The story of my right thumb

I presented to my GP with “strange” numbness in my left arm and was told it was due to the way I sat… After seeing that GP many times, as my arm was now going cold, I changed the surgery where Dr G. immediately discovered no discernible blood pressure in my left arm and no pulse in the left radial or ulnar arteries. I was referred to Mr H  the General Surgeon. I had many tests where the result was that I had a blockage (thrombus) in the left subclavian artery. A Dr T. attempted to place a stent via the femoral artery and then the right radial artery. Due to the nature of my blood vessels this was not possible and I was scheduled for a carotid/subclavian bypass. I was on a regime of 8mg, 8mg, and 9mgs of Warfarin on a three day cycle. because of my “heart condition”.After an echo scan of my heart it was determined I had suffered a silent heart attack but my heart condition could be controlled by medication.

On May 1st 2007 I had a 4th or 5th angiogram performed on my right radial artery specifically as part of the investigation to ascertain the condition of my coronary blood vessels following the diagnosis of a “serious” heart condition. I was on the table for over 90 minutes and mentioned to the Cardiac Consultant that my hand felt it had been “reamed” during the procedure as I had felt it “bouncing” off the arm rest. I saw my blood splattered on the floor through a crack in the screen. The blood vessels were described as narrow and twisted and a full investigation was not possible. The computer supplying the “restful” pictures for me to watch during the procedure also crashed 2/3rds of the way through the procedure showing the Windows ‘98(?) “Blue screen of death

I had immediate pain in my right thumb. The next day I noticed I had NO PULSE in my right radial artery. I saw my GP and he referred me to Dr M. the Orthopaedic Consultant. I saw the Cardiac surgeon 5-6 times re the pain in my thumb and the lack of pulse but he seemed totally disinterested in both proudly showing me, by “Doppler” investigation, that I had blood flow. The pain in my thumb was excruciating and I now had NO pulse in either hand and only a recordable blood pressure in my right. Another GP, Dr B Sh. , said forcibly that I could not have a blockage of the subclavian artery because if I did “then my arm would go blue and fall off”. I expressed my concern as ALL the male members of my family, apart from my father, had died of heart attacks in their late 50’s, my age, but was ignored. However I WAS sent for a flexible sigmoidoscopy because my Dad had had bowel cancer. This luckily was clear and he died eventually of heart disease at the age of 76.

I rang NHS Direct and they suggested I went to Casualty, which I did. I saw the Casualty Doctor and had a Radiograph of my right hand. He showed me the radiograph and said I had broken my scaphoid bone and needed a plaster splint. I had seen the Radiograph and said I could not see a fracture, I  can read radiographs to some extent and mentioned that it could not be broken as I had full movement of my wrist and thumb albeit with great pain.

An argument occurred and I prudently accepted the splint as I was being watched by, what I believed, was security. The nurse practitioner was extremely rough in placing the splint whilst ignoring my pleas for sense. I mentioned the lack of pulse in both arms and she took great delight in tapping both my wrists and saying “see there it is” I returned in agony the next day and had the cast removed and somehow signed a form to that effect.

In the Orthopaedic clinic the following week the Doctor said there was NO fracture of my scaphoid bone, he showed me the radiograph, and said I had arthritic problems which could be helped with a cortisone injection in the joint but this was contra indicated because of my Warfarin intake. Painkillers were also contraindicated for the same reason. I learnt to avoid use of my thumb which was difficult as I had had to make adjustments to counter the sensations in my left arm and now could not use BOTH hands to anything like a full extent.

On Easter weekend I was admitted into Ward 8 of the Princess of Wales Hospital Bridgend for the subclavian/carotid graft to “repair” the lack of pulse in the left arm. As the initial diagnostic echo scan was missing I had another one prior to surgery. The Anaesthetist then told me “my heart was anatomically correct” and to stop the Warfarin immediately, he suggested a mis-diagnosis, over exuberant mis- interpretation or even that the heart condition was diagnosed with the wrong echo scan. I had the operation then suffered extreme pain following infection of the donor site which required 2-3 weeks of Augmentin. I now have increased blood flow in my left arm but STILL no pulse but have been discharged with the same problem with which I presented but also now with no right radial pulse specifically caused during the investigation for my now “misdiagnosed” heart condition. I had had an echo scan of my right wrist in December 2007and from this it was determined that” the integrity” of the radial artery was compromised and, I believe, that there is no remedy.

I then received the initial appointment with Mr A M where I received the first cortisone injection and his professional prognosis. I was no longer on Warfarin so he was able to proceed as he wished. Three days later I had no pain.

Then on June 11th 2008 I saw Dr R and the pain was back with a vengeance. I presented at the orthopaedic clinic in Neath Port Talbot Hospital on June 11th 2008 for a review following a cortisone injection, performed by the  Orthopaedic Consultant, Mr M,  into the joint of my right thumb.

I saw a Dr R. He asked me if I took Panadol for the pain. I replied “No, it is absolutely brilliant and totally pain free, I have no need for pain killers. He then asked if I took Ibrobrufen for the pain. My reply was similar stating that I have NO need for painkillers of any sort as the pain/discomfort had totally disappeared. Dr R repeated the same questions about painkillers whilst, initially, gently manipulating my thumb. I kept repeating my reply that I had NO need for painkillers of any sort as my thumb was pain free. I also said that I did not take painkillers for no reason. He kept repeating the questions about painkillers as I kept repeating my reply. I remember looking at the nurse for help as he seemed to totally ignore my responses.

He then took hold of my right thumb, manipulated it in a manner I interpreted as rough, causing great pain in the joint. He then offered me a medium sized splint to wear and told me to take painkillers. When it was in place the pain was EXCRUCIATING and I asked why he hadn’t listened to me stating that I had had no pain prior to his examination and that I would not wear the splint as it caused more pain. He ignored me, spoke into what appeared to be a dictation machine and left the examination room. I asked the nurse what had gone on and received a professional but standard response about her just being the nurse. I arranged an appointment to see Mr M and explained my total dissatisfaction with Dr R.

I saw Mr M on July 9th and explained my concerns over Dr R’s treatment and his total disregard for my responses. Mr M reiterated what he had said at the initial visit and I had another injection in the base of the thumb and I am pain free again.. Mr M. was exemplary in his attitude and again gave me his professional opinion regarding the right thumb joint reiterating his worries that this may not be permanent and that he did not wish to perform an operation as he believed, with care, I may only need irregular re-injections and for me to see my GP to be referred again if necessary.

As an addendum I now have no idea about my heart condition and am still worried re the familial heart attacks. I also wonder about the need for Warfarin as I had had a thrombus in the left subclavian artery. I presented in my GP’s surgery and asked Dr G K. for reassurance about the alleged mis-diagnosed heart condition. She angrily called me an ungrateful patient considering her practice had discovered my “heart condition” and in an astounding tirade of insults sent me to the local Mental Health Unit for psychiatric treatment.

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One Response to “The story of my right thumb”

  1. Cherokee Says:

    It’s always good to find like-minded people. Thanx and I’m going to add you to my RSS feed.

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