The last few weeks have been kind of crazy and I've been trying to figure out a way to blog about it without coming off as all like "ohhh, pity me!!!" Because that's not at all the way I want to write about it, but it's just been so weird that I have to write about it, you know?
So anyway, as I have been thinking about the events of the last three weeks-ish and the way it keeps popping up in my head is like one of those cheesy American tv shows (sorry America, but they really are cheesy), like 'I Shouldn't Be Alive!', or 'I Didn't Know I Was Pregnant!' (no, I am NOT pregnant), or even the weird 'Monsters Inside Me!'
So as you read this I want you to hear it in that same kind of narrative voice-over that those crazy television shows have. Somewhat dramatic, and in the end always rather anti-climactic. Okay? Okay. Good. Let's get to it then.
UNSOLVED MEDICAL MYSTERIES!
What medical science couldn't solve, and the people who are living with these debilitation conditions!
Cue dramatic music and show intro.....
'The events you are about to learn about are entirely true. The names have been changed to protect the innocent.'
Cue montage of jittery images, stills of random irrelevant moments over the last few weeks, collaged together to seem extraordinarily dramatic and suspenseful.
Monday March 14th, 2016
'It was an ordinary early Autum day in the suburbs of Perth, Western Australia. Savannah-Susanna* (not her real name), had been having ongoing difficulties with her recurrent back issue and was sat at her doctors' office, waiting for her appointment. She noticed a sharp pain in her leg and mentioned it to her doctor. Neither he nor Savannah-Susanna gave it too much thought, dismissing it as just another irritating symptom relating to her spinal issues.
In March of 2014, Savannah-Susanna had ruptured (herniated) her L1-L2 disc in her spine. Though painful, this had always been manageable and never lasted as long as this current flare up. She had been having pain and tingling in her right hip and leg which she had never had before, and this particular recurrence of back pain had seemed to last a lot longer than previous episodes. Her doctor was certain this was simply muscular tightness and was confident that with time, this pain too would settle.
That day was also the birthday of Savannah-Susanna's son. He was turning 11. So she did her best to ignore how her leg felt and instead focussed on helping her son celebrate his day, with a family dinner, presents and lots of hugs and laughter.
However the sharp pain that Savannah-Susanna was feeling intensified throughout the rest of that day and into the evening. Even the strong prescription painkillers she had could do nothing to alleviate the pain and she spent most of that night tossing and turning, clutching her leg in agony.
At some point during the early hours of the morning of Tuesday March 15th, 2016, the pain seemed to subside and Savannah-Susanna finally fell into a disturbed sleep of sorts.
Somewhat surprised when she opened her eyes that morning that the pain was almost completely gone, she went to get up and out of bed as normal. But something was severely wrong, as Savannah-Susanna was about to discover. She swung her legs out of bed and as she stood up, she noticed that her right leg could not support her weight and she fell back down to the bed. Brushing it off, she tried again, only to realise that she seemed to have lost the use of her leg!
She limped to the bathroom, her right foot dragging behind her like a useless appendage. Savannah-Susanna woke her husband Jimmy-Jon Jnr* (not his real name) and explained her concerns. Jimmy-Jon tried to reassure her, and helped her to the living room where she waited while he took the children to school.
Upon his return, they drove straight to the local hospital, where Savannah-Susanna was immediately taken through to be seen by a doctor. The doctor seemed a little concerned, but after a short examination, sent her home with instructions to return if it became worse. Jimmy-Jon Jnr and Savannah-Susanna returned home with the expectation that this symptom would resolve itself.
The following weekend Jimmy-Jon Jnr Jnr, their son who had turned 11 that week, was having a small birthday celebration with his friends at their home in the suburbs of Perth, Western Australia.
Initially the party was supposed to be a sleepover, however given Savannah-Susanna's condition, they decided to have the boys go home early in the evening of Saturday March 19th instead.
Her pain had been steadily worsening, and early on Sunday morning, the 20th of March, they decided to head back to the hospital. Spending the majority of the day in the emergency department, they were hopeful that a doctor may have an answer for them, however the doctors at that hospital simply acknowledged that there was a problem but did not have the technology to perform any sort of imaging tests, so sent Savannah-Susanna home once again.
