Without wishing to get all Embarassing Bodies on you all, if I’m to talk about my time in hospital, as I very much want to, then you need to know how I ended up there. And to do that, I need to give you a little bit of background/context.
Around fifteen years ago, I was diagnosed with psoriasis. Here’s what the NHS has to say about the condition:
“Psoriasis is a skin condition that causes red, flaky, crusty patches of skin covered with silvery scales.
These patches normally appear on your elbows, knees, scalp and lower back, but can appear anywhere on your body. Most people are only affected with small patches. In some cases, the patches can be itchy or sore.
Psoriasis affects around 2% of people in the UK. It can start at any age but most often develops in adults under 35 years old, and affects men and women equally.
The severity of psoriasis varies greatly from person to person. For some it’s just a minor irritation but, for others, it can majorly affect their quality of life.
Psoriasis is a long-lasting (chronic) disease that usually involves periods when you have no symptoms or mild symptoms, followed by periods when symptoms are more severe.”
Sounds yummy, doesn’t it?
And boy, does my heart swell with pride to learn that I’m one of the lucky 2% in the country to be afflicted.
Unfortunately, there is no cure for psoriasis, but a range of treatments can improve symptoms and the appearance of skin patches. My symptoms were limited to my knees, shins and elbows, so could be covered up whenever I was out and about. I was prescribed various ointments which seemed to prevent the affected areas from spreading.
Then, around June this year, suddenly it went nuclear, spreading to pretty much every part of my body below the neck line. (‘Little Jez’ remained unaffected, not that anybody would know.)
I went to my GP, who referred me to a consultant dermatologist. I waited for contact.
A few weeks later, I’d not heard anything so I returned to my GP. By now there was an extra factor which I wanted to let him know about; during his previous examination, he had asked if I was getting any aches anywhere, which at the time, I wasn’t. But now, I had developed pain in my legs and feet, my arms felt like I had been punched and given a dead-arm, and I had a loss of grip and function in both of my hands. In short, walking had become difficult and painful, and I was unable to do the simplest of task, such as holding a pen, or opening jars and packaging.
It turns out there’s a complication of psoriasis called psoriatic arthritis, and my GP suspected I had developed this too. A quick call to the consultant, and I had an appointment a week later.
And so it was that I found myself sitting behind a curtain in my underwear, being examined by a seemingly unending line of consultants and medical students.
Which seems to be a pretty good time for a tune:
The Stranglers – Skin Deep
A week later, I returned to the dermatology clinic, for a further round of poking, prodding and blood tests.
That evening, my phone rang. The call showed up as being “No Caller ID”, so I ignored it, assuming it was a sales call. A voicemail was left, which I also ignored; we’ve all received those calls, where you listen to the voicemail and it’s an automated message asking you to contact somebody about the accident you’ve (not) been involved in, or the PPI you really should reclaim before it’s too late.
By this time, as my loss of function had worsened, I’d signed off work for seven days. I was now due to either return to work, or get officially signed off by my GP. I planned to go to see my GP the next day, which meant getting up early to try and get an appointment, so I went to bed early.
I woke the next morning to find a further ten missed calls. This seemed a particularly aggressive cold call sales campaign. As I went to listen to my voicemalis, the phone rang again. I answered, and found myself talking to one of the dermatological consultants I had met the previous day. She explained that they had reviewed my blood tests, which showed a very high probability – around 80% – that I had a blood infection. A serious one. She instructed me to get myself to A&E as soon as possible.
Supergrass – Bad Blood
Which is where we’ll leave it for today. Tune in next time for the next thrilling instalment.
Or, More Soon, if you prefer.
If you want to read more about the medical condition called psoriasis, then clicking here takes you to the relevant page on the NHS website.