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The Man With His Head In An Invisible Vice 4 September 2014

Posted by davidghallam in Uncategorized.
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A great column by Dr Phil Whitaker in the New Statesman magazine (22-28 August 2014) (just to be clear, the David in the article is not me):


David was a patient during my earliest years in general practice: an otherwise fit man in his early sixties who needed an operation on his ear. The procedure went without a hitch but afterwards David noticed that he was markedly off-balance and developed dreadful headaches. His description stuck in my mind: he said it was if one side of his skull was being “squeezed and crushed in a vice”. He illustrated this with his hands, clamping and pressing them against his scalp as he tried to explain.

Initially, I hoped it was something that would settle spontaneously: side effects of the general anaesthetic or the painkillers, perhaps, or some deep bruising that would take a while to resolve. After a few weeks without improvement, I organised blood tests and examined everything my training suggested might be relevant. I drew a blank.

My ear, nose and throat (ENT) colleagues were similarly perplexed when he attended his six-week follow-up appointment. The surgery had been successful, they confirmed, and everything was well healed. They were at a loss to explain his new symptoms. (more…)