Tuesday 29th November, 2011

Another Frustrating Day in Hospital

I had a really bad night. Despite the morphine, my toe hurt if I lay in bed and covered it. My room was not really warm up for me to be comfortable with it uncovered. I tried putting a sock and that hurt. It was very noisy - the nurses station was just outside my room. I had a cup of coffee and a biscuit at 4am, after which, I did get a little sleep.

At 7am, it was time for my next dose of antibiotics. Like last night, it involved a drip. Drugs came round at 8am. I asked to delay the Lenograstim for an hour to allow it to warm up a little. I also asked for some pain relief.

9am. I was still connected to the drip which finished half an hour ago and still no sign of any pain relief. Also, no sign of breakfast and I am very hungry. I was still hoping to be able to go home, but not feeling very confident. My toe seemed much worse than when I came in on Sunday, and no doctor had looked at it for more than 16 hours. A replacement bed arrived. The nurses seem rather stretched on this ward.

9:30am. I was still connected to a drip. No breakfast. No pain relief. No response to call button. Not happy!!!!!!

I finally got some breakfast at 10am. (I had been missed). The junior doctor from the haematology department came at 10:20 and drew pictures of my toe to report back to the more senior doctors. The plan was still to continue the antibiotics and keep my toe under observation. Eventually, at 10:40, I got some pain relief. Then things started to happen.

Sue came just after 11:30 am and almost immediately went to Costa to get coffee. When she returned, I had just commented that the morphine tablet was having no effect on the pain in my toe and was in the process of writing an E-mail to Cathy, Jenny, Chris and John when I noticed that the "bubble of gunk" on my toe had burst and there was quite a large puddle of stuff on the floor.  Almost immediately, the doctor who is overseeing my chemo-therapy came to see my toe.

Now the plan is for more antibiotics, an X-Ray of my foot and "a couple more days in hospital". The improvement continued with lunch, which was an acceptable pork casserole, which, importantly, was still hot.

The plan may have been for more antibiotics, but that is not what happened. Almost 3 hours since the thing on my toe burst, no one has attempted to clean it or the floor and the 1pm administration of antibiotics had not been administered at 3pm. I was not impressed by the care on this ward. Worse still, the "bubble" is starting to fill with fluid again.

Finally at 3:30 someone came along to administer the 1pm antibiotic. Cleaning the mess up from where the original bubble burst apparently has to wait for the "tissue viability nurse" to be available. I am not impressed. This time, the drip took an hour and was really painful. When it was finished, there was no sign of anyone responding to the alarm to disconnect it. I really get the impression that the staff on this ward don't listen and don't care. When one of the nurses came in to my room to switch off the alarm signalling the end of my transfusion, I told her that the cannula was hurting quite a lot. I don't think that even registered. She promised to come back in 5 minutes, but after 30 minutes she had not returned. Maybe they are understaffed. Whatever the reason it is having a significant impact on patient care. 90 minutes after the end of the transfusion, the drip was finally disconnected. The nurse said that the best thing would be to put in a new cannula, but there is no-one around who can do it.

I still have a compromised immune system and yet I have been sitting here with an uncleaned open wound for more than 6 hours! Finally, there is a decision to wash it with saline and put a gauze dressing on.

Sue came back around 6pm and stayed for a couple of hours. Dinner came while my toe was still being dressed. It was missing the soup I ordered.

The next dose of antibiotics was started at 8:30. The drip was finally disconnected at 10:15. While the drip was still underway, I was fitted with a new cannula, in my right hand this time, and eventually the original one was removed. Hopefully, this will mean that the Fluxocillin drip does not hurt quite as much. I have the prospect of another dose of chemo at around 1am.

I have been taking the smoothness of my treatment for granted, but always knew that there was more than a small possibility of a "bump in the road".  Maybe, spending time in hospital with what appears to be a relatively minor problem, is the biggest bump I am going to have to face.