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Welcome to Paul and Tracy's main blog. Here you can keep track of what we've been up to, and join us on our adventures.

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Sunday, February 1, 2009


Just when you thought it was safe...

... to start looking forward to our next holiday...

On Tuesday Tracy woke in some discomfort with a pain in her right shoulder-blade and shoulder. We put it down to a twisted muscle, a result of her gym perhaps, and she took some painkillers and tried to get comfortable. Thinking nothing untoward was going on, I got up on Wednesday and went to work as normal. Shortly after arriving, I got a phone call from a very distraught Tracy. She was unable to get out of bed, the pain in her back being so severe. Needless to say, I bid my colleagues goodbye and headed straight home...

When I got there it was clear that the problem was not, as I'd understandably feared, spinal, as she had full sensation in her legs and was able to stand and walk. But there was no denying she was in considerable pain, and naturally extremely upset - when I mentioned the need to get her to A&E she got even more upset, and insisted I call our GP instead. I managed to get her to calm down, and gave her some painkillers and tried to get her to relax whilst I called the doctor. His receptionist took a message and within a couple of minutes he was on the phone, and I explained what was going on. He said to make sure she had pain relief and that he'd come and see her as soon as his surgery was over, around lunchtime. He was true to his word and came around 12.30, and examined Tracy. He said he thought it was a pulled muscle that was trapping a nerve that runs up the back and into the shoulder, and that the pain in her arm - which was by now getting worse than the pain in her back - was most likely a 'displaced pain', common with trapped nerves.

After he left I tried my best to make Tracy comfortable, and she stayed in bed for the rest of the day, and all day Thursday, and Friday. She was able to get up to go to the loo, but the only time she could get remotely comfortable was when she was flat on her back. Saturday saw her in slightly less pain, and she was able to get up and come downstairs, where she could sit and watch TV. By now we were starting to think she was over the worst, and would be fine for our trip to Vietnam on Wednesday...

Only Sunday morning she woke in even more pain. She was complaining of a really bad pain in her right arm - "inside, like it's in my bones" - and was once again reduced to tears. She wanted to see the doctor - a sure sign things were bad - so I told her I'd take her to A&E where they would be able to do some proper tests. She wasn't keen on the idea, but I was not taking "no" for an answer. So at 10am we arrived at Oldham Royal Hospital and were seen fairly quickly by the triage nurse and shown into a cubicle. Where we waited for over an hour. Then we were shown to a different area of A&E where there was a "GP" who saw us fairly quickly. He questioned Tracy and examined her, listening to her chest and back, before saying that he was concerned it wasn't muscular, but could be a "pulmonary embolism" - a blood clot on her lung. Now that wasn't what we expected, and was certainly not what we wanted to hear. If it was true, then our trip to Vietnam was certainly off, and Tracy's trip to Ecuador in August was probably off, too... to say nothing of her being on blood thinners and at risk of stroke etc...

He ushered us back to A&E proper, where she was immediately seen by another doctor, who repeated the questioning and examination, before explaining that he wanted to rule out the PE - and that she'd need a blood test and chest x-ray. These were duly performed, and the good news was that she didn't have a PE - we could breathe again. He explained that the most likely cause of the pain was a pulled muscle and a trapped nerve, although it is possible that the nerve pain originates where her spine has been fused, which would explain its ferocity.

With the examination over, he gave her some stronger painkillers, and told her to take them for 24hrs before seeing the GP on Tuesday morning. If they work, then she should get a prescription for them from him. If not, then she will need a different type of painkillers (the ones he's given her are for muscular pain, but she may need some specialist nerve painkillers).

So now we have to wait and see how she gets on. At the moment she's still in pain, but finding it bearable, especially when she uses a hot "wheaty bag" on her back. We'll know more in the morning, but won't be sure about what's happening with our holiday until Tuesday at the earliest... keep your fingers crossed, I think we both need a holiday right now...

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