I am sometimes critical about my GP but this is largely because my surgery is a bit crap. However, this week I had the ‘pleasure’ of experiencing the NHS at its very best. I say pleasure in parenthesis as noone ever really wants to be sick but there I was sat at my desk at 11.30 on Tuesday morning when I was suddenly knocked for six (and a few more) by the sharpest stabbing-est pain in my pain apparently accompanied by my lips going blue and all semblance colour of my anaemic face draining to my boots.
My (poor new) colleagues called an ambulance and it seemed to appear within two minutes (well within ORCON targets – thanks to Tom Reynolds for educating me that any such things existed) so they were either lurking around Hatton Garden (unlikely) or just being jolly amazing – which they were.
They got me onto oxygen – which felt SOO good – who would have thought breathing could be so tricky, got me into their ambulance and did a whole load of tests and then whisked me off to UCLH. I have to say I had no idea where I was nor did I particularly care (I know I was really quite poorly because my handbag was left at the office and at no point did I even think about it). We went on blue lights and sirens and I did feel somewhat guilty as I’m sure I wasn’t as poorly as most people who go in an ambulance are (yes, I know being an avid reader of Random Reality I probably had more need of a blue light than your average ingrowing toenail) but they suspected a pulmonary embolism so it seemed rather urgent – and I did still feel rather sickly child.
Have to say the next hour or so was a bit blurry with more oxygen (hurrah) and lots of needles (much less hurrah). I know I had a chest xray with a magical piece of kit which was whizzed across the ceiling so I didn’t have to move. I was weighed with a magic chair (unfortunately did nothing to magically remove the extra half a stone I have acquired), had lots of normal blood tests, an arterial blood test (not recommended) and was given heparin. Unfortunately during this time, I also felt an odd, heavy and horrid sensation in my right arm and leg so the fear went from PE to a stroke. At this point, I got VERY scared.
It seemed that again within a nanosecond I had a neurologist by my side doing all sorts of tests and although my right hand side was somewhat weaker than my left, my speech and vision were okay. The neurologist visited me twice after the initial assessment and was eventually convinced I had not suffered a stroke.
I was sent for a CT scanand then admitted to a ward. I really didn’t want to be admitted because despite the fact my blood pressure was somewhat high (for me although apparently not for the general population – it was 143 over 80 and I am a strictly 120 over 70 girl) and I was still oxygen – I really didn’t feel THAT poorly. However, given that I was on a drip and the aforementioned oxygen, I wasn’t really in a fit state to fight it too much. CT scan though – the heat stuff they inject to look at your blood vessels – flippin’ hec that stuff’s hot!
I have no idea how the time went but the next thing I was aware of was the dr (and the accompanying retinue of students you get of UCLH but more of that later) was telling me that they couldn’t find a clot but all my symptoms and blood tests indicated I did have one somewhere. I had to stay in. I also had to have another arterial blood test which involved trying again in my right wrist (cue much digging and passing out and then a more successful attempt in my left wrist).
My lovely boy (I’m not supposed to blog about him but how else to I explain?), dashed home and got my glasses and bits and bobs. He also brought my ipod and – under his instruction – I started listening to nice relaxing music about 11pm – it sis not last long because then the attack of the vampires and night monsters began. 11.30, more blood tests; 2am, obs; 3.45am (I am not kidding), more blood tests – because they lost my first set (cue vein collapse and generally not playing the game – it took four attempts); 6am, obs.
Would you believe it they lost the second set of blood tests (yes, those painful ones they took at 3.45am)? The consultant asked his students what they thought they should do. “Take more tests?” offered one. “No.” He said slowly and with some frustration, “We find the lost blood tests, we can’t put they poor patient through more.” Now this is what I meant about the drs at UCLH. May be it’s something about it being a teaching hospital and therefore the drs are teachers as well as drs are infinitely more patient, but the drs were lovely.
Unfortunately the blood tests were not found and I had to have more. I also had a VQ scan which meant I was somewhat radioactive afterwards (I wish I could have seen if I glowed in the dark). All still pointed to the same thing: blood tests say we have a clot; scan shows there is none. What could be done? The lovely consultant conceded he was stumped and although I had metabolic acidosis, he didn’t know why. So it’s been put down to a post-viral problem and I have to go back in a few weeks for more tests. I was going to be discharged – hurrah! After more blood tests – boo!
The discharge procedure was – as in all hospitals – painful, long and ridiculous – who knew the pharamcist has to sign it off even when you aren’t being prescribed drugs? But at last I was out.
I have to say, if you are going to get sick, go to UCLH – it’s a great hospital. I felt very well cared for. Although their tendency to lose my blood test results (and mislay my notes on various occasions) was a tad frustrating – I have so many holes in me and the bruises have to be seen to be belived. However, what I find constantly amazing is that at no point did I have to think about money or cost – and believe me I was given expensive tests and drugs. We can all moan about the NHS but when you are really sick it is incredible and despite its ‘sick man’ status, Aneurin Bevan’s creation should b e the envy of the world.