The latest in the saga of our health is that we are getting more nervous as the gastroscopy is the day after tomorrow!

I went to the orthopaedic clinic on Tuesday and saw a Doctor I hadn’t met before and I thought he was going to say I should put up with it and wait for my operation. He started talking about me having a scan and my husband kindly spoke up and asked him to speak to the Consultant (who was next door). He went in  to see him and then came back and said that they had a “cunning plan”. I’m going to a different hospital to have my operation next Wednesday as a trauma case. Apparently the avascular necrosis is like a fracture so they’re getting around the waiting list police and taking me off the list at the cold case hospital which is great. So I’m to go to hospital 1 on Tuesday to keep my appointment for pre-op and then in to  hospital 2 for the surgery, provided the ward doesn’t fill up with accident cases. In the old days,  Consultants  had control over their operating lists.

Strangely having the operation so soon is giving me the chance to think about something other than Saturday.

This week has been quite stressful as my friend’s funeral was on Monday and then I heard that another of my friends has got breast cancer. She is being wonderfully positive .

Published in: on March 26, 2009 at 5:00 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Tales from the days of a 70’s student nurse

I don’t know why I decided to become a nurse, it certainly wasn’t a burning ambition. I had worked in the Health Service as a clerk in the waiting list office, in medical records and as a clerical officer and a higher clerical officer at the regional board. It may have been when I met a ship’s surgeon and his nurse on a cruise ship, they seemed to have a lot of fun. I realised that I’d done a whole lot of different jobs and that maybe it was time to get a qualification (other than A levels) as it might become more difficult to get jobs in the future.

I ‘phoned our local hospital and asked what qualifications one needed to apply for nurse training. I was told I’d need O level English. I said I’d got A level but was then asked “but have you got O level?” Maybe I should have realised that that was a clue as to how the NHS operates!

I had to go for an interview where I seem to remember saying that I didn’t mind getting my hands dirty (I’d worked in a potting shed before). Anyway I got a place on the course.

Our training was split between three hospitals in the group with a year spent at each. We had to attend preliminary training school for eight weeks before being let loose on a ward. When we were on a ward we were part of the team and our placements were planned for the whole three years. This meant that,if a student nurse left, her allocated wards would be shorthanded .

PTS was fun really. We had a lecturer who was somewhat fossilised, She liked drawing kidneys and said she’d like to become a pavement artist when she retired, she’d draw kidneys on pavements! She was a nice person but not a fantastically good teacher. I do remember her saying that her tutor had given her a maxim which was”if it’s doubtful it’s dirty” which is a good thought. She told us stories about laughing at people wearing funny hats on buses after night duty and she brought in another old nurse to talk to us about going on nights. She began her lecture by saying “now I know you may be apprehensitive about going on night duty…”, not a good start really!

As far as good starts go, it turned out that Miss Stone (the fossil) had not been teaching us as she should have been. One day she wasn’t there and another teacher came in and proceeded to assume that we knew a heck of a lot more than we did until we pointed out that we hadn’t been taught any of the things she thought we knew! She valiantly crammed in about six systems of the body in two weeks.

One day we had to take measurements for our uniforms. We measured our wrists and the lengths of our arms as well as the usual bust ,waist and hips. As the time for our launch on to the wards got nearer, there was no sign of our uniforms, in fact there was talk of us having to don paper shrouds for our first forray. The uniforms arrived in the nick of time,short sleeved and not sorted in to sizes. It was more a case of diving in and seeing what fitted!

My first ward was male surgical in the “best hospital in the world”. Male Surgical was ward six, a “Nightingale Ward” that is one where the beds are lined up in two rows opposite each other. This arrangement has fallen out of favour because it was thought that people prefer more privacy but, in my opinion, that isn’t necessarily the case. If you are marooned in a hospital bed it is nice to see what’s going on and to be able to ask a passing nurse for something rather than having to rely on a buzzer and a potentially long wait. Similarly, said passing nurse can keep an eye on patients and go to them quickly at the first sign of any trouble. Being stuck in a side room makes the patient feel isolated and gives them more time to brood.

