I am reliant on a wheelchair full time, gone are the days where I could use crutches around the home and so when my elbow started playing up, it really concerned me.

I had to stop using crutches when my shoulders and hands became problematic and this was mechanical damage caused by using NHS crutches for so many years and I had not been warned about this!

It was about 5 months ago that whilst doing some yoga whilst sat in my chair that I noticed my left arm wouldn’t straighten fully.

It had been painful for a while but I just put it down to damage from using the crutches but it concerned me and so after trying to sort it with exercise for a month, I went to see the doc.

I was sent to get an x-ray and also had a blood test to check if it was Rheumatoid Arthritis.

The X-Ray person, I think they are a technician? They asked if I had injured the arm and I explained that I tip out of my wheelchair more than Brexit gets delayed and so yes there was a good chance.

Arm won't straighten

Two weeks later I phone the docs to enquire about the x-ray and the receptionist says “It’s arthritis, you need to phone Physio Direct at Southend Hospital for a telephone appointment”!

I was a bit taken aback as I expected I would at least get a face to face appointment with a physio or see a consultant as for me it could mean that if it gets too bad, I could lose my independence.

But I played the game and phoned Southend Hospital and asked for Physio Direct and gave up after 20 minutes on hold listening to the same message being repeated again and again!

I loathe talking on the phone, I avoid it as it makes me anxious, I struggle to keep up and it drains me and so another 2 attempts at a later date caused me to give in.

I admit that this scared me, I started getting anxious and I had a dip in my mental health because I fear not being able to self propel the chair and did arthritis in my elbow mean I might need surgery?

So I bit the bullet and phoned again and I am not the most patient person and my family often comment on my grumpy nature with me being likened to Victor Meldrew.

But after over 40 painful minutes I was through and my cheer when the call was answered was met with laughter from the physio manning the Physio Direct line.

After the checks to make sure I was indeed me and a brief chat about the problem the physio told me that there was arthritis but the joint space was clear and looked good. The relief was amazing and I told her that I had struggled with the thought of arthritis being the issue.

We have all been there, the receptionist at the doctors surgery who acts like she has a degree in brain surgery and frankly goes beyond their limited capabilities and the report I had been given had caused me a lot of upset for no reason!

I am now booked in for a face to face appointment with a physio, I am not sure what the problem is but it appears that it may be able to be corrected with exercise and that is a massive relief.

I have to say the the woman I spoke with on the phone was lovely, she was amazing in fact.

But the big issue is that many of us receive no care at all, I was discharged from the Pain Management Clinic as they said they couldn’t do any more and my GP would now take care of my pain management and this was after the pain management consultant prescribed an overdose of Fentanyl that put me in A&E struggling to breathe!

My many requests for an elective above the knee amputation were denied and I firmly believe that whilst it is a drastic thing to have, it would have meant I would have been able to walk again, maybe not to amazing levels but I would have been able to, or at least it would mean that I had less pain and so could mobilise more.

I am very grateful for the NHS, we get free treatment and it is amazing but there is no doubt that it is basic care, well it is here where I live!

If I lived elsewhere, well maybe the level of care might be, in fact would be better and I might have a care plan in place and be monitored and helped to be as active as possible.

Well that is enough of me and my views for one day!


I am still waiting to have my physio appointment, unfortunately on the two dates that I was meant to attend, I was hit with a big old pain flare up and so had to rebook.

I received a stern warning that doing so again would lead to me being discharged and whilst I understand, surely they have to understand that some people have no choice because of health?

By Zechariah Richardson

Over 50, disabled, husband, father and gramps who reviews products and writes blog posts about his life, beekeeping, gardening and whatever pops into his brain!

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