Some Facts About British Hospital Care
Happy New Year, everyone! 2019 started off in style for me… with a visit to the Pembury Hospital which resulted in an appendectomy and my first ever deep dive into the British health system.
As a person coming from Romania, where health is really no one’s priority, I believe my opinion and criticisms weigh something and there are not just words of a person in pain.
First of all, calling an emergency line with a huge pain in my stomach wasn’t at all treated as … an emergency. Not two, not three, but I think four people kept asking me my symptoms over the phone, only to simply conclude I should go to the nearest hospital.
Coming to Penbury Hospital and being seen by a doctor pretty early on was only the beginning of two days of waiting.
First I had to wait to be admitted. Ok, that I understand. There were a lot of people in the room.
Then I had to wait to be put on a line. Again, it made sense. Then some more waiting to be set a drip. Again, it made sense because I was still in the ER.
It stopped, however, making sense when I finally got to the ward and into my room.
Being suspected of appendicitis, the immediate course of action was surgery. In order to do so, they had to confirm my diagnosis with an ultrasound.
And now the true waiting game began.
No food, no water for more than one whole day, until they figured they didn’t have all forms and I couldn’t just go down and have an ultrasound. More waiting. Finally getting the exam. More waiting. Doctors finally saying I should get surgery. And on the 3rd day of the year, a freakin appendectomy.
Now the funny thing is …
I had come to the hospital with a huge pain in my stomach, which, by all signs, resembled a really bad case of gastritis (something I have a long history with), had been discovered to have a slightly inflamed appendix, had been put on paracetamol for it and kept away from food and drinks for 24h, you know, in case I get surgery, completely disregarding the gastritis.
Now, I am no doctor, but doesn’t this sound a little Kafkian?
What’s more absurd is that, after the surgery, being in slight pain, they kept on shoving paracetamol down my throat. Without having eaten much I said, “No, thank you.” I knew better than to mess with my stomach again. But then I changed my mind and asked the nurse if I could have something with it, to make it easier for my stomach and her reply “If it’s not prescribed, we can’t give it to you.”
Well, bloody prescribe it, I am in a hospital, aren’t I? Again, I preferred to be in slight pain than to argue with her. Which brings me to my list.
Here are some negative aspects of this experience.
1. If you get sick, give yourself time. It’s best to go to the ER when you truly are urgent, otherwise, take free from work, because it’s a bloody waiting game.
2. Nurses have almost zero bedside manners. Not all, but most of them. I know it’s a hard job and you deal with all sorts of smells and people and pains, but coming in the room of a sick person at 6 o’clock in the morning and talking loudly and making all sorts of noises or manhandling them is rude, cruel, unprofessional, insensitive, you name it.
3. Some of the staff still treats patients like idiots on a need to know basis. No details unless you ask and insist on them. I guess that can be excused to a certain degree, especially if they are overworked or understaffed.
Now some positive things.
1. It was clean. Monica-clean, like Monica, from friends, would say.
2. Somehow, as weird the vibe coming from the nurses was, as kind and, how should I put this, warm the doctors were. Seriously. I woke up from the surgery and I was somehow sad I missed it. I wish I would know who did what to me because there certainly seemed to be a lot of them.
3. I got home healthy and my veins almost in one piece.
And now, for the funny bit, here are some facts about hospitals I got to experience first hand.
1. There is George Clooney in every hospital. Mine visited me twice and diagnosed me.
2. Do you know the hilarious hospital gown and how it shamelessly reveals patients’ behinds in all movies? There is a reason for that — when you get out of surgery, they only do your top laces, not the bottom one, which hides … well … your butt. And you only figure that out later, when you start walking the halls, because the doctor told you so. True story.
3. After a laparoscopic appendectomy, when they pump your abdomen with CO2 so they get a better look at what they are cutting inside you, you spend your days hoping you’d fart it out. It’s painful, and it must get out. True story.