My GP "The eggs haven't hatched yet so there's nothing to worry about!"

My GP "The eggs haven't hatched yet so there's nothing to worry about!"

It was bleakest December 2011.

So, I walked in with a slouch and a bad cold and walked out with a slouch, a bad cold and a prescription for Citalopram!

A trip to “the Surgery” was a rare event for me. I once got a ticking off for not seeing the doctor for 5 years. He said he thought I might be dead...I said that someone would have told him. #Paperwork!

He was a comical older guy with no frills. I think he lived in his office. He never seemed to age, always shirt and flannels, small jar of jelly beans. I imagine him, night and day; with his desk lamp permanently switched on. Working non stop and maybe hoping beyond hope that one day, just one day might arrive when he had finished. That he had swiped the last item at the checkout counter and the conveyor belt was empty. Then he could go home. He was beyond professional. He cared. Probably too much.

Funnily enough, the next time I saw him, I asked him to check for damage in my ear as a spider had been living in it for a week. I had finally "popped" the week long clicking noise in my ear with my finger and watched with saucer eyes as the wee beastie scuttled over my hand. Instant thermo nuclear hot flush was followed by shakes and general "Freak Out!"

“The eggs haven’t hatched yet so there’s nothing to worry about!” he proclaimed.

I nearly hit the roof! He was a regular dry-as-you-like comedian. He was my old Doctor, always a smile and a hypodermic injection of humour, if possible.

I have a new doctor now.

I should maybe mention that, where I live, the term “Surgery” is a commonly used parochial term meaning Medical Centre, Health Centre or Professional residence of your General Practitioner.

I’m kind of curious as to how this term came about as it is a noun describing the work of a Surgeon rather than a community based venue accommodating Doctors and Nurses. Last time I looked, my (new) GP wasn’t brandishing a cleaver wearing a bloody apron! I guess there’s time yet. Anyway, I digress...

Visits to my GP were always (still are) a last resort. I had been suffering a bad cold for 2 months and wanted something to relieve the symptoms. Maybe a bit of reassurance that it was a bad cold and some magic potion would see me alright.

I was already taking everything on the cold and flu shelves in the supermarket but with no success. This was the 2nd time in two years I had been like this. You never forget a bad cold! I came out with no magic potion but a diagnosis of depression and a prescription for Citalopram. It didn’t feel right.

I was too exhausted to question it all and just accepted that Doctor knew best. I think symptoms of fatigue and a heavy cold can maybe mislead.

In reflection, I had indicated my family were more like The Simpsons and less like The Waltons. I think that’s where I went wrong on “The depression Quiz!” Have you ever "played" this?!

Well, with a face like a boiled ham, I snotterbubbled my way to work and waited for the Xmas holidays.

The holidays came and I felt terrible. In time honoured tradition, I just about recovered from snotteryhellfever before returning to work. It was now 2012. Happy New Year!

It's always the way...a strange commonality that we work our butts off and get ill just in time for the holidays! Then we recover just in time to return to work! A vicious and almost unavoidable pattern of living that I have named the “Work until you’re dead syndrome!”

5 months later and I return to the Surgery again.

This time with two painful ankles, two sore feet and a handful of swollen knuckles!

“So how can I help you today?” the polite enquiry was offered.

“My ankles hurt and my feet are sore and look at these knuckles!”

The Knuckles!

I explained to my GP that I volunteered a few hours of my time helping to run a wee boxing club for “streetwise” teenagers. It was mostly keep fit and bag work with great banter. Building up positive relationships with hard to reach teenagers. Giving them a positive and healthy outlook. Sharing life with these tearaways in a safe and happy atmosphere for a couple of hours. What a great way to end your working week! It was also a great way to keep or rather try and get in shape!

I had noticed these tender knuckles some time ago and thought it was the enthusiastic bag work. But I hadn’t been for four weeks over the Easter break, and now I was concerned it might be Rheumatoid Arthritis. They were bright red and tender and some days they would be worse than others.

The Ankles and Feet!

I explained that my feet and ankles were also quite painful all the time. My Achilles always felt tight and it took me 5/6 days to fully recover after playing Sunday football. I had always put the recovery time down to my age.

I actually began measuring the recovery time over a year prior to my visit to the docs. On a Monday morning I would count the steps from my car, up a gentle slope of about 100 yards to the office before they were pain free. The number of steps slowly turned into days. The days nearly turned into a week.

Now I was thinking that the two symptoms might be linked. Inflamed, swollen, stiff, painful, and very annoying joints! Rheumatoid Arthritis? Not such a crazy notion as my Sister, my Mum and two Aunties have all got rheumatoid.

