Hospital Visit

It’s been pretty quiet around here for the last few days as I spent Monday and Tuesday trying out a hospital bed at the Western Infirmary. Over the weekend I’d been in some discomfort with some pains in the chest and also some pain travelling down the left arm. Although there were alarm bells ringing the pain was neither sore nor that frequent. Still, disconcerting but I put it down to a muscle strain.

Sunday it got a bit worse, Monday morning at work the pain was felt elsewhere including the legs. Something was not right so I phoned the GP and got an appointment that morning. Fast forward three hours to lunchtime and although the doctor agreed it was probably just a muscle strain she couldn’t rule out a possible heart attack or related heart issues and I would have to go to the Western’s A&E for an ECG. Nice. I’ve never actually been to hospital as a patient so this was going to be an eye opener as well as a potential shock to the system. An hour later and I was waiting in A&E. An hour after that I had been given an ECG, blood had been taken and I had been thoroughly examined. The verdict was that the heart is strong, there are no signs of any problems but a blood test and x-rays would be required to confirm the pain isn’t heart related. All sounding pretty positive and to be honest I was relieved.

Roll on another hour and the x-rays were complete and I was admitted to the Western, probably overnight as the tests would take a while. Fast forward to Tuesday, another set of blood tests, another ECG and confirmation that it’s not heart related but some sort of muscular viral infection that should clear with time. Happy days. Sort of. I’m obviously relieved that it’s not a heart problem and it’s great to hear that all the tests have confirmed it. Just hope the aches and pains subside as I’ve been warned that if they continue or it flairs up again I’ve to return to A&E to get some further tests. Hopefully not required.

As it was my first time as a patient in a hospital it was interesting to see how it worked, how prejudiced I was and how my views changed over the two days. When I entered i was expecting to be waiting for hours before being seen. I was dealt with very quickly by the whole A&E team and I can’t fault them at all. I also saw first hand the range of people they have to deal with and the difficulties they face. They do an amazing job – something I could never do and it impressed me no end. Hat’s off to the team at the Western.

As I was pushed through to x-ray and finally to level 8 I caught myself trying to find dirty areas, trying to find faults, trying to nit pick in my head, analysing what was wrong with the place. All pretty negative, carrying baggage from sensational newspapers with no personal experience to back them up. On the whole the Western was pretty clean and I had no major issues with dirt. The staff all the way through to level 8 were great. Level 8 is where you are usually sent to from A&E before they assign you to a longer stay ward so the floor has a massive turnaround in patients. In my room alone (4 beds) there were 8 patients in a 24 hour period. The volume and range of illnesses shocked me and really highlighted the difficulties that medical teams, nurses in particular face day to day. Also highlighted the problems of drink, drugs, smoking and obesity that look likely to blight the NHS for years to come. Some examples…

  • A was in with a balance problem. He could walk for 20 yards or so but would then need to hold onto walls and fences to go any further. Worked all his life and was pretty bitter about his illness. Admitted to liking a drink but not so much now. Doctor transferred him to neuro ward for a brain scan and asked was he a heavy drinker as all the signs are that drink has affected his brain and ability to balance. A real shame.
  • J1 was in his seventies and had suddenly been hit with breathing problems. He was bemused by the suddenness of it all and that his only vice was 20 fags a day since he was 16.
  • J2 was also in his seventies. He readily admitted that drinking, smoking and lack of exercise had left him in a mess. He also admitted that he wish he’d dies in his 50’s as the last 20 years were hellish. A series of problems were only made worse with testicular cancer three months ago and now a problem that prevented number two’s from appearing.
  • R was a young guy in his late teens. Admitted late on Monday night he had drunk himself silly and was brought in via ambulance. On a drip he told me later in the night he had taken 50 paracetamol as well, egged on by mates and also because he wanted to feel free. A lecture from doctors and a visit from psychiatrists didn’t seem to have helped him when I left – he was just annoyed at missing the Celtic game. If only he’d have thought the night before.
  • T was another old chap who was beyond looking after himself and whose speciality was groping any nurse in the vicinity. Dirty old bugger.
  • W was brought in an hour before I left. He’s the first guy I’ve seen who although younger than me looked about 10 years older. I must admit I pre-judged him based on his face and speech. Turns out he’s a 20 a day guy, usually at least 10 pints a day and was a drug user until 6 months ago. Once the nurses sorted him out, attached him to various devices, made sure he had a bottle to relieve himself as he said he couldn’t walk….he then pulled everything off, removed his drip and started to walk to the toilet. Nurses come in, tell him off and re-attach everything. I ain’t using an f’in bottle. Give me some f’in painkillers. Where’s the f’in doctor? Nurses assure him he is very unwell and doctor is busy but he will be there soon. He then removed everything again once the nurses had left…and they came back and re-attached everything again. As I left he was putting two fingers down his throat as it makes him feel better. If I had a gun I swear I would have used it on him and saved nurses all the grief and no doubt other people who he will hassle/rob/annoy in the future. Scumbag.
  • Then there was me. 33 year old with chest pains…and obese who probably was too lippy with the nurses for his own good and thought he always knew best.

Although I’ve painted it pretty black the guys in the room were all OK apart from druggie boy who came in near the end. Interesting to hear the old boy’s and their stories form yesteryear and talking to people who I’d normally never meet.

