Doctors are Dangerous…

And yes, I really do mean that.

Every time I’m admitted to hospital – which is likely to happen quite a lot in the future – whichever consultant I’m assigned to puts his or her own spin on what’s wrong with me.

The latest one to do that announced that I don’t have COPD. Yes I bloody well do. COPD was diagnosed in 1996, and that diagnosis has been confirmed and re-confirmed many times since then. Now we have this bloody doctor attempting to re-write history, and change my meds radically, to boot.

I have one policy and one only regarding my meds – if they do their job, do not mess with them! She changed them. I objected on the grounds that if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. She ignored me. My GP has pushed through the changes without consulting me. That will not stand.

In addition to denying my COPD, this idiot has reduced my 68-year history of severe respiratory illness – asthma, bronchiectasis, chronic bronchitis, and ultimately COPD – to minor respiratory obstruction. At 17 I was told I’d be very lucky to make it to 40. Minor?

At the same time she was rewriting history, her Registrar was telling me that the condition which had put me in there (previously diagnosed as Pulmonary Oedema (PO), and, as far as I’m concerned it still is), was extremely serious, very hard to control and was very likely to kill me. Now him, I believe. In my long experience I’ve found that doctors keen to make a name for themselves are more likely to be as honest when it comes to bad news as with good. His boss, meanwhile, despite promising me a whole battery of tests when I was admitted did precisely bugger all

I’ve had two major bouts of PO – severe enough to put me in hospital – and at the risk of seeming melodramatic I seriously doubt my ability to survive many more. I could survive if my GP would prescribe the drugs I need to treat myself at home, but he won’t. He’d sooner have me in hospital despite the fact that he knows I’m at a high risk of further infection thanks to the crass bay system (I heard that the bays are being phased out in favour of individual rooms. Not before time, but that will drastically reduce capacity as well as take a long time to achieve. For those of you lucky enough to have avoided hospital admission, the bays are small, ill-ventilated rooms holding from 4 to a dozen patients, depending on size, in two rows facing each other. As the average patient has almost no concept of hygiene they spend their days coughing and sneezing all over their fellow sufferers – in one 6-week stay in 2013 I succumbed to 5 hospital-acquired respiratory infections, culminating in my having my right lung aspirated, and enough x-rays and scans to make me glow in the dark.

Then there’s heart failure. A few months ago a cardiologist said that I don’t have HF (despite the fact that the diagnosis has been confirmed multiple times). He said that everything ascribed to HF was actually caused by – wait for it! – COPD! Which isn’t even close to being true. I’ve covered that at length, I won’t bore you with it again except to say that while HF and COPD do have symptoms in common, they have even more symptoms that are unique to each. Mine are those of HF.

As luck would have it, on my recent admission I came across the cardio doc who had spent a long time at my bedside last August, explaining in detail how it was that I had both right and left-side HF, and what it meant for my future (nothing good). I explained to her that there was now a body of opinion – that I didn’t share – casting doubt on the HF diagnosis. I expected her to defend her position. Instead she backed down so fast she left skid-marks!

Call me picky, but I expect a doctor who makes such a challenging and life-changing diagnosis to have the (metaphorical, in her case), balls to stand by it, not run away at the first sign of a differing opinion.

As things stand now, depending on who you ask, you could come away feeling that there is nothing seriously wrong with me. And yet, on my last two admissions doctors – and nurses – spent a lot of time explaining to me that, on the balance of probabilities, I didn’t have long to live. I knew that anyway – as each day that passes is harder to deal with than the previous one, both physically and psychologically it’s hard to avoid the conclusion that my time has (almost), run its course.

I would, however, prefer not to be helped on my way by fuckwit consultants with personal agendas and a shit-load of axes to grind.

So, for the record, I do have COPD. It was diagnosed in 1996, and that diagnosis has been confirmed multiple times and denied only once. And I do have Heart Failure. This, too, was first diagnosed in 1996, and again in 2011, 2012, and 2014. Just two denials, a cardiologist and his nurse who put everything down to COPD! 18 years ago, with the ink still wet on the diagnosis, the same guy was equally adamant I did not have COPD.

I also have a calcified and stenotic aortic valve. This is an age-related and progressive condition but, I’m told, mine has failed to progress in 3 years, which apparently is not normal.

It does make me wonder how effective the diagnostic procedures are, as well as the motivation of those who are doing their level best to deny that I’m actually seriously ill. Or, possibly, to try and show that the consultants responsible for the original diagnoses were in some way incompetent. There’s something going on that I’m not privy to, and I’m stuck in the middle of it.

I have walked into the middle of a feud like that before, with one GP refusing to adequately prescribe Oramorph (he was convinced it would kill me), and another who firmly believed I should have as much as I needed, within the protocol. This was only recently resolved in favour of the protocol, so I now take double what I was taking previously – a dose which is now actually beneficial and has so far failed to kill me.** A pity I had to suffer 2 years of needless pain first.

**I put that idea to every respiratory doc I could in hospital – without exception they rubbished it. The risk, though, is real, I found out that much for myself. However, the majority seem to share my view – that just because something can happen, doesn’t mean it will.