I think I may still be alive - I'm not quite sure because in my six week drug induced stupor, I may in fact have carked it, and am perceiving myself now from another dimension. Allow me please if you will...
Arm is falling off, pain is unbearable, left side in complete and total spasm with fingers trying to gouge out my palm (and my fingernails on those fingers are huge because they are too sensitive to cut) - I did the right thing of course - I went to my Doctor.
"That looks painful..." He said, looking at the curled up immovable fingers.
"That's why I'm here - I can't take this anymore. You must kill the pain. I need my surgery...Help."
Then in his best Indian/Malaysian/Indonesian/Australian/English/Thai accent (This is not to slight any nation in particular - just to draw attention to the fact there could be 'status' issues going on here that I don't quite understand) - he said, "I refuse to treat you anymore or give you medical certificates. The hospital can do it. I can't give you pills for arm - you could have brain tumour."
I looked at the large brace and splint on my left arm and wondered if there was something about the human anatomy I really didn't quite grasp.
"Brain Tumour? But..." Words failed me as I pointed with a good arm to a bad arm and wondered if he had been watching too many episodes of 'House' where nothing is ever what it seems...
"You see what I am telling you is this," He continued, "It has been five months now and the hospital have sent me nothing! Nothing! For all I know you could go home each day and place these things on your arm just so you can get pills and time off work. Of course I know you don't. I know you suffer, but it is the point I am making. The hospital will send me no records of yours detailing what is wrong unless I specifically ask for them. I refuse to do so. If I were to do that for every patient I would only have time to see two thirds of my patients every day"
"If you don't do something Doc, next time you see me I'll only be two thirds of a patient. This arm isn't gonna last much longer."
Then he came up with a great line "My hands are tied"
"One of mine is falling off." I protested.
"There is nothing I can do - without records It would be wrong of me to give you things which could be making you worse."
Realising I was getting nowhere I muttered something like "Ok - so I use my good one to call the hospital and get records?"
"That would help"
"Hello...hospital person...please help" I gave the lady on the other end of the line the whole story.
"Oh what a shame, you poor man, caught up in a dreadful situation between this hospital and your doctor and suffering as a consequence! It's horrid."
"So you can help me?"
"No. Unfortunately not. Without a written request from your Doctor or the approval of the Chief Consultant here no records can be passed to just anyone"
"But he's not just anyone - he's my Doctor. The one who sent me to hospital in the first place five months ago...You do have my records there right?"
"Yes, Yes. I have them here right in front of me - Let's see," She said reading them aloud - as if seeking confirmation. "Rory D Grant, Cubital tunel syndrome displaying unique characteristics, combination Ulnar nerve, Radial nerve, Surgery necessary, little hope of success-" She stopped abruptly "Sorry, didn't mean to say that last part unless of course you were already aware of that..." She giggled nervously.
"Can I just get those records to my Doctor...Please?"
"I'd need a signed consent form from you and signed by your Doctor too - You can fax it through from his surgery and the records will be with him in 24 hours"
"24 hours??? I've been waiting five months for treatment from a doc who refuses to treat me because of something which only takes 24 hours to complete?"
"In fact Mr Grant I only said 24 hours just in case - it normally takes about 5 minutes as it's all transferred electronically..."
I rushed to the surgery and told him what they had said.
"But you see this is what I have been telling you..." He objected, 'They want us, me, to do the paperwork necessary for these things when I should get it as a matter of right - it is the proper way. I am your Doctor. Do you know how much paperwork is involved in doing this 'request'?"
"No." I said, almost crying in pain but waiting for him to tell me it was as thick as War and Peace.
"No, neither do I. My secretary will know. I suspect it will be huge."
The secretary leaned over the reception desk and handed me a single sheet of paper "You sign there Mr Grant and Doctor you sign there, I fax it off and that's it."
I restrained myself from strangling the Doc right there and then knowing I could only do it with one arm and he probably had a concealed scalpel somewhere upon him.
"You see!" He exclaimed as he waved his left arm in the air, possibly because he knew it was something I couldn't do "Paperwork, Paperwork, Paperwork!" - Docs and their superiority syndromes. Next time I see him he'll probably be sitting there juggling.
It was too late - My wife could tell it was too late, something had to be done that no despatching of records would help with - At 6am she carted me off to ER where they took one look and admitted me immediately - I spent the day with my entire arm packed in ice, morphine shots to the belly, diazepam poked down my throat - after a few hours the spasm began to release and my fingers started to straighten up and what's pain when all you can see is pretty coloured butterflies spinning around you and hear Deep Purple in your head?
And in a sense that's where I've been now for some considerable weeks. In a drug induced stupor and trying to ride out the pain. I've been fitted with a new splint for my hand now that my fingers are straight again and it makes typing a little easier - there's more room for my good fingers to type.
Now I have some catching up to do - not least with all your blogs and your e-mails. First however, I have an appointment with my Doc in one hour to go get more Diazepam - If he so much as looks at me the wrong way they'll be creating some new entries in his own medical records...
Love you all - Missed you all.
Updated - and Edited to add -
Thank you everyone - WE FINALLY UNDERSTAND IT! My Sister in Law works for the Health Service and explained what has been happening.
It's all to do with money and budgets! The National Health Service here is essentially one big pot of money - but now individual budgets are being scrutinised. In the past the Hospital would have released the records even though there's an administrative cost involved because the payment comes from a central fund whether it was Ortho, Neurology, The Doctor, The Hospital or whomever's budget - nobody really bothered because ultimately the cost was borne by the 'Health Service'.
Now it seems they have to account for every penny in their own individual budgets - so by getting the Doc to make the paperwork request he gets billed for it - he's obviously been reluctant to make the request because then the cost comes out of his NHS budget. Previously no one would have cared who footed the bill because it all comes from the NHS ultimately - and still does. But each sector of the NHS is now trying to make their budget allocation look efficient, well organised, and so everyone within the system is billing everyone else for everything - which of course is a big change from the way things were done before. And some are loathe to have it come from their own budgets hence my Doc's reluctance to make the formal request for my records.
It seems that even now if I were in hospital with my arm and complained about the other arm - Rather than make me an appointment to see a specialist within the hospital or even get someone else to have a look - they'd send me back to my Doc for an official 'referral' and start the process all over again because then he gets billed for it instead of the hospital just saying 'Oh well you're here now - let's have a look'.
Money it seems is not just the root of all evil - it's the root of a great deal of discomfort and pain.
It all makes sense now - Gosh my Sister in Law is clever.