Ward six was beautiful, there was something soothing about the colour scheme.Sort of aqua I suppose. Next door female surgical was a mirror arrangement of ward six but the colour scheme was red and the affect was gloomy. I always found that males made easier patients somehow, often very stoical and grateful for the smallest “extras” like washing a pair of pyjama trousers. The women would want to know why you hadn’t washed to top as well. I put this down to the female patients feeling that it was their turn to be looked after as they did all the looking after others at home. There was also a particularly annoying type of woman who would call out to you to tell you that another patient hadn’t had her meal yet. Obviously, when you are dishing out the meals, someone will be last, won’t they?

The first time I was on the ward I had to take lots of patient’s temperatures. It takes a little while to get the knack of shaking the mercury back down. The next day I wondered why my arm was aching and then I realised that it was all the thermometer shaking.

Week’s holiday, thoughts on computers

I’ve been very lazy about blogging for a while so I’d better get my finger(s) out and write something. We’ve had the week off,hence the change in the weather. Not having to go to work makes me realise how much I’m looking forward to retiring! I can’t say I’ve actually done anything this week apart from some taxi-ing. Jen’s car decided to die on her and , as she had exams, I was pressed into service driving backwards and forwards to Henley. The garage initially thought they could repair the car, but after a couple of days they decided it would need a reconditioned engine which would cost more than the car was worth. Jenny was very sad because she loved her car, named Pierre. He was a Corsa, special euro 1998 job apparently. Having lost all her clothes etc because of the sinking of the Sea Diamond, losing her car made her even more fed up.

On Thursday, I go in touch with the chap who had sold us two cars before and he had a Daewoo Matisse available,so we bought it! We took delivery of it on Thursday, just like that. It’s a nice little car, hopefully it’ll last her a long time. On Friday we sorted out the tax and confirmed the insurance. So, you see, I seem to have spent a lot of time on car related business.

Apache had another scan but there isn’t much going on in there so she’s got to be scanned again in a week to see if she’s coming into season again. Apparently the Royal Veterinary College have been in touch with our vet to see how Apache is as she is an unusual case. I fear she is going to be an expensive case too!

I was wondering what all these clever people who’s Twitters I read would have been if there weren’t any computers to work on. Would they have been physicists or mathematicians?

It would have been my Dad’s birthday today. He was a physicist. I know he would have loved all the modern technology. Computers were in their infancy in “his day”. I remember him taking me to ICI to see the computers. They were in a huge room in enormous cabinets with reel to reel. They produced vast quantities of paper and it was quite exciting to be given some to draw on.

When I used to work in a surgery in Slough we were doing a drug trial and we were given a small computer to put data on. The idea was that the patients could put their own details on it. Trouble was , it was a bear of very little brain and we had to get our practice manager’s son in to tweak some more space on it!

After a while we got a computer at the surgery.The software wasn’t that brilliant and the helpline was unhelpful. Hang on, hang on, hang on and then, “We’re very busy, go away!”

I think it was a con when they said that the system wouldn’t be able to cope with the year 2000. (All that panic and expense , it turned out that the only problem was that you had to put 199whatever in full but you could put 00, 01 or 02.) We had to have new everything and that was a right mess. We received all the hardware but the driver who brought it refused to carry it upstairs. A couple of patients stole a computer but the practice manager (not the one with the geek son), ran down the road after them and demanded that they give it back and they did!

As for installation, that was a cock up too. An engineer was off sick and so we missed our day.A lady came to install the software but she ended up doing the computer installation, climbing under desks with her mobile clamped to her ear whilst instructions were given to her. At one point , engineers were given accommodation miles away because no one at their company had bothered to work out where Slough was!

Not long after this we were all made redundant as the surgery was sold off for redevelopment. I never got to grips with that system but by then, I was already working at my husband’s surgery where we had EMIS installed which is infinitely better because it is software designed by a doctor, not an accountant.

Recently, the health authority for East Berkshire has become Berkshire East and all the surgeries have had their systems changed , I think to Vision. My GP has always used that system but I think EMIS is better. What a colossal waste of money, that’s the sort of thing that eats up the money in the NHS. Perhaps I won’t get started on that now!

Published in: on May 12, 2007 at 5:28 pm  Leave a Comment