The uncaring side of health care…

Still totally screwed after my hospital appointment on Monday (covered here).

While the appointment with the consultant went well, the expedition half-way across the hospital to the Pathology Lab massively exceeded my normal walking ability, with which I was initially pleased – in that I could do it at all – until the after-effects set in.

Now, and for most of this week, aside from the usual suspects – severe muscle and joint pain – my back’s killing me and I’m permanently exhausted. I was wiped out even before that, with severe brain fog,** setting in soon after I saw the consultant (not before, luckily).

**Which, for me, means seriously impaired short-term memory, a problem even with “normal” brain fog – which is why I almost never use the phone; I won’t remember much of either side of the conversation.

I did make it clear to the nursing staff that I couldn’t walk that far but, this being Arrowe Park Hospital, nobody gave a toss and I was left with no alternative but to walk. With the useless advice that I could stop to rest if I needed to – that’s not the point you stupid buggers!

Of course, had my brain not already shut down, and I hadn’t been physically exhausted from the spirometry test, I’d have said bugger it, I’m simply not going – send someone instead** (I was just collecting a bottle to store 24 hours worth of pee – it didn’t actually require my presence in person).

**There was no shortage of staff standing around doing nothing, as for some reason there was a lull at that point.

And even had I taken my manual wheelchair, it was still very much  further than I’m happy with, and also impossible, given the multiple sets of very heavy doors en route. It seems not to have occurred to anyone involved in the design and building of Arrowe Park or, subsequently, in its running, that a hospital should actually be 100% accessible by disabled people.

So, by the time I got to the Path Lab I was close to collapse, and the only thought in my head, once I had my pee bottle – what an exciting life I lead – was getting the hell out of there. Which I did.

However, over the last couple of days I’ve been plagued by the thought that I should, perhaps, have returned to the clinic but, if I ever had that information, it’s not just a short-term memory problem, it’s gone forever.

And it’s gone – if it was ever there – because with outpatients, as was amply demonstrated last January as an in-patient, Arrowe Park’s patient care is piss-poor. The more so as, if they were expecting me to return, then sending me to the Path Lab at that point was stupid, as it was, I discovered, closer to the exit than returning to the clinic and leaving from there would have been.

I got profuse apologies from staff who kept me waiting a few minutes while they brought up my information on their computers, which weren’t necessary as I knew what they were doing (though I suppose many might not, but who goes to an OPD clinic in a hurry, anyway?), but no help whatsoever when it was actually needed.

I also developed left-side chest pain during spirometry (for those unfamiliar with the process, it can be quite strenuous when done properly – and it was). Did anybody care – and bear in mind this was the cardiology clinic? No.

As a small consolation, though, when I was leaving the Path Lab, a med student learned that the consequences of running up to an outward-opening door from the side, where you can’t be seen through the window in the door, can be painful. Cheered me up, anyway!

Note: For those who don’t know me, the reason my walking ability is impaired is a combination of GOLD Stage 4 COPD, moderate/severe ME/CFS, heart failure, aortic valve calcification, widespread osteo-arthritis, hips especially, but most joints are affected, plus the damage caused by being struck by lightning in 1983, which literally fried my feet, melting the fatty pads in the soles, so there is no cushioning (an effect not unlike walking barefoot on a shingle beach), and damaged most of my joints, probably causing the spread of pre-existing o-a, and might actually also be the syndrome diagnosed as ME/CFS – there’s no way of knowing as the symptoms are almost identical.