It’s been an “interesting” night…Getting home after a Saturday evening outing I was sitting chatting to my friend (as you do) before going to bed. I stood up, apparently spoke some gibberish (so what’s new?) and then crashed straight backwards onto the floor. Apparently I was “out” for several minutes and came to with my name being called, but me being unable to respond or recognise my long-suffering friend for several seconds (which felt like a whole deal longer).
My head hurt like crazy and on inspection had a swelling the size of half a tennis ball. I could not sit up and I was dizzy and generally out of it. 999 was called BUT it was Saturday night… (ie no chance of an ambulance being available). I continued to lie on the floor as I couldn’t raise my head…but I could talk and was making enough sense to check my blood sugar which is often the reason for me coming a cropper…but no…my blood sugar reading was fine. So why did I just conk out?
Half an hour ticked by and a paramedic in a car arrived…he couldn’t take me to hospital because I could not get my head up from the floor so he couldn’t transport me in his vehicle. There I lay on the kitchen floor…for what turned out to be two very long hours whilst he “assessed” me – checking my heart, pulse, blood pressure etc, whilst waiting for an ambulance… still none available….Finally it did arrive and I was mobile…Who knew that lying on a stretcher in an ambulance required 3 seat belts? They wanted me in hospital for observation for at least 4 hours after the fall to ensure there was no serious head injury. This involved my first ambulance road trip…another new experience on my “journey”.
On the way we learned about how stretched the service is. Not nearly enough staff for the demand. The same story we hear everywhere…people in work doing far beyond the requirements of the job. Our team hadn’t even had the required comfort or food break since starting work at 6pm (it was now after 2am). Paramedics have to show response time, arrival at incident, departure time and arrival at hospital time. They have 15 minutes only to “transfer” patient. If hospital staff don’t check patient in fast enough the hospital is fined, if the paramedics are not back in ambulance “ready to go” in 15 minutes, then the Ambulance Service is fined. Sounds like another ridiculous example of target culture – completing ignoring both the patient needs and any clinical factors.
I then endured being one of those patients lying on a trolley in a hospital corridor (well..not even that…I was parked outside the door of “Resus” right by the front door…and there I stayed for some considerable time…)
Was finally seen by a nurse who checked me over, put in a cannula, took bloods, gave me an ECG and asked about pain. My trolley was then moved from time to time but nobody checked my condition again at all. Meantime I was able to observe Saturday night unfolding in A&E first hand…a car crash with 3 vehicles, a bevy of police officers talking to all the parties concerned, an assault, a 102 year old lady who had fallen and who knows what else was going on that I was not privy to…
Six and a half hours after the fall when I could sit up (at last) and had not been “observed” at all from either the corridor or my final landing spot – a cubicle…I wanted to go home. Nursing staff advised me that a doctor had clicked my name – (whatever does that mean? ) I was strongly advised not to leave the hospital. So we waited another hour and a half. By this time I imagined (naively or not) that I would have shown any head injury symptoms if I was going to. Again I was told it was against medical advice to leave but I signed the necessary form releasing the hospital from any medical negligence claim, had my cannula removed and left…relatively upright…but with a stinking headache, a black and blue coccyx, feeling absolutely shattered and with a vast amount of ECG stickers still on my chest, arms and legs!
Maybe I will never know the cause of the collapse…I was obviously low on the priority list so can only assume blood results showed no abnormalities. On the plus side – hospital car parking is free from 7pm to 8am and we did finally leave before 8am…just!
…and, but a brief respite…Healthcare at Home tomorrow and Oncology and GP on Tuesday…Can things get any better?