The NHS loses Brownie Points

Hello all. Well, this sucks, doesn’t it? The Positive Thinking Fairy is constantly reminding me that people used to die of this kind of thing, and to take my shiny pills and shut up with the whining already, and I’d very much like to kick her tiny backside from here to John O’ Groats, but I’m feeling rather under the weather. We’ll just have to put up with her.

Where were we? Ah yes. Sunday morning, revoltingly early. Poor exhausted frazzled H had left me in the hospital ward and staggered off into the dawn. I lay on the bed and felt horrible. Every now and then a nurse would pop in to ask me if I was still in pain. Yes, unfortunately, I was. ‘But you’ve already had the maximum dose of painkillers!’ said the first nurse, sternly, as if I was asking for more sweeties. Cow. Luckily she did not reappear, and the next nurse told me, kindly, that they’d give me some more pain-killers as soon as they could. I finally got them at 5:30 am, and so the Lord be thankit, this batch worked, and a very uncomfortable but no longer writhing May was able to sit up by 6:30 and eat a small bowl of Shreddies.

Sunday passed very slowly and I was dozing, or attempting to doze, or wishing I could doze, for most of it, as I was just. So. Tired. So my memories are rather… muddled. Still. Let’s see what we can reconstruct, shall we?

A doctor came round in the morning and talked to me. It would seem that the millions of blood-tests taken in Accident & Emergency showed I was developing an infection – I am now very annoyed I was too stoned and tired to ask what kind of infection, strep? Staphilococcus? What? – and that they would put me on intravenous antibiotics for 36 hours. I said something slightly garbled about the doxycycline they’d already sent me home with and that I had been taking religiously. She said I had been very unlucky. No shit, Sherlock. I already had a IV line set up, so by ten in the morning they were pouring bags of Napalm into me. And keeping up a steady supply of what I was already affectionately thinking of as the Big White Pills, The Medium Beige Pills, and the Teeny Tiny Pills. All pain-killers. All at once. Oy, my poor uterus.

Oh, yes, about the IV line. Well, I got home after surgery on Wednesday with a very sore bruised left hand, and over the next 24 hours we watched in horrified fascination as the bruise crept up my arm to the elbow, turning my nicest vein into a rigid hose-pipe of unpleasantness. Diagnosis – chemical or mechanical phlebitis, in layman’s terms the vein reacted very badly either to having large volumes of liquid forced along it, or found the anaesthics/ analgesics to be an irritant. So, in the A&E, the sweet petite doctor decided that my left hand and arm couldn’t take another cannula, and my right hand would probably react similarly if she tried it, so she used my other nicest vein, that runs along the outer edge of my inner elbow. She used a snazzy new flexible plastic cannula, of which I highly approve as being incomparably more comfortable than a needle, but I still couldn’t really bend my right arm with it in place. Yes, I am right-handed. Yes, it was flaming awkward.

Hospital food. Urgh. I tried lunch. Roast… thing, allegedly lamb, in beige slurry, accompanied by squashy ‘roast potatoes’ that appeared to have been made out of Smash and deep-fried, and, dear God, khaki green beans. Khaki. I ate them. I’m on codeine, I need the fibre. The roast thing defeated me. H was back again when I had my supper. Mushroom soup. Well. Flour, milk and salt, I think you’ll find, flavoured with something scraped off the bottom-most log in the wood-pile. I ate the tuna sandwich. It tasted of exactly nothing, but at least the texture didn’t simultaneously repel and fascinate. But the tea was nice, and served by the sweetest smiley man who treated us all like his darling aunties even though we were mostly his age or younger. I liked the tea.

Monday, I ate nothing at all. On Sunday evening the nurse who came to give me my third set of injections and bag of Napalm asked if I was feeling OK. I said I was, and she remarked in surprise that I was a lucky girl, as these antibiotics usually made people feel sick. I smiled happily at H and said it was about time I got a bit of luck. Ah hah hah hah. Monday morning’s dose had me throwing up for England. That 60 minutes it took for the bag to infuse into me were some of the longest I have ever endured. But I earned Nurse Brownie Points by grabbing the little rubbish-bag stuck to my bedside table and vomiting into that, rather than over the bed or down myself. Unlike some people (but see tomorrow’s post). I was then given a selection of card-board trays to vomit into, and left to it, which must have been so nice for the other ladies on the ward. Luckily, the consultant on his morning rounds decided that I had had enough IV antibiotics and could move onto the gentler oral ones now.

The consultant on Monday morning was that same consultant who had done the False Hope scan all the way back on the 21st of May. He recognised me, bless him, and said he was very sorry things had turned out badly after all. He decided to organise a scan for me that morning, and if it was clear, he’d send me home with my pain-killers and antibiotics, to recover there, which would be nicer for me. Too right, mate.

The Scan Experience just about made me homicidal (Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!). I, in my indecently open-at-the-back hospital nightie, was loaded into a wheel-chair and covered with a Very Hospital blanket, and wheeled down to the EPU – oh, yes, the EPU has all the scanners. I was then parked in That Waiting Room, also known as the Antechamber to Hell. Yes. Really. In my chair, and hospital gown, looking, frankly, like an elderly and fermenting dish-rag (this applies to both me and the gown, by this point), still in pain, having spent the morning throwing spectacularly and very much UP, I was left surrounded by the ante-natal clinic lot queueing to hand in their wee samples and get weighed. And a deliciously pretty little four-year-old tugged at her delightfully round-bellied mum’s hand and said ‘Mummy, mummy, what’s wrong with that lady? Why is she in a wheel-chair?’ And her mother shushed her and slunk away, refusing to meet my eye.

