Thought I’d be saying goodbye. (NHS problems, and a cat with nine lives).

You’re all aware that 2017 has been pretty vile to me and I’ve not really been well at all so far. First I had the headaches then the side effects from the radiation. I’ve experienced weeks of horrible nausea causing me to lose my appetite. I have this face now when I see people moaning of colds and other trivial things. It’s a kind of eye roll where my eyes literally roll back in to my skull combined with a kind of jealous feeling. I wish all I had to worry about was minor ailments but I understand it’s all about perspective and life goes on around us even with stage four cancer. The world stops for nobody and we should not expect it to.

The last four days can only be described as pure hell. Sky high temperatures, problems with my breathing and increasing nausea and stomach pain. I was admitted to hospital via ambulance and a chest x-ray showed my right lung was infected-some sort of basal pneumonia apparently. 

Now I want to talk about the NHS. I’m a huge fan I really am, and I feel that after four years under two NHS hospitals, I have had enough experience to let you know what it’s like because believe me I’ve seen it all.  There are many many problems with the NHS, particularly in general wards and well, for someone like me who is very ill and could die of any infection, it’s paramount I’m looked after properly, that I get enough rest and high standards of hygiene are adhered to. What I’ve got to say about my two days in hospital might shock you. My opinions might offend you, and also there are some graphic bits here so please be warned. 

Firstly I was put on a high dependency ward. It stunk of urine which made me feel sick. There was a lady in there talking loudly about her bipolar. She was shouting and screaming. I have family members with mental illness so I understand it’s not a nice thing to have and I sincerely sympathise. This particular lady went out for a cigarette and came back to the ward crying claiming that security had hit her. (They hadn’t as far as everyone was aware). It made me feel scared and anxious to be next to her and I felt too ill to be around her and have to cope with the mania. They then moved me to a general ward late at night. I’m not sure whether it was because I was out of the danger zone or because they didn’t want me in that ward. 

The next ward I was in was mostly full of elderly women who had dementia and had had a fall at home.  Some of them had been in there for months. Nowhere to go, no care homes will take them, family don’t visit and they can’t go home and be on their own. Many of the elderly with dementia are more or less abandoned and sit in their chair looking vacant and wetting and soiling themselves. It’s tragic and it upsets me that nobody is prepared to look after them. However it looks like things may be changing Read here

During my first night in, I heard one lady going to the toilet on the floor, sliding around in her own mess and blood where she’d pulled her cannula out. None of the nurses knew this was going on I had to call my bell to alert them. So most of the night problems like this occurred and the lights were constantly turned on and off. I had two hours sleep.  I thought to myself if I stayed here any longer I would get more sick or die. I was sleep deprived, exhausted and the hygiene issues were positively dangerous to me.  I’m 37 with stage 4 cancer and I don’t want to be around people soiling themselves or swearing all night. I want to get better for my children. I have to think of myself first. Wouldn’t you?

Anyway the next day I simply said I can’t stay here. There was still stains on the floor where they hadn’t cleaned properly. The food was awful-inedible. They didn’t even give me any water to have for the night. I transferred to a private hospital. I didn’t care about the money I just had to get better. 

At the private hospital, I had my own room, own doctor, nice food. When I pressed the buzzer a nurse came immediately. “Are you ok, do you want anything to eat or drink?” These words would rarely be said in an NHS hospital because many of rhe nurses can’t cope with so many patients-particularly with conditions that they are not trained adequately to deal with. The only way I can see things improving is a lot more money being ploughed in, less people using it, and elderly people being cared for in proper care homes as opposed to spending months in hospital beds. 

Thankfully, five days on I am much better and I’m back at home. We are so very lucky that we have free healthcare and I owe everything to the NHS they have done amazing things for me particularly in surgery and oncology, but at the moment many trusts are not able to cope and the truth is that in the future being in an NHS hospital could make us sicker especially if we are critically or terminally ill. 

Now I’m trying not to be depressed thinking I should be on the plane to Bali today, alas it just wasn’t the right time but it doesn’t mean I’m not going to go, I’m just not going now.  Basically I think my illness was probably more a reaction to the new drug I’m on which isn’t meant to cause hard side effects! Ha! Has to happen to me ahey…

I now think of myself as the cat with nine lives. I always manage to land on my feet after a fall. I am a survivor! I get to live another day, see another sunset, kiss my children goodnight. And that’s all you can do. Live one day at a time, and enjoy it… 

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