My journey from 59 to ………

Archive for the tag “NHS”

Kidney stones part 2 of 3 (or how to spend New Year!)

Remember that stone, no not Darryl, that other stone that destroyed me in a way that personal training, no matter how good, has never managed to do?IMG_0397


(Very quick recap, in September I was suddenly in horrendous pain, admitted to hospital and, after a couple of nights of serious painkillers I got rid of it.)

Well, one down, but there were still two more, larger ones, lurking about and I want rid!

Having had an outpatients appointment with my consultant I was put on the waiting list for surgery and, quicker than I expected, my turn arrived.

I was originally scheduled to be operated on on 11/12/15. When the appointment came through I checked my diary, the Club One Hundred party was the next night. Although disappointed I decided that it was more important to get the stones sorted but then I found out that the First Aid training for ESAR (Essex Search & Rescue) was that weekend and missing that would delay my going ‘live’ so I rang to see if I could postpone my op.

Spoke to a very nice lady who said that was fine but that it would be next year unless, short little laugh, I wanted it done on New Year’s Eve? I think she was somewhat taken aback when I said that actually that would suit me down to the ground! (Ever since Ray came out of hospital in 1989 we have stayed in on New Year’s Eve and I usually have to wake him up to say Happy New Year so this could be quite an exciting alternative! I’ve spent a Christmas in hospital with him, now I’ll see how they do New Year!)

So I was able to go to the First Aid training which included loading people into stretchers which could be winched up by helicopters (obviously I’m going for the most dramatic bit!)

And then on to the Club One Hundred party which was a great evening!


Yesterday I went for my pre-op assessment. Now I’ve managed to avoid having any surgery before so this is going to be another first for me! I was told to report to Basildon Hospital at 1pm and to allow up to 3 hours for my visit. I resigned myself to the idea that most of that time would be spent sat around waiting to see people. I could not have been more wrong!

I arrived on time, met by a very cheerful, friendly lady in her Christmas outfit and was given the necessary stuff to provide a urine sample! Very shortly after that a friendly nurse called me in.

She explained what would happen, got me to provide my contact details, any dietary requirements (I felt asking for ancestral food may be taking the ****) and then took my height, weight, blood pressure, temperature and then I had an ECG, more about that later!

Back into the hallway, phone out to check Facebook and ……. I was immediately called in by the pharmacist who wanted to know my allergies and medication.


Well apparently that’s a very unusual answer! Think I made his day.

I showed him the supplements I take, carry on with the Vitamin D, Zinc and Magnesium but stop the Fish Oil as it can thin your blood.

Back out and a short wait in the corridor where I kept thinking about that ECG, it looked very pretty ……..

Called in by the Sister for a complete barrage of questions. An early one was did I have Alzeheimer’s, not yet ….. Now I know why it was at the start, I wouldn’t have been able to answer the questions!

Although there were what seemed like hundreds of questions they were not asked in a tick box way. She seemed genuinely interested in what was going on (the reality must be that she is bored out of her head asking the same stuff of people all the time) and I was able to ask questions at any point, which of course I did!

“I’ve just had a tetanus jab and I’m due to start a course of Hepatitis B ones, will that be OK?”

So of course she asks why I’m having them and I say it’s because I do voluntary work in a prison and she’s surprised and we talk about that and then she goes to ask someone …….. and I sit and wait, and I think …. about that ECG …..

Back she comes, I’m not to have them two weeks either side of the op so I’ll just leave the vials in the fridge, something to look forward to later!

On with the questions, ooh your blood pressure’s good!

And then I ask …. “May I take a photo of my ECG?”

Stunned silence, nobody’s ever asked that before! Why would I want it? “Well I find things like that interesting and I write a blog and ….”

She couldn’t think of any reason why not but said she’d just pop next door to check. She obviously explained what I wanted to do and the other person asked what the ECG was like and was told it was excellent, not sure what was said next but it was followed by loads of laughter – they’ve now met me!


She kindly made me a copy, without my distinguishing details, and I’ve taken a photo!

It appears that, physically at least, I’m in pretty good shape

More questions and I warn her my father had very bad reactions to anaesthetics …. just in case …..

