There’s just a couple more things I wanted to talk about regarding the accident. I know its getting further and further in the past now but I wanted to put something down about the hospital.
Oh God! The hospital!
If you were to ask me what part of the accident and the immediate aftermath was the worst I would definitely say that it was my stay in the hospital. Don’t get me wrong, the nurses, doctors and staff who work there can’t be praised enough, especially the nurses, it was just a bit of a crap time. Here’s a fairly honest account of the hospital with no gory details spared. Perhaps it will encourage you to check and recheck your “bomber” gear.
I remember arriving at the hospital on my nice comfy spine board and being lifted out of the ambulance into A&E where a team of doctors and trainee medical staff were waiting.
There was a bit of waiting to be done while they decided what to do with me and generally checked me out and decided that I wasn’t going to perish straight away. There were several different procedures and my memory is a bit fuzzy about what exactly was going on. I remember getting a femoral artery block (is that what it was called?). There was also a slightly uncomfortable moment when the doc told me that one of the tells of neck and spine injuries was an inability to clench your bum. He told me he was going to pop his finger on my botty and ask me to squeeze it. This was a sentence I never really expected to hear in my life but it was a day of firsts and he is a doctor after all so I had little choice but to trust him.
“Enjoy yourself”, I said as he slipped his hand South.
“Trust me, I won’t”, came the reply. I got the impression he wasn’t too impressed with my joke.
All was well and fortunately he didn’t venture in anywhere and merely contented himself to rest his finger there. Anyway, enough of that!
The hospital was obviously having trouble finding me a bed for the night so I had to lie on my trolley for a little while. At least I was sitting up and could have a look around and it was while I was waiting that I received my first visitor. Cliff came towards me looking harassed and worn out. He had been told to drive to the wrong hospital due to a mix up but had eventually found me thanks to some help from Lyndsay and facebook. We chatted for a short while before he left for a home, leaving me with my bag of climbing gear. Eventually I was found somewhere to stay and slept through the night, occasionally being woken for blood pressure tests and the like.
In the morning the doctors came to see me and told me about the surgery they were going to do at around midday. I don’t remember the events leading up to the surgery very well but the last thing I recall before the operation was talking to the nice anesthetists who must have put me to sleep pretty thoroughly because the next thing I recall I was awake in another part of the hospital.
The next part of my stay in the hospital was basically one big wait. On Thursday, after the op, I simply lay in bed and tried to sleep to save myself from boredom. Any waking moments were spent trying to wee. This was incredibly difficult as weeing while sat up in a bed (albeit into a plastic wee bottle) is such an unnatural thing to do that my body simply would not let me do it. I was busting for a pee but I just couldn’t force it out. For some reason this annoyed me immensely and made me very irritable so by the time my parents arrived to visit me I was a bit narky which I now feel very bad about!
The nights in the hospital were definitely the worst times. Its a terrible thing to say but with the exception of two other people on my ward of 6 all the other patients seemed to be on Death’s door. In fact the man lying a few feet to my right would often mumble in his sleep about how he wished he could die which upset me quite a bit. He would also cry out in the night for a nurse constantly whether there be a nurse in the room or not. This kept me awake for most of the night and if I did manage to snatch a couple of hours sleep I would invariably wake up in the very early hours of the morning and then not be able to sleep again. This hellish existence of simply lying on my back looking at the ceiling listening to the distress of the people around me (there was an elderly lady in the next room who would scream at the top of her voice whenever a nurse came near her) was what made me so desperately miserable I think. On the plus side I eventually got the hang of weeing (you just need to close your eyes and relax like you’ve never relaxed before).
On the Friday the physiotherapists came to visit us and taught me how to stand up and walk around. This really destroyed me and after walking to the ward sink I had to sit down and be wheeled back to bed! I lay in the bed for the rest of the day, pretty exhausted and spent another very fitful night in Huntsman 6.
It was on Saturday that I received a glimmer of hope. I was told that if I could pass the physio test and all my medical results (a blood test and a post op x-ray) came back good then I’d be free to go home. My parents were due to come and visit me that evening and I was determined to be going home with them. When the physios arrived I told them what the score was and that I was going to fulfill whatever requirements they had for me. I felt much stronger than the day before and breezed over to the stairs on the crutches and then completed the test of walking up them and down them. Hurrah! Physio down, medical to go!
I made sure my blood test got done as soon as possible and later in the day asked if I could go down to the radiography department for my x-ray as it was the last thing I needed before I cold become a free man again. The news I received was crushing. Apparently they didn’t do post op x-rays on weekends meaning that I would have to spend two more sleepless nights in that place. I couldn’t bare it and asked to see the doctor on duty. To cut a long story short we both started crying! Obviously I didn’t demand a slot with the x-ray machine and merely asked if they had any spare spaces and told her how desperate I was to get home but she must have detected the sob in my voice and this set her off as well. She must have felt a tad unprofessional as she hurried off to finish some work and a nurse came to try and comfort me. I explained that I was fine and just feeling a bit down. Later I called the doctor back and told her I was sorry for being so selfish and of course I would wait for Monday for my x-ray to which she replied that she had already managed to find me a space. Success! Take note, crying works! Me and the doc had a chat about things. Turns out that she had been responsible for SIX wards the size of Huntsman 6 that day alone and had to deal with every patient there. I couldn’t believe how overworked she must be and felt pretty bad for being daft before when I clearly wasn’t the only one who was having a bad day.
It was at this point that Dad turned up. I had my x-ray at the hands of the radiographers who are MUCH less gentle than the nice nurses and eventually made good my escape from the hospital. I’m now recovering MUCH better at home and had a really great Christmas. I hope you all did too.