My First (and hopefully only) Overnight Stay on the NHS

In some respects I’ve been very lucky with my health.  Although I’ve cracked my ribs and my sternum, I haven’t had any seriously debilitating medical conditions up until I broke my wrist earlier this year and even that wasn’t as bad as it could have been.

My overnight stay in hospital resulted from the fact that one evening in July 2012 I went to bed with bellyache.  It felt like I had a washing machine going in there.  I just assumed I’d eaten something that hadn’t agreed with me, got out of bed, vomited and went back to bed and to sleep.  Except when I woke up in the morning the bellyache hadn’t gone away.  And it had settled into the lower right quadrant of my abdomen.

Bugger.  I do believe that this may be appendicitis

So, I called into work sick and waited for the doctor’s surgery to open.

Don’t get me wrong – this wasn’t a small amount of pain I was experiencing but I’m usually fairly pragmatic when pain strikes.  I called the surgery, described the symptoms and was put straight through to a triage nurse.  I will not hear a word said against my Doctor’s surgery.  I may have to wait a while for an appointment but when it matters, they always do what needs to be done.  The triage nurse thought it would be a good idea to get a paramedic to attend as she thought it sounded like appendicitis and asked me if I was mobile.  Poor love had no idea of the level of control freak she was talking to.  I advised that I was capable of making it downstairs to open the front door at the relevant time.  The paramedic arrived within 10 minutes  and, after a brief examination, which made him laugh as my pain level was quite high yet I was refusing analgesia and joking with him about it, he called an ambulance to take me to hospital, despite the fact that I said I’d be perfectly happy to drive myself.

Two very nice young ladies took me to the hospital in their ambulance and left me in A&E by around 09.30.  Then the waiting began in earnest ….

Waiting

Blood pressure and pulse taken, cannula inserted and blood samples taken all within a relatively short space of time.  Tick

11.30 – the first doctor arrived, took history, poked and prodded..  Then left.

12.30 – the next bunch of doctors (surgical interns) arrived, took history (again), poked and prodded..  Then left

13.30 – got taken up to the surgical assessment unit

17.30 – patronising consultant arrives.  He takes history (again).  Says they’ll flush through some fluids and leave it to settle for a few hours.

WTF???? 

I’ve been in here for eight hours already.  Can’t you just whip the damned thing out and let me go home?  Oh no – he’s “busy in theatre with a few things” that evening.

Nice.

Thanks.

Seriously – like I’ve got nothing better to do this evening than lie around in a hospital bed all evening?

21.00 – My fluids had run out and nobody had been anywhere near me for at least two hours, so I finally went to find a nurse to ask when it might be likely that someone was going to come back and see me, only to be given the “doctors are very busy” stock phrase.  They weren’t particularly happy about the fact that I’d disconnected the drip myself and said they couldn’t give me any more fluids as the doctor hadn’t left a prescription for them.  Well maybe if you hadn’t been so busy chatting and laughing with your colleagues at the station right outside the ward window you may have noticed my fluids had run out and done something about it bearing in mind that I haven’t eaten or drunk anything for over 24 hours and that I’m still “nil by mouth”.  Oh yeah, that may have required someone to take more than a cursory look at the notes and put two and two together.

I dressed and took myself downstairs for a cigarette before I said something I knew I’d regret.

21.30 – another registrar appears, takes history (again), prods and pokes me (again) and then says I’m going to be left overnight.  He said they couldn’t take me into theatre that night as they only had one and it was reserved for emergencies.

I flipped.  Lost the plot.  Completely.  Poor man.  He got the sharp end for everyone else’s apathy. The worst thing was that he was the nicest of all the wan…doctors I’d seen all day.

I asked for more fluids and pointed out that I hadn’t eaten or drunk for 29 hours at that stage.  He wrote up a prescription for fluids and asked the nurse to sort out some tea and toast for me.

Needless to say, the tea and toast never arrived.

00.15 – they finally turn up to give me another bag of fluids.  Great.  It only took them the best part of 3 hours to sort it out.

