Chapter 12-4: The Chilling Effect

The following Monday unable to sleep because the base of his neck was so painful, he began to feel tingling first down his right arm, then spreading down his left arm. He tried to lift his right arm and was unable to do so. Scared, he woke me up and stumbled out of bed as his left leg gave way. At 3 am we returned to the ER in Socorro but because Bob had signed a ‘drug contract’ with Lovelace two weeks earlier the nurse did nothing and sent us home. On Tuesday morning he broke down in tears. All I could do was hug and hold him and drive him back to the ER.

Castlerigg Standing Stone Circle, Lake District, Great Britain

The doctor on duty at the ER chatted briefly with us and then disappeared to call Lovelace Pain Clinic. When the doctor returned his smile and friendly composure was gone and he refused to treat Bob. We were made to feel like criminals.

From this point forward, Bob would have recurring weakness in his right arm, and left leg. When his pain levels flared his left arm also weakened. Walking any distance became a challenge. His left leg would just give way and he would stumble. There were days when he just did not have the strength to walk the 1/3 mile to the High School.

We assumed the stumbling was due to compression of his spinal column, but even after surgery on his neck in September 2005 his weakness and stumbling would remain with him for the rest of his life.  It would be another eight years before an MRI of his brain indicated he might have had a series of mini-strokes and I immediately thought back to this cold, bitter night in January 2005 when he had been unable to lift his arm and barely stand up, and how he had been abandoned at the hospital. The chilling effect - when doctors assume you are a drug addict.