Life through the eyes of a 30-something Panda Woman who happens to be Chronically Sick and Disabled.

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Hospital days

Brain 404 / 503

503 – Service Temporarily Unavailable

Today has been a day of hospitals.  This morning I woke up earlier than I had to after a crappy night of insomnia, dragged myself downstairs, are the breakfast that Mama Cubb prepared for me and attempted to not fall asleep again.  Of course that failed and I fell asleep.  Mama kept trying to wake me to get ready and only managed at the eleventh hour just in time for me to throw some clothes on (sans socks) dash to the toilet (today is a bung day of constipation Crohn’s) and drive off to Hammersmith Hospital.

Of course all of the 20 or so disabled bays were full so we parked on a double yellow, set the blue badge clock and I hauled my wheelchair out of the car, thankful that I had heaved it in with the batteries still attached the last time.  We navigated the maze of identical corridors to find imaging, duly checked in the 15 mins prior to appt and waiting patiently.  A guy opposite was wearing a motorbike jacket and we struck up a conversation reminiscing about past bikes and touring holidays.

We waited.

11:15 came and wait.  Endless HCAs came past whispering patients names as they were called.  Why are they so quiet?! Convinced I’d missed my name I checked at 11:45 and was told that as I was seeing a doctor (I assume a radiologist rather than a radiographer) that it could be some time.

Eventually I started reading the book I’ve been trying to read for months (One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez).  Just as I was beginning to get engrossed I was called.  I wheeled through a door that was just wide enough for my chair into a room which was so cramped I’m glad I can stand to transfer.  The HCA told me I’d need a gown even though it was an ultrasound of my thyroid because it’s a male doctor.  Given that male or female doesn’t bother me, I just took my t-shirt off and sat there in my jeans and bra.  She found this very strange and insisted I drape the gown over me at least, obviously the sight of my flesh is hideous (I don’t blame them).

Again I was left alone waiting for the doctor. Waiting.  Reading.  He burst in and gelled up the sensor.  This time I declined to tell him in advance about my fear of people touching my throat (I was raped as a teenager with my throat in a strangle hold) and decided to be brave.  He asked where my neck hurt but didn’t seem to actually listen as I explained why I was there.

When he hit a tender point I had to redirect him back to that spot to double check it.  He told me he couldn’t see anything “bad” which obviously is of little comfort to me as answers are better than none by this point of ill health and I’m too used to knowing that “something isn’t right” from bloods etc only for imaging to show me as fine. 

He said goodbye and left. 

He didn’t ask if I needed help getting dressed (I didn’t) or help transferring to my wheelchair (again I managed) nor help with the door (this would’ve been useful as I pulled muscles trying to get out).  I did wait a few mins before trying in case the HCA was going to return but as there was no indication of this so I left. 

There were signs up in the imaging dept to leave feedback via the touchscreens, the invisible non-existent touch screens.  I went back to main reception and asked where they were and was directed back to outpatients.  The touchscreens at our patients only allowed for check in so I queued up at the desk and a lovely nurse handed me a form and a pen.  This lady was helpful, she asked if I was ok leaning on the desk as it was a bit high for the wheelchair and made a note that they needed to think about that. Form filled and handed back I headed out and home, having yet again heaved the wheelchair into the car with the batteries still in.

I dashed straight for the loo as soon as I got in.  I’d had abdominal cramps, pain and nausea all morning and this played out with a determined little blurt of bloody diarrhoea. Joy. It was fresh blood and I’m constipated so I’m putting it down to haemorrhoids and not worrying about it.

Mama made me lunch which I wolfed down just in time to get ready again to go to Ealing Hospital for a Neurology consult with Dr Mark Weatherall.  

Again all of the 10 or so disabled bats were taken so I parked on the double yellows, adjusted the blue badge clock and navigated my way to the outpatients clinic (this time on sticks as I know my limits with Ealing’s layout better).  I was greeted by a lovely male nurse that knows me from Prof Arnold’s clinic and we chatted about air conditioners as I was checked in.

I sat down to start reading again and within 10 mins Dr W came out and called me in, greeted with a smile and a handshake.  I proclaimed his status as miracle worker for the six months I had migraine free following his trial of Botox and explained that although they had started to come back they were less frequent.  We discussed the epidemiology, placebo and Nocebo effects and he willingly added a note to my file for prof re the rectal bleeding before discharging me with a smile, and hearty handshake and the promise that if they get worse, to call his secretary and he’ll get me back in ASAP.

Overall Ealing was a much more personally pleasant experience.  Don’t get me wrong I love Imperial NHS, I would, I studied at Imperial, but despite the lack of funding and mod cons Ealing won over day on the friendliness.  All depts are different though, I’ve had good and bad experiences at most of my local hospitals.

And now? Well home, quick rest, early supper and then onto the quiz night at the pub for my weekly sober socialising with The Northerner and The Young One.

Tomorrow I fear has already had too many spoons borrowed!

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