By Beth Porter
Intro: Frailty Thy Name Is Beth
I’ve just been released from the Acute Frailty Unit [AFU] at my local hospital due to a possible head trauma and damaged ribcage. I wanted to share my experience, which I hasten to report was primarily really positive.What’s outrageous is public applause for NHS nurses – just bloody PAY THEM PROPERLY. Having now seen the running of the place from the inside, this is even more urgent.
The Inciting Incident
It happened several weeks ago when a wooden chair I was sitting in collapsed under me. I didn’t faint but felt a bit woozy when I tried to lift my head. I soon realised I hadn’t brought my mobile with me, nor my glasses. Both were at my desk, on the other side of the room.
I tried to stand, but that proved impossible. The only solution was to crawl round to my desk. Amazing though it seems, that took me at least three days to accomplish. And even then, I couldn’t hoist myself up to actually see anything. So I lay whereI was, on a freezing cold slate-tile floor. Hoping maybe some help might arrive. Ha-Ha!
It was clear that I would need a pee, and sooner rather than later. From my lowly vantage point I searched for a suitable container. I assure you a cardboard box ain’t it!
So eventually there’s nothing else to do except just pee. A great relief, of course, but that left me still on the cold slate-tile floor, now surrounded by my own urine. Yuck!
I tried shouting for help every time I could hear footsteps from the flat above me. I yelled, I screamed, I shouted out my door code which would allow someone entry. Response? Ha-Ha!
Brain Works; Body Not So Much
I tried to keep track of daylight and night time. From the floor I could just about see the images on my small cctv monitor, but between the cold and my exhaustion I kept falling asleep. I reckon I must have been lying there for quite a few days.
Then I felt around and found a mobile within reach. Sadly, it was an old phone; I’d recently ordered a new bargain upgrade. I did also find a cable for the old phone, which seemed progress of some kind. Plus I found my glasses as well. YAY!
Flash forward a bit; I had been trying to use both during my hospital stay. However, when the phone tried to connect, I could only tell that it was rapidly running out of usable minutes.
At last, though, I saw an option for an Emergency. I was connected with a really nice police officer who promised to pass along my info to an Emergency Ambulance team.
The Emergency Option
And, yes, yes, yes, they did arrive. Except they’d been given the wrong door code so they couldn’t get in! Finally we sorted that out, and for the 1st time in days, I was off the floor while the lovely duo took down the required info to get me to hospital.
I thought of a good joke while I waited: you guys have got patients; I am very patient! OK, not my best work, but, well, in the circs!
Just a word about trying to keep warm on that floor. For some reason I had piled some cosy fleecy items over my armchair, ready to go into the washing machine. So they’re what I used, even though eventually they all got drenched in pee.
But the dynamic duo found me some clean clothes and tried to convince me I should stop being such a Moaning Minnie and to bite the Hospital Bullet. By which I mean – just get in the Ambulance, Beth! I didn’t really take anything since there was a good chance I’d only be away for a day or so. Ha-Ha!
Care And Comfort YAY
It’s a pleasure to report that the special Accident & Emergency reception at the AFU snapped immediately into action, making me warm and comfy and doing the kind of prodding and poking they all spend years training for. I was in a private area all to myself. I think I was there for at least a couple of days.
It became immediately obvious from my admission to last night’s discharge that the backbone of the NHS is supported by a phalanx of several nations. All creeds and skin colours help focus on getting patients better. No judgements. No moral pleading. Just help.
Next I was moved to a Ward on the AFU. I had my own private room with my own private loo. I got menu cards to fill out for Breakfast, Lunch and Supper. If it weren’t for the accident, I could have set up home in that room.
I had a few concerns about real-life. I wanted to make sure my GP and his team were aware of what was happening. I knew his Practice was very short-staffed, so there was no need for him to visit. I’d also been assured any of the hospital registrars, doctors, and authorised personnel could have access to my medical records, etc.
Another concern was to be able to cancel a huge food order I’d just placed and paid for before the fall. I usually order everything online and mostly that’s bulk buying to take advantage of bargains. There was a wonderful young staffer who helped me cancel the order, and even better, she showed me how to use that old mobile.
Now, at last, I had the means to inform my Facebook pals and others what had happened. Of course, I wasn’t able to access the desk-top on my computer at home, but as a good estimate it was about 20 days I spent in hospital, all tolled.
Only One Landscape Blot
Quite a serious one. It involved the unprofessional behaviour of someone who ought to have known better. I’m calling this out, and I did have to report it. I’m guessing it was a matter of threatened ego.
The person was meant to take blood, and proceeded to tighten a tourniquet around my arm. Trying to be helpful, I pointed out that I had what are called ‘shy veins’. Which means you think you got ’em but they just collapse back inside.
The blood lady was miffed. “I’ve been doing this job a long time,” she said. I showed her the place on my hand which is the only successful point for drawing blood. I said, “Well, honey, I’ve been living in this body for over 81 years.” Trying to be helpful. Ha-Ha!Suddenly, she stormed out of the room, “I’m outta here,” she said. “This patient is being abusive.”
So, yes, I did report the incident, both to the attending physician and the lady’s Ward Manager. And I said (as a responsible journalist committed to preparing a report on my hospital stay), I would mention the incident as my only complaint during my entire stay in the AFU.Which I reckon ain’t bad going.
Oh, The Irony
It’s beyond frustrating that current government policy is so cavalier and chaotic. Especially in light of Jeremy Hunt’s public report proposed for David Cameron, that the NHS should be run as a private charity with Social Care phased out entirely. And now, oh the irony! He’s the Chancellor.
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This post was written by LPJAdmin