More questions and then we get onto the details of my admission. One blood test now then another a couple of days before the op to confirm my blood group and ‘harvest’ some extra blood in case they need to give me any. What an excellent idea. Because of the M.S. I can no longer be a donor but at least that means that a) they can save other people’s for those that need it and b) people who could but don’t donate have to provide some for themselves!

On the day I can have a light breakfast before 8 am and then only water (that’s easy)  except for a sort of energy drink that I have to mix up until 12 when I arrive at the, I want to say departure lounge but some may think that’s in bad taste!

After that, nothing. I will be taken from there to the op and then put on a ward somewhere, they’ll ring my brother and tell him where!

Any other questions?

“Well I’m due to be doing throw line training on the 6th January …….”



“I’m training to be a member of Search & Rescue!” Obvious really!

“I don’t think you’ll be up to that”

Will I be able to do the 2 day initial search course on the 16th Jan?”

There’s more chance but you need to remember that kidneys are delicate and that they may bleed …. Ask the Consultant and Anaesthetist when you see them”

“I hadn’t even got to the ‘When can I start training again’  bit ……”

Well done Basildon Hospital, keep up the good work and I’ll see you again soon :-/




Discharge day!

Ray was finally discharged from hospital today. He’s really pleased to be home and very positive that he will never drink again. A positive start!

I don’t think the problems will start up again for a little while. At the moment the memory of how ill he was is very fresh. I think the danger will be that in a couple of weeks he may think one or two drinks would be OK and they wouldn’t. Lets hope I’m wrong and he sails through this!

We didn’t sail through the discharge though.

When I arrived at the hospital I knew I may have to wait a long time and was happy to do so, chatting to Ray.

I’d rung that morning to explain Ray’s glucose monitor had broken and the nurses were organising a replacement for him. When I arrived I told them we also needed some of the glucose shots in case he had a hypo.

One of the nurses was very helpful and went all over the hospital and found all of that for us.

The doctor arrived to do the discharge paperwork and I explained the glucose meter and the test strips we’d need as well as the glucose stuff. I gave him them tubes of glucose so he could order them, and never saw them again 😦

A very helpful nurse on his previous ward had told me all the things I’d need to make sure I got when he was discharged and I was working my way through it, not appreciated by the nurse I was asking! “Who gave you that list?”

The district nurses told me the referral was late for that night’s injection and as I’d been shown how to use the pen a couple of times I said we’d probably be ok tonight and that they’d come in the morning. I made sure I took their contact number though, and I’m very glad I did!

I was given a huge bag of medicines but when I asked for the discharge letter and drug list I was told they couldn’t print them but would post them on to us. I said I needed to be able to get them to the GP so we could organise prescriptions and was told the information was all on the system and he’d have immediate access to it.

The very helpful nurse went out of her way to try and get a wheelchair for us. She eventually borrowed one from another patient and took Ray to our car. She was lovely and very kind to him.

When we got home I settled Ray and went straight t the doctor’s surgery to say he was out of hospital and ask for a copy of his drugs list to help me sort it all out. They had received no information!

Back home I started to go through the pile of medication.


There were drugs he had prior to admission and others I’d never seen before. Different drugs had to be taken in different quantities at different times of day, but there was no indication as to what drugs could, or could not, be taken together.

In hospital Ray had been taking pain killers, we had none. I think he was having paracetamol so I’ve just been and bought some as I vaguely remember being told not to give him ibuprofen. Hope I’ve remembered right!

I have two containers of one of the drugs. One says one tablet once a day the other says one tablet three times a day. Which is correct?

There were boxes of needles, why? What are they for?

Then I took the lid off the insulin pen and found out – no needle! Now what do I do? I don’t know what to do with these.

Then I discovered I had two different insulin pens. What’s going on???????

I rang the District Nurses this was beyond me!

When they arrived they asked about the discharge letter and drug lists. I explained I didn’t have them, showed them what I’d got they seemed to be as shocked as I was!

Then I remembered that while we were still on the ward I’d become uncomfortable with how things were going. The form that the nurses faxed to the district nurses was on the desk, and I took photos of it!