“So how are you getting on with the Citalopram?” he asked.

“What?”

“The Citalopram, maybe you’re just feeling a bit low, a bit down?”

“Erm, fine and No. I feel fine. It’s the pain you see. In my knuckles and in my feet. My ankles are agony and my knuckles are like a range of wee volcanoes!” I offered Mount Etna on my left hand for his inspection and hoped it would erupt.

My GP is in his mid thirties. Don’t get me wrong, he is a nice man and I do not doubt his intentions. Maybe I had caught him on a strange day. Maybe he was trying to empathise with me. Maybe the last patient had been difficult. Who knows? I’m not sure. Was he leading me on with his question about "feeling low" or trying to smooth the path?

Hand out stretched, I expected some sort of comment or inspection but no. It was his turn for a story. I had no choice. The patient/doctor relationship was now entering a new phase. A GP disclosure to a patient!

I was forced to listen to the tale of my General Practitioner’s sporting prowess. He told me that he plays amateur rugby. And when he plays rugby, sometimes he might get a knock on his leg and it maybe takes a few days to recover. If he plays on a Saturday, he can still feel sore on the Tuesday! I stared through the office wall and across the car park and through to the castle rock in disbelief.

What? Why? What? Why would you...tell me this? What? What is the point? Am I the doctor? WTF!

I was speechless. My head dips and I now stare at the ground. THIS was depressing! My mind filled up with responses to this disclosure and none of them were going to facilitate an amicable understanding of each other’s point of view.

Oh but hang on. This is about Citalopram! This is about depression. This is about mental health before the presentation of physical symptoms and examination. “Awww!” he wanted to share in my "sporty pain" and reassure me. That’s so cutesy and caring!

And no, I never once thought that this fine athletic rugby loving specimen was actually suggesting that I should “Man the fuck up!” and “Get over yersel ya big Jessie!”

Why didn’t he acknowledge the symptoms I had presented? Why didn’t he take a look? Why the stories?

Needless to say, if there had been a boxing ring in the car park I would have lifted the top rope for him! Step inside and lets see about feeling fine by Tuesday!

A fucking knock on your leg? You sometimes recover by fucking Tuesday!?

I ignored the whole thing. It never happened. Better to try and believe that this was a collective hallucination sponsored by Citalopram.

So, I politely asked if he would trouble himself to arrange for tests to be done to ascertain whether or not I had Rheumatoid Arthritis.

“It’s quite rare in men you know...”

What? I mean WHAT?!

“well, I will wear a fucking skirt if it makes you feel better, please, with lipstick, twin set and pearls...do the gawdamn mofo test!” is what I wanted to say.

Instead I offered, “I know it is. I googled it before I made the appointment to see you.”

A two minute examination of joints was followed with;

“Ok we will run the tests and see what happens...”

I made the appointment to see the nurse the following week and get my bloods taken...

54 Replies

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  • Awww I didn't want to end!! Can't wait for the next instalment...brilliant blog again Cal :) I can identify with a lot of what you were saying!

  • Thanks Ange, you might have to wait a while for the next one, I'm off to Spain next week...I will be taking notes over there too...I can find rheumies everywhere these days and we all have great stories :D Have a good weekend x

  • That's nice...swan off to Spain leaving us in suspense ;). Seriously though have a great time and bring on the next one!! Maybe you could leave us with a little teaser before you go?? :) x

  • All I will say, with hand on heart. I haven't made anything up at all. I enjoy writing it up and between this blog and my last blog there is, I think, 4 months of bonkersness to update you on. Its been the hardest 4 months to write and Im still tweaking! Then the picture of my 1st ten months is complete. Im currently writing up this weeks aventure with Atos...The material keeps flowing...I will try and send a postcard blog from Spain lol :D

  • Would be brilliant if you could maybe do something for RA awareness week, Andrew from NRAS blogged earlier looking for stories??? You would be great :)

  • I wonder...I will try find his blog...

