Woman who can’t orgasm scores huge payout
A WOMAN who used to enjoy having sex at least once-a-week has been left shattered by the news she can never have an orgasm again, after a blunder left her with permanent nerve damage.
Ginny Atchinson, 45, says the rare condition cauda equina syndrome, which also affects bladder and bowel control, has completely destroyed her sex life.
The mum-of-one, from Norwich, UK, even bought herself vibrators in an attempt to get things going again, but revealed: "Sadly, no matter what I tried, I couldn't feel a thing".
Ginny, who's been forced to give up work because of the condition, added: "I was always a very sexual person. I enjoyed being intimate, having sex at least a few times a week when I was in a relationship.
"I'd being having sex regularly since I was 16. But I didn't realise how important that was to me until it was gone."
When Ginny, who is mum to Leo, 20, first felt pain in her lower back - in 2008 - she thought she had simply pulled a muscle.
Two years on, when the pain had become more severe and Ginny felt an electric shock-type sensation in her legs, she went to emergency at Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital (NNUH).
Doctors thought she had slipped a disk in her back, and did not give her an MRI scan - instead referring her to a pain management clinic at the same hospital.
But the pain continued to get worse over the coming months, and Ginny returned to her GP and was referred for physiotherapy.
She said: "I mentioned to my physiotherapist that I was struggling to pass urine, which is a key symptom of cauda equina syndrome, but she still didn't pick up on it.
"I was trying to work full-time as an assistant manager at a cosmetics shop, but the pain was really difficult and I was taking time off."
The physiotherapist referred Ginny back to the hospital's orthopaedic triage, but she believes chances to give her an urgent MRI scan had already been missed.
She added: "I was finally referred for an MRI in February 2011, after I basically begged my GP. I knew there was something wrong, because I was in such terrible pain."
The scan showed a slip disk was pressing on nerves in Ginny's lower back, although she thinks this was misreported, and she was not sent for surgery.
The turning point came on August 10 2011, when Ginny realised she had not passed urine for more than 24 hours.
She said: "I realised that I hadn't needed been in ages and sat on the toilet, but there was absolutely no feeling. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn't urinate."
Sent to hospital, Ginny was asked to take a seat and wait, but her bowels and bladder were so full that they emptied themselves in the waiting room - to her huge embarrassment.
"It just emptied in front of all the patients," she said. "A guy next to me had to go and get a nurse. "I was in tears and I was really scared. I am a strong person, but this was really frightening."
After her urine was drained, Ginny was then given an MRI which showed nerve damage at the base of her spine, confirming she had cauda equina syndrome, and she was rushed into surgery.
She said: "Doctors warned me I might not be able to walk again. I woke up from the surgery and the first thing they said was to wiggle my toes.
"I could still do that, so that was amazing, but unfortunately there was lots of damage. I still can't feel the saddle area and it's just got worse since then.
"I have tried everything to help it - I've looked at the psychology of it, physical treatment, anything I can - but I have come to terms with the fact that my sexual feeling isn't going to come back."
Ginny, who struggles to walk long distances and has been left with a permanent catheter, was forced to give up work in 2011. But she says being deprived of sexual feeling is the cruellest part of her condition - which she believes may not have been irreversible had she been diagnosed earlier.
She added: "You never think you will stop having sex in your 40s.
"It was always important to me and, although I am now single, I really miss that intimacy.
"I was with somebody at the time, but I haven't been able to be intimate since this happened, and I probably never will again."
Ginny split with her partner of seven soon after the diagnosis.
She said: "I struggled a lot, because loss of orgasm is a terrible thing. My relationship with my partner at the time came to an end. We are still best friends, but after the injury we couldn't be intimate and the romantic part of our relationship was over."
The condition has also caused Ginny to gain eight stone, because she can't exercise, in another crushing blow to her self-esteem.
"I felt awful about how I looked, so in February 2016, I saw myself through the process of gastric bypass, which was funded by the NHS," she said.
"I'm really proud of myself for doing that and I have lost 10 stone. I felt better about myself, but it didn't make any difference to my nerve damage."
Ginny is supported by the Cauda Equina Syndrome Association, but says her request for disability benefits was rejected - because she was deemed fit for work.
She added: "I went to a tribunal and the judge ruled in my favour."
The judge spoke to Ginny at the end of the proceedings, and told her about the support group. She now works as an admin assistant for the charity.
Ginny added: "It was with (founder Claire Thornbear's) help that I realised I could take legal action against the hospital trust for their failure to recognise the symptoms and to treat me earlier."
In 2013, Ginny started taking legal action against Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust and Norfolk Community Health and Care NHS Trust, and, after a lengthy battle, they agreed to settle out of court last month for £1.5 ($2.7) million.
Ginny added: "It is a life-changing sum of money. It won't bring back the way my life used to be, but it will make it easier.
"I'm going to build an accessible property that will give me more independence, as my son Leo is now at university and I have to look after myself. I won't be able to work again, so it gives me financial stability for the future."
A spokesperson from Norfolk and Norwich University Hospitals Foundation Trust said: "We offer our sincere apologies to Virginia for the distress caused by the standard of care she received. We hope the agreed compensation package will be of benefit."
Dr Venu Harilal, Medical Director at Norfolk Community Health and Care NHS Trust, said: "We deeply regret that the standard of care was inadequate and the distress caused to Ms Atchison. Patient safety is our first priority and we have developed and implemented a new protocol with our healthcare partners."