This blog is Part 3 of my hospital experience during my fight with cellulitis. If you’d like to read Part 2, you can do so here.
Apparently, the most appropriate way to treat the people looking after you is to insult them. I’ve heard that supposedly, women love a bad boy, but I’m not sure medical professionals appreciate racism. Or sexism for that matter. In fact, I’m not sure “isms” of this ilk are particularly welcome anywhere nowadays. But maybe that’s just me?
I was lying in bed trying to time my breathing with the hum of the fan. It was late in the night and for the fourth day running, I couldn’t sleep. Every nurse had their hands full, the alarms were drilling, and there was only the one bed spare. It stayed liked this for hours, but as the ward began to simmer down a new arrival entered the scene.
Introducing Patient X. I couldn’t see him as a blue hospital curtain divided my view, but I could hear him. The yelling made it clear he was in a lot of pain and so a few nurses were needed to get him into bed. He was lowered using a crane like device and a loud breathing apparatus was fitted. I felt sorry for him.
This was a man who had clearly had a rough ride. I will not take that away from him, who am I to judge? But, I can only have so much sympathy for a person that made the collective experience for the entire ward a nightmare.
My sympathy didn’t last long. You see, although Patient X had a lot health issues, he also had a nasty streak. Over the coming hours I would learn just how nasty he could be.
One nurse was not to approach him with her hands on her hips, as he didn’t “need the attitude”. Her hands were only positioned like that because she was exhausted. It was late by this point. No one was in the mood for his attitude, least of all her. Yet she, with albeit a slightly forced smile, rearranged his pillows and poured his water.
Another nurse, he labelled as “that one” wasn’t “capable” of looking after him. This was the same nurse that had moments before wiped him down head to toe. I might add she was of Asian ethnicity.
He requested a fan as he was too hot. They took mine. I overheated. I was already overheated. I did not wish to be overheated. See where I’m going with this?
Each time he didn’t get the attention of the nurses, he repeatedly rang the alarm. This is exactly what you need when you’re trying to sleep. He would flail his arms and on two occasions he barged my table through the curtain and knocked everything over, including my water. What soaking good fun we were having together. He spilt a tiny bit of his own drink on his chest, but of course, this was the nurse’s fault. Why? I have no idea. But somehow it was, apparently.
Quite simply, hospital personnel are resilient, forgiving people made from much hardier stuff than I. Hours I spent watching them reflect insults, complaints and criticism. If they can do this daily, I can do it momentarily I thought to myself. Although, this was easier said than done.
After a few hours of lying next to him I was ready to make a run for it – all I needed was a new leg. Oddly enough, this was a discussion my mother and I ended up having. The infection was so bad and showed no sign of slowing down. At regular intervals I would stare at the red boundaries of the infection, praying that the cellulitis wasn’t spreading pass the pen markings. If it did, the infection might reach my vital organs, which could be fatal.
During one of his finer moments, Patient X told a woman who was on her hands and knees picking up a bag of his spilt crisps, that she looked good on the floor. As she stood up and brushed her knees off, he asked “Who are you?” to which she replied, “I am your doctor”. He fell silent.
This was Dr Sophie. She wasn’t much older than thirty and had intense eyes that seemed to carry the emotion of the whole ward in them. When she spoke, you listened. Daily she would visit me, shut the curtains and perch on the end of my bed, clipboard in hand. There was never good news it seemed, but somehow it was less of a blow when she delivered it.
When I first arrived, I was set to leave the following morning. By the end of day two, I needed three days in total. By the end of day three it was four days, and by the end of day four they gave up on telling me when I would be out. I kept my chin up as best as could. Dr Sophie had the fun job of repeatedly telling me to cancel the next day’s plan.
Mum’s 60th? Nope. Spa day? Nada. Paris? Definitely not. I hadn’t even told her about the planned trip to Wales, but you can guess what her advice was when I did. Each bit of bad news chipped away at me. By the time I had messaged my friends saying Wales was off, I had given up the positive act. I was in tears.
Dr Sophie decided the best thing for me was to up my antibiotics. I now took them orally as well as intravenously (directly into the blood via a drip). I was one big sack of antibiotics. I took the oral form four times a day and had about three different painkillers every hour or so.
Night time arrived again and just like the nights that came before it, I did not sleep. That was it. I’d had enough. The next day I was going to complain (I am typically awkward and don’t like doing this). The next morning I told Dr Sophie that a certain neighbour of mine was going to give me an emotional breakdown, that the ward was too hot, and that I was fed up of being surrounded by veterans. After a while, the charm of their twinkly eyes and grey hair vanished, and the constant groans one can only associate with an old person began to age me. I was becoming one of them.
She nodded, smiled sympathetically and said, “I’ll see what I can do”. She soon returned with the first bit of good news I had heard all week. I was moving up stairs to the new wards. Goodbye Patient X. Farewell old timers.
I felt better already.