The next morning, Monday March 21st, Savannah-Susanna called the Neurosurgery department of a larger hospital, in the main metropolitan town of Perth. Taleesha* (not her real name), was an administrative employee within the Neurosurgery division of the hospital, and upon hearing Savannah-Susanna's story, she advised her to come up to the emergency department at that hospital and reassured her she would be seen by the appropriate doctors, most likely a neurosurgeon.
Jimmy-Jon Jnr was working the early shift that day, so once he arrived home, and their eldest child Betty-Lou* (not her real name) was home to watch the baby Princess Peach* (not her real name), they made the 50 minute trip to the larger metropolitan hospital. Once there, the nurses and doctors were immediately concerned with Savannah-Susanna's condition and began taking a detailed history.
All agreed that extensive imaging studies, such as MRI's were needed immediately. However the consultant doctor within the emergency department disagreed. In what is assumed to be a case of mistaken identity, he got somewhat angry at Savannah-Susanna, and accused her of making it up, telling her she had nothing wrong with her back and to go home. In disbelief, Savannah-Susanna became extremely emotional, and explained to the best of her ability about her back, her leg and the previous specialists she had seen. One of those specialists happened to coincidentally be one of the top Professors at that hopsital, and upon hearing of Savannah-Susanna's previous consultations with this Professor, the emergency department doctor changed his tune. He decided that it would be wise to have a neurosurgeon see her, and told her so, but added she should expect to be sent home.
Shortly after, Dr. G-Lee* (his real name), one of the Neurosurgeons on duty came to see Savannah-Susanna. He immediately recognized that she needed imaging studies and told her she needed to be prepared to stay in hospital.
Scared but relieved to be listened to, Savannah-Susanna said goodbye to Jimmy-Jon Jnr, who drove home to care for the children.
The following morning, Tuesday March 22nd, 2016, Savannah-Susanna underwent a full spine MRI, where doctors discovered that while her spine was not in good shape, it showed no cause for her lack of ability to use her right leg. They commented that she had degenerative changes within her back that would not normally be seen at her age, however there was no nerve impingement.
Being a teaching hospital, Savannah-Susanna was asked if she minded some student teachers examining her. During the course of her stay at hospital, she saw several specialists from the Neurosurgery and Neurology departments, as well as multiple student doctors.
They all commented that she was such an interesting case, however even after numerous blood tests, imaging studies and specialist nerve tests, no definitive cause could be found.
There were minor anomalies within the tests, and the muscle strength tests showed that Savannah-Susanna had in fact lost the ability to use her leg normally. There wasn't total paralysis, however there was a definite loss of function. The doctors from the Neurology department decided that they would like to keep Savannah-Susanna in the hospital for a few more days, however as it was Easter, their physiotherapy and specialist staff were not going to be as available as normal. So after a consultation with the physiotherapist, and another x-ray, the head Neurosurgeon decided that she could go home, provided she used a walking aid, and made an appointment to see her again in a couple of months.
He explained that sometimes no definitive cause can be found for things that the body does, likening it to when a child gets sick, and they know it's a virus but can't pinpoint any specific one. Except in Savannah-Susanna's case, it was neurological, not viral. Thankfully, any major cause such as Multiple Sclerosis or cancer was ruled out, however because they aren't sure what caused her problems, doctors can only guess as to what course her condition will follow.'
Cue black screen with slowly fading white writing:
'Savannah-Susanna left hospital on the evening of Thursday March 24th, 2016.
She continues to have trouble walking without a crutch and cannot lift her leg, or bend her toes but is managing at home with the help of Jimmy-Jon Jnr.
Savannah-Susanna and Jimmy-Jon Jnr are hopeful that one day she will regain full use of her leg, however for now, are simply concentrating on getting through each day.'
Stay tuned for more cases like this, on
UNSOLVED MEDICAL MYSTERIES!!
Hahaha, okay, so now that I have both amused and disturbed you, I will say while I may have over dramatised the wording, that is pretty accurate to what we've been dealing with unfortunately. Seriously though.... can't you just picture it on tv?!?! I can.... but maybe that's cause I have way too much time on my hands. Or maybe it's the drugs......