  • Hi Cal.. I see that you've posted on Andrew's blog...great :) I'm not saying that others on here don't put up a great story because they do... It's just good to read one with humour etc and not stuffy or boring... after yes, we have RA but we're still human and like a good laugh! This is a bit cheeky also but I will ask??? Could you have a look at Research-Josh blog/question, he's doing a masters at Bristol Uni and is doing research for an essay he's writing focusing on RA, he's looking for stories also, I think Tilda has already mentioned your blogs to him. He's not getting many replies and it's such a brilliant subject and I think good that a young person is there trying to find out more about RA and how telling our stories help us. Cheers Cal and have a great time in Spain :) xx

  • As angelj says i can't wait to hear what happens next. YOu know if you have to give up your sport you could become a writer. You have a lovley way with words. It is becoming more known that men get ra and i feel for you if you have ra as i wouldn't wish it on my worst enemy. Lokking forward to your next instalment.xxx

  • Oh brilliant! Yes I diagnosed myself too come to think of it and then humoured a surly GP by going through a pointless battery of tests designed to prove me wrong. Despite being RA's preferred victim, a middle-aged woman, I could have gone a few rounds with him in the ring & won by the end of it but my left hook is rubbish now.

    Looking forward to the next instalment too ......

    Luce x

  • Ha! Thanks Luce, we could tag team up in the ring :D lol Good work with the self dagnosis ;-)

  • Well, that's quite a story !! I wizzed through the length of your blog first and I thought give it a go and read it all. I just could not have stopped half way through because I wanted to know the outcome, and there's no ending !!!

    So, do you have any answers? Are you keeping us hanging for the next instalment ?

    Whatever the answer, I'll look out for your next blog with interest.

    Your symptoms sound all too familiar to me, the feet, ankles and tight Achilles tendons, difficulty walking any distance without great difficulty. I know exactly what you are suffering, I'm sad to say, for both you and me :-(

    Well, the sooner you are diagnosed, the sooner you can get going with some meds and the sooner you will hopefully have some relief :-)

    Great story writer though, perhaps you should preserve the thought for future reference in case you have difficulty physically in the boxing club. Just a thought !!

    Take care of yourself, June xxx

  • Hey thanks June! Im glad you decided to read it and enjoyed it. I wrote a blog last week about my experiences and it kinda fast forwards a bit. If you read it, it will fill in some blanks for you! I'm peicing it together on purpose lol There is method to my madness tho..trust me lol The feet and ankles is tough huh, Im forever stretching the achilles...Have a good weekend :D Cal

  • Brilliantly told - pretty similar stuff for me only I'm a woman so was more readily believed on second visit - enough to get the bloods done and be told it was probably post viral arthritis at least. This was progress from my own GP compared to the sporty, dishy young doc who pronounced both of my wrists had carpal tunnel and both knees had cartilage issues several

    months earlier - in much the same as his knees - which were starting to hold him back from playing rugby.

    Hey he was a locum - perhaps your guy and this locum (from Edinburgh) play in the same team of ubiquitous general practitioners and share techniques in the pub afterwards for how to deal with sad patients presenting with joint troubles who think they might have RA?

    Looking forward to the next instalment - or maybe I'll get to hear it pre-blog in that Holyrood bar? Tilda x

  • Thanks Tilda! I'm lovin "The ubiquitous general practitioners rugby team!" There's a wonderful conspiracy here worth exploring!! If you can message me time next week for the coffee shop at Holyrood, I will try be there. Thatd be grand! Im off to spain on Thursday! Have a good weekend, Cal :D

  • You might still be in Spain when I'm down a week on Thursday then Cal - you lucky swine - the most exciting my life gets is 24 hours in Edinburgh! X

  • Ahh thats a shame, Im not back til the Friday. I hope it goes well, don't hold back and all that. If opportunity arises again, let me know and I will get the coffee! :D

  • Okay Cal - sorry that I won't get to hear the next instalment in person but am hoping you could give it to us in the form of a blog before you go off to Spain? X

  • lol its not ready yet. Its been the hardest peice to write up. It was a hard time, maybe the hardest and loads of nonsense went on...If I get time, I will stick something up though. :Dx

  • you are a great writer we need more...... a good read , funny and not boring xx

  • Thanks Summer...The next installment is a while away yet! Im off to find some sunshine next week. We havent had any prolonged warm sun here since March 2012! Rheumies need sunshine! Have a good weekend :D Cal

  • You mean RAers need sunshine don't you? I suspect rheumies get lots of lovely sunshine on their grand salaries! X

  • Well Im learning all the time! Is the phrase Rheumie used to describe a professional who treats RAers? I thought we were the rheumies?! Sheesh! Rheumie sounds so cool...RAers sounds like...erm....boxers!! :-)

  • RAers are boxers - why do you think RA Warrior uses this pen name? We fight fight fight all the way! Rheumies ruminate. Xxx

  • Pahaha! Well, anywhere else, that would need translating! Here, it makes perfect sense! Brilliant! Everyday is a school day :) x

  • TweeterCal you are a fabulous story teller. Do you have to go to spain? Not sure i can wait that long. If you must have a holiday .......... Hope its a good one.

