December 11, 2023

Kathy Martin’s life story

My Multiple Sclereosis (MS)

KathyBy Kathy Martin…

July 2016

Decided after ten years, it would be a good idea to have a Neurology check-up on my Multiple Sclereosis (MS). I was diagnosed by Dr T Fowler DM FRCP at the Nuffield Hospital in Tunbridge Wells on 23rd March 2006. At the time I declined any immune-modulating treatment as I do not like taking medication!

My first comment JUST has to be how much easier and quicker things happen here in The Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC), admittedly when one is paying, rather than on the NHS in UK! Of course, paying privately in the UK would probably be just as quick, but from friends’ comments more expensive!

Friday 1st July

Went to The Near East Hospital in Lefkoşa and saw Dr Sevda Diker (pronounced Deeker) one of the neurologists, who was a delightful young woman (why do all doctors, dentists and policemen look so young to those of us in our old age!!) She carried out various minor procedures to check on my ability to read small print, see spotty numbers etc, etc.

Also, she decided it would be a good idea for me to have another MRI scan and I will take in my “x-ray type prints” from my original scan in 2006 for her to compare and see the difference. This has been arranged for Tuesday 12th July, the delay is only because there was a one week Bayram holiday in TRNC the following week!

Also, had blood extracted for various blood tests.

wheelchairDue to my MS, I was pushed around the whole hospital in various wheelchairs and each “pusher” was very considerate and helpful.

Tuesday 12th July

Arrived in good time and in true Cypriot fashion parked my car outside the entrance to A&E, with the keys left in the ignition (when I returned to my car it had been moved, a short distance away, into a parking bay that was not free when I arrived!)

BRS Membership card
BRS Membership card

The receptionist recognised me and immediately called a wheelchair man! Was taken to Neurology, where I paid 783.31tl (even with my BRS discount, more than quoted last week, namely about 550tl, but what was I to do?), this did not include the drugs inserted into my hand vein, 204.98tl. But, at just under 1,000tl (988tl) or about £260, a great deal cheaper than flying to the UK, staying in a hotel for goodness knows how long whilst awaiting to see a doctor and getting a NHS free MRI scan!

Memory is a funny thing, I remembered the MRI was noisy, but I had forgotten that it took just over two hours! It is very difficult, if not impossible to judge time when you do not have access to the outside world. You are told EXTREMELY FIRMLY that you MUST NOT move, which as you are cocooned in a tube and your head is firmly held in a cage, is actually very easy!

Near the end, the operator talked to me checking I was okay. In a voice that I hope didn’t sound too desperate, or querulous, I asked if it was nearly finished and was told “It’s only another twenty minutes!” Those 20 minutes lasted for ages!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

As my arms were being pressed down upon by the cocoon, I developed pins and needles in both arms. When I was released, felt extremely dizzy, when I sat up, but none of the staff seemed to understand me when I said that, so I just pointed at my head and whirled my fingers around, which got a smile of comprehension from one of the nurses who said something in Turkish, whereupon everyone (4 of them) smiled! Was told “Yavaş, yavaş!” (slowly, slowly!)

When I had been at The Near East Hospital on 1st July there was a very helpful gentleman called Ergin, who spoke perfect English. As I was failing, miserably, to understand the Turkish being spoken to me, I rang him and he came and helped me sort out my follow-up appointment with Dr Sevda Diker, tomorrow at 15.30 (13th July) for the results.

cherriesAlthough I had not eaten breakfast or drunk much (a couple of glasses of cold water) all I wanted to do was get home. Lunched at 14.00 on a delicious bowl of cherries!

Wednesday 13th July

I noticed, yesterday afternoon, that the voices on Radio Bayrak sounded like they were high-pitched, talking with helium! Put it down to a glitch on the recording, however, this morning listening to a recording that I know is okay made me realise that it is my own hearing that is slightly out of sync! I assume it’s an after-effect of the very loud noises in the MRI scanner. It corrected itself as the day went on!

My Suzuki Swift
My Suzuki Swift

My car suffered from a slipping clutch on my way home yesterday, so rang Sadık Tuccaroğlu, who is my guardian angel, when it comes to my car. He said no problem, so I went to his offices and he had let me have a Ford Focus, with air-conditioning and power steering! Wow, I hardly knew myself!

Left in plenty of time for my 15.30 appointment, forgetting I had a faster car! Arrived at The Near East Hospital by 14.50, by the time I reached Neurology, it was only just after 15.00, so I resigned myself to a long wait. But I was seen almost straight away and I am DELIGHTED to report that my MS is defined as “Chronic MS” i.e. in remission. The only problem I may have is I must NOT get too hot, I laughed at this, but she said just try and keep out of the sun as much as possible, which I do anyway!

Feeling very relieved that my MS is “sleeping” to quote Dr Sevda!

To summarise, for those acquaintances who said surely it would be better for me to go to UK, I felt that the treatment and service I have received at The Near East Hospital in Lefkoşa was EXCELLENT!

Yes, it cost me just over £350, BUT by the time one adds up air fares, hotels plus the indefinite time needed to get sorted by the “free” NHS, bearing mind that I am no longer registered with an British GP, I feel it was money well spent!

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