I can pick my two kids up and give them a cuddle without that dreaded pain!

Luke Bromwich

August 2020

Though I am only 33, I have suffered with back pain on and off for the best part of 8 years. This has been managed & prevented in the past 2 years by regular 20-30 minute core strengthening exercises fit into my lunch breaks whilst at work. When lockdown was imposed in March, due to childcare commitments and the change in working environment, this routine went out of the window and I began running more than I would normally.

By early May, following an increase in physical activity (mainly running), pain had developed in my upper right thigh, buttock & lower back. During one run late in April, about 6 miles in I experienced numbness in my upper right leg and this slowly increased into my lower right leg and foot to the point I had to stop, and limp home. 

Following this, the next day pain had increased in my upper right thigh and buttock and this seemed to be exacerbated by the less than adequate desk setup. Though I had suffered lower back pain before, it was completely different to this, making even the basic physical movements difficult, such as getting in/out of the car, or getting up/down the stairs, or even picking my 1 or 4 year old up to give them a cuddle. The pain itself made physical activity a complete nonstarter, and normally being a positive person, the spiral from being very active to very sedentary started to take its toll on me mentally.

By early June I begun having physiotherapy and following a few sessions I saw slight improvement in the pain levels, and I was able to start moving about more than I had been, but I was still dissatisfied with progress and although it sounds silly to me now, at times I wondered whether I’d ever be able to return to the type of activity I had been used to.

This was when I got in touch with Dr Ishaque via his PA Linda at the beginning of July.

I was first made aware of Dr Ishaque through a colleague when my brother had been suffering with back pain earlier in the year before lockdown. In my brothers case the pain developed into suspected Cauda Equina syndrome to the point he ended up in hospital due to losing feeling in the bladder area. He developed dropped foot, and was later seen by two different specialists but neither of these took him seriously and both suggested surgery was the only real option.

Fearing for my brothers mental state, I spoke to my colleague who I knew had suffered serious back issues for a few years now, and he said that there was only one person to go to, Dr Ishaque.

My Brother spoke to Dr Ishaque that week and he said to me that as soon as he walked through the door, it was immediately noticeable in the difference between Dr Ishaque and the two specialists he’d seen previously, most noticeably the compassion and feeling that Dr Ishaque genuinely cared for him. This led to further consultation and eventually an injection in the spine due to a severely herniated disc. There were other recommendations to changes in his physical routine that he implemented, and he has improved continuously since then with no surgery (as the two previous specialists suggested) required.

Though I expected my appointments to be physical, due to lockdown they have all been conducted over the telephone. Whilst I initially had reservations about how effective this would be, I can honestly say, hand on heart, that the process has worked brilliantly (not to mention it has saved me having to travel the 60 miles round trip on 3 separate occasions).

Despite it being on the phone, like my Brother, my immediate impression was that Dr Ishaque genuinely cared about me from the get go, but not only that, he took the time to connect with me on a more personal level, asking about my two young sons and telling me about his working environment during lockdown, and navigating the obstacles (or interruptions from pets!) of working in a personal environment.

I have had in total, 3 telephone consultations since the beginning of July and every one of them has been productive. Whether it has been being referred for imaging, to discussing the results of it, to then discussing next steps, all along the way I have felt looked after/cared for by someone that understands exactly what I am going through (he has suffered with back issues himself), and has the human compassion that is often lacked by my own GP or other clinicians I’ve seen in the past, in fact at times it has been like talking to a friend rather than a clinician.

All in all, I am really satisfied with how things have gone and I am now at a point where I am back running, but more importantly I can pick my two kids up and give them a cuddle without that dreaded pain! I wouldn’t hesitate to get back in touch with ‘Mush’/Dr Ishaque again in the future, and unless it’s for a beer, I hope in the nicest way possible I won’t need to.