It breaks my heart a little bit to be writing this post, but some things just cant be ignored.
To give you a bit of a catch up…
On Sunday I felt pretty dire, a really weird lower tummy ache that I have never experienced before, not like that gripy pain you get after a dodgy dinner or period pain, but something completely different.
It felt like I had been kicked or punched, it kind of felt muscular.
It was combined with nausea, and light headedness every time I stood up, Sunday was NOT a great day.
Tim was away in Wales with the girls and I was home alone, mind in overdrive.
He got home around 5 and took one look at me and wanted to take me to A & E
I said we should go through the GP out of Hours practice, which we did in record time, doc thought it was a suspected appendicitis
He sent us on to Blackburn Hospital – a 20 minute drive away, in years gone by it would have been good old Burnley General, but as the doctor told us ‘there is virtually nothing left there anymore, its all moved to Blackburn’
We were sent to surgical triage, and there we waited, me in screaming agony for over 2 hours, then the nurse assessed me and took my blood and told me to go back to the waiting room for another hour, I told her I had to lie down and she said that wasn’t possible, I told her I was either going to vomit or pass out and eventually she relented and put me in a side room.
I saw the consultant pretty quickly who was lovely, he wanted me to come back in the morning for a scan as apparently my suspected appendicitis was not ticking all the correct boxes and he wanted to be sure, then he heard we were a 20 minute drive away and changed his mind, ‘its too far if it bursts’ he said.
I tried to rest and failed, the staff were busy but courteous.
The following day I was reassessed and again told that it wasn’t adding up quite right for an appendicitis, and my white count was too high for that.
I went down for exploratory surgery at 2pm, exhausted and just wanting the pain to stop.
The anaesthetic staff were awesome, truly lovely.
I awoke in recovery at 5pm, the recovery team doing a great job with me, turns out I had an abcess on my ovary and it was drained and flooded with anti b’s and my appendix got to stay put.
And then the ‘fun’ started
The recovery team were clearly very busy and highly professional, 5.30pm came along and i watched as those who came in after me were taken to their beds, 6pm and more of the same, 6.30pm and another 2 went off to their ward…
I asked if there was a problem, knowing that Mr would be frantic after such a long wait
The staff said they were struggling to find me a bed as having previously had MRSA I needed a private room.
The clock ticked on and at 7pm I asked if it were possible to bring Mr down, they said that isnt something they do but I explained that I had 3 daughters at home and he wouldn’t leave until he had seen me, and I needed him to be home with them as they were worried.
They relented and let him come into recovery – something which apparently is never done
He stayed with me for a couple of hours and left at 9pm, me still in recovery
I was eventually taken to a room at 10.15pm after a screaming row between the staff nurse in recovery and the ward manager, my ‘extended 5 hour stay’ had stopped the emergency surgery list and patient with life threatening issues were not being operated on as a result.
A ‘nurse’ came down to collect me, clearly pissed off she told me that there were only 2 nurses on for 34 patients, and seemed angry… with me.
I was ‘lucky’ enough to have her all night, not an ounce of caring, I was an inconvenience, a piece of meat.
I was also upset, in pain, frightened and poorly.
This morning, I was not fed, I pleaded for meds, there was no lunch for me so I got someones leftovers, until eventually salvation appeared as someone caring came to nurse me.
She actually cared, and it mattered.
I was told I could go by the doctor at 9am and at 3pm the meds were still not ready, the bed I had waited for 5 hours to get into.. well I was told to get out of it.
When I asked if I could wait for my husband I was told no, to wait in the day room, I said I didnt feel well enough to sit up and the ‘nurse’ told me I had no choice and to ‘rest my head on the table’ if I was going to pass out.
I cried, it was the end of my shattered nerves, I asked if someone could call down about my meds so I could go home and the same ‘nurse’ said ‘no they will be up when the porter brings them’ we don’t ring.
Mr arrived and took one look at me and said ‘we are leaving’ meds or no meds, we’ll go to the docs and get them there’, just as the lovely nurse from the morning came around the corner with them, she had kindly gone down and got them for me.
So this has been without question my worst experience of the NHS, and that breaks my heart
Because I am a staunch supporter of the NHS, always defending with pride what an amazing unique service it is, and what it gives to so many, my family & I raised over £30,000 for Burnley General after my mums illness.
But these past days I have been witness to the very best and worst of it
And the difference, well its caring
It makes a big difference to be treated with care
These wards are huge, and Im sure there is a tendency to look at KPI’s and stats in these things, but ultimately its about care.
I cried on the way home, so sad to have been witness to something which I did not believe existed.
They were clearly understaffed and under pressure, it was a mess
Infact it wasnt a mess it was a shame.
Do trainee nurses need 12 months as healthcare assistants to teach them to care? nope I don’t think so but they do need more nursing staff on the wards, maybe with more staff the lack of care would be exposed and not treated as the ‘norm’ as it was today.
Do local towns need local services? yes they absolutely do, I fundamentally believe that this system of sending everyone over to Blackburn is a farce, its too far and puts lives in danger and separates families at a time when they need to be close.
So today NHS I feel sad, I’m incredibly grateful that I was able to be seen and operated on, but sad that the missing element was care, something which I happen to value very much.