Arm pain, swollen ankle, sore gum, dry eyes (Sjogrens Syndrome?)

I am a ‘fifty something’ year old woman, and I am pleased to write the following in relation to my ten month long interaction with Dr Yu at the Chinese Acupuncture and Herbalist Clinic in Sale Moor.

I am a Project Manager and am based in Sale Moor. My business property is in close proximity to Dr Yu.

At the end of March, we had a break-in and we replaced all of our office filing cabinets with new wooden ones, which would be less easy to ‘kick in’. The replacement cabinets arrived and during the day I leaned over to retrieve something from the filing cabinet. The drawer was stiff, and I pulled, and damaged my arm. For the next week I was unable to use my arm, and was in considerable pain.

I drive to work everyday from Liverpool, and do not go to the GP unless I am really ill, so consequently, I did not want to go, and for the GP to tell me that he would refer me to the hospital. That would likely mean an x-ray, and then on to a physiotherapist, and I would end up with a recurring painful arm – so I had been reluctant to take time off work to do this.

After about five days, I was beginning to feel incapacitated by the arm. I took it upon myself to call on Dr Yu to see if he could help me. I had my first  consultation. He asked about how I had hurt my arm, and what limitations in movement I was experiencing. He then said that he would try acupuncture to relieve the pain, and although I am normally averse to needles, I allowed him to stick needles into my arm. I felt totally relaxed and after 30 minutes, he took out the needles, and I went back to work. I have to admit that my arm has not given me any trouble since that afternoon.

So, summer was around the corner, and I normally suffer from swollen ankles in the heat. I informed Dr Yu about this condition. He said that when I felt that I needed to let him have a look at my ankles, he would see if he might be of help to me. I went to see him at the first sign that the weather was getting warmer. I was treated with a programme of acupuncture and Chinese herbs, and I am pleased to state that my condition was very much improved. This was a condition that I had suffered with for 20 years. I had been to consultants in Liverpool, and had been tested for liver problems; heart problems and kidney problems.

In fact, the last thing that I was told at Liverpool Royal, in about 1990, was that my problem was that I had long legs, and that when the weather is warm, my system goes on a ‘go- slow’, and has difficulty pumping fluid back up my legs, and water/fluid gets stuck around my ankles. I remember stating to the young doctor at the time, that I had never experienced my long legs as a problem, and felt they were an asset – and did not want to feel that they were the problem.

Doctors over the years have prescribed diuretics to ease the swelling – but then friends and colleagues who are nurses have said: “You should be very careful taking them, as they are very bad for you.” So I have never taken diuretics unless I was desperate.

A few years ago, I visited South Africa, where the weather was very hot, and my ankles grew swollen, not only with the heat, but also because of the 12 hour flight to get there. I don’t know why, but my ankles swell extremely when I am in the air, particularly on long- haul flights. My cousin took me to a pharmacist in Johannesburg, who gave me about ten diuretics, which were pale orange in colour, and which were the only pills that ever worked on me. My ankles shrank, and were the normal size, but the pharmacist could not give me more than 10, which I eked out to use on special occasions in South Africa.

So, you can imagine that I was greatly impressed that Dr Yu had treated me and that my ankles were much better than they had been for 20 years. Towards the latter part of the year, my daughter suggested that I should ask Dr Yu if he could help with my dry eyes.

This is a condition that I have suffered from for seven years since I was studying for a Management Diploma at Hope University in Liverpool. For the purposes of the course I had to use a computer more than I had done in the past in order to research material for assignments and dissertations. Thus, when my eyes became sore, I thought it was because of the PC use, as well as the fact that I wore contact lenses all through the day, and did not wish to seek medical attention. I was otherwise healthy, and did not wish to think that there was anything seriously wrong. So, I went to the pharmacist and got eye drops, which helped a little.

Next, I went for my annual eye test, and mentioned the soreness to the optician who was an absolute thorough gem! She told me that I suffered from dry eyes and that I might need to use more specialist eye drops than I had been getting over the counter at the pharmacy. She recommended that I should give the contact lenses a rest, and wear spectacles for the foreseeable future, as my eyes were now not suitable to wear contact lenses. She told me what eye drops to ask my GP to prescribe for me to put in for the daytime, and recommended an eye gel to be put in my eyes before bedtime.

I went to the GP and informed him that the optician had recommended iLube, and he said that he had never heard of it. He looked it up in his manual, and said that it was to treat hormonal disorders. He did not know whether it would work but prescribed it, and I got the first batch. This iLube brought an instant soothing sensation for my eyes but they were still constantly sore and dry.

Further, when things get me down, I cry, and I am soon recovered! I could cry at sad films; I could cry if I was ecstatically happy; my friends have always seen me cry – in sad times and at happy times. But, with dry eyes, I could not cry. However, with dry eyes, came the realisation that I was unable to cry, and I had not cried properly since 1999.

AS soon as I mentioned to Dr Yu, that I had dry eyes, he asked: “Do you have a dry mouth too?” Well, no-one had ever commented to me that my mouth was dry. I thought that my mouth was just like it is! However, I have been treated for gum problems by my dentist for the last four or five years, and he said that my problems were all because of smoking cigarettes. So I stopped smoking, and yet the problem did not improve. Anyway, Dr Yu suspected that I might be suffering from something called Sjogrens Syndrome, which I had never heard of, and suggested that I had better go to hospital for some tests. Then he advised that I take some Chinese herbs every day, and we would see whether the condition improved.

I am pleased to say that the condition is much improved. My Mum lent me a good book at Christmas, and it’s a sad one, and she said it would make me cry. I said it would be a miracle if it did. Well, I got to the tear jerker bit, and tears rolled down my face, and I could not stop. I suppose there must have been quite a back-log after seven years of not being able to cry.

The point of my writing is that I would not have gone to the GP with my ankle problems (because I would have been prescribed diuretics, which are not good for me to take, and which do not work). I would not have gone to the GP with my painful arm, because the process would have meant that I would have had to wait for treatment, waste time queuing in hospitals, and suffer a lengthy treatment time.

As for my eyes, I feel that it is very unfortunate that my optician and my dentist would not think of getting in touch with my GP to discuss my problems, which they are both individually concerned about, and treating in isolation of my medical practitioner.

But with Doctor Yu’s assistance, my eyes are improving; my mouth feels more comfortable and I have not got sore bits on the roof of my mouth from eating toast or biscuits. My gums are not sore after eating French bread, which I have not been able to eat for a long time because of the pain it causes me, a fact that I would not have thought to mention to my dentist. I thought it was just my mouth!

I find that the convenience of being able to call in at his clinic and let him know how I am is enabling him to understand the nature of how my body functions. He now knows me as a person. I enjoy seeking his therapies. My friends ask me: “What are you on?” I smile and say that I am heavily into Chinese medicine!

Rosalind T

Project Manager Liverpool