To whom this may concern
I arrived on the Richard Wells ward as a surgical patient on the 6th December 2012 at 7.30am I was booked in for Breast Surgery, a mastectomy with a Latissimus Dorsi Reconstruction. This is where the problems started. I was told by a lovely apologetic nurse that unfortunately there was not a bed available for me, but she was working hard at trying to find me one – I didn't doubt it.
Unfortunately, in the meantime we were left in the staff room – it was quite comfortable but I felt that the staff although very pleasant and apologetic to my husband and me, felt uncomfortable eating their food and taking their breaks with us sitting in there – and quite rightly so we ourselves kept apologising. However, by the time we spent a considerable amount of hours in the staff room it had became quite apparent that the Richard Wells ward had more problems than just a lack of bed space.
During my stay, I experienced a great deal of pain because staff did not have the time to attend to me. On the second night I waited hours for my morphine to be topped up. Admittedly, this is quite sketchy in the amount of time, but no one could get another cannula into my arm or hand. However, I know I was left for a good few hours as I was panicking and texting my husband. In the end I asked for a doctor but again I waited for ages and indeed it took a while for her to fit it as well. Circumstances that shouldn’t have happened if the members of staff involved hadn’t been so busy elsewhere. This may seem like an old cliché that you read about in the papers or watch on the television, however the medical staff that were involved were never at any time at fault – but when you experience this first hand it is without a shadow of a doubt the most soul destroying, inhuman experience to every happen to me.
I watched nurses on the Sunday running around like headless chickens; they could not keep up with the patients needs. When you are surrounded by people in pain, phones ringing, buzzers continually going off and cries of “help me” when you yourself are in agony, words cannot begin to describe how I felt.
Nurses were apologising left right and centre and there was no time for one on one patient care. I felt guilty ringing my buzzer asking for pain relief, I was constipated, I was desperately in need of a jug of water and my bed was so uncomfortable that I couldn’t move – and quite frankly I was not the only one!
The old lady in the bed next to me pleaded with me to help her – and I couldn’t. She along with the young girl the other side of me needed to go to the toilet. Suzy was running backwards and forwards between both of them. At one point in-between pleading, the old lady messed the bed. This was at lunch time – I could not eat.
The woman opposite also kept crying out in pain and – as I sat in the middle of all this, I eventually managed to stagger over to pull my curtains as I did not want to see anymore. I put my earphones in and cried and cried. After an hour or so of crying Suzy managed to pop her head around the curtain and ask me if I was okay and did I need to talk. I told her that that would be lovely but she didn’t have time did she? She shrugged and smiled and again apologised.
I was sick of hearing Sarah and Suzy saying to everyone “Sorry I’ll be there in a minute” “Sorry no we don’t have any more beds” or “I’ll be there as soon as I can” Sarah left her shift and handed over without being able to change my dressing – which she had been promising me all day, or to give me a suppository. I know she tried her very best to get to me and did indeed hand over this information to the next nurse. However, by the time my husband turned up later I was in complete meltdown crying and generally so upset about what I had seen and heard, and my complete experience of the day. I had the total realisation that each and every member of the staff on the ward, was, despite their best efforts unable to make a difference in patient care. Quite simply, they are too overstretched, too exhausted and too emotionally drained.
Ironically I have no doubt that the sickness record on this ward alone throughout the staff is extremely high. I just hope that none of them end up on this ward.
In short, something must be done. I never want this terrible experience to happen to anyone else – and yet I know this is an everyday occurrence.
In patient 6th December – 12th December 2012
So you see, that was my experience in hospital - don't get me wrong the whole team were fantastic. On that particular evening I was moved to my own room so I could get away from all the noise.Not that I asked for it, I think the sister on duty took one look at me and decided I needed some sleep as I was exhausted.
I had three drains in, one in my breast, and two in my back. After a good nights sleep one of my drains was taking out and I started to feel a bit more like me again - except for the pain. This was controlled better after I moved to my own room - thank god.
After 2 more days on the Wednesday I had the other 2 drains out, my dressings changed and I was allowed to go home. My Breast care nurse Rachel pulled a few strings and came to the conclusion that I would be better off in my own environment.
Here I am now in my own home - yes its been difficult, however the house looks great, all the Christmas decorations are up. Hubby and kids have been cooking and cleaning and running the house and me.
I did wash my hair practically on my own today, can't wait to have a proper shower or bath after my dressings are off. I can sleep - albeit we have had to change sides of the bed with hubby - on my left side now. Lying down is painful as you can imagine as I have had a flap of skin and a large muscle taken out of my back, but I am getting stronger everyday. My reconstructed breast is amazing. It's extremely swollen and so is under my arm pit where all my lymph nodes were removed.. However it is looking good already. With my clothes on no one would ever know. I have to exercise my arm and my shoulder which is painful - but a must.
Who would have thought that 9 days after a mastectomy I would have been Christmas shopping. No I'm not cooking or cleaning yet, and it will be a few weeks before I can drive, but give me time. This Friday I get my results, and I am hoping that the cancer has only spread to the one lymph node and not to any of the others they removed. I knew that they took quite a bit of cancer away from inside my breast as they informed me afterwards. Hopefully the next stage of my fight will be containment, but whatever it brings I've got my tremendous family and friends who I know will be there for me every step of the way - just as they always have been.