NHS: Envy of the World – maybe once upon a time. Because I can’t emphasise strongly enough how much I hate the NHS. Actually, that’s not true. It’s the people who work for the NHS I hate.
But they’re heroes I hear you cry. It must be true. Every current affairs programme tells you so. You can’t walk down the street without a T shirt proclaiming it. Well they’re not. I’d use the C word to describe them but Mrs H wouldn’t like it.
Yes, Linda. They’ve couldn’t have treated her any worse. And it started out so well. About 10 years ago she needed knee surgery. It couldn’t have went any better. The surgeon came round beforehand, reassured her and told her she’d be skipping in a week. Which she was.
Now she knew the other knee would need surgery as well so fast forward three years and she’s actually waiting for an orthopedic appointment when her knee gave way at work. I rushed her into hospital where after the obligatory six hour wait she was told she would need emergency surgery and that they would phone us with a date.
They’d used the word emergency so I anticipated it being soon. But they sent us back to our top floor tenement which involved me carrying Linda up 66 steps and waited. The “emergency” involved waiting a week, spending hours on the phone asking how I was supposed to get her there. Apparently, the NHS doesn’t have a system for emergencies as you had to book patient transport 28 days in advance so I carried her down 66 steps and took her in a taxi. Quite how a wee pensioner would have managed I don’t know.
This time an anaesthetist came to see us because “the surgeon doesn’t like to see his patients outside the theatre”. Nice. Turns out the surgeon from three years before had retired. And off she went. I was told to come back and collect Linda in three hours. Except when I returned she wasn’t there. And no-one knew where she was. They’d lost her. They also didn’t seem overly concerned so I started wandering about from ward to ward. It’s now 6pm and I’d been looking for two hours when I bumped into the anaesthetist on his way home. He recognised me, asked what I was doing and when I told him he said he’d seen Linda lying in a ward and took me there.
No-one had been to see her since the surgery, they’d lost her personal belongings including her crutches but the anaesthetist found a doctor to arrange her discharge. We were just glad to be going home. However, no-one mentioned that there had been a “complication”. I suspect because the surgeon fucked up. Because instead of the simple operation we’d expected, they had made two repairs instead of one. Something they ought to have mentioned and arranged after care. But they didn’t.
Leap forward a week and Linda is in agony. She can’t walk, she’s weeping with the pain and best of all we’re moving house. I had to carry down the stairs again and take her in a taxi to what is supposed to be a bright new start. Two days later I had to call 999 and she ended up back in the hospital. Where they finally explained what had happened and how she should have been getting daily physio for the previous ten days. Bastards.
When Linda gets home she tries so hard. She has to get a taxi to the physio every morning because, yes, there;s no patient transport. She works so hard at the physio because she wants to get better. But she isn’t. She tells the physio about how painful her ankle is, something that is causing more pain than the knee. The physio tells her it’s referred pain and that she should walk it off. She tries until she cries.
She has a monthly appointment with the surgical team and every time they say it’s referred pain. They say it’s CRPS which is medical speak for you’re a nutter and it’s all in your head. They send her to the pain clinic where a failed doctor wants to give her mind altering drugs. She’s send to rheumatology and when she walks in the room the doctor says “I can tell what’s wrong with you just by looking”. Hypermobility, apparently, because he reckoned her arms were too long. He was wrong.
We enquired about going private but it turns out in this part of the world it’s the same people who work for NHS Lothian that work for the private hospitals.
Finally, we’re at the last appointment with the surgical team. It’s been 10 months since the botched surgery. Linda is in agony. She’s crying in front of a young registrar because she knows this is where they give up on her. He doesn’t know what to do. In the end he says he will refer Linda for an MRI just to show her that there is nothing wrong.
The MRI showed there was no cartilage left in the ankle and that the bone was rubbing against bone. So everything she’d been told to do was wrong. Of course, it was also too late to do anything about it. She was just going to have to live with the pain.
Which is fine but the pain made her withdraw from the world. She became scared to go out without me in case she had an accident. My beautiful girl was broken. And none of them cared. But when she became ill last year we hoped for the best. We were wrong. But that’s for an other day.