On Monday, I visited the doctor with what I thought was a minor infected area. It turned out not to be a minor infected area at all, but a painful and rapidly growing abscess. Gulp.
He prescribed antibiotics, but warned me that they may not work and that if the pain worsened, I was to contact him immediately and he would need to admit me to hospital for surgical drainage of the abscess under anaesthetic. Even bigger gulp. I hobbled out, clutching my prescription for heavy-duty antibiotics and hoping fervently that they would work .
Unfortunately, they didn't. So a phone call to the GP on Tuesday resulted in his faxing a letter to the A&E Dept and DH driving me to the hospital. I was seen very quickly, and once they found I was in enough pain for my blood pressure to be 180/96 and for me to be tachycardic, they gave me painkillers and sent me back to the main waiting area for a member of the surgical team to become available to examine me. That took a further four hours during which period I was to remain nil by mouth, as I had been since 11am anyway as I felt unwell......
The junior doctor performed a very through and moderately painful exmaination of the afflicted area which brought tears to my eyes, only for him to utter the fateful words: "I need to discuss it with my Surgical Registrar." I resigned myself to another lengthy wait, but in ten minutes, the delightful Registrar arrived, only to repeat the examination even more thoroughly and consderably more painfully, for which he was very apologetic. He decided that 10.30pm was too late to operate, and admited me to the Short Stay Unit overnight for the operation the next morning.
I ended up in a single room, with a nice view, ensuite facilities and all mod cons. Unfortunately, access to the water jug was removed very rapidly, as I needed to be nil by mouth overnight ready for theatre early next morning.
That was the plan. The consultant came round with his entourage of half a dozen the next morning, said cheerfully that he wouldn't examine me again as they "would be doing it in greater detail, in theatre anyway !", and that the anaesthetist would be "round soon". This was at 9am.
Never trust those words, gentle reader!
When the shift changed at lunchtime, the nursing staff apologised for the delays due to cases taking longer than expected. Well, having worked in a hospital, I know how easily that happens, and I was fairly philosphical, but aware that the promise of discharge home a few hours after the operation was becoming much less likely. By four pm, it was obvious I was going to be in hospital overnight again. By now, the staff were increasingly apologetic each time they came in my room, and couldn't understand why I was quite happy, reading Pride and Prejudice and playing on my phone. The fact that I had no desire to have the tv on , they found quite baffling, I think :-)
By 7pm, I was seriously questioning if the operation was going to take place that day, and when the anaesthetist turned up to assess me at 8.15 pm, I couldn't help but ask him how much longer it was lkely to be. He estimated 15 to 30 minutes, unless anyone needed anaesthesia on Labour Ward or unless any more emergencies came in...........At 8.40pm when I could both see and hear two ambulances arrive at speed at A & E with lights and sirens going full pelt, I gave up in abject despair, lay on the bed and went to sleep, woken again by the happy sounds of a nurse coming in to tell me they were sending a porter down to take me to theatre.
After being stuck in a single room all night and all day, I was glad to walk to theatre and the porter used the wheelchair to transport my overnight bag etc . The hospital was calm and quiet, and theatre was quite spookily so, as they were winding down for the night.
The staff in theatre were in good humour, and incredibly friendly and calm. When I was told they were giving me some medicine that would make me feel a bit woozy and then something to make me sleep, I closed my eyes, observed mentally that I did indeed feel woozy, wondered just how many medical staff were in theatre planning to examine my abscess in great detail, and fell blissfully fast asleep........
I woke up from the anaesthetic painfree and smiling, listening to the chatter of the recovery room nurses. I looked at the clock and it was 10.45; I then dozed back off, waking to see it was now 11.15pm. This time I managed to stay awake and chatting, until the familiar waves of post-operation nausea started to rear their ugly head. I must have turned green as my nurse asked if I was okay, and when I said I was starting to feel a little queasy, reassured me I was going across to the ward very shortly and I was written up for further medication to make me more comfortable..
I was taken to a bed in a six bedded bay, and as we trundled up the ward corridor, I could see an elderly lady in a red dressing gown sitting on a chair talking to the nursing staff on duty. I was glad to get into my comfy bed, have my obs taken again and then be given some painkillers and anti-nausea med, which worked brilliantly well and I had the best cup of water in my life, after 25+ hours of being nil by mouth. I was vaguely aware of hearing a man at the other end of the ward shouting that he wanted to see his wife immediately, but I just went back to sleep.
I woke an hour or so later, disturbed by soft shuffling sounds. When I opened my eyes, the elderly lady I had seen earlier was fiddling with my red dressing gown before one of the nurses hastened up to her and ushered her away back to her bed in a different part of the ward. I went quickly back to sleep, was woken a few more times for the staff to check my vital signs.
I woke yet again to hear a clattering noise, and could see the lady in red at the foot of my bed, fiddling with the bed adjustment controls . She looked at me sternly, picked up the controller on its extendable curly lead and walked off with it, saying: " Come on , Jess, we need to go now. Bad dog, Jess !" and tugging on the lead as if it was a dog's lead. The problem was, it was attached to the bed and she was attempting to tug my bed down the hospital corridor !
It was all becoming increasingly surreal, and the combination of lack of sleep, post-operative wooziness, anti-nausea meds and heavy duty painkillers obviously conspired to addle my brains totally , for instead of gently telling her to please leave my bed alone and go away, I remember just closing my eyes and thinking to myself that she was making so much noise, the staff would be along shortly to sort her out and that the brakes were on the bed so she couldn't *actually* drag me down the corridor, and I drifted happily back to sleep.
I was woken up for the final time at 5am by the sound of shouting. This time I sat bolt upright up in alarm, opening my eyes only to see a very tall man, fully dressed, clutching a fire extinguisher standing a few feet away from my bed and screaming blue murder:
"I want to see my wife ! I know you have her hidden in here soemwhere, and you'd better bring her out right now or I am going to use this on you all, I swear ! Bring her out to see me now!"
I sat there transfixed, debating what I should do, when a tiny nurse - she must have been about 4ft 10 - walked right up to him and told him to put the extinguisher down. He made as if to throw it at her, and she told him firmly to put it down or she would call the police. In the meantime, one of the other staff had called hospital security, and after making a few more demands and threats, the staff managed to calm him down and reassure him that the weren't hiding his wife anywhere, telling him that she was at home and they would phone her if he would come back to his own bed in the male part of the ward. They managed to part him from the extinguisher and lead him away. I didn't see him again whilst I was on the ward.
I couldn't help but ponder the look of anxiety, confusion and distress on that poor man's face; he was kept in his ward area by the security staff who sat with him, but he looked so distressed and fearful :-(
Sleep was impossible after this, so I read quietly until time for breakfast. There was a choice of cereals, porridge or bread and butter and jam/marmalade - no toast, as it sets off the fire alarms. I devoured a bowl of cornflakes and, like Oliver, really wanted more but sadly none was forthcoming.
Every other person in the ward was seen by their consultant Surgeon except me, and I was champing at the bit by the time he did come round. The obligatory exam involving gloves and KY Jelly was performed, and I was allowed home. the surgeon said I needed some dressings to put on the afflicted area to mop up The Ooze, as the abscess had been incised and allowed to drain freely.
So what was I given ? Half a dozen, non-sterile large incontinence pads. LOLOL. I hobbled out of there was fast as my little legs would carry me, desperate for the Hubster to take me safely home :-)