    I am truly sorry that you have the dreaded ra xx

  • Aww thank you miss. Without RA, I wouldn't be writing and I cant tell you how much I enjoy it all. I want to get tongues wagging (in the healthcare circles!) and writing helps. If it entertains and we share common experiences, then I am more than happy - we're all in this together! This website is such a great resource. I havent been abroad for 12 years - I work too hard and now I have the time and Ive got some decent mobility just now, so Im off lol! Have a great weekend x

  • I too haven't been abroad for 5-6years and i don't know when or if i will go again,its just too much hassle for me. Its not just the meds,its the dratted mobility as well. I know there are people who do go abroad and they get on great,but my darling hubby is no spring chicken and it means he does all the fetching and carrying for me. Beside that there are a lot of places in the uk we haven't been to yet and we are exploying those places. Have a lovely holiday in spain.What part are you going too? xx

  • I Didnt go from 2009- 2012 with my illness and lack of funds, went oct 2012.almost three years after diagnosis, but struggled a bit as un beknown to me at that point my 3RD Dmard was slowly stopping working!! I STRUGGLED with the vast distances at Gatwick, so if if on a good spell like I WAS??!! get boarding assistance etc!

    This year Bham AIRPORT with full greeting and boarding asssitance

  • Thats just up the road from us. You going up the m6 if so you will go passed my village. When you get to junction 2 thats the turnoff for my place.xx

  • Hi Sylvi, to be honest, I am only going to gt sunshine. Its all last minute as my mobility and fatigue fluctuates so much. Watch out for me on the news in "Benidorm!" HAHA! I actually love the UK and would much prefer visiting loads of places here. But I really need to go and get some heat in my bones and vitamin D. I dont speak any Spanish but I dont think thats a problem in Benidorm...Ive never been there...quite excited really. The UK is a wonderful place to explore though...praying for a sunny summer. Last year was the worst...it rained for 5 months solid...

  • Having been reading others blogs on here over the past few weeks since my own diagnosis, I think that we all have similar stories to tell, don't we? I now never go to my GP unprepared for a fight even though he is very nice. I tell him what tests or prescription I need and he generally obliges. But that has taken me 6 years to get to that position and he never even diagnosed the RA - as I said in my first blog, it took me coming to the Middle East to get that diagnosed - and it looks like I will have problems with the Rheumatologist here now! But please continue with the saga, I am waiting with baited breath. You can't leave us hanging, waiting for the next instalment!!! Clemmie .

  • Hi Clemmie - I agree, our stories have common links we can all share. I have to share them or I become frustrated and isolated. I also hope that professionals read them. Just to see that the patient is actually a person. Just like them.

    I will go read your blog noo! Your right, our collective saga continues....Good luck in the M East! I cant imagine what its like to be treated abroad, that would be v interesting! Have a good weekend, Cal :D

  • Great blog Cal, so after the blood tests......da da daaaaaa, tune in after the hols for the next thrilling instalment of Edinburghenders! Loving it , have a great hols xx

  • Edinburghenders!! HAHA! love that! Will try and get the famous drums for the end of the next one! Meantime, Im off daan the caff :D x

  • Get ouuuut of my pub :) Edinburghenders.....very funny Allanah! X

  • Great blog ,it's like I was in the room with you,lol, have a great time in Spain,hurry back ! Only to tell us more of your RA journey.....Tadaaaaaa!!! Xxx soft hugs xxX

  • Thanks Minxy, to be honest...Im not thinking about returning from Spain lol I will return though and the next installment should tie my 2 blogs together...Have a great weekend :D Cal x

  • GPs who tell you their woes! The one before my present one ran practice singlehanded told me all about her divorce, building work and how she was off to New York for a secret weekend with a lover. All the nurses were leaving, but they also had interesting lives, one very out gay was going to better things down the road, and the other was going in to fostering. The waiting room was hilarious with all sorts of interactions. And this near the centre of Edinburgh!

    The point was that if there wasn't anything much wrong with you you'd have forgotten by the time you left. An interesting form of triage.

  • Hi Cathie, Im pretty sure we dont share the same surgery but Im not surprised at the disclosure. I was wondering, does the patient/doctor confidentiality only go one way?! Haha! :D

  • Maybe we should point this out to them!

    Thanks for entertaining blog i wonder what will come out of spain. Enjoy the sun!

