Thank you NHS!

There’s been a lot of social media interest in recent weeks around the NHS and junior doctors contract negotiations. I don’t post much on Facebook but I have liked a lot of posts by NHS staff and patients sharing their positive experiences and now it’s my turn!

Everything is fine now and I’m back at home after spending most of the last 24 hours in Barnsley hospital. It started when I noticed pins and needles in my foot at 15.30 on Tuesday afternoon but I thought little of it and figured I’d been sat funny. But, on squatting down to put A’s shoes on at nursery, I realised my calf felt very swollen. So, once I got home I asked Dr Google for some advice and since the first few hits from “35 weeks pregnant swollen calf” said that you should be more concerned if only one leg was swollen, I phoned the midwife triage number.

I’ll be honest and say I was somewhat disappointed that she said I needed to go to A&E as I (expertly, ha ha!) assumed it was a pregnancy complication and that they were the people to help me. I made a couple of calls to find somone to look after A (Mr.J is conveniently in Vancouver) and once AW was on hand I took myself off to A&E at around 18.30. I was immediately disheartened when I saw how busy the waiting room was and that the queue for reception was backed out of the door. 30 minutes later, and after feeling like a right idiot answering the question “What’s the problem?” with “My right calf is swollen”, I found a seat in the waiting room. Aunty C offered to keep me company and when I heard it would be a 3 hr wait I took her up on that offer.

I was triaged after an hour or so (BP, temp, pulse,blood sugar, blood tests and calves measured) and sent back out to wait to see a Dr. I’m not a patient person (ahem, understatement) and I was shocked to see one man had brought 4 cans of Desperados (beer with added tequila apparently) amongst a wide range of people waiting so when I was finally called through at just before midnight I almost cheered! Aunty C was still with me and was a helpful distraction once I’d gone through my medical history, more observations and had an ECG. The Dr who saw me was so apologetic for the wait and even did the ECG herself even though she said a nurse would usually do it but she just wanted to crack on. And all the nurses looked really busy.  Ultimately, unless we all want to pay a lot more in taxes, I think you’ve just gotta suck it up and be patient!

She said I might have a clot in my leg so I had to go and get weighed and then have an injection to thin my blood but because I am pregnant I am categorised as high risk so I’d have to stay overnight, have a scan to check for a clot in the morning and potentially more injections. She also said it was really busy on the ward so I might have a wait to be moved but that the room I was in was for high dependency cases so I might need to be moved out of there.  A very friendly nurse came and gave me the injection a few minutes later.  It barely hurt at all initially but the baby showed their dislike by trying to star jump inside me!   And then after a minute or so it really stung.

I eventually persuaded Aunty C to go home (well, to my house) at about 2am and shortly after that I was moved out of my ‘room’ and into the corridor, where there were already 4 or 5 people waiting. At no point did I see any of the staff not doing something so despite the wait, it felt a little bit less frustrating as it was clear everyone was working so hard to help people and they were all quite smiley despite it being 2am and the fact that some of the people they were dealing with weren’t very nice.

Despite being pretty zonked, it was hard to nod off but just as I was starting to get there, I had some more observations done so I could be wheeled up to a ward room at about 3.30am.  I spoke to the nurse who explained what would happen next and that I’d probably be in most of Tuesday waiting to see a Dr and then have a scan. I managed to speak to Mr.J in Vancouver and explain what was happening and think about childcare for A for Tuesday. The nurse offered me a nightie (which I declined as I was so tired I just wanted to sleep immediately), got me some water and closed my blind and I managed to get a bit of broken sleep until about 6am when it was time for more observations.

It was very strange being away from A and knowing he wasn’t with Mr.J either. I’ve only spent 3 nights away from him now and this was the first where neither of us were there but he was in very familiar hands with AW and Aunty C. Apparently he woke up and said “Mummy not here. Mummy at hospital with poorly leg. Mummy have medicine” so he’s clearly taken it all in his stride.  I’ve also only stayed overnight in hospital once before and that was after I had A and I think post-natal wards are quite different from the ward I was on (acute medical unit).

Nursery were fantastic and were happy to take him today even though it’s not one of his regular days which was a big relief as I knew be was in safe, familiar hands. I saw a student Dr first thing, went through my history again and had some more obs done and then waited to see the  Consultant, who agreed the next step was a Doppler scan on my leg to check for a clot and another blood thinning injection just in case there was a clot.  It also hurt a lot and that one has left a nice bruise already too.  Then I got breakfast in bed and waited to go for my scan, and like ‘How to catch a star’, I waited, and waited, and waited. And a nice lady brought me a cup of tea though.

Then out of the blue, a porter appeared to take me downstairs in a wheelchair for my scan and a rather handsome young trainee sonographer told me I was next to go in so it wouldn’t be long.  I had the whole of my leg checked from my groin to my (fat) ankle and am pleased to report there was no DVT.  The sonographer explained what she was doing, partly for the trainee’s benefit as well as mine, and told me the good news straight away. A few minutes later I was wheeled back upstairs and once again, like ‘How to catch a star’ I waited, and waited and waited to see a Dr and be discharged.  I got lunch (a slightly odd combo of macaroni cheese, chips and cabbage!) brought to me , I laid down and rested, messaged friends and tried to keep myself entertained.  And had more tea and water offered too.  There was definitely no shortage of beverages!

At about 3pm, a nurse came to say the Dr was happy to discharge me and said I’d get my discharge letter in the post and by this point I was more than happy to make a break for it. Not least because I was still wearing all of the same clothes as I started out with on Tuesday morning and I was quite keen to have a shower and brush my teeth, and also because I wanted to go and see A as soon as possible.

I’m really grateful to all of the people who have helped me in the last 2 days; close family and friends for looking after A and all the NHS staff who have been friendly and caring and looked after me and didn’t make me feel like an idiot for being in hospital with a fat leg!! The swelling has gone down a bit now and I think it probably happened because I spent a very long time sat down on Tuesday working from home in the kitchen and I didn’t get up and walk very far as the kettle and downstairs toilet were very nearby so I just need to move about a bit more and also elevate my leg when I am sitting.  Oh, and in around 5 weeks time when the baby arrives, that should help things out a lot too!

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