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Friday, October 25, 2013


"There are two primary choices in life: to accept conditions as they exist, or accept the responsibility for changing them." Denis Waitley, author

  Sue and Ken Deveson of NB Cleddau are dear friends--more than friends really; kindred spirits, cousins of the heart and soul. Sue picked me up today and took me to Ikea for some retail therapy. We met Ken there and chatted, laughed, and cried over coffee. Ken offered to introduce me to his MP Nadine Dorries who sits on the Health Bill Committee if Les and I were not offered acceptable resolution of the issues we've faced throughout his health crisis. 
   Sue drove me to see Les today and I had a sneaking hunch we were going to be met by the ward authorities since Les phoned to say they queried him this morning about amongst other things, our blog.
   Les took the last three blog posts back to draft form so we could double check that I had in fact included no false statements. I found one item which was related to me by the patient Stephen who rescued Les from his tangled tubing in the night which Les--now coherent and able to relate the story to me fully--said was an error so I removed it, and rechecked all past posts having to do with Les' illness and his treatment, against my notes. I asked Sue if she would serve as an impartial witness if we were approached as I felt there was less chance of any bullying tactics if any exchange was witnessed by an outside observer, and she agreed, bless her heart.
   Les felt well enough to get up on his own this morning, and use the bathroom in which to bathe, and his stoma has started to work. He had used hardly any pain meds and he was allowed to sip small amounts of water every hour. He was relaxed and happy at feeling more alert, and seeing some progress with his stoma.
   About an hour into our visit the ward matron and the ward sister came and asked to speak with me and Les. I indicated that I wanted Sue to stay. They pulled the curtain around Les' bed and the interview commenced.
   We were told the agency nurses responsible for the issues last Tuesday night would not ever set foot in the hospital again. All well and good, however the agency nurse in question should never have been allowed to to work in the hospital--he clearly lacked the professional training necessary to perform skilled nursing which jeopardized patient health, recovery, and lives, and the NHS is ultimately culpable for the management and oversight of its facilities; Les' healing from surgery has been negatively impacted by the experience and it should never have happened. He was terrified, depressed, and frightened to fall asleep.
   The matron was surprised I had any issues with her nursing staff. She said the fifth floor ward has excellent nursing staff, has never had any complaints and she thought we had a good relationship. We reviewed some of the things I wrote on the blog and she did become a bit defensive but in the end was open to listening.
   She wondered why I had not come to her or the ward sister with my concerns. I said that repeatedly Les and I both had asked nursing staff for assistance addressing certain issues and had not gotten anywhere. Why would I think she could address them for us--especially since one better be filled with high octane rocket fuel to keep up with the matron. She is literally everywhere at the speed of light as she attempts to get patients admitted, find beds, wrangle staff and all the other things she does in her 8-5 job which begins hours before eight a.m. on many occasions and typically runs far past 5 pm, as it did on the night Les had surgery. Since my interaction with her was during Les' admission process and during his actual surgery it never occurred to me that I would approach her about the inconsistencies in Les' care. The brochure given to us on the day of his surgery included her number to contact regarding surgery. We don't have wards or matrons in the U. S. so I cannot compare her position to anything with which I am familiar. 
   I was also honest about Les feeling agitated every time I attempted to point out any issues or concerns to staff. He feared reprisal and didn't want me to say anything as a result, chewing on me to keep my mouth shut and not speak up. I can only shake my head in alarm if patients worry about such things when seeking address of issues which adversely impact their health. It was pointed out to me by Sue that Les is in a very vulnerable position as a patient who is reliant upon the NHS and its staff for help in getting better. 
   I discussed my list of concerns over Les' treatment the past week including the surgeon who allowed Les to "have whatever he wanted to eat or drink" the very first day after an anterior resection and stoma surgery, and who selected Les for the enhanced Recovery Programme (as far as I am concerned the post surgery patient should drive the plan--not the other way 'round. I don't care what statistics indicate. Les isn't a statistic--he's an individual); the enhanced recovery nurse who left Les sitting for hours and never helped him get up and walk or advised him on appropriate foods after surgery; and the general ward nursing staff issues which have been detailed in previous blogs. The matron wrote them all down and told us she would investigate each of them. Fair enough...and Les is satisfied that he is now receiving the quality of care he deserved all along. 
   My final comments: Why should I have to tell the managers in charge of the staff and/or the floor about these issues? If they are there practically 24/7 as it has been suggested, and they have nursing staff who are not afraid to come to them if issues are raised then why aren't the managers and charge nurses aware these issues are occurring? Management should know what takes place on their premises and with their staff. The public should not have to point it out; the patient should not have to point it out. Hopefully now we can move forward from here on out.
    With regard to nurses in general, I don't want our readers to think I am slagging them off. I personally think a lot of physicians are overpaid divas with knowledge a 1000 feet deep and 2 inches wide (I am speaking from personal experience here as a patient and a university educator). They waltz into a patient's room, spend five minutes checking things out and move on. It is the nursing staff who generally know the patients as people and understand how patients think, feel, and are responding or not responding. They are the ones who work most closely with patients and provide the actual care. A great many nurses are brilliant, professional and compassionate.
   I've made a point from the first day on Les' ward, to thank each nurse individually when I noticed them providing good quality care and looking after my husband and there were several who were wonderful. 
   When I chewed on a nurse Saturday afternoon for being slow to respond to Les' ever increasing pain and the issues with his bloody medicine pump, I also made a point of apologizing to him before I left. Scared, concerned relatives make a nurse's job more difficult and I recognize that for the fact it is. I don't make excuses for my behavior--and I don't accept them for the behavior of others. 


Graham said...

Well done Jaq! So glad and relieved that you are getting some things sorted out - and that you still have your sense of humour.

Heather TakeyTezey said...

Jaq, we have free speech in this country, well we're supposed to, how can they be so cruel when what you say is the truth??

Keep going hon, do not be deterred by incompetent health professionals who play god with people's lives and know absolutely nothing. (Comes from experience).

They can't bully you or Les because of your truthful blog. It's outrageous.

Love, hugs and strength to you both,


Mike grifin said...


I sent you an email about lifts between the Cowroast and Watford, let me know if you want help.

Pleased things have improved but the problems should never have arisen in the first place.

kind regards.


KevinTOO said...

Well thank goodness that the Hospital staff are now sitting up and taking notice of Les and his medical needs!!
Big pat on the back to everyone but none moreso than yourself Jaq, thank goodness that you're a bit of a 'wildcat' and not a shy and retiring wallflower...
Kevin & Harry

Jaqueline Biggs said...

Thanks Graham. I wish I could bottle the humor you and Jill produce and feed it to Les every hour. We laughed so much that evening aboard Sue and Vic's and I've enjoyed your tongue in check comments in general. Humor is great medicine and Les is finally regaining his strength and recovering enough to remember that.
Love to you and Jill,

Jaqueline Biggs said...

Thanks Heth for your support, encouragement and hugs.

Jaqueline Biggs said...

Thank Kev,
Generally I do prefer to stay on the sidelines and watch--mostly the behavior of others. It is a hall mark of being a writer. Sometimes though we have to step out, speak up and ask for redress. But I didn't do it alone--I had Les and Val's son Kev with me sometimes, and all the other folks like yourself who comment on our posts.
Hugs to you and Harry,

NB Valerie & Steam Train by Les Biggs

NB Valerie & Steam Train by Les Biggs