Tuesday 7 February 2012

Break a Leg!

Let me start with a riddle:

What goes bump bump curse crash clatter scream curse screech? Only with about ten times more Anglo-Saxon, and considerably louder.

No? OK - I’ll tell you. It’s a Susie falling downstairs carrying a tray full of crockery, that’s what.

Which might have been funny, at least in hindsight, especially taking into account Susie’s robust banana-skin sense of humour. Some years ago she saw a blind man walk straight into a lamp-post, and has been laughing at the poor sod ever since.
That’ll teach ‘er.
Except that this time it wasn’t even vaguely amusing. My poor Susie had broken her right leg in two places, and was in considerable pain. But we didn’t know all that at the time. I picked her up from the stairwell, sat her down in the kitchen, and one of the Granddaughters, hastily summoned from the next street, bound up her leg. “It’s only a sprain” said Suse, when urged to let us phone for an ambulance. “It’ll be fine in the morning. And I can’t fancy sitting in Casualty for four hours.”

But it was far from fine in
the morning. And even further from fine the following morning. So after her spending two days in agony, we finally managed to persuade her that A&E was the only way to go.

In fact, it didn’t take anything like the four hours advertised. We were swept along the conveyor belt (read ‘wheelchair’- motive power yours truly - and
why are hospital wheelchairs even more bloody-minded than supermarket trolleys?) from Triage Nurse to Doctor to X-Ray to Doctor again, to Plaster Room, and back to Doctor, with a short wait in between each, except for an hour when the entire NHS buggered off for lunch at the same time.

The X-rays were spectacular. An ankle bone cracked and displaced, and an impressive greenstick fracture of the fibula. Pins and plates and screws were mooted, so they put the errant limb in a temporary plaster cast, made us an appointment with the Fracture Clinic for the next morning, doled out the standard NHS crutches,and sent us home. Getting Suse (or rather her plastered leg) into the car was an interesting challenge, but we made it, just. And It took two of us to lift her up the three steps to the front door, which everybody but her thought was a hoot. Especially when her skirt descended round her ankles, much to the amusement of the two youngest Grandchildren, who were standing in the hallway watching.

To cut a long story short, we were at the hospital most of the next day, a lot of it spent doing the statutory paperwork, and being processed by, and by definition, waiting at, just about every department in the placeexcept for ENT, Infectious Diseases, and Gynaecology. Finally, her operation was scheduled for the following Friday morning. So back to the car and front stairs routine, except that this time the clothing behaved itself.

Susie’s now home and (hopefully) recuperating.

But what a couple of days! We got up at 5am
on the Friday so as to arrive at the Hospital at 6-45 (they said 7-30 for a morning op, but I wanted to be able to find a space in the woefully inadequate car park before the ravening hordes tipped up) and we went up to the ward. More paperwork. And then we sat and waited. And waited. And waited. Suse wasn’t allowed to eat or drink anything, which didn’t improve her temper any, but by about 10 o’clock her long-suffering husband was starving.

Of course, this being a brand new state-of-the-art NHS hospital, there isn’t even a coffee machine at ward level, let alone somewhere selling edibles – I had to go down five floors to the ground floor, where there’s a Costa. Which is very aptly named, I reckon. I lashed out the equivalent of a banker’s bonus on a double espresso the size of a large thimble – thank heavens I hadn’t ordered a single – I’d left my microscope in my other trousers - and a couple of underweight and slightly undercooked pecan Danish.
Then I went back up the five floors to Suse. And we waited, And waited. And – well no doubt you have the picture by now.

Finally @ about 3-30 they took her down to Theatre for what they said would be about an hour’s op. So I sat and waited. And waited. And………

………..by about 6-30 I was going a bit frantic. She hadn’t arrived back from Theatre, and nobody knew where she was – they said that due to a bed shortage she probably wouldn’t be going back to the ward we started off in, and in whose aptly named Waiting Room I still was, but somebody would eventually let me know where she’d ended up. If I didn’t mind – er - waiting. “ Mind?” I said. “Why should I mind?“ I am to waiting what Michelangelo was to painting ceilings.”

Anyway – we were finally re-united at about 7-30pm (visiting time finishes at 8, of course, but I stretched the envelope a bit, ) and at about 9pm I went down to ground level, took out a mortgage to pay the car park charge, and drove home. To a supper of mixed leftovers – I just couldn’t be arsed to cook anything.

And so to bed.

On the Saturday, visiting was from 2pm, and prior to that they had told Suse she could go home that afternoon, so I watched the Man U – Liverpool match, (one has to get one’s priorities right, after all) and got there about 3. They told us that they’d ordered her various drugs from the Pharmacy, and as soon as they arrived we could go. So we waited………………………..etcetera. And finally left for home at about 6.

All in all she’s going to be fine, thank heavens. A bit sore, of course, given a leg full of freshly implanted ironmongery, and a bit woozy, given a bloodstream full of anaesthetic and industrial strength Paracetamol. But she (and by extension I) had a good night’s sleep, for a change. However she’ll be out of action for 6 weeks at least, and at the moment isn’t allowed to put any weight on the injured leg, which makes even a trip to the loo a major expedition.

I must say – other than that one sometimes gets the impression that the left hand knoweth not what the right hand doth, all the hospital personnel were brilliant. From the most junior student nurse (thanks, Emma) to the Great Panjandrum, Mr Senior Consultant himself, they were kind, caring, professional and competent.

Nevertheless – I might suggest a new motto for Coventry University Hospital:

“They also serve who only sit and wait!”

(Which, no doubt, is why we’re called “patients”)