University College Hospital.
I was admitted to University College Hospital London on Tuesday last week with a gastrointestinal infection that had seen my weight drop from nine stone to eight stone one pound in four days.
By Thursday the GI symptoms were over and the docs were contemplating discharge despite my BMI being only 15 as I had gained only three pounds in weight – basically through rehydration – and meaning the bug had consumed ten pounds of my already depleted flesh.
I said it wasn’t wise and that while I was here we may as well get to the bottom of my long term health issues. The consultant said I could stay and that although he could ask other docters to see me, he couldn’t “make them”.
This has certainly proven prophetic: the spinal surgeon, I was told the next day, “would not see me unless someone told him there was something wrong with my spine”. I am confused as to who this should be – as I wrote my MP - is it the cleaner who decides such things? Or the hospital cat, perhaps?
The weekend was awful. The ravages of the GI bug have taken such a toll on my musculature I got no more than three hours sleep each night before the effects of my Diazepam dose wore off and I awoke in increasing pain. I lay awake until time for my six AM dose – unable to increase the dose because of the systemic muscular weaknesses that are causing the other muscles into spasm.
It is a knife edge game trying to hold together a fast failing body by controlling the overworked compensating muscles with a drug that causes more harm to the damaged and weakened muscles.
I explained all this to the registrar in great depth during an extended conversation on Monday morning: that my Diazepam was no longer effective but that I could not risk increasing the dose as it is contraindicated by my musle weakness. I explained I was exhausted and in pain.
During that conversation I suggested he had not understood what I think is wrong with me. He said he had so I asked him to explain what I think is wrong to establish this. He waffled some nonsense about having “listened to my
signs and symptoms” and “not having time to go into it”.
Later that day I was told by my nurse that the analysis from the tests done the previous week had shown Campylobacter as the causal agent of the GI infection that lead to admission – the most common cause of GI problems and usually caught from undercooked poultry. I was told I was being placed on a course of the antibiotic Erythromycin.
This is contra-indicated – doubly in my case:
1. Erythromycin is contra-indicated in patients with muscle weakness.
2. Erythromycin slows the metabolism of Diazepam in the liver leading to a build up of Diazepam – effectively increasing the dosage of that drug – the very thing I had told the doctor must be avoided.
Given the in depth discussion I had with the doctor about my muscle weakness and Diazepam dose – and the knife-edge situation this leaves me in I was deeply troubled that an attempt was made to administer such a doubly contra-indicated drug on the very same day.
This is especially true as in his last role at The Royal London
Hospital the doctor was working under a consultant Liver specialist and therefore he must have been well aware of these facts.
In any case, it has not been estalished that I am a “carrier” of Campylobacter – chronic or otherwise – and there was no clear need for the antibiotcs. That I had had no recent GI symptoms for five days would imply the opposite – as a junior doctor agreed the very next day.
It all seems very strange to me.