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.