Monday, August 31, 2015

Nurses and Doctors

I was in hospital for a little over ten days. I'm home now - all good!

Hospital was an eye-opener - you hear all the horror stories - not enough doctors and nurses, MRSA, bad care, patients being left on trolleys for days, etc.

Well, I went in to St Vincent's hospital - I went in to A&E early on a Saturday morning by ambulance. I can't comment on A&E as I was not conscious then, but my husband tells me that everything was running efficiently and smoothly there.

I went up to St Patrick's Ward later that day - I don't remember much of the rest of the weekend.

But after that I found that all nurses, carers, doctors, porters, cleaning staff and catering staff I encountered were professional and friendly and did all they could to make my stay in hospital as good as could be.

The doctors did not jump to conclusions, they reviewed my case daily, talked to me, talked to my husband. They asked all the right questions to make sure we hadn't forgotten anything in my medical history that might give them a clue as to what was going on. They made sure we understood where things were and what to expect next. They pushed me up the waiting list for a brain MRI (it still took 2-3 days to get that MRI - hospital time is slower than real time) that helped them in their diagnosis. And the junior doctors were working the whole weekend. And even one of the senior consultants was there on a Saturday evening to review my case and transfer me from A&E to the ward. And a junior consultant, Aoife, knew exactly who I was when I rang back a few days later with an enquiry.

The catering staff were always in good form, offering a smile, remembering that I don't drink tea but hot water. The food I found very comforting - spaghetti bolognese, beef, ham salad, vegetable soup. Nothing fancy, but easy to digest and tasty. The desserts were mostly water and sugar (the first ingredients in both the ice-cream and the jelly), but when you're dealing with bed-ridden patients, you don't want too much roughage maybe. Breakfast was a highlight of the day, with porridge or corn flakes, and lovely hot toast (perfectly toasted, not too dark, not too light) and butter and marmalade

But the big heroes are the nurses and carers - working 12-hour shifts, dealing with shortages, having to care for long-term patients that should be in a nursing home, not a hospital. Dealing with all sorts of situations, including a 94-year-old lady who was so lost she would hit out if approached too suddenly! Always with a smile, a kind word, and respect for every patient, even if this was the tenth time they were being called just to straighten a pillow! I had young Irish nurses in the final weeks of their internship year, foreign nurses and carers, agency nurses - it takes a while to figure out all the uniforms - My favourite nurses: Plato, Gertrude, Aisling, Anne and Mary, and also Ursula and Josmi, who managed to get canulas and needles in me when nobody else could. My favourite carer: Villy. They deserve our thanks, our respect, and for our government to give them all the resources they need to make their jobs easier. It's not a job that most people would be able to do. That they do it with such efficiency and dedication shows to me what wonderful human beings they are.

If all resources were working on the same schedule as the nursing staff, hospital time would go a lot faster - why was the MRI machine not available for me on a Sunday, or in the evenings? I had nothing better to do, believe me. Why do you see all administrators leaving at 5 on the dot every day? To me, it's a no-brainer: patients are in beds who could go home earlier if all the scans and diagnostics were finished earlier and if all the paperwork was done. Expensive machines are sitting idle because their operators will only work 9-to5, or because there are not enough operators to have 2, or even 3, shifts a day!

I was in a six-bed room. It was noisy. The nurses' rounds start at 5:30 and end at 22:30. It's hard to get any sleep. There is a constant stream of visitors - most people very nice, but some are noisy. By evening, I just could not wait for my sleeping tablet - I just wanted to be knocked out and forget about that world for a few hours. If I ever need to go into hospital again, I will invest in some kind of noise-blocking headphones, and an airplane sleeping mask. But the bed was cosy!

As for the follow-up? Don't get me started! I got a letter from St Vincents saying that my case had been reviewed by the consultant neurologist, who deemed my case routine, which put me in a 9-month waiting pattern. Then I got a letter from Beaumont, where their consultant neurologist wants to see me too, but in 12 month's time! And no news of my follow-up MRI, which was supposed to take place 6 weeks after I was discharged (2 weeks on, no news). And no word on my 24-hour blood pressure monitor. (Thankfully, I'm in good hands with my GP in Ballinteer Medical who is doing the follow-up there).

So all in all, would I like to go to hospital again? Of course not! But my thanks and gratefulness go to all the doctors, nurses and carers who looked after me so well. You're heroes!

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