And then, some trout-faced harridan from the EPU reception gave me another one of those forms to fill in. Yes, that form. Where are you planning to give birth? Who is your midwife? How many weeks pregnant are you? I looked at her. You have got to be kidding me. No, she is not kidding me. I have to fill in the form. Because I have to. It’s the rule.

I filled in the form.

And I wept on it. Sorry.

Actually, I’m not sorry. I’m actually sorry that I had already vomited every single possible particle inside me, or I’d’ve done my damndest to be sick on it.

Eventually, a nurse wheeled me to the loo, and then led me to the scanning room. I was scanned by the super-friendly sonographer who had done Wednesday’s scan. That cheered me up a little. She was still very nice, and apologised for the discomfort – TV scans no fun at all when your entire uterus is horrifically tender. She also politely said she was sorry I was having such a bad time. She was also pleased to tell me there was no sign of retained tissue, swelling of the falliopian tube, excess fluid, haematomas or pyometras. I did still have a good 8 millimetres of endometrium though, so she warned me that might make my next period ‘a bit of a beast’. If I didn’t lose it over the next few days. I was then led to the next room to see the consultant, dear kind False Hope consultant, and he decided he’d do my release papers and prescriptions right there, so I wouldn’t have to wait too long on the ward. Naturally, there was a delay as the computer refused to work, so we had a little chat, and I asked him how long I’d need to take off work. Until I felt better, really, he said unhelpfully. How long would that be? He couldn’t say. When he nipped out of the room to see if the computer problem was system wide or just him, the nurse, who had been reading my notes and noticed just how very very planned the pregnancy had been, told me to ‘rest things down there’ until the bleeding and pain had totally stopped. And it might take a week or two (when I relayed this to H, he looked a little… disappointed. This was actually very flattering and reassuring).

Anyway, I was booked out and handed my notes and told to go back to the ward and wait until the pharmacist delivered my drugs, and then I could go home. Whereapon the nurse realised my chair, and every single porter in the building, had vanished for lunch. I could wait for half an hour, in the Antechamber to Hell, or, and they all looked embarrassed, did I feel well enough to walk? I elected to walk, as long as I could have my blanket back. I wrapped it sarong-like about my lower person, to spare the entire hospital the sight of my bright blue broderie anglaise knickers as I walked past, and marched briskly back to the ward.

Naturally, the pharmacist hid somewhere in the bowels of the hospital for most of the afternoon, and when H turned up to collect me, I was still lolling about in my nightie, drinking tea (could NOT face lunch – the very smell made me gag), and waiting for someone to at the very bloody least come and remove the cannula.

I was home in time for tea. I am achey, and feel like I have the flu, and I am very crampy, but I do feel better.

Tomorrow: The Interesting and varied Characters a Sick Woman is Expected to Share a Ward With. Also, symptom updates. Just in case you hadn’t had enough of my innards (I know I have). Because writing this post seems to have taken me nearly all day. Oh dear.


10 responses to “The NHS loses Brownie Points

  • Robyn

    Completely unsure whether to laugh or cry on your behalf. That is the most miserable experience for you and H and I have some very specific advice for the process-lovers and form-designers of the hopsital. Give it up before you go blind! From disgruntled paitents finally losing their shit! And their myriad friends on the internet who are presently sending you the very worst bad karma vibes they can muster up.

    Hope things settle down to normal (oh, aren’t we both laughing merrily at that little word?) very soon.

  • Phoebe

    I’m so sorry that you have to go through all of this! Just wanted to send a (((hug))) your way.

  • DC

    I am so glad you’re OK. Sounds like a horrific experience. Enjoy your tea and make sure your hubby takes good care of you! 🙂

  • geohde

    I’m glad at least the tea was palatable.

    As for the bloody form, I think I would have had a good go at retching on it and then thrown it at sombody’s head. For preference.


  • Aphra Behn

    Your posts should be Required Reading for all NHS staff.

    Much love to both of you


  • ANiceDoctor (I hope)

    I am persuading my colleagues to read this blog, because I agree with Aphra (of Eclectic Shock fame? – ah, yes…) I am so sorry you have had all these problems, and will be making sure that people with forms don’t go around using them inadvisedly where I work (bloody idiots).

    I hope you get better soon.

  • Jackie

    Should you ever require another stay in an NHS facility, perhaps you could persuade H or friends to bring contraband (delicious) meals from the outside. I had my husband do so after eating a most overcooked, dried-out piece of potato crusted cod that ever was served in a hospital.

  • deanna

    How you manage to make vomit and hospital food so entertaining is beyond me. I am very impressed, and snorting audibly on my lunch break.

    But, I am also thinking all good things for you, and wishing you restfulness and the dissipation of pain. I am glad that H. is with you, ready and on the job with lots of tea and hugs to spare.

  • Rita

    I apologize on behalf the nursing profession. When did we stop treating people with human touch?

  • Residual issues « Nuts in May

    […] wearing only a short hospital gown, having spent days vomiting and in agony in a hospital bed, they wheeled me down to that exact same waiting-room and left me there for nearly an hour to wait for yet another follow-up scan, while small scared […]

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