August 06, 2008

It's the little things that count

Many thanks indeed to all those who sent kind messages here and via email and Facebook while I was in hospital. 

I took my laptop just in case, and was thrilled to find free broadband via ethernet, so I was able to keep in touch with people and while away the days with some soothing editing in ODP and BOTW

As I expected, it was an eye-opening experience to be an in-patient, and I rapidly came to realise that once you know you are going to go home eventually, the big issues fade to insignificance and the tiny things exert the greatest influence on your day, for better and for worse.

Day Brighteners
  • The friend who ensured that flowers were in my room by the time I woke from surgery.
  • Free internet (for reasons of sanity and companionship)
  • Prompt attention by IT (who first had to "test" my laptop for presumably dangerous somethings. It passed. Phew.)
  • Great food (no, really, it was outstanding, and all patients know that meals are the highpoints of every day.)
  • Food not only varied and tasty, but arriving hot. (See above)
  • Proper cutlery (eating in a semi-upright position is hard enough without bendy plastic knives and blunt plastic forks)
  • Endlessly patient "Service Assistants" who refilled my water jug umpteen times a day.
  • The surgeon's young son who came with his father on Sunday morning and gravely assured me that "Daddy will fix you up. He always does."
  • The wonderful crispness of a sunny winter morning the first day I could walk outside.

Day Darkeners
  • Staff not explaining who they are or why they have come to speak to you.
  • Staff coming into the room and reading my notes without even looking at me or saying hello.
  • "Duty of care" taken to ludicrous extremes. Many infuriating examples, but this was the silliest: I asked the meal-delivery person if she could please raise the head of my bed so I could eat, but she was "not allowed" to do that, so I had to wait for an "authorised" person, by which time my dinner was cold.
  • Leaving the bright examination light on when leaving the room. (It was out of my reach.)
  • Not returning the bed/door/curtain to its pre-visit state before leaving.
  • Leaving the bedside trolley out of reach.
  • Putting the pillows on a shelf wayyy out of post-op reach (can you see a theme here?) 
But I am home now, healing as fast as I can and hoping to avoid further surgery (for a troublesome complication). If I do have to go in again, I will be forewarned, because I now understand that "nursing" has become less about patients and more about administration, "performance indicators", "quality assurance", and the afore-mentioned "duty of care". Dozens of staff helped to care for me, and they all did their jobs, but it's very sad that I remember only two who treated me as an individual with needs, fears, or concerns of my very own. 

I was a very "good" patient, and did not bother the staff at all, but perhaps I need to attract more attention next time. I don't know when or why it apparently became too time-consuming, out-dated, unprofessional, or perhaps just inefficient for nurses to provide, but I would have given a very great deal for some good old-fashioned TLC.


DeathOwl said...

Apologies for the massive tangent this comment takes from the context of your post, but my nationalist tendencies were activated by reading that British Medical Journal article - and finding that the fact that BMJ stands for British Medical Journal is hidden away at the bottom of the about page as if they are ashamed to be associated with the word British. Maybe some PC obsessed head of diversity type numpty has decided that explicitly using the term British on the site might reduce their international readership, who knows.

Sorry! Had to get that off my chest. More importantly I'm glad to hear the food was good, sorry to hear the TLC was lacking, and hope the complication resolves itself without further need for hospital stays. :-)

Unknown said...

Following "massive tangents" is precisely what "wittering" is all about, so your comment is bang on topic, deathowl. :-D

Anonymous said...

As long as we're complaining about medical types... ;-)

These aren't peeves about hospital, since I haven't had the need, but about clinic.

1.) Assuming the patient knows what the heck they're doing.

2.) (In an eye clinic) Assuming the patient can see/read/fill out forms.

3.) Not recognizing a frequent patient. For a while I was averaging a visit per week. (At $35 per visit, I was not enjoying this as much as it sounds.) If the doctor recognizes a patient (without looking at the chart!), then I don't think it's too much to expect the same from the staff.

4.) Not telling a patient about side effects of a procedure. Sure they told me my pee would turn odd colors over the next several days, but why didn't they tell me my whole world was going to change color immediately?

Unknown said...

Pertinent points, ishtar, thank you (and I hope everything is less colourful now!) Those annoying/thoughtless/dismissive events didn't happen to me this time, but I have experienced and seen them many times myself, both as patient and doctor.
And I can see that, like me, you are referring to all medical staff, not just doctors. Which is very sad.


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