Geoff's Medical Bulletin (July 15, 2011)

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Geoff's Medical Bulletin (July 15, 2011),
Written by Geoffrey N. Read.
This is written from the patient's point of view. A great read!

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Geoff's Medical Bulletin (July 15, 2011)

  1. 1. GEOFF’S LATEST MEDICAL BULLETIN Friday, 15th July 2011I was admitted to Derriford Hospital at 12 noon on Tuesday, 6th July 2011 viathe Freedom Ward. I was there for five hours as I didn’t get into theatre untilwell past five. This seems to be the normal run of things these days and I havehad a similar wait at each of my previous eleven operations over the past twoyears! Some patients upped-sticks and left quite miffed! One had a dog tosee too. Another had an infirm wife to see to at home who might need herbed pan!Another major concern, particularly to carers or relatives accompany patients isthat of parking. They don’t realise they have wait all this number of hours.Not informed apparently!In all my 12 (now 13) operations over the past couple of years, it has neveronce been explained to me that there may be some time before I go to theatre.You hand in your Admission Letter and then you are asked to take a seat... theyjust don’t tell you it’s you’re going to be rooted to that seat for the next fivehours!We’re not allowed to eat or drink anything for five hours prior to our admissiontimes. It’s my theory that the medical staff don’t trust patients to abstain sothey call us in five hour hours prior to our admission time simply to ensure wedon’t! What other reason could there be? This is what they use this time for:First: You have an administrative interview with a nurse to double- check all the paperwork made at the pre-operative assessment undertaken some weeks previous. And to make sure that there have been no changes to our circumstances, our medication and really to make sure that we are still alive and kicking! Oh... then they put an identity bracelet on your wrist. I’m sure this is wired in case you try to escape! 1
  2. 2. Second: An interview with the anaesthetist. This is usually jolly and friendly and we both know that we are wasting each other’s time... but it’s something that has to be done. We are both doing our best to put each other at ease! It’s pretty scary for them too I guess! Everything is double-checked again for the umpteenth time.Third: An interview with the Surgical Consultant. This is usually a fairly relaxed affair with both of us trying our damndest to show each other how cool and relaxed we both are about everything. You are asked to sign the Consent Form. This is his escape clause in case he leaves a tin of Frey Bentos Corned Beef inside you, or a copy of his Surgical Encyclopaedia or whatever. After you’ve signed your life away (quite literally) the inevitable question is always thrown at you...”Oh by the way... I did explain about the risks of perforations and that sort of thing didn’t I?” Still wanting to display just how cool you are you nod enthusiastically that of course he did! Whilst inwardly you are thinking... Perforations? Bloody hell... I bet he leaves his bloody teabag inside me!Five hours?Each of these interviews are conducted when we at least expect them. Andusually its usually just as we are about to doze off or just after we have! I’mwondering if they have CCTV in operation and simply wait until they see youhead droop and your eyes close. Then it’s Go! Go! Go! He’s about to sleep!Five hours?The television set in Freedom Unit needs changing... it doesn’t work! It hasn’tworked since we changed over from terrestrial to digital apparently... whenwas that last year?Five hours? 2
  3. 3. The Freedom Unit building looks fairly modern, is clean and fairly freshlydecorated. The chairs are not comfortable. Certainly not comfortable enoughfor a five-hour sit! Most are way too low down. Some very elderly patientshad great difficulty in sitting down in them, and of course even greaterdifficulty in getting up and out of them! I only saw one or two Higher Chairsthat would have served them better but both were occupied.Five hours?Some magazines are strewn around the area. Wow! I am thinking of gettingin touch with Fiona Bruce and asking her to bring down the Antiques RoadShow crew. Some of these magazines must be vintage now. Collector’sitems!Five hours?Could commit murder for a cup of tea! Actually there is a cafeteria just outsidethe building and around the corner. Not many people know this. Ideal forpeople accompanying patients of course but I understand that it closes afterlunch. Not much use to carers whose patients are having afternoonoperations. They will have to go all the way to the Main Hospital Building!Five hours?Went for a wee again. Something to do more than anything! Only one loo.The disabled toilet is out of action!Five hours?Books. Oh great... I see some books on the book shelf. They are for sale. AnHonesty Box is available. Put a donation into the tin and buy a book. I hopethe proceeds will be able to buy a Digital TV!Five hours? 3
  4. 4. 4.30 p.m. I am called in for Stage Four! This entails taking all my bags andstuff with me into another Waiting Room. Well... at least its progress! Yetanother administrative interview. Once again, for the 3,872nd time I am askedfor my Date-of-Birth and your Hospital Number. By this time I feel likescreaming it at them and say here... WATCH MY LIPS! Must be good! Mustbehave... nearly there. On the last loop!I’m taken into a cubby-hole and asked to change into this delightful little floralnumber. A robe that I have to put on back to front so that my bum hangs outthe back. I then pack away all my clothing and personal stuff into my bag andplace them into an empty locker. Unfortunately there were no keys as theyhave all gone walkabouts apparently. But don’t worry... the NHS HospitalsTrust will accept no responsibility for any loss of valuables during your stay!I was measured for surgical stockings. Why are you measuring me forstockings I asked... when I was measured for them at my pre-operativeassessment? We like to do it again here was the reply. The measurementstaken at the pre-op were far more accurately taken than now! Why thisduplication of effort I wonder?OK... now we sit and wait again. Wished I had taken more time gettingchanged now!Five hours?The evening cleaners come in. Not much entertainment there... I saw themempty the bins and then leave. I went to the loo. Again, more for somethingto do than anything else. I noticed that the Evening Clean had been signed offon the back of the door. So the Evening Clean comprises emptying the bins?Not what I call a “clean” but there you go!Five hours?Mr. Read? Mr. Geoffrey Read? Mr. Geoffrey Nigel Read? Bloody hell... onlymy mother ever called me that! And then I was usually in trouble! This is it!My final call. I’m on my way to theatre.I don’t mind the holding room prior to the theatre. You have to climb up on tothe trolley and have probes stuck all over you and a tube inserted into the back 4
