I’ve done it again – another visit to A&E.
If you’ve read my last posting you’ll remember that I had surgery in the UK in March and I’m back in Ireland now recupperating under the care of a surgical team in a large Dublin teaching hospital. I can’t praise this team enough for their expertise and efficiency combined with real care and compassion. It was they who referred me to the UK for my operation as it’s not available here unfortunately, and now it feels good to be back in the care of people who know me well.
I knew before I’d opened my eyes yesterday that something had changed, this was a different sort of pain and I instinctly knew that I needed to seek help. Several phone calls later and I was instructed to report to A&E for assessment. I checked in, was assessed by a triage nurse and then joined the long queues in the waiting room area. I’m no stranger to this A&E department having been through it’s doors for emergency admission or treatment at least 6-7 times since surgery in the same hospital in July 2005. This was as a result of complications following that operation (more anon). I’ve definitely been here, done my time and got the teeshirt! Yesterday though I hit lucky. I was whisked through those double doors and onto a trolley in double quick time and as always, the staff were fantastic – at all levels of the ranks. It definitely helps to be a ‘regular’ though I wouldn’t recommend it! The place was heaving with patients everywhere, all cubicles were full and my trolley was lined up next to the nurses station. Having had my history taken (and most of my blood as well) I was examined and told that my fate depended on the lab results and so there was nothing for it but to make myself at home on my trolley and prepare for a long wait. One side of my trolley was up against a window of an examination room (which thankfully had a blind in place) but I counted five discarded drinking bottles of various types lined up on the windowsill at my elbow, obviously from the previous occupiers of my trolley. I loaded up as many as I could carry and staggered off to find a bin to get rid of this disgusting rubbish. That achieved, I took up residence and watched the world go by for about two hours. Nothing much has changed since my last visit here. Patients of all ages wandered around in various states of undress and mental incapacity, most of them in hospital gowns that were gaping open at the back. My heart goes out to the elderly in these circumstances – they seem so lost and vulnerable and confused in this busy environment. And what is it about A&E staff that they can so successfully avoid eye contact with patients? I’ve observed this trend over the years and they have it down to a fine art. It’s quite a skill you know to be able avert your eyes when patients all around you are looking for attention. It appears that there’s no eye contact with patients unless and until you’re next on the list for their attention. But the wait can be unacceptably long for some especially when in pain and discomfort. My luck was in yesterday. When my initial blood reports came back there was nothing indicating that I had to have I/V treatment and so I was released on oral antibiotics and instructed to report back at any time if things deteriorate further. There’s been a lot of bad press recently about A&E but sometimes it does work well and I have to say, the treatment I received yesterday was second to none during the three hours that I was in the hospital. The staff were very friendly and considerate but I was more than happy to wave them all goodbye, and that trolley, and return to my own bed, with my own drinking bottle!