Now I’d never disparage our taxpayer funded NHS. It’s an integral service providing critical emergency care to the most vulnerable, regardless of their social standing. A system legislated to ensure any malady, regardless of the severity can be isolated through rigorous, considerate consultation from men and women that demonstrate tremendous fortitude for their practice, and conciliate patients ill health without the recipient incurring enormous medical bills. Our national health service is a publicly funded, and thoroughly accessible system that facilitates a variant of benefits not least of which is the assurance that it will provide the care you require when you most need it. I feel privileged to have such a service at my disposal whenever the necessity to use it arises. Having said that it is a system completely undermined by staff shortages and critically lacking in financial investment. Now I’m not moaning, merely stating particular observations that have enabled me to objectively….all right; moan!
Ever since the birth of our daughter Rose, resulting from an emergency caesarean, my partner has experienced persistent, potentially dangerous breathing difficulties. As such we have been frequent visitors to the hospital as doctors attempt to establish the cause of the subsequent repository infarction, which turned out to be a build up of fluid on her lung. The most immediate solution was unfortunately a more invasive procedure than we had anticipated. So on Monday, a bank holiday no less, we arrived at the hospital for a scheduled procedure to drain this excess fluid via a tube inserted through her back and into the offending lung. Obviously my girlfriend was very anxious about this operation and just wanted to get the procedure under way as soon as possible. We were advised by her doctor to arrive at our earliest convenience so that we may get the draining started sooner. Of course if you’ve ever been to a modern hospital then you know just what a labyrinth the sterile environment is! Just a series of blank, indistinct walls with equally vacuous corridors that make negotiating you’re way to the toilet confusing?! I’m surprised I wasn’t greeted by a Minotaur actually! In any case once we had found the correct ward a receptionist informed us that there was no record of our names booked in. “Great” I thought. I already knew what kind of day this was going to be. Thankfully another doctor intervened and said that she was the one that had contacted us in regards to the drainage issues (my girlfriend hated me calling it that). She directed us to the A&E waiting room while she would locate a room for us to accommodate.
Roughly 2 hours, 3 examinations and the consumption of a cookie that tasted like it had already been eaten, then reformed into a cookie like shape later our doctor finally returned and ushered us to our temporary courters. She explained the technicalities of the procedure, informed us of some of the side effects and pain my partner could experience during the operation. My partner, whose nerves had not abated agreed to the conditions and was soon given a general anaesthetic to numb the area where the tube would be. Despite a few grimaces and sporadic grips of my hand the tube was inserted without incidence and we waited for the fluid to disperse. After a brief exchange of pleasantries, whereby the doctor revealed that she estimated that there was at least a litres worth of fluid trapped in my partners lung, the bag that was funnelling the dispensing liquid had almost reached that estimate! My girlfriend began to experience a great deal of discomfort at this point, which we had been informed was completely normal due to the lung expanding, so the activity was stopped and we waited for the pain to subside enough for her to continue. A couple of hours later, my girlfriend feeling fatigued but well enough to continue, a nurse exchanged the full bag that’s contents resembled that of urine for an empty one and began to patiently wait for the draining to finish. After 3 hours of waiting there were still no significant signs of any further liquids, which was a very good indication that there was no more fluid left stored in the lung. We notified the appropriate nurse who indicated that she would contact our physician to come and remove the pipe, conduct one final examination as well as a final X-ray to confirm that the lung was indeed absent of any secretions and discharge my girlfriend. So we waited…….and waited. And waited. And, well you get the idea.
It’s surprising just how exhausting idleness can be? Particularly after 6 hours! For me it was boring, for my girlfriend it was far more excruciating. It’s certainly not the kind of procrastination we had expected to endure on a bank holiday. You see due to laws and other regulations staff are unable to deliberately let people die simply because of first come, first served ideologies (which is unfortunate) and have to prioritise patient safety by the immediacy of the danger to the infirm. For instance a man walking into accident and emergency complaining about a rash will always be neglected in favour of another admittance with a drain pipe protruding out of his lungs. We were the man with the rash in this instance. So by the time our overworked, equally fatigued doctor had returned to discharge us it was nearly 10 in the evening. And it’s occasions such as these that make you appreciate the convenience of virtual wounds and afflictions. You can get shot, stabbed, punched, thrown off a cliff, run over or sustain any number of accidentally incurred injuries and recover just by simply hiding behind a crate to regenerate health. Sometimes I really hate reality.