Wednesday, November 30, 2011

A weekend in hospital

Over the years it has become apparent to me  that I am an 'early adopter'! This week a survey of UK Hospitals has found that becoming ill on a Friday night is not a good idea as hospitals at week ends are dangerously under maned as all the senior are off duty. It is the same in Auckland New Zealand as I found out over ten years ago when I had the misfortune to get the life threatening  stomach infection, Clostridium Difficile.

If it is at all possible time your illness for a week day when the appropriate staff are on duty because it became very clear to me that the hospital closes down to all but the most immediate emergencies at around 6 pm on Friday night.

I timed my illness extremely badly. When I first presented with this infection the specialist in this area was at a conference in Los Angeles for ten days so nobody
qualified in gastroenterology was available. The junior staff just guessed cancer which of course it wasn't and gave me all the tests including a colonoscopy the preparation for this on an infected stomach was torture.

The first weekend when I was dying there was nobody to treat me. I was seen by a doctor who was a specialist in broken limbs. He was in charge of the whole hospital but he agreed diarrhea was life threatening and he knew nothing about it. I never saw the specialist.

I was sent home but not cured so I had to return.  I was dying.  I knew it but the hospital didn't. It was a 5 am Friday morning when I arrived. I was told nobody could see me and I was to sit in the waiting room. I did for 17 hours. I was even interviewed by a psychologist to see if I really was ill, my husband had died and the doctor thought it might be grief and at about 2 am Saturday morning I was admitted reluctantly as it was felt I was a malingerer!

I didn't see a specialist until Monday morning. The hospital was put into hibernation for two whole days just ticking over. By the time I was seen I was really ill but I did not look ill. No temperature  just extreme weight loss and constant diarrhea. I was in a ward and really left to look after myself. No help was given. Fortunately I knew my way around.

They wanted to throw me out. Telling me I was not ill and should get better at home. I knew I was dying and I was as I had Clostridium Difficile, the bug you pick up from hospitals or too much anti biotics from my previous visit. It killed 495 patients in Maidstone Kent.

It is highly infectious and in those two days I must have given it to many patients. It took two days before any tests were made in which time I could have collapsed and died from infection and nobody would have had a clue as to why because I had not been diagnosed.

It was the same for everyone in the place. It was like being in limbo.

Maybe someone should tell hospitals that with illness it is impossible to keep to working hours. One gets very ill at inconvenient moments. It must kill many people who cannot wait until Monday morning. On the whole it would be better to go home for those two days and be looked after by family and return on Monday morning if that is possible. For me this was not an option.

I survived but it was a close run thing. Because of the failure to diagnose I was left with drug related injuries that have lasted for ten years but I am alive and for that I am grateful. Once I saw a specialist on Monday and tests began I was on my way to recovery.

So schedule your hospital event and avoid weekends.

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