Saturday, July 9, 2011


5th July approx 14:00 - In excrutiating pain down right side of face from temple, through jawbone & down to neck.
Took the only painkillers I had, 10ml of calpol six plus and 10ml of codeine - this took the edge off the pain.

18:00 - Took more of the above
19:00 - Pacing now as the above had no effect
19:45 - Rang hospital ward, told sister D what meds I was on, she said it was a very small amount and I could have much more but it had to be confirmed by the on-call medical doctor; Sister passed on the information for the night  shift to contact the doctor after their, (doctors') meeting finished at 20:30

21:15 - Still in excruciating pain; rang ward back & asked for the  doctors' tel no. so I didn't keep hassling them, they said best thing was to put me through to switchboard & I could ask to be put through to the on-call medical doctor - fairy nuff.
'Hello switchboard'
'Hello, I am a patient of doctor N, I am in a lot of pain & I need to speak to the on-call medical doctor'
'I can't put you through to them'
'Well, I need to speak to someone please, I've been waiting for the doctor to call me for almost an hour'
'They are busy you know'
'Yes of course, I appreciate that, all I want is to know how much of my meds I can take'
'What does it say on the label?'
'It says I can have 2 x 5ml of codeine 4 times a day and 2 - 4 x 5ml of paracetamol (I wasn't going to tell her it was calpol) 4 times a day'
'Well, take that then'
'No, I have already tried that doseage and it does nothing. I have been informed that this is a small dose and I can take more, but I need to speak to a doctor first'
'Ok, I will put you through to the on-call ward sister'
'(deep breath) Ok, thank you'
'Hello, this is the on-call ward sister, what is the problem?'
'Oh hi, I am a patient of doctor N and I have been in excrutiating pain all evening, I have been waiting for the on-call medical doctor to ring me back but it's been over an hour now, my pain hasn't lessened and all I need to  know is how much of my meds I can take'
'What meds do you have?'
'(deep breath) I have 15mg\5ml codeine in linctus and  250mg in 5ml paracetamol suspension  (I wasn't going to tell her either)'
'And what doseage is on the label?'
'(deep breath ... pause) 'It says I can have 2 x 5ml of codeine 4 times a day & 2 - 4 x 5ml of paracetamol '
'Well, take that then'
'I have already tried that & it does nothing. I have spoken to Sister D on S ward earlier and she informed me that this is a small dose and I can take more but that I need to speak to a doctor first'
'Yes it is a small dose and very strange too, what do the tablets look like?'
'They are both liquid'
'Ah! why are you taking them like that then?'
(deep breath & ever so slightly forced politeness) 'Because I have throat cancer & find it hard to swallow'
'What is your name?'
'Steph Bullock'
(at this point I can hear her trying to log into her computer, but given the tone of the beep, she is having problems with her password)
'Check that you don't have caps lock on'
'Mutter ...... There is something wrong with this computer'
(getting a tad exasperated now) 'Yes I can hear that horrid machine beeping at you, check that you don't have caps lock on'
'Ah, silly computer had put it in capitals! Right can you spell your surname please Sandra?'
'Would you like my hospital number?'
'Yes please'
'Ok it is ......'
'Ok, it says here that you were given (some drug I cannot remember the name of), why don't you try taking that?'
'That was last year, I no longer have any'
'Hmm, I think you should speak to the on-call doctor and she might be able to help, let me try to put you through'
'No, the line is busy, let me try again, ... no, it is still busy, let me take your phone number and I will get her to ring you'
'Ok, it is .....'
'Ok, I will try one more time while you are on the phone, ...... no, she is still busy, I will get her to ring you'
'Ok, thank you'

It is now approx 21:45 and the pain has remained constant, I am beside myself, I want to rip my jaw out of my skull & ram it ....... phone rings.
'Hello this is the on-call ward sister, I have spoken to the doctor, she knows you are waiting to speak to her but she is very busy, she will ring you later'
'Ok, did you tell her that all I need is to know what I can up the dose to?'
'She is very busy with a sick patient you know'
(deep breath - rationally I know she means a critical patient, but it does irk me that she said it in those words) 'Of course, I appreciate that, ok, thank you for your help'

