A.J. Walker

Multiple Sclerosis etc

January 2024

Not The Best Knees-Up

This has not been the best week off in some ways, but hopefully—slowly—things will be moving the right way from here on in. I’ve had a swollen knee for a few weeks now, which has got progressively worse and more painful. Have been in for several tests. A month or so before Christmas I had my second hydrocortisone injection (for the year) in my left knee. At the same time they syringed a fair bit of fluid out. I then went for blood tests to a phlebotomy centre around the same time. It was good to get done. But not long later and my knee became worse than it’s ever been-particularly in the last couple of weeks.

I had a message from the doctor’s before Christmas to arrange an appointment with a GP to discuss the test findings and have been trying ever since to get one. And failing—miserably. They ask me to make an appointment, but you can’t make one in advance, you can only make one ‘
on the day’. It’s crazy you can’t even get one for five or ten days (or whatever) hence. I’m sure there’s a perfectly good reason for it. But… meh. So I’ve been calling around 8am for weeks to get the same message, ‘Sorry, all the appointments for today have been taken.’ They only give the appointments at 8am. By 8:10: they’re all gone. It’s like trying to get a Glastonbury ticket. But with a less enticing ticket.

So what a week this has been. I’ve taken it off to relax and hopefully let the leg recover—at least a little. I had hoped I’d get out and about on a train somewhere during the week if my leg did improve. And so what have this week’s highlights been? Well, in order of occurrence (if not importance, or excitement):

1. Buying and receiving my first ever walking stick on Monday. They don’t half take the pressure of your knee when you use one. I got a foldable one so I can take it around with me in my constant rucksack companion should I decide I need it after not initially requiring it on any given day (very Boy Scout of me. Dib dib dib.).
2. Actually getting a GP appointment on Wednesday (thanks to a cancellation from somebody; and me no doubt sounding thoroughly despondent when I was originally given the, ‘
all the appointments for the day had gone’. The call back was much appreciated.).
3. Finding out from the GP that I’m suffering from gout. May sound weird, but I’m genuinely made up with that.
4. Paying for an Annual Prescription Certificate so I won’t have to suffer the monthly charges as painfully now that I’m on more tablets.
5. Picking up my prescription on Thursday—and getting some tablets down me within the hour!

It’s more than annoying, of course, that I could have been given that prescription before Xmas, had I been able to meet my GP initially about the blood (and fluid off-the-knee) results, and then maybe I’d not have suffered with my knee anything like as much as I have since (and may not have needed to buy and use a walking stick). I’ve never needed a walking stick before this current issue and it’s been difficult to go through first needing and then using it. Getting on and off buses is a painful and sometimes slow and risky affair.

But hell, we are where we are, and I’m made up with the gout diagnosis: as it is at least treatable. Clearly with my MS there was some worry (however misplaced), and this was compounded by the osteoarthritis in my knee only recently identified. The dreaded thought of a knee replacement… please, no.

Gout and osteoarthritis is a wicked combination. For osteoarthritis you are told to exercise the joint and for the gout you are told to rest it. So whatever you do/don’t do it is simultaneously wrong & right. It’s an unsolvable conundrum. But while the arthritis won’t get better and can’t be treated (other than painkillers if particularly bad) at least the gout can. Which is why I’m happy about the current prognosis.

I’m finally on some pills. And I can only hope that they do their stuff relatively quickly. It’d be great not to need the new walking stick (however happy I am with its purchase). The treatment should eventually result in a reduction in the fluid around the knee and then I’ll be bounding up the stairs in no time (rather than worrying about negotiating them). Hope Springs Eternal and all that. Onwards and Upwards (not painfully downwards!).