time which I had it, I was happy.