Its been around six weeks since i last posted. Not much has been happening during this time for me. I’ve mostly been on loads of pills and in bed.
After 2 years of monsoons failing this year the south west monsoon came back with vengeance causing widespread floods, the worst in over a decade. After such a prolong drought everyone was looking forward to the rains but not the floods as many people suffered due to this and left a lot of families displaced.
Luckily for we weren’t affected by the floods as the area we live in although received a lot of rainfall escaped the worst.
The days leading upto the rains were very hard on me as my pain flared up significantly. I’ve heard from other fellow chronic patients that weather affects their pain levels as well. Scientifically there is no exact explanation how this happens but in my case I can always tell whenever a storm/ rain is approaching.
The weather got me down a lot and was mostly in bed struggling to cope with the extra pain.
Now the heavy rains have ceased and my pain levels are back to normal (which is still a serious amount!!).
Following up on the meeting i had with Dr. Dammika Dissanayake (Plastic Surgeon)
From what i understood after the meeting there are at least 300 BPI patients a year island wide which is quite a significant number. In countries where there are many motor cyclists the chances of BPI are higher following an accident. In Sri Lanka another way patients get this injury are people who were injured during a battle while in the army. A gunshot wound can also cause damage to the brachial plexus. So for a country that was in civil conflict there are quite a lot of these patients unfortunately.
The problem though is that even now in the present day the referral system in Sri Lanka doesn’t work properly therefore many patients don’t get diagnosed in time which means that treatments cannot be done in time, if not ever resulting in many patients been undiagnosed. Specially in rural areas.
In my case back in 2000 this same problem was there. Even back then there were a few doctors who did perform exploratory surgery for BPI patients and carry out repair work on the damaged nerves. Although seeing 20 – 30 doctors at various hospitals (Starting with the national hospital who didn’t even diagnose my injury) i was never referred to any of these doctors and at that time there was very limited information on the internet as well. If I had been referred to the correct doctor back then maybe there would’ve been a chance to get some recovery on my hand and experience less pain.
Anyway the past is past and nothing can be done to change that so hopefully with this awareness and support group I can help other patients get the correct help and support in time.
From a surgeons point of view after consulting Dr. Dammika he mentioned that if a patient is referred within 1 year of the accident then a surgeon would attempt surgery. After that window the chances are very low that a surgeon would operate as chances of recovery are slim after that period.
Another problem is that there are very limited surgeons available who would operate on a BPI.
So to summarize;
The referral system in Sri Lanka doesn’t work
There aren’t enough surgeons available in the country to perform this kind of surgery
Many patients, their families and general public aren’t aware of this injury
The 2nd point there is nothing we could do about however the 1st and 3rd point mentioned above there is something we could do about and i’m hoping by distributing leaflets of the injury and directing patients to our support group this would slowly help in creating awareness.
I’m trying to get this out on the newspapers too but this hasn’t been that easy upto now.
Dr. Dammika Dissanayake was very helpful and said he will write out an article on the current treatment methods in Sri Lanka. I will update the site as soon as i receive this from him.
Currently i’m just finalizing the designing of the leaflets which the graphics guy promised me will deliver by this Sunday. (fingers crossed) After that get them printed and distribute them to hospitals.
Andrew de Bond