Patients know best

March 31, 2010

Had you been wondering where I’d disappeared to? Sorry about that. My elderly parents are in need of an extra helping hand right now so I’ve been otherwise occupied. I’ve also had the little business of an operation to recover from and that’s kept me somewhat quieter than usual. This week, it’s definitely been a case of Steph nose best 😉

Recovery from surgery can usually be measured in steps. You know the way it is… two steps forward, one back until you’re over the worst and then it’s generally steady progress from then on. My recovery on this occasion has taken on a different pattern. The first 10 days post-op were the easy bit and it’s been a bit up and down since then. If there’s one thing I’ve learnt over the years as a patient, it’s never to doubt myself when it comes to reporting symptoms.

I requested another appointment at the hospital yesterday as I sensed something wasn’t right. The consultant examined my head endoscopically and was able to confirm my suspicions. Despite daily wash-outs since the surgery, the inside of my head had crusted up again and was in need of further Spring cleaning. I continued to insist that I could also smell decay. After working on my head for some time, the culprit was soon identified. The donor site for the graft was to blame. Some dead cartilage was visible on one side of the nasal septum where tissue had been removed and rotated upwards into my forehead, for grafting. Once this decaying cartilage had been cut away yesterday, my airway felt very much better. I was patted on the back for my skills of detection and sent on my way with a request to return if symptoms recur.

The culture of healthcare is thankfully changing from one of paternalistic medicine to one of participatory medicine. Everyone is better off when patients are encouraged to engage with the medical profession.

Patients Know Best is actually the name of a company whose website is already integrated into the NHS secure network and helps UK patients with chronic diseases, to manage their health care.