Another hospital stay looms – Oh, Joy!

Twice this year I’ve disappeared into emergency hospital admissions, causing some of my friends and followers online to worry.

This, then, is by way of a pre-emptive strike – advance notice that it might well happen again before long, as my GP expended some effort yesterday trying to convince me that I’d die** if I didn’t agree to be admitted pretty much immediately.

**In fact he was so certain, claiming that I would succumb to septicaemia in the very near future, and die, that I was almost convinced. With hindsight I probably am convinced. My father died of septicaemia, so I know how this is likely to go, and I’m not in any hurry to make this a family tradition.

That would have been worrying (tbh, it is), had it not been for the fact that no  member of that GP practice has bothered to make a home visit when asked to by the District Staff Nurse. Not by me, mark you, but by someone whose professional opinion they felt they could simply ignore.

You’ll have to excuse me, then, if I see this latest move as an attempt to pass me, and my problems, on to someone else, in this case a hospital for which I have a deep-seated and entirely justifiable loathing. And fear – each time I’ve been admitted (a few days in 2011, 6 weeks earlier this year, and a week about a month ago), they haven’t failed to do me harm, both physical and mental.

The bay system also presents me with a very real danger – the damn places are little more than incubators for cross-infection, badly ventilated (either stifling or cold and draughty – no middle ground), and right now I seriously doubt my ability to survive unscathed physically.

And the food is shit. Nothing to do with the bays, simply a fact.

Last time I was stuck in one of these hell-holes, I wrote this:-

Corner People . . .

I have become a Corner Person.

One of us to each corner of a four-bedder.

Gasping for breath, sucking oxygen, hoovering up drugs.

Corner People – trying not to die . . .

 ***

There is, though, no getting away from the fact that, this morning, I feel terrible, but then I often do, and I’m trying very hard not to read anything sinister into it and, so far, failing. It could be – and I hope it is – simply due to the fact that I started taking Clarithromycin, an antibiotic, yesterday, and appear to be experiencing most of the common side effects.

That, or I actually am much worse than I was 24 hours ago. And there’s some fresh hell to deal with – the skin on my fingers is thickening and splitting, which is quite remarkably painful. I’ve had this before and it took years to get rid of it, using salicylic acid ointment to dissolve the thickened skin and a steroid cream to sooth the fresh skin underneath – which will also thicken and fissure in its turn for months

Anyway, I’m going to spend the weekend getting my hospital kit together, and hiding supplies of all my pain meds because you can’t rely on APH drug rounds to happen regularly, on time or – far too often – at all.

And back in April, they were in the habit of putting dementia patients in with the general population. This meant that nobody got any sleep because of old men screaming and raving through the night at people that only they could see.

I know dementia is a terrible thing, and the prospect terrifies me, but its victims simply should not be accommodated where they can impact so profoundly on people who, along with much else, need their rest. And if it happens again I’ll be back home just as soon as I can get dressed and grab a taxi!

And yes, we did complain, thanks for asking, and were repeatedly promised that they would be removed. Never happened.

In April, conditions there were so appalling that – with the benefit of hindsight – it’s clear that I was driven into a breakdown (about which I’ve written). That’s a risk I will not run next time. Because I won’t stay – just one disturbed night and I’m out of there.

No hope for wheelies.

One last gripe, and this is a biggie – the ground floor is mostly wheelie**-friendly, as long as you don’t stray beyond the lifts into a maze of corridors and massively heavy fire doors. Up on the wards and it gets worse very quickly.

**A wheelie is a wheelchair user.

The “Accessible” toilets are most certainly not, the huge, heavy doors being fitted with monstrously heavy closers, making them impossible to get into on wheels (pull the door, it remains immoveable as you roll forward), and, if you get help to get you in, it’s almost as hard to get out again (push the door and you go backwards). It would be easy enough with 4 arms but that, I understand, is something of a rarity

And all that assumes the toilets aren’t in use. Towards the end of my stay a bunch of elderly gay guys hogged them every evening, shagging each other cross-eyed (the logistics baffled me – how the hell did they all wind up on the same ward at the same time?).  And then there was the sad, chronic, masturbator who thought no-one knew! Given the number of times I walked in on him – and others must have too – I’d have thought he’d realise that his secret was out pretty quickly, but apparently not.

And none of these guys actually had the brains god gave a gopher – the doors had Occupied/Vacant sliders on the outside, and locks on the inside. Did they ever use them? No.

Not to mention all the clutter around the place – nothing ever seems to get put away. And if several people got the urge for an impromptu meeting, as seems to happen everywhere in the multiverse, they’d pick the nearest bottleneck and completely obstruct it!

Nor are there any low-level bathroom fittings suitable for wheelie use. True, I could ask for a bowl of water and get somewhat cleaned up in my bed-space, but the point is I shouldn’t have to

 

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17 thoughts on “Another hospital stay looms – Oh, Joy!

