Being incorrectly diagnosed can have dire consequences

2012-02-20 00:00

I WOULD like to share my story with your readers. It shows how one can be incorrectly diagnosed and the consequences thereof.

In 1980, I had a particularly nasty persistant cough and felt really ill. I went to a local government hospital. The casualty doctor examined me and sent me for a blood test, sputum test, chest x-ray and BCG, and gave me medication. He asked me to return after two weeks for the test results. I took the medication, but felt even worse afterwards.On my next visit, the doctor told me that I had nothing to be worried about as I only had a mild chest infection. He gave me more medication, but it did not help.

I then visited a private doctor, who examined me and sent me to have the same tests done. All the tests indicated that I had pneumonia. The doctor was very concerned and booked me into hospital immediately, and treated me until the cough had subsided.

Thereafter, followed twelve years of misery. I got the flu regulary, and the cough would last for anything up to three months. I was constantly tired and felt depressed, and it affected my social life too. I consulted many doctors and specialists who treated me for bronchiectasis, but found very little relief.

Then, I had a chance encounter that changed my life for the better. I had made an appointment with a specialist physician, but I was unaware that he was away and someone was filling in for him. When my turn came to see the doctor, I was confronted by a youthful-looking individual, with a kind and warm demeanour. He examined me, and had me admitted into the hospital and treated me. I saw him a few more times after that, and developed the utmost respect and faith in him.

One day in 1992, he told me that he had a solution to my problem, and that was surgery. He explained that each time I had a bout of flu, it caused scarring of the lung tissue. It had become so diseased that a lobe would have to be removed from my right lung. He knew of a very competent surgeon, and would make all the arrangements once I had decided to go ahead. He suggested I get a second opinion by discussing it with his partner. The partner was very negative, and advised me again st the operation. Even the physiotherapist said it was not a good idea, as I would have to come regularly to him after the operation. I felt that it would improve my life, and decided to go ahead with the operation.

That was the best decision I have ever made. The surgeon was highly competent, and did a very good job. The scar is barely visible. I am much better now. I have more energy and can easily walk long distances, as well as up and down stairs. I even took part in a five kilometre fun walk, and finished it in good time.

DO you have a story to tell about a health condition, procedure or medical drama that has happened to you? We’d like to hear about it. Please describe what it involved in 600 to 1 000 words and send it to features@witness.co.za

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