NB: I am going to be greedy and write about two but I hope the premise I have for that, becomes clear…
It was mid August 2011 and I was suffering. I had been up for days with V&D and finally armed with the strength – and my brothers arm for support – I toddled off to the local GP practice. I saw a new doctor – as I always did – and explained my constant V&D, my lack of appetite and my tired eyes. She looked at me for a couple minutes, asked some more questions, and triumphed diagnosed me with Food Poisoning. I sat in that horribly uncomfortably chair, knowing she was wrong. My brother piped up – “How can she have food poisoning? Its lasted far longer than 48 hours and shes getting worse. What else could it be? Are you not doing your job properly?” – I’ve never been prouder of my brother for standing up for me when I couldn’t do it for myself. The doctor persisted with her lament diagnosis and sent me away with instructions to hydrate myself. Little did that do me, I was admitted to Good Hope no less than 3 days later when my elbows swelled up and had a fever. But that, sadly, is the NHS some days.
Compare that to this, the conversation I had with my GI November last year:
“Look, this is now becoming a problem. You’re in and out of here and I don’t like it. I worry about you and I only want to make you better. Understand that you need to get better and you want to do it without surgery. If it comes to that, fine, but if you can be better with just medications, I will call that an outstanding victory. Now, here’s the plan, we’ll…” The rest of what he said to me is a little clouded by all the Azathioprine, the Pred and some of those lovely sedation drugs too. But in reality, last year, I was sick as a dog and he couldn’t figure out why. But he kept in me in his Gastro ward for just over two weeks, trying to get my infection under control and get Bernie to calm herself down. He did it, and it was that trust to know that I wanted to be saved as much as he wanted to help me, that ultimately did it.
So, two conversations, two different stories. They both fit together because before I knew my disease I just took whatever a doctor say to me – explicitly GPs here – as golden. But with Dr Skander, I knew we were on the same page because I was fighting the battle he saw every day with many different Crohn’s and UC patients under his care. And underneath all the drugs and the fatigue and the sickness, I knew he could save me, even when I didn’t know I needed saving from my Crohn’s. He is that good.