  1. I truly hope you don’t end up in hospital again, but it’s going to happen and I think we all know that 😦
    Hospitals are the breeding grounds of every germ known, and not known, to man. It’s much safer to sit among a load of strangers in a cinema than hospital. No-one follows the rules, not even the staff, of cleansing hands entering, leaving the ward, going from one patient to another etc except on the days that the infection control people are on the ward watching them – but they are all given notice which day they are coming so the rest of the time you’ll be lucky to see the staff using the gel that is attached to their uniforms or in the dispensers on the wall.
    I was lucky in that I was in a side room that had it’s own toilet, in fact, I have never been in hospital over the years where there aren’t toilets in the side rooms and sink in the actual room itself.
    I suppose as well that I’ve been lucky in that I do go into a side room as my mental health goes into total shutdown mode if put with strangers. Put me on a ward and I shake, cry, won’t talk, sit rocking on the side of the bed with the curtains around me – it’s extremely bad for my mental health which in turn affects my physical health. Perhaps you could ask for the mental health team to come to see you or, the best idea is to have the local mental health team come to see you and you become a patient of theirs? After all Ron, your mental health is affected by what you are suffering on a daily basis, and this should be addressed as well for the sake of your sanity and the sake of your physical health.
    As for dementia patients – God help them but OMG – it’s so frightening to hear them screaming out, hear them trying to get out of bed, hear nurses shouting at them because they have soiled themselves again etc etc.
    It is wrong to put them on any ward unless it is specialised wards just for those who are suffering from such an awful disease. The ward I was on had many dementia patients, a 6 bedded bay for the women and another for the men and then a couple in the side rooms, which meant you could have 14 dementia patients on a ward that was for orthopaedic patients. You get no peace during the day, but night time is horrendous and you do not recover properly as you are exhausted.
    I’ll keep my fingers crossed that you can escape hospital this time and that the new antibiotics don’t mess you about.
    Jay x

    • Last time I was in APH I spent a week in a side room (basin, no toilet), and over the bed was an air-con vent about the size of a dustbin lid blasting cold air onto the bed – and me – 24/7. Nobody, they claimed, knew how to turn it off, or even down. As soon as I felt well enough I asked to be discharged with support (much better option that self-discharging as you get a big bag of drugs to take home and no black mark on your records!).

      Don’t think I dare take many more antibiotics – I’m hallucinating terribly (listed side-effect). A little while ago I dozed off for a few seconds (the drug again – can’t stay awake), woke up to see a big fat woman sitting next to me, in a black dress printed with gaudy flowers! Closed my eyes – opened them again – still there, which was bad news. One more try – and she was gone. Also seeing big spiders, or mice – no detail just something small and scurrying. Damn good job I know it’s not real – I’ve had this stuff before – same problems. There were big black squirrels in the mix then! Not helped by being over-tired – didn’t get to bed until about 03.00 this morning, that’s got to stop.

      Last time in APH the demented old guy was in the bed directly opposite! Along with screamers in the psych bay at the other end of the ward, and the night staff treating the place like a social club, there was bugger all sleep to be had – there’d have been even less had I not had ear-plugs – absolutely essential in hospital or when camping! That was the bay I wrote Corner People in, in an attempt to hang on to my own sanity. Not sure it worked.

      What gets me about the bays is the utter lack of privacy, not to mention the constant arguments with staff about my chair – the feeling is, from the Sisters on down in APH, that they shouldn’t be allowed on the ward. In a bloody hospital?! Well sod ’em, I’m taking my manual chair when I do go in, and if it’d fit in the ambulance I’d take my powerchair instead, but it won’t. And I get fed up being nagged about not wearing slippers, but I can’t as my feet leak and, in less than an hour, slippers would be ruined. My chair should help there.

      Not sure I could make a case for being mentally ill, though I looked after my wife through a series of breakdowns (so I could fake it if I have to, though I wouldn’t be happy about it), and spent 5 years on 24/7 suicide watch (before she decided that my being ill with ME was just not fair, or something – never did get an explanation – and buggered off. Then I had my own breakdown!

      18 years later she reappeared, said she was sorry, she’d been wrong, and clearly expected us to pick up where we left off. Er, no! Damn near tipped me over the edge again, though, and writing this has made me realise that, in MH terms, maybe I’m not as securely anchored as I think I am.

      Trouble is I wouldn’t even know where the local MH team hang out – is this a social services thing?

  2. Is there any chance you could be admitted somewhere other than APH? I’ve made my husband promise me he’ll take me the extra ten mins to the *next* nearest A&E in future, unless I’d die on him in those ten mins.

    Re: powerchairs and ambulances… one person I know who is semi-regularly admitted as an emergency has an arrangement with the housing manager of her block. If she’s admitted, she rings the housing person and arranges for the chair to be got out of her house, with charger, cushion, etc, and be taken out when someone arrives to collect it (housing person has a spare key). Ring&Ride in her area have been kind enough to agree to transport the empty powerchair when this happens. Or even ask patient transport services to get it – they must have wheelie-accessible vehicles.

