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up then goes away – is a controversial one, in medical circles.
In decades gone by, patients with intermittent abdominal pain routinely had their appendix removed, without good evidence that it was the cause of problems, almost as a precaution.
In these cases, often the appendix turned out not to be inflamed. And so doctors have become more circumspect.
It would be true to say that, usually, symptoms of an initial attack of appendicitis do not just get better. In most cases, the pain is acute, and surgery is needed.
But to say that this is always the case, and that the idea that cases like mine never happen, is just wrong. In fact, when lying in my hospital bed, slowly recovering, I asked Mr Lapa if it was possible my appendix problems could have started several years before and he said it was entirely possible. I’m proof that a grumbling appendix is not a myth. And I’m not the only one.
Last week I spoke to mother-of-two Emma Bradford, 40, from Beith, Ayrshire. In October her son Olly, who was five, was doubled over with pain. GPs refused to see him due to the lockdown, even though the official guidance was that they should continue to see urgent cases. She said: ‘He was screaming in pain but the GP surgery said, “We can’t do anything. We’re not going to see him.”
‘I thought my wee boy was going to die. Even at the hospital they said it was a stomach bug. By this time he was on morphine for the pain but was told it definitely wasn’t appendicitis but they didn’t even give him a scan.
‘They said, “You were here last year with a similar thing with your son.” Olly’s pain was exactly the same about a year before. They made it out like I was a hypochondriac but I’ve got a 14-year-old daughter – I’m not a nervous first-time mum.’
Screamed in pain: Olly Bradford pictured recovering in hospital. GPs had refused to see him during lockdown – and his appendix burst
By the time appendicitis was diagnosed, Olly’s appendix had ruptured and his little body was being poisoned, just like mine would be. During his lengthy recovery, Olly had to have physiotherapy to help him build up the strength in his legs. His mother received an apology but is justifiably furious that her GP refused to see Olly at the start.
She remains baffled, saying: ‘Kids aren’t at risk from the Covid virus and this was an urgent case, so why didn’t they see him?’
The latest data compiled by the Royal College of General Practitioners shows that despite Government guidance, only half of all appointments are now face- to-face, and the majority of these are not with an actual GP.