I was diagnosed as having arachnoiditis after I had been advised (to tell the truth, literally talked into) having epidural anesthetic for disc surgery 11 years ago. This was referred to as "local" anesthetic, and the risks involved were not explained.
However, the epidural caused progressive paralysis, to the stage where I am now paraplegic and subject to a life in a wheelchair, suffering continuous, devastating pain. In spite of further extensive surgery (in Miami), years of physiotherapy and alternative treatments, my condition does not improve and nothing eliminates the pain.In America, where arachnoiditis is recognized as a result of myelograms and epidurals, Dr Charles Burton has gone on record to say that the sub-arachnoid space of the back is an extremely sensitive area and nothing should be put into it, as air alone cause cause arachnoiditis, let alone a dye or anesthetic.
There is no cure, and the UK's estimated 25,000 sufferers have been condemned in most cases to a life of agony. Some have even committed suicide.
Prior to their diagnosis, almost all sufferers have not only had to cope with the pain, but rudeness and humiliation at the hands of doctors as they continue to refuse to admit that he cause of arachnoiditis is the result of medical negligence. One anesthetist, when approached on the subject, replied, "Yes, we know it happens, but we don't talk about it."
A recent bulletin from the Arachnoiditis Trust revealed the astonishing fact that 70 per cent of doctors are not familiar with the condition.
I am horrified to read in articles in newspapers and magazines advising epidurals for "painless" childbirth as though it is as easy as drinking coca cola. I personally know a young woman who is now paraplegic and confined to a wheelchair after her so called "painless" birth.
When doctors talk of statistics, of the small risks involved in procedures like epidurals, I ask them if they would take the risk personally or for a member of their family. Every time the answer has been no. As I am one of their statistics, I believe I have the right to say that it is never, ever worth the risk. J K, Montale Rangone, Italy.