Friday, 25 June 2010
Part 1 - Where it all began.....
I was 19 years old in 1992 only a couple of months in to my 2nd year at Leeds Polytechnic (Carnegie) studying secondary physical education. I had been experiencing pain in my right shin for a number of months, photographs show that summer of my 1st year me wearing a tubigrip. It kept being put down to overuse as we were doing so much sport. As well as the physical side of my course I played volleyball, football and lacrosse regularly. I was one of the founders of the women's lacrosse team and club captain that year.
Eventually in the Autumn Dad told me to get a private referral to a consultant as the GPs weren't referring me on the NHS. Luckily I was still covered on his healthcare policy.
After consultation scans and x-rays I was told by an orthopaedic surgeon, Mr Abberton, at Leeds General Infirmary (LGI) that I had a bone cyst in my tibia (about the size of a conker), which it was unlikley they'd do anything about. The pain worsened over the next few weeks, some days bearable and others I was using crutches for support. He eventually referred me to an Endocrinologist, Mr Belchetz. He decided the problem may be Hyperostosis (rapid bone growth/replacement). I was given an IV infusion as an outpatient and packed back off to my student house. The pain worsened over the ensuing days and I began to feel unwell. I played Lacrosse on the Saturday and remember feeling relieved when a player's stick broke so I could catch my breath. I worked at the Sports Centre on the Sunday and was barely able to sleep that night resulting in me hardly being able to weight bear on the Monday morning. So off I went to lectures on the crutches again and called my Mum at lunchtime. She told me to go to the hospital and basically camp out in his office until they did something. She was on the Wirral and I was still in Leeds.
Mr Belchetz Secretary told me to go home and wait for someone to call me. It was late afternoon Dr Belchetz called me and said he would come and visit me, which he did about 7pm. He examined me and said he wanted to take me to the hospital to be admitted. He called the hospital and said 'I have an acute case I need a bed', I packed a bag and he put me in his Mini and drove me to the LGI - very surreal when I think back! Quite scary too.
I was admitted, had a series of blood tests through the night and was told I ould be having an exploratory operation the next morning. My parents were going to make their way over then.
Tuesday morning I was taken to theatre and when I came round Mum and Dad were there. They found the cyst was ready to burst so was drained cleaned and packed with bone chips and I was stapled up. I have about a 4 inch scar on my shin. Afterwards (a long time afterwards) I learnt that Mr Abberton had told my parents 'it was nasty but doesn't look like anything sinister' they clung to this. We were also told bone cultures had to be grown from the biopsies and it would be about a week before I got any results so we prepared ourselves for the wait. Thursday came and so did my parents, much to my surprise as they weren't due that day. They were having to also be at home caring for my 15 year old brother James. They said they needed a word with the doctors. It transpires they were called and asked to come to the hospital. When Dad asked if they had the test results he was told they weren't prepared to discuss them over the phone. Mum always tells me how they drove along the M62 worrying and speculating, wondering if I had Leukemia but she saw a rainbow and said to Dad 'there's a rainbow it means she'll be OK'.
They seemed to be away from my hospital room for hours, luckily I had one of my lacrosse friends Hazy visiting. When they returned, how they brought themselves to open that door I really don't know, although as a parent with a child with her fair share of health problems I know that somehow outwardly you find the strength from somewhere, despite the inner turmoil. That day was to change all our lives forever.........