When I got to the surgery the first thing I realised as soon as I got through the door was that the computerised check-in system wasn't working. You're supposed to put the initial of your surname in the program then the month and day of your birthday and it's supposed to bring up yout appointment-time and the doctor your're booked with. But because this wasn't working (it's a common fault that this sytem crashes whenever I need to go to the surgery and sign in with the system.) so I had to queue up and check in with one of the receptionists. It transpired that I was seeing one of the practise nurses and not a doctor. Having waited for a further ten to fifteen minutes I was called in by the nurse (because the computer system wasn 't working, it meant that the digital display which informs patients when their appointment is ready so you go through to the relevant room.) and then had to explain what I have already described above. I had to have an E.C.G. which is something I've had several times before and when she had the print-out from this it was taken to a doctor elsewhere in the surgery. I had to sit and wait a further ten minutes and she returned to tell me that I would need to go to the hospital. Which was not exactly what I wanted to hear as I had expected this to be an 'in-out' appointment so I could go home immediately afterwards. She then said that they would need to call for an ambulance to take me. Which seemed amazing since the hospital is barely a five-minute drive away from the surgery. So the ambulance came (within around ten minutes.) and I had to then describe the symptoms of the pain in my chest to the paramedics and they took notes and took me out to the ambulance and did a further E.C.G. scan and my blood pressure.) We eventually moved off and got to Accident and E I mergency, being taken inside sitting in a wheelchair (which is strange for me, having been a carer, where I often pushed other people around in a wheelchair.) Once at A and E I had to go through the process of describing my symptons yet again. By this time I had called Carol on the phone to let her know where I was and to let her know what was going on. Meanwhile she had arrived in A and E. I was taken to a cubicle and settled in. We were then told that I was likely to be there for around 2 hours. When they insisted that I must wear a hospital gown did I realise that all this was going to take a good deal longer than anticipated. I had to go through the rather unpleasant ordeal of them taking a blood sample. Unpleasant, because, as you know, if you've read any of my previous blog posts, taking a sample of blood has caused stress as well as problems. As it turned out it did cause some problems as the nurse couldn't find a vein that would yield sufficient for them to sample and consequently it took quite a long time, but eventually it was successful. That done, we had to wait, and wait and wait. It wasn't excessively busy in A and E, so I don't know why they couldn't deal with me quicker. I think they soon realised that my case wasn't particular urgent although, anyone who has a history of heart problems or had a heart attack gets priority which would be one reason why I was taken to A and E so quickly. They then put other patients at the front of the queue and my case was much further down the list which was why I had to wait around 4 hours before anything could be done as regarding what had caused my chest pain. Carol decided that she would need to go home as it was getting late and I would be staying at the hospital over-night. I then was taken to have a chest X-Ray and by the time that was done the doctors could have a look a my notes as well as the X-Ray and blood test results to give a clearer picture of what was going on.
Sometime later, getting on for around 10 o'clock, one of the doctors came to tell me that, having looked at past E.C.G. records and other material they had from earlier hospital visits that there was no evidence to show that what had caused the pain I had been experiencing had anything to do with my heart and that I could go home. But by that time I was really tired and felt that I wouldn't be able to drive let alone walk, even though 'home' was so close. So I rang Carol to say I would be home in the morning. Earlier the doctor had said that whatever it was that had caused the problem had been because things 'had been stable for a long time, but now they had become unstable' but at that time they could not see what it could have been that had caused the pain.' But by now they had decided that the problem wasn't heart-related, which was a relief to me. So, I was moved into a sort of holding ward, away from A and E, as they have to free up beds for incoming patients. Then, having got to sleep and was well settled in for the night, I was woken at around 3 a.m. to be told I was being moved once again, to yet another ward. I was pushed there by a porter and nurse, through the corridors of the hospital, into a ward that reminded me strongly of the C.C.U. at Bedford Hospital (Coronary Care Unit) because it was almost exactly the same sort of configuration of beds with curtains around them and facing one another (I think the Bedford C.C.U. has eight or perhaps six beds, in two blocks, one for men and one for women.) I was once again checked in, with 'obs' (observations) blood pressure, temperature and another E.C.G. I suppose they have to adhere to certain procedures, but by this time it was becoming somewhat annoying. How many times did I repeat the symptoms? It seemed somewhat obsessive. Could they not have kept the various sets of notes and referred to them? Build up a set of notes from each successive examination? It does seem that the N.H.S. is somewhat over-staffed with people pushing bits of paper and in some cases, over-sensitive to such things as targets and statistics, which would be what most of this is about. I spent a somewhat restless night attempting to sleep, as it was so noisy. Staff walking about, doing such things as 'obs' of other patients and someone talking in the next ward very loud and squeaking trolleys and electronic gadgetry making strange beeps and burps at irregular intervals. But I think I did manage to sleep for two or three hours. At 5.45 my mobile alarm went off, as it's set to that time because we always get up at that time every day, starting off the day with me making us both tea. Incidentally, I didn't get a cup of tea early as I would have expected when I had had to stay in hospital, although we did have tea and a sandwich given us as we waited in A and E, nor did they ask me what medication I was on which was rather a surprise. At 6.30 Carol phoned and said she would come and pick me up later and the doctor re-appeared to reiterate what he had said the previous evening about the pain being unrelated to my heart but at that time they could put a finger on exactly what had caused it. So, I was free to go home. A further lot of 'obs' were done and I got dressed and walked out of the ward. I went to the nurses station to tell them that I was leaving expecting there to be some paperwork to sign or allow me to be discharged. But the staff didn't seem that interested so I walked out. I didn't get so much as a cup of tea when I was on that final ward. I hadn't eaten anything since having the sandwich when we were in A and E. Not so much as a packet of crisps. I'm somewhat surprised. It seems I was totally ignored. They kept an eye on my blood pressure, temperature and so on, but not one offer of something more substantial to eat. When I was a carer I could have been done for neglect if I didn't allow one of my clients a drink or something to eat if they were unable to provide something for themselves. So I'm shocked to think I got nothing except a rather lack-lustre sandwich and a mug of tea. But I got outside and couldn't work out exactly where I was, and certainly not near the front entrance of the hospital as I had expected of even near when I had entered A and E when the parmedics had brought me in in the ambulance. I had a call on my mobile and Carol came and collected me from near where we had gone the other evening when we'd visited the former Walk-In Centre. So, we drove home, to be met by our two dogs, Poppy and Alfie, who were pleased to see me as they were totally confused by having their routine upset when I had gone out and left them alone in the house the previous afternoon.