This showed the doses of insulin that Ray should have


Great, but why have I also got this?


He appears to have developed arthritis


But no longer has any communication difficulties! (I have that photo but haven’t added it as it had lots of other details on it).

I’m clever and resourceful but this is dangerous! What would have happened had I not been there?

I am a great supporter of the NHS and the staff that work for it. We’ve been fortunate to meet some truly caring people who’ve looked after Ray really well but I have got to follow up on this, it is so wrong.

On a more positive note Ray says the food was lovely and that their chicken tikka masala was far superior to the one I get him from Morrisons!!!

60 years plus five and a half weeks

And what a five and a half weeks it has been!!!!

It could not have been any more different than last year! 12 months of fitness, exercise and challenges followed by enforced idleness 😦

It started with me getting the flu bug that’s doing the rounds and that wiped me out for about three weeks. I couldn’t believe it, I never get ill (well not common or garden, ordinary illnesses, I get things like Multiple Sclerosis!!!)

I was just starting to recover from that and then Ray became ill and had to be taken into hospital.

Now my stress levels have gone through the roof which has resulted in the flashing lights in my eyes increasing and the strange balance sensations I’ve had with the MS in the past coming back.

OK, that’s the outline. Now for the detail, if you’re interested read on, if not I suggest you quit now!

I’m not going to say any more about the flu bug, it was what it was, so I’ll fast forward to Sunday 14th April.

Woke up bright and early (5.30 am) and set off to Brighton to watch my friends running the marathon. Thoroughly enjoyed the day with Kirstein and Amelia cheering the runners on.

Got home at about 6.15pm, Ray was in bed so I went to talk to him. I said he didn’t look very well, he sat up and began projectile vomiting brown stuff which I quickly realised was blood (I now know it’s called coffee ground vomiting).

Ray was very dehydrated, drinking gallons of water and vomiting continuously. Very, very frightening for both of us.

He would not agree to my calling an ambulance but did agree to the non emergency number. They were great. The initial person took all the details then put me through to a nurse who said 999 but, as Ray said no, she got a doctor to ring us and Ray agreed to go and see him (I didn’t mention his clinic was in the grounds of the hospital until we were there!).

Off we set in the car, Ray clutching the bucket and continuing to vomit blood. The doctor was great. I explained Ray’s type 1 diabetic, that as far as I knew he hadn’t eaten anything for three days or had his insulin but that he had been drinking. I told him that we’d seen the GP recently who was very concerned about the amount Ray was drinking and had organised blood tests and a liver scan but that the results had not yet come through. The doctor examined Ray, made a phone call then told us the SHO had agreed to take him and that I should take him to A+E.

As we started to go I realised that Ray wasn’t able to manage the walk and got a wheelchair, something he would normally never agree to even though the walk would take a very long time, too bloody independent and stroppy!

We got to A+E where someone glanced at the letter and said we were in the wrong place and that we had to go to the AMU ward. Back outside then round to the ward, no, they were full and everything was diverted to A+E! Back we go. At this point I read the doctor’s notes which had said A+E in the first place!

When we got back to A+E I spoke to somebody who, after some huffing and puffing, told me to park Ray and that I should join the queue to see the first nurse. I did this, running back from time to time to change his bowl. When I saw the nurse she took the doctor’s letter and told me to complete a form and queue to hand it in to the receptionists.

Once I’d done this we were told to wait until a nurse called us.

We’d arrived at the doctors at 8 pm for an 8.30 appointment, at gone 11pm we were still in A+E waiting room, Ray was still vomiting blood (other people understandably moving away from us) and nobody had seen him! I kept going back to the receptionists who were lovely but could do nothing. I saw the first nurse a couple of times who just said we had to wait. I pointed out that he’d been seen by a doctor and that the SHO had agreed to take him but she said that we were now in A+E and had to follow their systems!

