Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Trust Me I'm a Doctor. Sort of...

Remember I said in Friday's post that I attended my first CFS/M.E. clinic appointment last Wednesday? Well, I promised you I would save that story for another day, and guess what? That day's today (well, what's left of it). You lucky lot!

Buckle up, it's a long one...

Although I'd had four months to, I don't know, mentally prepare for this appointment, I still wasn't entirely sure what to expect or what I was realistically going to get out of it.

So I was feeling fairly open minded (and also: rough. Gee, thanks Chest Infection!) when I turned up. Early, naturally.

After a half hour wait, I was called through. It was time.

Mr Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (or Mr. CFS, if you will) introduced himself as a Clinical Psychologist. However, he couldn't have looked less clinical if he'd tried.

Picture a brooding Victorian poet. Or a pirate (on account of the earring he sported). Or Adam Ant circa 1981. Yeah, you're just about there. I wasn't sure whether to be encouraged or disconcerted by his New-Romantic Piraticalness. Certainly it made him a lot less intimidating than he might have been, being a Clinical Psychologist and all.

He was definitely less Freud (yes, yes, I know he was a Psychoanalyst, but work with me here...) more Byron.

I crossed my fingers and decided to go with encouraged.

After asking after my general health (the fact I was struggling to breathe and looked a touch on the grey side, with a streaming nose to boot, was probably a bit of a clue that all was not well. Literally.) and making copious notes on my medical history, Mr. Pirate (as he shall henceforth be known) got down to the matter in hand and enquired as to the onset of my CFS/M.E. symptoms and how I've been affected since becoming ill.

Aha! Now we were getting somewhere...

I diligently provided a full and frank disclosure. Possibly too frank. But hey, he asked. There was a lot of 'hmm-ing', head nodding, and note scribbling. And some drawing. Yes, drawing. 

I leant over to get a closer look and was informed, after point blank asking "what is that?" (because, really, the last thing I was expecting was for him to get all Tony Hart on me mid conversation. I'd have been less surprised if he'd got up and serenaded me with a quick burst of ''Stand and Deliver". Marginally.), that it was a family tree.


He then proceeded to enquire about my familial set up. How many of us were there? Whom was I closest too? (all the while joining up the dots on his little diagram, sorry, family tree). Who did I feel was most important to me, and could I list them? Oh and, by the way, did I have any father issues? I made that last one up, but his line of questioning was definitely straying too far into the realms of absurdity for my liking. Sigmund, no doubt, would have been proud. I however? Was perturbed. Greatly.

I'm not entirely sure what purpose the tree or potted genealogy lesson served but, at a guess, I'd say it was to determine whether or not my condition had any emotional basis.

Personally, I highly doubt it, in fact I'd be amazed, but they've got to cover as much ground as possible I suppose. However tenuous or ridiculous the ground may seem.

After a few more probing questions on my medical history this far, it was time for his summation.

He started of reiterating that CFS/M.E. can encompass many many symptoms and that, as it's a disease of exclusion, they have to be certain that my present condition isn't down to my Emphysema.

I should have seen that one coming really...

Not in the mood to be fobbed off and fall at the first hurdle, I stated, in no uncertain terms, that both my GP and Respiratory Consultant (yeah, I was shamelessly name-dropping at this point) believe, unequivocally, that these symptoms have absolutely nothing to do with my Emphysema. Which, as I stated, I'd had, y'know, since birth. So, er, surely I'd have experienced them way before the 18th of August 2012? Just a hunch...

It wasn't his fault, he was just doing his job (and being incredibly through about it, I might add), but there was absolutely no way, after waiting since November for the appointment, I was going to be dismissed that easily. Oh no.

Anywho, to conclude: as Mr. Pirate was unable to decide conclusively, then and there, whether or not I had CFS/M.E., he informed me he'd speak with his colleagues and I'd probably have to come back and be seen by the service's Specialist GP.

True to his word, I'd been back home less than a hour (and thankfully tucked back up in bed), when Mr. Pirate rang to advise he'd discussed my case with his colleagues, and an appointment would be made for me with their GP for mid-late April. Oh, and I'd have to have a blood test to gauge my Creatine Kinase levels. So perhaps I wasn't being fobbed off after all?

The appointment letter (with a copy of the letter sent to my GP) landed on my doormat two days later. Impressive. I may just have to overlook the art attack moment after all...

So now, it's a waiting game.


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