Thursday, 24 December 2009
Feeling the pain and fighting another day
As a doctor it is certainly true that one's experiences as a patient can really open one's eyes, not that one is keen to have too many of these experiences of course. However not many of us are that lucky. I had a bit of a niggling abdominal pain at work last week, tried to ignore it, slept on it and then woke up in the early hours shivering in absolute agony. Even a whacking dose of morphine didn't touch the pain, fortunately for me I was rushed to theatre on the next day's list and they whipped my appendix out, as well as draining a few hundred mls of pus from my abdomen.
The pain had only just begun. I was shortly moved out of my side room onto an open bay ward that was pretty much as noisy as Paddington station 24/7. My small bowels were on strike, the perforated appendicitis had resulted in a paralytic ileus, not something i would wish upon my worse of enemies. It is hard enough to recover from the aforementioned in pleasant surrounds, but when one cannot get a minute's shut eye for love nor money this kind of experience can become a true living nightmare. One night I did not even sleep five minutes as a result of the combination of tortuous devices that the hospital possessed. If it wasn't for the support of those close to me then I truly don't know what would have happened.
The buzzers are so loud that even the deaf from miles around are kept awake, why no one has ever thought to have a light activated system rather than one which wakes up every patient every single time one patient buzzes for help is quite beyond me. The noise and light generated by patients being admitted directly from A&E to the ward as a result of the 4hr targets means that the bay ward is routinely a busy well lit admissions unit at night time, not appropriate when there are sick patients trying to recover from some rather serious conditions. The complete and utter lack of discipline and leadership on the wards was obvious, visiting hours were not enforced at all, noisy families stayed for hours on end making far too much noise gassing on mobile phones and disrupting the rest period of the sick. The night nurses were routinely noisy and seemed not to consider the fact that patients may wish to sleep at night.
I did not want to stay in hospital a minute longer than I had to and this should not be the case. The surgical care I received was great, the nursing care was great other than one nurse who did not care and whose command of English was a disgrace, even the food wasn't that bad from what I saw because I wasn't eating for a great chunk of my stay. Hospital should be a place in which patients can recover from illness, it should not be a orderless frenzy of chaos in which the sick are driven mad in trying to get a moment's peace and quiet. Sleep, rest and relaxation and all so important as part of the body's healing processes, it is a great shame that we show them so little respect at times. Happy Christmas and New Year one and all, thank you for reading and special thought goes to anyone unfortunate enough to be spending Christmas in hospital this year.