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.


Anonymous said...

Dear Doc

Hope you get well soon. in case you hadn't noticed, patients are not a high priority in the NHS.

Sam said...

I wish you well now that your ordeal has passed safely Garth and wish you a Happy and peaceful Chirmas and a prosperous New year ahead and for all the years to come.

Of course, I agree with you on everything you say regarding the noise too ... Hope those in charge are listening

All the best,



Sam said...

oh! excuse my spelling, Merry Christmas :-)

Nikita said...

Sorry to hear of your experience, but patients are a low priority. I had the best care onflothen the assessment ward as it was adequately staffed - but it was very, very noisy.

A light activated system appears to be a grand idea, but would be unworkable. It would need to be manned constantly and extra staffing is a no no. Busy nursing staff can hear the alarm, but would have to be constantly viewing lights to see if attention was needed. Also the code for cardiac arrest would be hard to deliver.

I hope you feel better soon and have a Happy Christmas!

Nikita said...

Sorry, should have said that patients are a low priority to those who decide on staffing levels.

Anonymous said...

Sorry to hear about your illness. I hope you get better soon.

Your experience of noisy wards and sleepless nights mirrors my own the last time I had surgery.

I've always thought that hospital is the last place I want to be when I'm sick as it is impossible to relax and recover in that chaotic environment.

Garth Marenghi said...

thanks sam and nikita,

with a bit of thought and modern technology there must be ways of doing it which would be much less stressful for patients,

just to add that as a doctor i have often had to sleep in on call rooms near these damn buzzer systems and they mean you can't even get a decent night's sleep when well!

merry christmas

dearieme said...

Welcome to the role of "customer" in the No Hope Service.

Anyway, I hope you get over it soon, and enjoy a Merry Christmas.

Dr Grumble said...

It's bad being a patient. Dr Grumble avoids it if he can. He still remembers the terrible trauma of being in hospital as a child. Things are probably a good deal better for children now but for adults in some ways they may be worse.

Garth Marenghi said...

that sounds very scary Dr G,

merry christmas

Nurse Anne said...

"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"

definitely a care assistant and not a nurse.

Garth Marenghi said...

actually she was a nurse

日月神教-向左使 said...