  • Hi Cal , what a brilliant story and made even better because so many of us associate with your frustrations and your laughter. I am sitting here laughing about your story, and I know it is not really funny, sad that all of us have to fight every day. One thing I have learned about "RAers" ( have not heard that before) actually prefer "RA boxing team" is that we just never give up! All us fight every day in our own ways for the the things we need and sometimes it is just so exhausting and overwhelming, then after a nights sleep or two, and I use that term loosely, we come back out fighting again

    I so cannot wait for your results.........

    I am sure that after a week or two in the warm Spanish sunshine you are going to be feeling a whole load better

    Till you return we shall keep saying " Rock on the RA boxing team"

    Am I going mad???

    Stay safe anyways

    Kate

  • HAHA! Kate, thank you for the encouragement. The absurdity of it all is quite funny really...in a seriously painful kinda way! I miss the boxing...one of the many things. Replaced the gloves for a keyboard but you're right, the fight is the same and it goes on. Ding Ding! :D x

  • That was great more please oh and have a great holiday love Karen xx

  • Thanks Karen, hope you have a good weekend...we have a similar RA timeline :D

  • Shocking just shocking......gr8 read tho...hope you have a gr8 holiday...and can i add one more thing.....can i come too...? ( hand in the air ) ME ME ME ME ME ....take me......lol...bring that round shiny hot thing back with you please.x

  • Pahaha! I will definitely try and bring the sun back with me. Im sure most f us would get on a bit better if we had decent sunshine...its sunny today but cloudy for the next 3 days...same old same old! :Dx

  • Brilliant and so true! no wonder you felt like boxing his ears lol. I have been there myself, got the bums rush out the door after being told it was a wee touch of fibrositis. Never mind, have a ball in Spain. x

  • Thanks Mille, its strange that "the patient's" first opinion is treated with suspicion. What's clear though is that it is not just you or me....it would seem fair to say that it's quite common. Have a good weekend, Viva Espania :D x

  • All I can say is thank god we all have a gallows sense of humour - we have to & I know you should not laugh at other people's misfortunes - ( I do totally empathise with you there ) But by jingo your blog did make me laugh - I think most of us get fed up with the fact that unless the Doctor feels your pain with the severe flares & deep aching fire like throbbing that we all live with all of the time, with verying degrees - they just DONT GET IT! I wish there was a machine that you could hook the doctors & specialist to - A sort of empathy machine - so they could actually FEEL the levels of pain! I wonder how quickly they would change their tunes - Like the maternity bumps men can wear so they can feel some of what it is like to be carrying a child.

    I hope you have a spiffing time in Spain - I always find that when I go abroad to gentler climates, that my RA goes int o remission somewhat - This damp British Weather is not kind to us, in fact my husband was told by a Latvian driver he knows, that in his country it can reach minus 10 degrees & lower when it snows, but the weather is not so damp as here when we get snow & he said here in Britain he feels it much more in his bones than at home.

    Looking forward to your next blog :)

  • Hi Perri - Gallows and toilet humour...2 things w all love! Pahaha! I totally agree! When the backs against the wall...just laugh at how absurd it all is. The weather here is relentless and I think the Latvian lorry driver will know for sure. My 1st blog on here is linked t this one. You might enjoy it if you havent had a look already. I hope your doing alright and the weekend is a good one. Thanks again, Cal :D

  • tell me more i love your writing but sorry about the ra

  • Thanks Mads! More to follow...I wrote another episode of my story in my other blog if you havent read it already. RA sucks worse at weekends, I hope your good though and thanks again, Cal :D

  • Have to say I really enjoyed this posting too and waiting for the next instalments. Funny I went to my doc in my early 20's (now in my early 50's) about joint pains telling him RA is in the family and wondering if that's why I constantly felt tired & ached so much and everything was so painful to do. He told me that as a young mother of two young children close in age I was depressed, therefore the prescription was given for anti-depressants. I have been on a yo yo of anti-depressant meds ever since until finally now I am being referred to Rhematology at my local hospital, after a year seeing Muscular Skeletol Depart, a steroid injection having any effect at all and me being in bed in agony for months now. Amazing how easily doctors dish out anti-depressants without going into further details and investigating joint pains first.

  • Glad you enjoyed it Mena. It sounds like you have been through the mill with it all. I really hope you get something that works for the pain. Its good you havefinally made it to Rheumatology - its taken you much longer than me and must be awful. Steroid injections didn't do much for me - Prednisolone was much better - steroid pills.

    The number of people I know who don't have RA but are taking anti depressants is incredible. Funnily enough, I came off mine 2 months ago and started writing like a man possessed! The writing helps on many levels - I do get a good laugh at myself and the absurdity of it all. Thanks again for the kind words, this site has been a great resouce to me, I hope you get some respite soon, take care Cal :D x

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