At some point during the night I woke up to find the drip got disconnected and was leaking on the bed.  Good job.  When I got out of bed to get someone’s attention, blood started to spurt from my arm.  At this point, I didn’t really care and made my way to the nurses’ station, trying not to spray blood all over the floor by keeping my elbow bent.  Unfortunately I inadvertently reached out to open the door to the ward and got blood on the floor and the door (already got some on the bed).  As I made my way to the station, more of it dripped onto the floor.  That was the most concern I’d seen those nurses display all frigging day.  And it wasn’t directed towards me, more towards the mess on the floor.  Nice eh?  Not once did anyone ask if I was OK.

So I got woken up at regular intervals for the rest of the night to have my obs taken and by the time morning had arrived, my head was pounding and my mouth was dry.  I’d had my first pee during the night (since 8am the previous morning) and my urine had turned dark yellow and my blood pressure had dropped quite a bit from the night before.  I told the nurse who turned up to take my blood pressure.  She looked at the bag of fluids and pronounced, in bad English, that’s OK – the bag of fluids will run until about 8am.  Nothing to worry about.

Seriously?

Where did you do your training?   At the school of Idon’tgiveashit?  I may not be medically qualified but am aware of the symptoms of dehydration.  It’s a shame that they (apparently) don’t train nurses to recognise the signs.

Thankfully the doctor arrived shortly thereafter to do his rounds (the nice one from the previous evening).  I was due in surgery later that morning.  I pressed him for times and he said it wouldn’t be before 12 as they had emergencies to deal with up until that time.  Finally – someone set my expectations (even if it was with some prompting).  I asked him if he could sort out some more fluids as I was dehydrated and mercifully he dealt with it immediately.  I could have kissed him at that point.

I was finally taken up to theatre just after 12.  They’d probably decided to get me out of the way first as I was being difficult.  I was back on the ward by 15.00, pretty much awake and compos mentis.

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I had a chat with a couple of the other ladies on the ward and then had about an hour’s nap.  When I woke up, I got some water from one of the other patients as nobody had seen fit to put any water in my jug.  Then I decided it was time for another breath of fresh air downstairs before they started hooking me up to ay more drips.  That’s when I found out they were intending to keep me in hospital FOR ANOTHER 48 HOURS!!  Um.  Don’t think so.

“You’ve just had surgery” (No Shit Sherlock.  I had no idea)

“you need these antibiotics to make sure you don’t get an infection”

“I’ll come back in for the next dose if they have to be given IV”

“You can’t do that – we have to remove the cannula before you leave so if you came back for the dose, we’d have to insert a new one.  You’d end up like a teabag”

“OK, then can they not be given orally as a tablet”

“No that’s not possible”

“So it can’t be that important then?”

I’m going home.  Give me the consent forms and let me get out of this place.  I guess it’s no surprise to say that I had to chase the forms up again after I’d got dressed and was ready to leave

“The doctor’s too busy to come and see you before you go” – I don’t care

“You should really stay and let us finish giving you the antibiotics” – no I shouldn’t.  If they were so vital, why didn’t anyone tell me before they gave me the first dose that this was the first dose and that they’d need to keep me in to finish the course?  I would have told them not to bother.

“You can’t go home with cannulae in your arms” – then take the fucking things out.  I don’t want them.  Stop using them as an excuse to keep me here.  Tell me when to change the dressings and I’ll deal with my own aftercare.  I’ll book into the doctor for a wound check but just.

let.

me.

get.

the.

fuck.

out.

of.

here.

I finally managed to escape into a taxi at 19.30 that evening, some 34 hours after having been admitted. I’d had a total of two glasses of water, three bags of fluid and absolutely no food during that whole time.  Add that to the princely sum of about four hours’ sleep in total and I’m not surprised that some people get more sick in hospital.  This visit was hardly a recommendation.

I consider that a great shame.  To compare this to some of my other dealings with the NHS would be like comparing chalk to cheese.

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3 thoughts on “My First (and hopefully only) Overnight Stay on the NHS

  1. That is not good, but I have heard of similar cases. I was lucky then at Hull Royal, in 20.00 hrs and a cuppa within 10 minutes and decent meals when I was allowed, and fresh water every day, but this was Jan just gone. You need to complain to P.A.L.S. and/or the Chief Executive Office, and make a note in the local rag, even if it means that someone will be treated better in future, even you if you need to go back, just a thought.

  2. Hi Dave – thanks for stopping by 🙂 The sad thing is that the majority of my experiences with the NHS have been positive. It just seems that when it goes wrong, it goes almost catastrophically wrong (for me, anyway)

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