Ellen's blog: The wonderful NHS

I don’t think we have had a Cityparents blog yet about experiences of the NHS? Mine was wonderful and marvelous, but I now feel pretty guilty because it turned out to be rather a drain on NHS resources!

I recently sustained a rather nasty middle-class injury when I accidentally amputated my fingertip whilst using a mandolin to slice potatoes for a dauphinoise……

After much bleeding, swearing, panicking and sweating, I got a cab to the hospital and phoned my husband to let him know I had my hand bandaged in a tea towel due to massive blood-loss from the mandolin accident, which had left me rather traumatised (I’m squeamish). He’s one of these people who never quite finds the right words in this type of situation: “which tea towel is it?” he asked. I started swearing again.

He came to the hospital and carried on working on his laptop while we waited to be seen - then gasped when the triage nurse removed the bandage and the blood kept on coming. I had been quite brave until I heard that gasp!

Fortunately our au pair was looking after the children (who kept phoning wanting to know how much blood there was, and if mummy “only had a stump instead of a finger”?)

Understandably I had to wait for ages as there were people coming in with real injuries (one heart-attack, two horrible building-site calamities etc.). My sore finger was not the priority. Husband took the opportunity to have a conference call.

After a few hours (during which I sent husband home), a lovely nurse came to see my finger and we spent the rest of the evening together, having a lovely time! Nurse Kim had worked in the NHS for 30 years, and was so good at bandaging that the combination of my horrific finger-slashing and her legendary bandaging attracted several other medics who wanted to watch and learn.

After having a ‘small arterial bleed’ all over the hospital floor / table / bed / my handbag she masterfully got the bleeding under control. She also had to accompany me to have an x-ray as the sight of so much blood was making the radiographer feel sick.

Nurse Kim arranged for me to be seen the following day at the Hand Trauma Clinic of the nearest plastics hospital (actually an hour away as the nearest one was closed to non-emergencies).

The following day I fainted during a rather rough examination of my finger by a plastic surgeon who insisted that he could see some bone sticking out of the wound. As the x-rays done the previous evening had not arrived via the NHS IT system, I had to be re-x-rayed, but the fainting protocol dictated that I could not walk to the x-ray department, and must instead be pushed there in a wheelchair, by a porter (of which there were none available, but I wasn’t allowed to walk so we had to wait). By then I was deeply mortified by how much NHS resource my finger had consumed, but it didn’t end there! Husband had to be dispatched home to collect the children from a birthday party - after I had given him a briefing (from the wheelchair) of the name, address and physical description of another boy who I was due to be giving a lift home.

I needed an operation, but the surgeon took the view that I wouldn’t be able to have it done under local anesthetic (due to the unfortunate fainting incident, coupled with a low pain threshold). So the surgery was scheduled for 7:30am the following day.

At 7:15 the following morning I was given an NHS bed on a ward, ready for my operation, which was delayed as there were some more urgent cases that took priority. I was in a bay with two other patients who actually deserved NHS beds as they had both had surgery the previous day. Husband was again needed at home so I sat in my lovely comfortable adjustable bed, and spent the next 5 hours just chatting to these two extraordinary women. For GDPR reasons, I probably can’t say their names, but one was 93 years old and had been under the knife the to remove cancerous skin growths, and the other had endured a 7-hour procedure to remove fat from her abdomen which was used to re-build her breast following a mastectomy. It was a fascinating, funny, relaxed and wonderful morning, with no worries as husband was dealing with the children while I lay in the bed chatting. I don’t think many patients enjoy their hospital stay as much as I did.

A lovely anesthetist, surgeon and nurse kept me chatting through the surgery (which only took 15 minutes) and then I was allowed home with my arm in an almost theatrically-oversized sling to protect the finger (which had swollen to the size of a small elephant’s trunk).

Over the following 2 weeks I had to attend the GP’s surgery where the nurse changed my bandage every 3 days until I could do it myself. I’m sure you’ll be relieved to hear that I am now fully-healed, and I’m indebted to the approximately 10 different NHS staff involved in looking after me so well.

Ellen has worked in the City for 18 years, mainly in banking, and currently for an inter-dealer broker. She has two children aged 7 and 4, with an au pair at home to help out.

Category: A Citymother's Diary

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