Feeling slightly dizzy now and very tired - wish I had called NHS Direct

23:45 - Phone rings 'Hello, is that Sandra Bullock?'
'Hi yes (sorry Sandra, I just don't care any more)'
'This is Dr L, I understand that you are having problems with pain, how can I help you?'
'I have been in excruciating pain all evening, the only pain killers I have are 15mg\5ml codeine in linctus &  250mg in 5ml suspension paracetamol (well it IS paracetamol)'
'I took 2 x 5ml of codeine and 2 x 5ml of paracetamol earlier and it had no effect'
'Well no i'm sure it didn't, that is a very small dose, why did you only take that much?'
'That is pretty much what it said on the bottles'
'Oh, why have you got them in liquid form?'
'Because I have throat cancer & find it hard to swallow'
'Ok, well you can take up to 4 x 5ml of the paracetamol and up to 16 x 5ml of the codeine 4 times a day'
'Ok, thank you very, very much'
'Is that all you needed to know? don't you want to know what is causing the pain?'
'At this point I am just grateful you rang and told me what I needed to know. I have had the pain before but not for a while and I really don't care any more to be honest I just want to be able to go to sleep'
'Oh, ok then, goodnight'
'Thanks goodnight'

So I took 20ml of both and did finally drop off to sleep around 1am :0)

6th July approx 07:45 - After logging on to my work laptop at 07:00, pain free, I finished doing the morning checks and alerts and BAM! The bloody pain starts up again.
I go downstairs and take 20ml of both meds. I go back upstairs and try to carry on working.
By approximately 8:30, I get the idea that this new doseage is not really having any effect at all. I gave my boss the heads up that I may have to give in to it today. He doesn't want me to push myself and we eventually agree I will take the day off.

Tried lying down and meditating, that made it worse (the lying down bit) -  I tried distracting myself by having a warm drink and surfing on my laptop. This ended up with me spluttering it all over my laptop screen whilst reading up on a friend's very funny blog - Helped for a while and although the pain didn't go away' I was thoroughly amused by the blog Ü

12:30 - I rang the lovely sister D on ward S again, told her what had happened the night before and that I was in pain again today. Sister D put me straight through to one of my Oncologists' team doctor A. Doctor A commiserated and  said that he wanted to write me a prescription for morphine. The only trouble is, it would take best part of an hour for me to get to the hospital, then the best part of an hour waiting for the prescription to be made up. I shared my concerns with the doctor and we agreed I would ring my own GP and ask her instead.

13:00 - I rang my lovely GP to see if I could get some morphine  (a bit embarassing really as I had only seen her on Tuesday morning and glibly told her that I hardly ever get any pain and i only needed codeine & calpol six plus)
'Hello surgery, how can I help?'
'Hi my name is Steph Bullock, I am one of Dr V's patients, I have cancer and I am in excruciating pain (deja vu), have I missed the opportunity to talk to Dr V?'
'Oh dear, I'm sorry to hear that, Dr V does not work today and is not in tomorrow either'
'Oh, right, can I speak to one of the other doctors then?'
'No, i'm afraid they have all left the office for the day'
(stunned silence for a second) 'Oh, do you know what other options I have then?'
(Stunned silence for a couple of seconds) 'Err right, (nervous laughter ensues) erm, should I ring the emergency out of hours number on your website then?'
'Yes! that sounds like a good idea. You do sound awful and I am really sorry, if you don't have any luck you can call in the morning'
'Ok then, thanks'

'Hello, this is croydoc out of hours service, how can I help?'
'Hi, my name is Steph Bullock, I am a patient of Dr V's, I have cancer and I am in a lot of pain. The painkillers I have are codeine & paracetamol, but they are not working any more, I think I need to see a doctor so I can get   some morphine'
'Ah, we don't actually have any doctors during the daytime, have you tried ringing your GP's surgery?'
(stunned silence for another second) 'Yes, but all the doctors have finished now for the day'
(stunned silence for a second) 'Really?'
'Yes, I just called them'
'And who told you that?'
'The receptionist'
'Ok, could I take your phone number please, I want to ring them & get someone to call you straight back; you sound awful'
'Yes of course it is ...., thanks'
13:10 - The lovely Dr V (who is only working reduced hours herself) calls me from her home and faxes a prescription for morphine to a local pharmacy.
13:15 - Lady M (neighbour for the last 23 years), revs up her car & dashes me to said pharmacy.

Two hours later, when I am sure all the codeine has gone from my system, I chugalug 10ml morphine, followed by a warm milk chaser (it really does taste pants).

Half an hour later I can relax :0)


  1. I am almost sure that Calpol 6+ is not a cancer pain treatment!!! Glad you now have proper drugs xx

  2. It was left over from my last biopsy & taken with coedine, it did the trick at the time :0) xox

  3. Glad you finally got some of the good stuff- what a bloody carry on!
    Hello I'm a scrappy friend of that Sister Soo and Nets *waves*