So, Saturday morning saw me in the office going through the procedures that will form the basis for selecting members who will take part in the research project to investigate why some patients need more frequent injections of B12 than others, how the sample pots will be distributed and how they will be collated. Taylor Morgan, who was a volunteer when she was a Medical Sciences student and who is still volunteering with the society even though she now works full-time in a pathology lab of a local hospital and is completing her Masters degree in a topic associated with B12.
As we worked through the processes I became aware of a slight discomfort in my middle finger of my right hand and within the hour my finger had become painful. We left the office at 12 noon and by 1pm the pain in my hand was so severe that I made my way to the ‘GP After Hours’ service at the Princess of Wales Hospital in Bridgend. Within 20 minutes I was explaining to a GP what had happened and showing him my by now very badly swollen finger.
“It’s a serious infection” he told me. “I’ll prescribe you some antibiotics but, if it gets worse or starts to spread come straight back”.
At 4pm I was back and by now was in severe pain to the extent that I found it hard to sit down but preferred to wander around groaning and holding my right hand against my chest. I saw another GP who took a look at my hand and spotted that I had a red line running from my finger right up the top of my arm to my elbow and then twisting underneath my elbow before stopping just short of my arm pit.
“You’ve got a trace” he said. “I’m going to have to admit you – you could have severe blood poisoning if that reaches your armpit”.
Twenty minutes later I was in the Emergency department of the hospital explaining to an A&E Consultant what had happened.
“What painkillers have you taken” she asked.
“None – I didn’t want to mask the pain”
She shouted out to a nurse who appeared with a variety of pills and a syringe full of white clear liquid that she squirted into my mouth.
“You are obviously in a lot of pain” she said – “these will help”
I was found a bed in a single room and wired up to all manner of machines. By 1am in the morning the pain had got so bad that I went to the nurse station and begged for more painkillers but was told that I couldn’t have any more until 4am. The nurse in charge noticed that I was obviously in real discomfort.
“I’ll call a doctor” she told me and, after an hour wait suddenly a doctor appeared who was genuinely concerned at my condition.
“You really are suffering” he said. He then put his hand on my shoulder and told me that he was going to telephone his “boss” and that he would be back. “I assure you I will not leave you like this but will be back soon”.
Twenty minutes later he arrived with another of those syringes that was squirted in my mouth.
“I phoned the consultant who said to give you this really powerful painkiller” he said. Within five minutes I felt relief from the pain for the first time. It was now 2:45 in the morning and I was able to rest my arm on the bed. I shut my eyes and was just about to fall asleep when the nurse appeared again turning on the light as she came into the room.
“I’ve another doctor for you Martyn” she said
A middle-aged doctor sat at the side of the bed and asked me what had happened. I told him.
“You’ll be ok” he said. “These people will monitor you”
I asked who he was.
“I’m the consultant that they called” he told me. “They phoned and woke me and I couldn’t get back to sleep as I was a little worried about you so I thought I’d come in and take a look at you. Try and rest”.
I was discharged on Tuesday morning and though still tender, my finger has almost returned to its normal size.
What was the cause of the pain and swelling – well that’s another story…..