Eventually I got very angry. I had been to the receptionist yet again and discovered that there were three people in the queue ahead of us and that the first one had been waiting 57 minutes. If we had not been sent to the wrong places we would have been in front of them! I again went to the first nurse and told her all this, she again told me I had got it wrong but I knew I hadn’t and she finally, grudgingly, agreed to see him. After taking his blood pressure etc he was immediately moved through to the department where we waited in a cubicle with a family with a sick baby until Ray was finally moved into a bed in a room on his own. We were told that he would be staying there as there were no beds available. I left at 3am as I had to sleep and Ray still hadn’t been given the anti sickness medication.

On Monday Ray’s sister rang me in the morning to say that his step father had died, this was not unexpected, and I told her about Ray! They were worried about telling his mum as she was so upset about Syd so I didn’t get to speak to her until Thursday. All very difficult as I wanted to tell her how sorry I was about Syd but I could understand their concerns as well!

Ray spent the day in the room in A+E, he had been given the anti sickness drug which was working but he was not at all well. He was then moved to the AMU ward for assessment. He was on drips to rehydrate him, and drips for insulin and glucose to try and stabilise his blood sugars.

After about 24 hours there he was moved onto ‘his ward where they worked hard to control his diabetes. The nurses on this ward were lovely. They made him feel safe and relaxed and really tried to help both of us. I really wish I could say that about everybody else.

The diabetic specialist nurse rang me to see her on the ward one afternoon. I arrived at 3, she eventually spoke to me at 50 miles an hour for 2 minutes at just before five then rushed off to discharge another patient. I then discovered she was not going to see me and only did so because the nurse insisted.

I kept asking to speak to a doctor and they were never available. There was then talk of discharging him and, when I refused to agree, all of a sudden 2 doctors arrived! The Thursday before Ray was admitted he’d had a liver scan. I’d told the hospital about it and said the GP had written asking to see him about the results. Nobody had even looked at the results, I’m still not happy that everything there is OK!

He has now been moved on to the cardiac day ward while he waits to be discharged.

I’ve now accepted that Ray is an alcoholic. I don’t know if he has, but I have! He told me he’s not going to drink again and to get rid of his wine and beer, which I have, but I’m not convinced ……….

I always knew he drank massively but somehow kidded myself that, because he doesn’t get withdrawal symptoms he wasn’t an alcoholic. It was also easier for me to be in denial.

Two people have recently said to me ‘Well you shouldn’t buy it for him!” Easy for them to say, and something that I would have said prior to living this life, but not so easy to do! PLEASE people, think before you make comments like that. They hurt, they really hurt and my eyes are welling up thinking about it. Try to imagine how you would cope living someone else’s life before you criticise how they do it. You may intend the comment to be supportive, but don’t you think it may be something I’ve thought a thousand times???

I have looked after Ray for 24 years, 25 in November, since he had his stroke. I have done it on my own with no support. Ray rarely sees anybody but me.

He has some contact with our neighbours and with my family who are all great. He sees his mum and Syd at Christmas when I take him to exchange presents (if his sisters are there then he sees them too) and he’ll call out ‘Hello Mummy’ and when I chat to his mother on the phone.

I am very strong and find it hard to admit when I can’t cope (pride and loyalty are terrible things) but I have now done it!

I have met with the alcohol liaison worker and told him everything. He’s explained how difficult it is for people to stop drinking (much harder than smoking) and that there are going to be difficult times ahead but that he can, and will, be able to provide me with support as well as Ray.

This has been hard to write, but I needed to do it.

I had my goals for this year, but now I’ve got a far bigger one to contend with!

I’m due to collect Ray from the hospital tonight, I have to admit that I’m scared of what the future will be like, he’s been drinking very heavily since his teens and now it has to stop! We managed one argument on the ward, I’m sure there will be more to come 😦

The district nurses will be coming in to do his injections and blood tests, the re-enablement team will be looking at his washing and dressing, the sofa and toilet seat have been raised and a grab rail put on the bed.

The support teams will come while Ray needs them, that won’t be long as he’ll say he’s fine and all the decisions are ultimately made by him. I know that he’d be better off with a wet room rather than a bath, social services were willing to look at doing it but he said no. The disabled person has the rights, not the carer.

I haven’t done any real training during the last five and a half weeks but I need to get right back into it now. I’m going to need every bit of the mental and physical strength I get from training and I’m certainly going to need the endorphins!!!

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