However hearing all their medical issues was pretty uncomfortable as the doctor did his rounds. Putting up with 72 year old guys walking around naked in the middle of the night, oxygen tanks failing and a toilet covered in urine as they older gents struggled to control themselves was also pretty taxing but I was only there for one day. The staff have to put up with that day in and day out, at the same time doing their job and trying not to be judgemental. So, so impressive. The nurses are doing a great job and on what I saw, using limited resources as they always seemed stretched and were always busy. Sometimes I thought they were pretty harsh but with hindsight they are trying to get the job done as quickly, easily and safely as possible while at the same time looking after a lot of people and you need to remember that patients aren’t always the easiest to deal with.

Doctors in general were OK but not very forthcoming with information. It was like a test to see if you could prize info out of them. Maybe I was just unlucky but it was always a struggle to find out what they thought could be wrong. Maybe they didn’t know, but I’d rather they said that than fobb you off with a glib statement.

Also of concern is A&E in Glasgow. The Western on a Monday afternoon was busy enough but think what Friday and Saturday nights must be like? The Western A&E is closing in 2010 replaced by the Southern General. That’s a big area covered by one hospital. What happens when the Clyde Tunnel is busy or closed? That’s some detour. I don’t know if it’s too late to reverse the decision but it will cause deaths. I’m in no doubt.

So that leaves me. This has been a bit of a wake up call. Sitting in the ward gave me a lot of thinking time. Priority is to tackle my weight and thankfully that’s something I had already started to address. I hadn’t posted anything here as I was embarrassed about even mentioning diets and exercise but needs must and it’s something I faced up to 5 weeks ago. So since mid August I’ve cut back on junk food and started exercising more. The result has been a 1/2 stone drop in weight to just under 19 stones….120kg. Not much but it’s a start and I intend to continue. There’s a long way to go. It’s also good to know that the heart has been checked out and is healthy. A big weight form my mind. Hopefully that’s the last post on this topic for a while…back to games and gadgets – Apple.

10 Comments

  1. Take it easy man! Glad it’s not TOO serious.

    And yes, the press paint a bad picture. When Louise when in a few years ago (Hairmyres) I could barely find a fault and neither could she. The staff deserve to be paid double if not triple.

  2. Glad you’re ok. Although we don’t like to admit it, the media does colour our opinion of things.
    Last time I was in A&E my gran had taken a wee turn and fallen and bumped her head. After waiting 4 hours on a Thurs night/Fri morning, we got seen by a doctor who was checking mental faculties by asking “What day is it?”. My gran replied, “It’s Friday. It was Thursday when I came in you know.” You can’t get one past her, though she’s in her 80’s.

    A wee while before the next curry night then?

  3. Mate, firstly, glad you are ok and things aren’t too serious. You’ll live and learn from it. Our experiences of the NHS have been kid related too, and without exception, all have been fantastic (Hairmyres, Princess Royal and Wishaw – each more or less brand new too incidentally). My mum worked her whole career in the NHS and her one gripe was that the ‘angels’, the nurses, got all the public interest. The support staff who do a good job too often get forgotten. On weight loss, its a marathon and not a sprint. I’ve got a sweet tooth so I cut back on the biscuits and cakes. I eat two bananas and three apples at work – that sort of thing. Start counting exercise-wise. I count my sit-ups, try and do so many hundred a night – takes me half an hour in front of the telly. You could do this on the bike? Little and often, don’t sicken yourself with too much too soon. Over the months it’ll make a difference. Chin up.

  4. Cheers guys. Curry night won’t be too far away. I’ll be in touch soon.

  5. Good to hear you’re OK now (and the fact you weigh more than me cheered me up too). Your post touched on a couple of things I’ve been thinking of blogging about namely media manipulation/FUD e.g McCann case and Northern Rock, and the desperate need this country has for a cull of neds/chavs/drunks/druggies/schemies and any other feckless waster that appear to have survived our recent warm winters.

    Chins up, you fat git 😉

  6. Karma for cheating on Bomberman you fat bassa!
    Seriously though, stop cheating on Bomberman!
    Good to hear it isn’t too serious though, I’m sure the release of Halo3 is what kept you strong.

  7. Must have been a shock. Glad it’s all turned out well. Still, you best stay away from Halo for a few weeks… just in case.

  8. Thanks for the comments. Cheating on Bomberman? Me? Skill my friend, pure skill + reliance on your insatiable speedy boot appetite.

    The doctor also prescribed extended Halo 3 sessions – should hopefully see some of you online soon.

  9. Sorry for the delay in adding a comment, I am glad you are OK and that your experience with the NHS was favourable. I wish I could report something similar. Sadly my recent experiences have all been poor, concerning Foresterhill hospital in Aberdeen, sadly while the actual medical staff were all superb, the administration is dreadful, and the facility itself just looks neglected. Everything looks like it needs a coat of paint and some TLC.

    Good luck with the health kick, sorry it took a hospital visit to start you off! I would like to give you some tips for that. Eat right and exercise. Walking is the best and easiest way to take more exercise. Eating right is easy enough too. We all know the foods we should avoid. I advise you to buy a steamer, and eat more veg, steamed veg is much tastier than boiled, and less hassle than roasting them. Lastly have a night off from eating healthy once a week, one night where you can eat whatever you want. Then on a healthy evening, when you are denying yourself something you would really like to eat, you can promise yourself it in a few days time, makes not eating it at the time much easier.
    —–
    Lewis

  10. Cheers Lewis. Some good advice. I had started on the exercise about 4 weeks before the hospital visit as the belly and lack of fitness were a bigger kick up the arse than a hosiptal visit!! Small but steady weight losses so far but I’m pleased as there are good signs that fitness is improving. I didn’t really post about it as to be honest I was a bit embarrassed about it and also I had the ‘what if i fail’ mentality. In a couple of months I’ll post an update on what I’m doing and what the progress has been.

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