If you’ve been wondering where I’d got to, that’s where. I’m out now though – escaped yesterday.
Let’s start with something positive. In 2001 I was stuck in Ward 34, APH, where they tried to kill me (already amply covered), and from where, after 4 days and nights of sleep deprivation, in desperation I got myself discharged while some ragged edges of sanity still remained.
Sleep deprivation, by the way, is a breach of the Geneva Convention.
This time, same ward, while it was noisy during the day, it was silent at night. Made a massive difference.
Having a side room to myself also made a huge difference.
I had diarrhoea when admitted, which got me the room – oddly, my MRSA counted for nothing – WHY?
The trots fizzled out and they started making noises about moving me out to the bays, so I snagged my consultant, explained my fears of infection if I was moved – and got to stay in the side room (with occasional skirmishes with people who wanted to shift me which, to be honest, proved way too stressful).
One evening they made a concerted effort to lever me out, to make way for a “poorly lady”. I pointed out that I, too, was “poorly” with multiple conditions, including MRSA which was contagious (though not very), and would put others at risk and, in addition, being in a bay would ramp up my own risk of respiratory infection, because it always does. In March-April I was in there for 6 weeks, during which time I had 5 hospital-acquired respiratory infections, culminating in my having my right pleural cavity aspirated to hoover out a pint of toxic crap – not an experience I was in any hurry to repeat – this is why:-
Then it was ultimatum time – leave me where I was, or pack up my drugs and send me home (always take this approach – never discharge yourself).
By the way, not a single member of the medical and nursing staff gave me an argument about the design of the bays aiding the spread of infection, and quite a few loudly agreed – so why have they been universally embraced by the NHS – except for private patients? The only conclusion I can draw is that those who can afford to pay twice (we all pay once via taxation), get preferential treatment.
I don’t know where the “poorly lady” wound up, but I do know some side rooms were occupied by dementia patients (because they shifted one out to make room for me, so maybe they did the same for her), and as far as I’m concerned, because of their ability to massively disrupt the lives of those around them – a lesson learned through bitter experience – dementia patients should not be in the general population.
One thing I did notice, though, and it’s a pattern that’s been repeated several times – when I’m admitted, I begin to recover quite quickly and then – I’ll crash in flames. There’s no fixed timescale for this deterioration. In March-April it was during the third week, duly noted by the medical team but zero action taken, for which I never got an explanation. This time it was the 9th day, by which time they’d decided to discharge me anyway, no matter how ill I claimed to feel. 24 hours on, while I’m a hell of a lot better than I was when admitted, I still feel like hammered shit.
And now we come to one of the mysteries of APH – every time I’m admitted I succumb to hallucinations. Some are drug-induced, but some clearly are not, and it’s a problem shared by many patients. No idea why.
And it wouldn’t be APH if there were not a series of cock-ups to relate!
On the second day the Tissue Viability Nurse removed all my lymphoedema dressings, said hang on, I want someone to see this – and never came back! Utterly inexcusable. A nurse eventually redressed my legs with AquacellAg, a silver-impregnated dressing, and the improvement is dramatic. The infection is improving and the swelling is much reduced.
Then there was the cannula problem. When I was admitted I had a fairly normal aversion to needles, especially big buggers like cannulae, which are used to administer i-v drugs, in my case antibiotics. By the time I was discharged my aversion was a full-blown phobia as the very few viable veins I’d had left had been destroyed, one of them so comprehensively it actually blew a hole in my arm through sheer goddamned stupidity.
A blown vein is usually one that’s distended, either through a machine malfunction or plain, old-fashioned clumsiness putting too much pressure down the line, the result usually being a temporary clot. In my case, these are increasingly proving to be permanent.
A few nights ago the staff nurse connected up my i-v via the electronic pump. Shortly afterwards it sounded an air-bubble alert and shut itself down. I pressed the nurse’s call button and settled in for the inevitable wait.
Staff nurse eventually turned up, by which time there was a large and visible crop of air bubbles in the line, so what does she do? She gathered all the plastic tubing into a ball, and squeezed! The resulting pressure pulse blew a hole in my arm forward of the cannula, blew the cannula itself backwards, and trashed the adjacent veins.
I hit the roof – the pain was huge – and told the stupid bitch to get the hell out and stay out.
That was the final cannula and, until she buggered it, was working just fine. No-one else was able to place another, or even draw blood, as all my viable veins were used up and the phobia was well established – one morning someone had arrived at 02.30 to insert a cannula, and failed miserably – anyone who came near me, after that, with anything pointed was firmly but politely sent away.
And in case you think I over-reacted, they stuck me over 15 times in just a few days, mostly accomplishing nothing,** and now I’m left with a whole load of blocked veins that might or might not mend.
**It’s one thing enduring a painful, albeit minor, procedure with a positive result, quite another when it fails. Repeatedly.
Eventually, they suggested inserting a line deep inside my body cavity, using x-ray guidance, which I rejected out of hand, figuring the risk of introducing the MRSA from my skin was just too high. And the more they nagged – arriving , optimistically, several times a day with their little tray of bloody big needles – the shirtier I became until they finally got the message – no-one was sticking me again.
Then someone offered a compromise – anaesthetic cream. I’d already asked for this repeatedly and been refused, so I could hardly say no, though I did initially. I tweeted about it, and several people came back with the advice that the timing for the cream MUST be adhered to, something the PIL also emphasised.
But, of course, they wouldn’t wait long enough, and the bloody stuff, in consequence, didn’t work. I subsequently found the cream in my take-home bag, so I’ll stash that for future use as, if I were to be readmitted tomorrow, there wouldn’t be a hope in hell of getting a needle in me without it, unless I were unconscious.
And the food? Criminal!
What’s even more criminal is that shortly before I crashed (and it’s probably why I crashed), I’d cooked 3 litres of Italian Mince, with loads of fresh veg added (baby courgettes, fine beans, pak choi), which I hadn’t had time to freeze and will now have to be binned. And my first meal at APH? Yep, the original mince & ketchup, crime against food, Italian Mince!
And finally, to end on a positive note, the Oramorph at APH was very much more effective than the stuff I get locally. I was almost completely pain-free after a couple of days. I don’t get that here. OK, bed rest was a factor, but still…
The APH consultant has written me up for Oramorph, 10ml, every 6 hours (or possibly every 4 – a change in the time got caught up in my discharge and maybe got lost), plus Zomorph caps, 60mg every 12 hours.
Let’s see what my GP makes of that as he’s been trying to tell me that level of morphine might kill me – but it clearly hasn’t! And if it didn’t in APH there is no possible reason why it should at home.