Pain battler prepared to lose leg

By Melissa Nightingale

2 comments
CONCERNED: Rodney Cribb, pictured with daughter Amy and wife Frances, has been suffering from chronic pain for years.PHOTO/BEVAN CONLEY
CONCERNED: Rodney Cribb, pictured with daughter Amy and wife Frances, has been suffering from chronic pain for years.PHOTO/BEVAN CONLEY

A WHANGANUI man is planning to have his leg amputated after developing chronic regional pain syndrome - which he blames on a broken ankle being "misdiagnosed".

Rodney Cribb, 50, says he has to take a "pee bottle" to bed because it is too painful to get up in the night to go to the bathroom.

He injured his ankle in 2007, but it took three X-rays before the break was spotted.

He said he went to Whanganui Accident and Medical to have the ankle X-rayed, but was told it was only a sprain.

After a couple of weeks, including one back at work, Mr Cribb could take the pain no longer, and returned for two more X-rays.

On the third X-ray, a "very small, fine lucency" was spotted, a Whanganui District Health Board spokeswoman said.

"The injury was treated, but Mr Cribb has continued to have chronic pain and further studies in 2009 and 2013 showed degenerative changes and a bony spur due to the initial injury," she said.

The spokeswoman would not comment on whether the spur and subsequent issues with the ankle were the result of delay in proper treatment for the break.

She said Mr Cribb sought treatment from "another provider" for his broken ankle, but she confirmed radiologists who looked at his X-rays were employed by the Whanganui DHB.

Mr Cribb said he was operated on in 2013 to remove the bony spur on his ankle, but something went wrong and the operation left him with "three fried nerves" in his leg.

His ankle joint later collapsed, for which he had surgery in Wellington, but his leg has never been the same. Now Mr Cribb says he is applying to ACC for funding to have it amputated.

He has spent "almost seven years on morphine", and the pain in his leg averages about 8 on a scale of 1-10.

"When I sit down, it's like all the blood's rushing to one point. I'm sick of having to walk with a stick."

The health board spokeswoman said no future surgical intervention would treat or resolve Mr Cribb's chronic pain.

"Mr Cribb has been kept well informed and these injuries have been recognised by ACC as a treatment injury. No apology has been given because no error occurred. Treatment injury doesn't necessarily relate to a preventable error." It is not the first time Mr Cribb or his family have suffered medical misadventure.

His wife, Frances Cribb, received an apology after she was given medications in the wrong order before a surgery, preventing her from breathing, she said. As a result, special colour-coded syringes were bought to ensure medications given in theatre were in the correct order.

Most recently, Mr Cribb said, he nearly died after a dental procedure at Whanganui Hospital.

He went in to have some teeth pulled out, but developed an infection and would find fluids pouring from his nose when he drank.

Mr Cribb said he would waking up choking on phlegm and bile.

After three weeks he returned to the hospital and was put on IV antibiotics. But when another doctor came across him, he had Mr Cribb immediately transferred to Palmerston North.

"He told me if I had left it any longer I wouldn't even be talking to him in two days," Mr Cribb said.

The incident is being formally investigated.

Mrs Cribb said she could have lost her husband.

"So you can see that for us it is the third time the hospital has let a medical misadventure happen to our family. The trauma is unbelievable."

Mr Cribb said he didn't want to see anyone else go through what he did.

- Wanganui Chronicle

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