Things seemed to be going relatively well healing wise. I’d been transferred back to Mersea Ward the night of the 4th from Critical Care so that said something, they were no longer worried about my immediate health. However the morning of the 6th things didn’t seem so great…
Every day there were different nurses and HCA’s on shift, so you’d see different people at night as you would during the day, and quite often their shifts go in patterns of three – that’s what I found anyway! The nurse the previous night hadn’t seemed overly friendly but I gave her the benefit of the doubt because I thought maybe she was just having a bad day? But she was looking after me again the night shift of the 4th – 5th and I got the same bad vibe. She hadn’t done anything to affect my care at that point, she just didn’t seem as nice as the other nurses. At that time I was still connected to morphine, but I was also on steroids and antibiotics. Steroids as they were slowly taking me off them by reducing my dose, antibiotics as I was developing a UTI from all the drugs having been pumped into me over the last month.
I needed the steroids every 6 hours, straight into my cannula. But the antibiotics needed to enter my system slowly, so they were set up on a drip meant to last 30 minutes. However there were constant blockages in the tubes and my drip stand would start beeping for a nurse to come and sort it out. Annoying for them, but just as annoying for me because it was late and I was trying to sleep. Throughout the night I kept ringing my buzzer when my drip stand would beep and I was always met by an eye roll. I already felt like an inconvenience the fact I was in hospital in the first place so the not so subtle eye rolls didn’t help.
Then I had a nose bleed! I’ve never really had nose bleeds before so I didn’t know what to do. I couldn’t get myself out of bed to go and get some tissue so I rang my buzzer and was met by another eye roll, but she did get me some tissue and then some paper that she’d run under cold water to hold at the top of my nose – it seemed like strange advice at first but then I remembered the cold would cause the blood vessels to shrink and reduce the blood flow.
After all that and a few hours sleep, it was around 5am and I had this sudden horrible feeling that I needed to go to the toilet. Even though I thought it was impossible to actually go because there was literally nothing there anymore, I knew I just needed to go. Even if it was just sitting on the toilet until my mind stopped playing tricks on me, I just needed to. However at this point I still needed help to get out of bed. I rang my buzzer and one of my favourite HCA’s came into my room and helped me into my bathroom (I still had my own private bathroom which I was happy about – mainly because I couldn’t walk that far to the main toilets!). At the point, I still had my catheter, my stomach drain, and was connected to a drip so getting me to move the 10m to my bathroom felt like a military operation because there were tubes everywhere! I got there though and sure enough, being sat on the toilet didn’t help and I needed to get back into bed so I pulled the red cord to get someone to help me back to bed. It was the nurse who was looking after me that night and she rolled her eyes at me when I asked for help getting back into bed.
When I’d shuffled back to bed with my variety of bags and tubes, I saw that I’d messed myself in the night. The surgeon had told me this might happen as they were leaving my rectum intact, and there may still be some stools in there, however due to surgery I may not have control over those muscles for a while. I was so embarrassed and just wanted to cry. The nurse acted weird though and pretended she hadn’t seen it so I pointed it out to her. She told me “it wasn’t that bad” and that I should get back into bed, but there was blood and faeces covering the space of at least an A4 piece of paper right in the middle. I then refused to get into my bed, and she told me she didn’t have time to change my sheets. She then placed my teddies (Mickey the dog and Violet the Unicorn) on top of the mess and told me that I should get into bed now I couldn’t see it. I still refused and we agreed that I would sit at the end of my bed for a couple of minutes till she came back to change the bedding.
Twenty minutes passed and I was still sat at the end of my bed. I had nothing behind me to support me and my tummy and back were starting to get really sore. I tried to shuffle into a slightly more comfortable position but it was pretty much impossible with all my tubes and bags. I looked round for my buzzer and it was out of reach so I started trying to get the attention of nurses outside my room who were having a natter. That didn’t work and before long I was feeling really weak and starting to sway because I was struggling to hold myself upright. I started crying and shouting for help, and a patient walked past and asked if I was okay, I said that I wasn’t and could they get a nurse.
So eventually, after 30 minutes someone came into my room and helped me, it was one of my favourite HCA’s, but by this point I was crying so much it took her a while to calm me down. The pain in my tummy was so bad that not even the morphine was helping. I explained that I’d messed myself and my nurse had said she’d come back to change my sheets and help me into my chair, but she hadn’t. She then helped me to shuffle round to my chair, got me some water, made sure I was comfy and calm and went off to get fresh bedding.
I was so angry at this nurse, I didn’t want her near me again. By then though it was 6am and drug time. She came into my room looking as glum as ever and tried to start a conversation with me but needless to say I was a little bit blunt. She asked what was wrong so I pointed at the mess on my bed and asked why she didn’t come back. She tried to tell me that she never said that and that I had agreed I would stay at the end of my bed till shifts changed. Well sorry, but no. What person in their right mind would agree to sit at the end of their bed, unsupported, having just had major abdominal surgery, for two and a bit hours. The answer is no one because it’s a stupid thing to expect. I just looked at her in disbelief, she told me she knew what she had said and what I had said, but she was lying.
Most nurses would administer my steroids slowly, as the room the drugs were stored in was always cold and having anything injected into your vein is a strange feeling anyway, but especially when it’s ice cold. My not so lovely nurse didn’t though that time, she just took my cannula and put the whole lot in, rather quickly in one go. It was so painful, felt like my arm was going to explode. It was okay after a couple of minutes, but then my arm went numb.
Then she left, and I called my Mum in tears. It was 0615 and I was sat in my chair waiting for my breakfast writing a nice letter of complaint to show the matron when she was in later.
I was fuming.
Later that day, when Mum and Dad came in for visiting, the matron came round as my parents had said I wanted to speak to her about the nurse who was looking after me for the last two nights.
My speech was still rather stuttery, especially from being upset, so I just showed her everything I’d typed out that morning – it was 2 pages long in total. She asked me what I wanted to do and I said I didn’t want her looking after me anymore as she just made me feel like an inconvenience and a nuisance . I’d said I didn’t want to put in a formal complaint because I’d never want to be the reason why someone lost their job, I just didn’t want her anywhere near me.
I was assured that she’d be working on the other side of the ward that night and she wouldn’t be looking after me again whilst I was in hospital. Although she wasn’t looking after me, it didn’t stop her hassling me the following night…