    I really would urge you to get in touch with social services – if nothing else, if you had a PA they could go to the doctors’ surgery and make a scene for you! Would also be useful for things like bringing your powerchair/electronic devices to you when in hosp, helping you stay clean and keep legs/furniture/floors clean – it sounds like that must be a challenge with the way your legs are. Could also help you monitor symptoms and be a ‘witness’ to how bad the pain etc is to your GP – it’s harder for them to dismiss/ignore you when there are witnesses, it limits how badly someone can treat you. My PA is also fab at helping me advocate for myself when I’m being treated poorly, where I’d otherwise give up because I’m just too ill for that crap.

    How do you get to hospital/consultant appointments? Can you take your powerchair then? If you can, could you use that method to get to hospital when you know you’re going to be admitted? (which is pretty much like it sounds now).

    The lack of wheelie-friendliness and the infection risk of an shared bay when you’ve got basically a giant open wound on each leg sounds like an excellent argument for going somewhere other than APH, to me!

    Best of luck, I’ll be thinking of you and wishing you well.

    Jaime

  3. The determination and support of all of the posters on here, one to the other, is a wonderful thing – humbling to read.
    For you Ron, I can hear the resignation of what’s become inevitable and some worrying symptoms creeping in which have to be addressed – but no wonder you recoil from even the thought. The wards sound like Victorian asylums and I know you aren’t exaggerating. Your fight and unwillingness to take the crap has seen you through, that’s for sure and you will know whether it’s ‘working’ and if it isn’t – get out quick. x

    • Quite agree, though I’m often baffled by what others see in me – from my perspective I’m just trying to get by the best I can.

  4. Ha – you might be a curmugeonly old bugger Ron but we still love you in spite of that/or because of that – and this is something you have got to hang on to in these days – you have had some really lovely messages and they are sincere. So hang on in there and continue ‘trying to get the best’ you can – it’s called survival.x

    • Oy! Not so much of the old! Actually, next Saturday I’ll be 69 – nobody expected I’d ever make it that far. My pessimistic GP still doesn’t and I’m determined to prove him wrong. Trouble with that is, quite seriously, it’s getting harder and harder to convince myself, never mind convince him.

      It’s true, though, that had it not been for my friends, mostly on Twitter, I’d have died in April. I came within a couple of days – maybe just a few hours – of starving myself to death, simply because I got too ill to feed myself. And, living alone, there was no-one to tell me how bad things were getting (if I looked in the mirror I’d see the face of my Twitter avi – the reality was that I looked more like an animated corpse, having lost 31kg).

      Had it not been for my “Twitter Posse” bullying me mercilessly – but in a good, caring, way, I wouldn’t have given in and phoned for an ambulance – and I wouldn’t have survived. As it was it was touch and go for a while, and the stress tipped me into a breakdown.

      And how did the hospital treat my starvation? By starving me! After 3 days I actually had to demand that they fed me. Just one more entry on the tally of reasons why I have no desire whatsoever to return to that hell-hole.

  5. Well, you may be going into hospital but you ain’t going anywhere else…not if this lot have anything to do with it! xx However, each anecdote you throw in makes my heart sink – the toilets, the food, the infection risk… my only hope is that some inspector has demanded an improvement in the place since you were last there. Some of the scenarios beggar belief, seemingly with nobody on those wards with their eyes open saying ‘what the hell’s going on here’ ? I remember the days of stern matrons – they just would not stand for it and would be yelling ‘Get it bloody sorted’ and there would be people in the shape of actual, real nurses jumping to it.
    Hope some of the ‘posse’ are near you to offer more than these good wishes which are sincerely sent.

    • Most of the nursing staff are auxiliaries, and not allowed to do anything remotely “medical” which is the main problem. Want a doctor? Or meds? – they’ve got to go looking for a qualified nurse and often don’t come back! As for answering patients’ call buttons, it’s a potentially lethal joke. One night I timed their response, which included me going out and telling them they were needed (not by me but by an old bloke recovering from some heavy-duty surgery) – they were actually standing, gossiping, in clear view of the flashing light, never mind the constant beeping. It took them two hours to respond!

      And here’s a cheerful little tale for you: https://ronsrants.wordpress.com/2013/04/29/the-rather-limited-joys-of-pleural-aspiration/

  6. Just read that – it sounded so hit and miss… you said you were going to sue…to me it’s a wonder you survived! Survive again Ron and hope against hope that pleural aspirations are not on the menu…

    • The old bloke they did on my bay was so traumatised by the whole thing that, once they’d finished, he was convinced he was in a different hospital! Took me ages to talk him down and make him realise he hadn’t been anywhere.

  7. Your actions highlight the very element missing from the NHS (and life in many instances) – compassion!

    • Didn’t think of it as compassionate – it just needed doing and I was there.

      In APH a total of 7 weeks so far this year, and the only hint of compassion I’ve seen has been, just occasionally, patient to patient, and I think the bay system even militates against that – the old open ward system had far more patients, with a far greater chance of interaction. Now you just get banged up with 8 or 10 people whose only topic of conversation is bloody football!

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