The cardiologist in question is Dr. Nick Newall, based at Arrowe Park Hospital, Wirral. So far, in all I’ve written, I’ve kept his name out of it – I no longer think that he deserves such consideration, as he clearly gives me none.
I know many of you will be familiar with much of what follows, but bear with me for the sake of those who don’t.
After my appointment in January, I wrote to him, pulling out of a test he had planned because I felt it was too dangerous (catheterisation of the left ventricle, via the defective aortic valve carries a 24% risk of stroke), which I’ve detailed here previously. I also pointed out that being forced, during my appointment, to trek across the hospital, many times more than my safe walking distance, had tipped me into a relapse.
As a result, and because I failed to recover – and still haven’t, in fact my health has deteriorated considerably since January and continues to do so – I was forced to write again and cancel a batch of tests he’d scheduled (I also missed a couple – it’s impossible for me to know in advance what I’m going to be capable of on any given day, and mostly it turns out to be nothing).
He wrote to me on March 7, saying that when I felt up to it “we’ll try and revisit the situation”. I wrote back saying I was willing to try, but I was subject to quite severe constraints govern what I could and could not do, and when I could do them – in a nutshell, on the best of days I have only a narrow window of opportunity, around the middle of the day. I also explained that this had been so for many years, and was clearly not going to change.
A short while ago, I wrote again, pointing out that I considered that either he, or the hospital – or both – were in breach of the Equality Act in failing, utterly, to accommodate my disability-related needs, and suggesting that it was, perhaps, time I sought legal advice.
I anticipated one of two things – either a conciliatory or an angry response.
What I got was total silence.
All the letters, by the way, were faxed, so there is no doubt that they were received in his office. I have no reason whatsoever to suppose that he did not get them.
And bear in mind that I at no time said I was withdrawing from his clinic – just from the tests, because of the danger, or because I was too ill. I’m now even more ill, and there is a hell of a lot he could be doing in terms of finding the most effective medication for me – which he simply is not doing, he could do that by liaising with my GP. What he is doing is fuck all, while I am put in the position of having to self-medicate.
For months, my heart has been clattering and misfiring like a broken sludge pump (which I’ve told him and which he’s ignored, but a week or so ago I found that the introduction of a low-level potassium supplement has calmed things down a hell of a lot but, really, should I, or anybody else, be so grossly neglected as to be put in the position of having to self-medicate a fucking heart condition?
OK, I know what I’m doing – but Newall doesn’t know that. He knows precious little having seen me just once. And he seemed not to be paying overly close attention then. I was sitting a few feet from him, in a rather expensive Lands’ End fleece, and he says “Take your cardigan off.” I’ve never worn a goddamned cardigan in my life! And I’m not about to start now.
I can see the thought process, though “Hmm… old bloke – now what’s that he’s wearing? It’s not a suit jacket – hey, I know, it’s a cardigan!” Pillock! It was, self-evidently, a fleece. Or a jacket. No resemblance at all to a cardigan.
Oh look, Ron’s gone off on one, I can hear some of you saying, but hey, if he wasn’t paying attention to something as simple as that, what else slipped past him?
A little later, he squeezed my leg – god knows why – I screamed and hit the roof! Did he show any interest in why that was so agonisingly painful? No, he did not.
He concedes I have heart failure, but he says he doesn’t know why. Let’s look at why.
I have COPD, which can cause congestive heart failure, which is what I’m being treated for currently. I also have calcification and stenosis of the aortic valve, which can also cause heart failure. I’m pretty damn sure one of these, quite possibly both, is the culprit, without the need to subject me to a battery of tests, some of which I have no intention of submitting to, because I feel there is too high a risk for little or no benefit. Rightly or wrongly – and as he’s not bothering to talk to me, I’m going with rightly until it’s proven otherwise, I felt like a research project. To me, the fact that he’s now apparently dismissed me from his mind rather confirms that.
And, let us not forget, it is my right to refuse to submit to any damn thing at all if I feel the risk is too great (or for no reason at all, come to that). That should not be interpreted as withdrawing from any and all treatment. That can happen without a single one of the planned tests. Treat the goddamned symptoms, worry about the cause – if there really is any doubt, about which I am not convinced – later.
I’m assuming Dr. Newall is still in post (according to the hospital website he is), so why is he putting my life at risk by ignoring me? How can a doctor sit at his desk and ignore – he hasn’t even got the balls to reject them – repeated pleas for help from a patient? Am I not grovelling sufficiently?
The bottom line is that it’s been 10 weeks since I heard anything at all from him, 4 months since I saw him, and during all that time my condition has continued to deteriorate. True, I’ve regained a little ground with the potassium, the deficiency in which was caused by 4 of my COPD meds, not really part of my heart problems, and I am still deteriorating.
As I have said, probably to the point of tedium, aortic valve calcification (the stenosis is a given), without symptoms is not a major problem, but with my symptom set, life expectancy is, on average, about 2 years. I’m at least 16 months in already. (Opinions vary somewhat, as I’ve explained previously, but 2 years is close enough). I talked to Dr, Newall about this in January – he gave me not a single word of argument, and I had no option but to take his silence as tacit agreement. A point I have, in fact, raised with him, but he’s ignored that as he has everything else.
So, Dr. Newall, if this is brought to your attention, and I sincerely hope it is, would you care to take advantage of the Comments facility, and tell me, here and now, why you feel it is appropriate to totally ignore me and, in so doing, put my life at risk? Or do you propose ignoring me until I am forced to take legal action?
I know a lot of people are curious, and hey, don’t you think I, at least, deserve an answer?
In your own time…
Note: APH seems incapable of getting my address right. I’ve told them at least half a dozen times that I’ve moved from flat 3 to flat 4 – it just doesn’t stick. However, my next door neighbour is pretty good at passing on misaddressed mail (I’m on a lot of old mailing lists), and she certainly hasn’t passed on any from APH.
I’ve even been through every piece of paper I can find, in case something has come and I’ve overlooked it, but no, there’s nothing. Anyway, it’s unlikely I would, as I’m constantly, and futilely, on the lookout.
Note for WordPress admin – everything here is verifiable.