  5. 5. of your hand. Blood pressure, temperature... usual things. Then they tell methey are going to slip me something nice into the back of my hand to make mefeel a little woozy! Love it! Then the mask is placed over my stoma... to giveme some oxygen allegedly. Have heard it all before..................................Voices. I can hear voices! But my eyes are still closed and my head isthrobbing. I hear myself saying I can’t breathe, I can’t breathe. I am comingout of it. Eyes still closed. I hear voices saying to give him some oxygen andsomething else and I immediately began to feel better. I could feel that mythroat was quite sore. My eyes began to open and I was beginning to comearound. It was just past six on the clock. The procedure had taken about anhour. I was given some Oramorph which eased the pain in my neckconsiderably. I was told that I would be taken to my old haunting ground ofLynher Ward as soon as my written notes could be found.We waited. And then waited some more. Were the previous five hours notenough? They had to track down the Consultant to ascertain where he hadput the written notes. It transpired that he hadn’t yet written them! Ha!Anyway, once they were written we were on our way to Lynher.The hospital leaflet pertaining to Lynher Ward states:Lynher Ward specialises in Acute Reconstructive Ear, Nose and Throat andMaxillary Facial Surgery for Adults. We have 34 bed for male and femalepatients who are nursed in separate bays.It seemed to me that every bed available was taken and when I looked at thepatients across from me I could see one had his arm in plaster and the othertwo had their legs in plaster. I guess the nurses on this ward have to multi-task. It’s coming up to 7 p.m. now. It was obvious to me that this is not theLynher Ward that I knew of old. The nurses seemed subdued somehow andhardly made eye contact. An atmosphere certainly different to my previousvisits.I asked for something to eat and suggested ice-cream, custard or yoghurt orsomething similar. Bearing in mind that I had not eaten or had a drink via my 5
  6. 6. mouth for the past 12 weeks. and that the last feed I had had through the PEG1in my tummy was the previous night I was somewhat hungry not to mentionthirsty! I wonder if that’s why I woke up with a headache (which I have neverexperienced previously)... dehydration?I was eventually brought two of the most tiniest yoghurts I have ever seen inmy life... one was toffee flavoured and the other apricot. Oh... and a cup ofcoffee! My first for 12 weeks! Isn’t it funny how we recall such trivia!Anyway these four teaspoons-full of sustenance kept me going and I’ll beforever grateful to the NHS Hospitals Trust. All the time during the past 12weeks I had been dreaming of Steak Sandwiches and Cappuccinos!The evening drinks trolley came around at about 9.30 p.m. and I jumped at thechance of a cup of Horlicks. Not that it would help me sleep... I knew I was infor a night of being wide awake. There were constant checks of blood-pressure throughout the night and temperature taking. And the occasionaldoses of oramorph thank God!Luckily I had had the forethought to buy one of those TV Cards that are on salein the hospital. I knew that I wouldn’t sleep that night and my suppositionproved to be correct. I watched some documentaries about Egypt andwhatever else was on throughout the night.I remember getting up throughout the night for a pee only to find that onarrival at the loo no pee was required... try as one may! This set me towondering whether they put “something” in your anaesthetic to prevent onefrom having an “accident” during the op! I couldn’t go properly, apart from adribble, for a full day afterwards.I was up, washed and ready for breakfast at the crack of dawn. Before that infact! I even made my bed whereupon a nurse mildly rebuked me and said Iwasn’t required to do that.Breakfast finally arrived at about 8 a.m. Just about the same time as thedoctors of the day begin their ward rounds! So invariably you answer theirquestions with mouthful of cereal or, as I had, porridge. Well... I think it wasporridge... it would certainly keep the wallpaper on the wall, whatever it was!1 Percutaneous endoscopic gastrostomy (PEG) tube, a tube that is surgically implanted directly into your stomach, which passesthrough a small incision on the surface of your stomach, or abdomen. 6
  7. 7. All this must make me sound so ungrateful and really I’m not. I am eternallygrateful to the Staff, from head administrator to chief bottle washer. Theysaved my life a couple of years ago and I will always be grateful to them all......................................Time for the morning doctors’ rounds. The dilation of my oesophagus was asuccess or so they tell me!The insertion of the new all-singing, all-dancing valve proved to be a bit of adisaster as the therapist couldnt get it to fit in! Eventually they gave in as it wastoo big to get in! Not surprising really when you consider I have spent the last12 weeks trying to get the hole healed over!So I was discharged from hospital on the Wednesday with a catheter in thehole where my valve should be to help it dilate........................................I then went to ENT at to Derriford at 8.30 on Friday, 8th July 2011 and thetherapist managed to slide the valve in at the first attempt!I can at least eat and drink a little and can even talk a little.Mind you, it is very difficult to swallow as the inside of my throat is VERY sore!So too are my neck and shoulders. Plenty of rest needed methinks. GNR Friday, 15th July 2011 Go to: List of Geoff’s Bulletins Previous Bulletin PLC homepage Email Geoff 7

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