Dulcie Hartley

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The year 2O1O commenced with changes in my life. My husband of 63 years Jack, aged 87 years, had been admitted into Toronto Nursing Home in the final stages of emphysema. I had had bi-lateral knee replacements in October 09. The operation had been successful and I was just getting back into my regular walking.

Towards the end of February 2OIO it became apparent that Jack was not going to last much longer so my visits to the Nursing Home became more frequent, often with my daughter Venessa.

On the night of 21st February I was stricken with acute nerve pain in my lower back which radiated through my buttocks and down the back of my legs. The pain commenced about 10pm after I had gone to bed. I walked the floor for hours and found that by about 5am the pain had subsided and I was able to get a little more sleep.

My husband died of emphysema on 26th February, with the funeral to be held on 4th March. Meanwhile on 1st March I returned to my GP as the night nerve pain had not decreased and he prescribed MSContin -5mg. This relieved the pain on the first occasion, but not subsequently. He had tested my reflexes and I wondered what this was all about. At Jack's funeral the effort of walking steadily down the Chapel aisle through the Returned Servicemen's Guard of Honour was most difficult.

The day before Jack's funeral I saw Orthopaedic Surgeon for final visit re knees. The operation had been successful and my knees were going well. When I mentioned my back problem he spoke with an eminent back specialist who suggested a CT scan. On 5th March I had an Epidural Injection at Toronto XRay. The doctor was most reluctant to perform this procedure as he was of the opinion that there did not seem to be anything wrong in this area.

By 6th March I was still experiencing pain during the night, but not so much shooting nerve pain. However, my legs seemed to be failing and losing strength. The following day I required the use of a walking stick whilst in the house. Monday 8th March saw me at John Hunter Hospital for an MRI Post Epidural. My daughter Venessa took me there and spent the day with me. The verdict was all OK, so there we were, still realising that there seemed to be something radically wrong with my legs, but no diagnosis to date. The pain worsened during the night so I returned to my GP on 9th March when a larger dose of MSContin was prescribed and on 11th March I was admitted to Toronto Private Hospital. The following day I had reduced mobility resulting in two falls and staff was instructed to be with me while I was ambulatory.