"Diagnostic Obsession & DVT"

About: Ipswich Hospital / Cardiology Suffolk PCT

(as the patient),

In 2002, after two 12-hour flights to and from Australia via Hong Kong I went to the doctor feeling a bit under par and with a pain in my left calve muscle. The doctor felt my leg, then said that sometimes they never knew what was wrong with people. This doctor has since retired but in my opinion his negligence nearly killed me. Over the next two years I flew a lot on business. I continued going to the doctor, feeling generally ill. By the summer of 2004 I was intermittently in intense pain for very short periods, but for no more than a couple of minutes. I was cold almost all the time and I had no energy. I enjoyed cycling, but by Christmas 2004, at the age of 43, found it almost impossible. My feet were incredibly cold. By this time after most flights I vomited every evening I got to my hotel and felt depressed, slow and generally as if I was dying. Which I was. I went to my GP practice again and again. Two more doctors found nothing wrong. One was obsessed with the idea I might have testicular cancer, despite the fact I was about 20 years older than the most at-risk group. His idea of testing for this was to squeeze my testicles very hard. It was extremely painful and diagnosed nothing at all. I also another who went along with the view that there was nothing much wrong with me, especially in view of the fact that I could cycle 20 miles even if I felt ill doing so.

At Christmas 2004 I flew to Portugal then drove to North Wales and back and felt dreadful all of the time. I could not walk due to the pain, but only for say half an hour, then I was OK again. I was freezing cold all of the time, even sitting in front of a fire, with three jumpers on.

On January 12th 2005 I was admitted to hospital with multiple iliac DVTs. I spent eight days in Ipswich hospital, including over 24 hours on a thrombolysis machine to dissolve the multiple blood clots in my iliac vein. I was told my situation was, in the words of the triage doctor, "grave" which I had already gathered. When I was admitted my left leg was bright pink and a third bigger than my right leg.

I was put on a mixed ward and was the youngest patient by more than 20 years. There was no possibility of rest on this ward. The person next to me was on a ventilator and the old lady opposite screamed for most of the night that she had been kidnapped and was being held in hospital against her will, along with the invisible dog on her bed. The food was almost completely inedible. I was mobile prior to the thrombolysis but on visiting the toilets and finding full cardboard bedpans left uncovered on the floor of the WC wished I had not been.

The nurses in charge of the thrombolysis machine had never used one before, according to them.

I was eventually rescued from a lifetime on couperin/warfarin by a fantastic surgeon, Mr Osman, who gave me the option of having an iliac stent. I took this and was operated on in May 2005 successfully.

One simple blood test in 2003 to diagnose I had a DVT after that first long-haul flight could have saved me three years of pain and illness. I told the surgery doctors repeatedly that I flew a lot for business. I did not even know of the existence of a blood test until after I was in hospital. I was eventually diagnosed as having between three and five separate DVT blood clots - either one and two record-breaking huge ones or five normal sized that had impacted together. Either way, listening to me as a patient and doing a simple test based on diagnostic evidence would have saved my health and a lot of health service resource. I am fine now, but I lost three years out of my life because of refusal of my general practice to listen to me. In my opinion, between them they nearly killed me, and it is no thanks to them that I am alive.

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