Life sucks – but it’s better than the alternative…

This really belongs in The View From Bed 3, but as there’s a real risk that I might die suddenly I wanted to reach my main audience so you know why I’ve disappeared – if I do, of course.


My bleeding-lung problem goes back about 6 months (about 50 years really, but it’s only been a serious problem this year). Normally, over the 50-year period, it would be old blood, as indicated by bruise-coloured sputum, and perfectly normal in my case. Of late, though, it has been bright, fresh blood, not abnormal even then, as excessive coughing can pop a vein on occasion.

Now, though, the severity, and the sheer volume of blood, along with other changes (frothy sputum, for example), indicates a much more serious condition, pulmonary oedema, and that can kill (as happened in the case of Stephen Gately). And that is the hospital’s diagnosis, along with a degree of atelectasis (deflation of the lungs’ alveoli,** which explains why it was so hard to breathe, and why it still is).

**Not the same as a collapsed lung, though from a patient’s perspective, it doesn’t feel a hell of a lot different!

Add those to my existing COPD (asthma, bronchiectasis, emphysema), heart failure and narrowed aortic valve (due to calcification of the valve’s leaflets), and it’s no surprise that two doctors told me I was dying. One when, after 8 hours on a goddammed trolley I demanded that they find me a bed or send me home – “If you go home you will die,” – and another a couple of days later, up on the ward, while discussing my heart condition.

The question, then, is why was I discharged? It is still hard to breathe, and the slightest exertion wipes me out.

True, I didn’t want to be there – the bay system in use in British hospitals is a recipe for cross-infection (I’ve yet to meet a nurse of any rank who doesn’t agree with that), and there is always at least one dementia patient in the mix, ensuring that nobody sleeps, day or night, and this time was no exception – but being here at home, with no support, is a recipe for disaster.

So, folks, I’m afraid you’ll have to excuse me if I’m not too cheerful right now because, frankly, I’m fucking terrified.

I’d like to say that normal service will shortly be resumed, but sorry, I simply don’t even know if I’m going to make it through this. I don’t even know why I’m at home when by any measure I should be in hospital.

It’s true, I’m a contentious patient, but if they didn’t repeatedly try and kill me, or just fuck up my meds so comprehensively, I wouldn’t be.

I had a constant battle to get my Oramorph this time, because patients and GPs measure the stuff by millilitres of solution while in the hospital they measure it by the milligrams of morphine in the solution. Once I figured that out, and specified 10ml of solution, the problem went away (for anyone with half a brain and not addled by illness, there shouldn’t have been a problem anyway). As for the cretin who tried to tell me that ml wasn’t the abbreviation for millilitre, who the hell employs these people?

Then – and far more seriously, there was my beta-blocker cock-up. I take 2.5mg every 12 hours. On the second evening I didn’t get 2.5mg – I got 20mg! Four fucking days worth.

The only person I trust to get my admittedly complex meds right is me, and even I make the occasional mistake, so in hospital, where, despite their red “Drugs Round” tabards they are constantly badgered by patients (all they have to do is say “Use your call button, I’m doing the drugs,” but most don’t), I check them assiduously. Luckily for me as if I’d just done what everyone else did on that bay, and blindly took what I was given, I’d be dead.

An “incident report” has gone in (I’m told), plus I told everyone with any vestige of authority who came by my bed what had happened.** So, as I said, I’m a contentious patient – I’ll live longer that way!

**This happened on the night shift. A few days later I mentioned it to the ward Sister – who didn’t know! So had the incident report been processed? I seriously doubt it otherwise there’d surely have been a copy of it on her desk.

OK then, Arrowe Park Hospital, I know you monitor the Web for adverse comment so tell me – use the comments space – what action are you going to take? Other, that is, than bitch at me for going public?

Arrow Park, for those of you who don’t live in the area, is a teaching hospital. When it comes to COPD, what they are teaching seems to be pretty dangerous. I have been told three times now, by junior doctors, that I can’t possibly have COPD because I’ve never smoked and smoking is the cause of COPD.


Smoking is A cause of COPD. The biggest, granted, but far from the only one, so who is teaching this crap to junior doctors at APH and more to the point, why?

Over to you, APH…

5 thoughts on “Life sucks – but it’s better than the alternative…

  1. Oh Ron, I so feel for you. I was a nurse band 5 up until 2 years ago I was retired on the grounds of ill health at the age of 38. I agree with about so much ‘you rant about’ and also can confirm if a clinical incident is filled in, once you press submit button it goes straight into to your ward managers inbox. How could they get your beta-blocker so wrong ( most defiantly should not be doing medications unsupervised). I also am in awe that you write such a honest blog, fingers crossed for your continued blog

    • Hi Gina.

      The main point of my blog is to provide information that might benefit others, so it has to be honest, no matter what the personal cost, and sometimes that’s pretty high. Still, it’s a case of the greatest good for the greatest number, I suppose.

      And although I’m out of hospital, the mistakes continue. My discharge notes are a shambles. She says my lymphoedema is getting worse (it’s not, but my leg ulcer is), while at the same time reducing my diuretics by 50%. I’m not having that! She goes on to say that I was medically fit for discharge – since she didn’t examine me, she can’t possibly know that – and I wasn’t. I wanted to get out – that’s not the same as being fit.

      The betablocker was the third time they’d tried to kill me. In 2011, admitted with pneumonia (and again a plague of baby doctors!), my lungs were flooded and I had to suggest diuretics to clear the fluid. At night, while I was asleep, some lunatic plugged me into 2 litres of i-v saline – damn near drowned me. If I hadn’t woken and made them disconnect it I’m sure I’d have died.


  2. Hi Ron because i have moved house to a country area my practice nurse said after yearly test,s that my COPD was getting better hahaha .COPD never gets better …too many interns …hope you will feel much better soon

    • Hi Wyn,

      I never go for my annual spirometry test. Damn nurse doesn’t know how to use the machine for a start and, as you say, COPD only goes in one direction, so what’s the point?

      Talk to the patient, medicate accordingly. They only do the tests because there’s money in it.


  3. Admire you so much. I too have copd and am in a constant state of fear! I hide the majority of my illness from my Family, so much so, that they think I’m just lazy. Don’t know how you cope with everything else too. I’m so ill sometimes, I amaze myself how I carry on. Stupid really. Love reading your stuff x

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