"Lack of care and dignity for broken ankle"

About: Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital / Accident & Emergency Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital / General Surgery

(as the patient),

In July of this year, I slipped at the top of my stairs, and broke my ankle medial and lateral malleoli.

I called an ambulance and got taken into our lady of Lourdes hospital.

I have no complaints about A&E, they were efficient, professional, and treated me as a person.

I was sent up to the gynecology ward, as there were no other beds available.

I would have been quite happy to stay on a trolley in A&E, but apparently I had to go for surgery from a ward.

I spent Sunday night in a haze of opiates and confusion! I do remember using a bedpan in A&E, lying on my back. I do know that I covered my buttocks in urine, as is to be expected, but the friend who was with me cleaned me off as best she could, with alcohol gel and a paper towel.

I was operated on Monday morning, and woke up in the gynecology ward. I don't know what time, but I was lying on my back, with a cast on my leg, which was elevated.

A staff nurse came around to check on me, she did not introduce herself, and I'm afraid I never learnt her name even though she was wearing a name badge. I made some feeble remark that I was surprised to see my toes, that I, as someone who has previous experience in this area, have to pad between the toes, and use counter pressure bandages to prevent post-op swelling.

I still cannot understand why this remark was so utterly offensive, but it apparently was, I was told that she, as a nurse who had worked previously in orthopaedics, had never seen such a procedure.

I had missed ordering what the hospital imagines is the evening meal, I got in touch with a friend, who sent in an Indian take-away, I got told off like a naughty child, was told I'd get sick, was offered bread and butter, the bread being processed white batch loaf, which I never eat if I can avoid it, finding it indigestible.

I was monitored scrupulously during the night, I was sharing the room with a woman who was undergoing another medical procedure because of a failed D&C, it's a good thing she didn't seem to feel her privacy was paramount, and that she felt comfortable with a stranger knowing this and more, because I couldn't help but know it.

I was monitored scrupulously during the night, the overhead light being turned on every time, and every time! I was asked my name, DOB, any allergies, and basically the entire questionnaire from my notes, blood pressure measured, etc. I understand it is necessary to check a post anesthetic patient, but the constant repetition of the complete questionnaire was probably unnecessary, as I was lucid in responding to my name. It was certainly disruptive to my fellow patient in the bed beside me.

On Tuesday I was taken down to radiography because I had reported pain in my right shoulder/ upper arm, both in A&E, and while lying on the trolley pre-surgery. I was sat down on a little stool in front of the screen. I asked for enough lead shielding consistent with obtaining an image of my upper arm, as I take x-rays myself, and am cautious about my exposure to ionising radiation. I also did remark that my arm injury was soft tissue, and that I didn't think images were going to be useful. I was handed a small square of lead, but was given no assistance in draping it, I was told I had right to ask for it, so there it was. I had one hand, and one leg functioning. They took a test exposure, an AP, and lateral. They wanted to take more exposures to view the shaft of the humerus, but as it was obviously not broken, I refused to permit it.

I was then wheeled back to the ward. I was offered a bedpan, for urination, I refused, and worked out how to clamber onto a commode. I was given lavatory paper to dry myself, and if I was lucky! wet paper to do my hands. It was very hot in the ward, I was sweating profusely, I was covered in a slick of sweat, and dried urine from the bedpan. I was given a basin of warm water, a towel, and asked if I wanted to freshen-up- it was not physically possible for me to do much. I was also given a packet of wet wipes, which were on the bedside locker that I couldn't reach. I had an in-dwelling catheter in my left wrist. The alcohol gel was at the end of the bed, I couldn't see it, and couldn't have reached it, had I known it was there.

I removed this catheter, as I was at this stage extremely concerned about my personal hygiene, and because I have read some of the research concerning MRSA.

I told the nurse that I didn't want more morphine, as I was extremely constipated, and that the NSAID-I think it was ibuprofen, was upsetting my stomach. Her attitude was very much that if I was in pain, it was up to me, all she could give me was paracetamol, that I could have hot water, or prune juice for the constipation. I didn't get either.

Later that afternoon, I started to feel very uncomfortable, and felt an urge to urinate frequently. I thought my urine looked rather pink, and I told the nurse I thought I was getting cystitis-she looked very impatient, because I was demanding attention? She whisked the commode away, and nothing more was mentioned by her about my possible cystitis, or the constipation, which was extraordinarily uncomfortable.

At this stage, I was beginning to lose the will to live. I was not trying to be a nuisance, or obnoxious, or troublesome. I was given to understand that my physical incapacity was making me all of those things. I was in pain, I didn't want to be there, but I was helpless, and of necessity, depending on the professionalism of the nursing staff.

Later on, they reviewed my notes, and discovered that I was supposed to have been given I/V cephalexin that morning, so I had to have another line inserted, as I'd taken it out.

That night, I asked the nurse if I could have the commode left by my bed, as I thought I was definitely getting cystitis. She told me that wasn't possible, so I asked if she wanted me to ring the bell for the commode, every 10 seconds during the night? Or would she prefer to put me in nappies? Which seemed to offend her, and I got the commode wedged against the wall, where I could clamber onto it.

I couldn't sleep that night, because of the noise, the physical discomfort, from my bladder, the constipation, the heat, the discomfort from the broken ankle and injured arm, and a growing fear that I would never get out of that hospital, and that the cystitis would extend further.

It was possibly exhaustion and stress, but I did think it was possible I would die from dirt, and neglect.

The following morning I begged to be given a bed bath. The last time I had washed was Saturday night, at home, when I was mobile, not covered in a film of sweat, and not covered in dried urine. This was Wednesday morning. I decided to stop eating, as the food was awful, over-processed, tasteless pap, which I never, ever eat. It amazes me, that a hospital could serve such rubbish. And if I did die of starvation, at least it would be exercising a choice.

I was very grudgingly given a bed bath, no-one was bothered about whether I was in pain or not, after all, I suppose I had refused morphine, and the ibuprofen was upsetting my stomach, so I wasn't taking that, and nothing was offered for the constipation.

I had starting emailing, texting and phoning friends, to see if any of them could help to get me out of the abominable place, on Wednesday afternoon, I got out, and went to a nursing home, where they washed me properly, and actually helped into clean night clothes. They were also friendly, I actually felt like a human, worthy of respect.

I would love to say that the nursing staff in the Lourdes are unhelpful, unkind and unprofessional because of overwork, and staff shortages-it may indeed be a factor, but I think it is mainly down to attitude. I think a vulnerable, dependent patient, as I was, is seen as a demanding nuisance. I had no value whatsoever in that ward, possibly I was too dependent, possibly I was too difficult, and knowledgeable, and I certainly feel that had I been overtly grateful for the care that was given, I might have fared better, and also, if I'd kept my mouth shut, and not bothered them, it would have been better too.

But I do expect nurses to be professional, and behave in a professional manner, my possibly (to them) difficult personality should not have affected their catering for my obvious physical needs, and disability.

It had got to the point where I absolutely dreaded asking for or pointing out, any physical needs I might have.

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