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Monday, November 10, 2014

The Universe Tries My Patience!!!

"Patience is the ability to idle your motor when you feel like stripping your gears." ~Barbara Johnson, American literary critic
Thank you Robert!!
   I woke to a glorious morning with blue skies and golden sunshine. Jules and Richard on Jules Fuel were moored up behind us, on their way down the cut. They filled NB Valerie up with diesel and hoiked a couple bags of coal on the roof while I was gone to London yesterday to visit Les. I settled our bill, and waited for our friend and fellow boater Robert Rogers of WB Wind in the Willows to come along. We were going cruising together, me steering and Robert locking so I could move the boat up near Cow Roast for Les' imminent home coming. 
Our bow, left, the water point, and the offending boat.

   I needed to top up our tank with water but there was a boat moored on the water point--all night and it showed no signs of moving! Robert steered NB Valerie across the canal since I could not jump off with a rope--the other boat took up the space needed and the bollard as well.
   While waiting for the tank to fill I took a closer look at the boat moored up on the service point and found a handwritten note taped to the inside of the cratch cover of NB Annie Too, which said:
Dear Boaters, We apologize to our proximity to the water hole. It's too difficult to navigate back up the cut without bothering the fishermen. We will be gone when they're headed here also. Sorry again, Matt, Tiphaine & Basil
The note from Matt, Tiphaine & Basil
    God forbid you should inconvenience some fishermen who will spend mere hours camped out on the cut, but please do make it bloody difficult for boaters to get into the service point for an essential like water--while you are gone for days??? Weeks??? Go back to whatever marina you came out of and stay there until you know the regulations about mooring on water points and you learn to have some consideration for boaters--of which you are obviously not (considerate or a boater).
   While I fumed, my phone rang. It was Les, calling to say he was greeted by a nurse who told him he was going home today. "I don't think so," he said as he attempted to explain that home was a boat and not some house he could pull up to in a Taxi. A short time later a doctor came in to take a look at  him and finally realized what Les and I have been saying for the past three days is in fact true...Les has an infection in his incision. 
   There is a reason why he has been running a fever for the past 72 hours. I thought the incision looked swollen with a red margin that seemed to be reaching outward. We were assured by a nurse two days ago that this was normal. Les has had the same junior doctor looking at his incision on rounds for the past three days who told Les all is fine and it's time to go home. 
   A different junior doctor this morning didn't like the look of Les' incision. It is hot to the touch and dimpling under the staples. Junior Doc prescribed a broad spectrum antibiotic and said it may be necessary to pop a couple of staples to let the incision breathe...but still Les can come home tomorrow! Here's your hat what's your took a month to get Les a bed in the RFH and they have been giving him the bum's rush since last Wednesday--unbelievable!!
  Meanwhile Robert and I cruised off up the cut, headed for Cow Roast. Coming out of Gas lock 2 we noticed the pound was low. Ahead at Gas Lock 1 a boat was waiting to come down. The lock was in my favor so I took NB Valerie in and as we rose the bloke on the other boat struggled to keep his boat in the center of the canal, the muddy bottom sucking him towards the towpath while he pushed off the bank with a boat pole. He said the pound above was really low and warned me to stay in the middle. 
   Robert walked up to Bushes lock to let some water down. I figured if I stayed in the middle of the canal I would be fine, however there was so little water in the pound that I was basically cruising through mud! I could not get up any speed as the tiller pushed through thick glop and coming around a curve I found myself quickly aground.
When I say low--I mean low!!
   Thanks to Les' fine teaching skills, I remembered to slow down and reverse gently which did the trick. A short while later a slogged up to the lock and the boat sluggishly slid in the open gate. I was truly thankful for Robert's company. I had considered single handing it up to Cow Roast which I could have done--slowly--in good circumstances but not with the pounds so low. 
   Robert follows a web page called All Things Berko and he showed me a picture posted two hours previously of the pound between The Rising Sun and the Boat pubs in Berkhamsted. The text suggested "someone pulled the canal plug," possibly due to a need to dredge the canal for evidence regarding a murder which took place there last June. 
   As we cruised up to Dudswell Lock 47 a notice by Canal & River Trust said it all. Usually there is a sign from CRT on this lock asking folks to shut the gates but leave a lower gate paddle up to facilitate the flow of water. Not today!
   Apparently there is leak somewhere and the cut is losing water between Tring Summit and the locks lower down through Northchurch and Berkhamsted. Navigation through Dudswell locks is restricted now and no traffic is allowed from 4 p.m. to 8 a.m. in order to save water. 
  We moored up by the donkeys (boaters who know the area know exactly where we are), and after a much needed cup of tea and some Angel Bars Robert headed off back home.
   I finished washing several loads of curtains, dinette cushion covers, throw pillow covers, and got down to some basic wall scrubbing and cleaning to prepare for Les' home coming, all the while fretting about it.
   Yes, I want him to come home, but I don't want a repeat of last year, with district nurses visiting every day, cleansing his incision with sterile water, covering it with Dermateg waterproof sealed surgical pads, and reassuring me that the wet, gooey look of Les' incision was "normal"--just exudate--an apparent new trend in British nursing--according to a research paper on the difference between British and American Nursing by one of my nursing students.
   I was always taught a cut, sore, scrape, or incision should be kept clean and dry. To leave it wet invites infection; covering it over and restricting air flow also invites infection by anaerobic bacteria. As someone with eight major surgeries under my belt I know a thing or two about what to look for and I knew what I was seeing wasn't right. Nonetheless the nurses were happy and they completely missed what was right in front of their noses--his wound was infected and he developed Sepsis and nearly died. 
   I don't want a repeat of this situation and I don't want the responsibility--because it's not mine to bear. Les developed this in hospital and he should remain there through the end of this week until the medical professionals are clear the antibiotics are working and the infection is healing. I am not a nurse. I am a herbalist and a healer but I know my limits. 
   I remembered in late afternoon that I was given the phone number of Professor Davidson's nurse assistant. I called and shared my concerns, to be told that if indeed Les had contracted an infection (she hadn't been up to see Les today), then the best place for him is at home because hospitals breed too many bacteria and a lot of resistant strains. It would be best for Les to come home and have a district nurse come in every day and check his wound. 
   I explained what happened last time and replied, "So Les would be sent home to the care of the nurses who failed to recognize an infection in his last surgical incision and also failed to spot the signs of Sepsis." The nurse assistant said she would go up and see Les right away and call me back. 
   Les called about thirty minutes later to say she had been up to visit, and agreed there was an infection (how many medical staff does it take??). She touched it and the incision is hot. Apparently she agreed Les should stay in hospital one more night and be reappraised for release in the morning. 
  I received a call from her several hours later in which I was basically told the same thing but in which she reiterated that the best place for Les to recover is at home and he should be able to leave tomorrow.
  I reiterated that I was not comfortable with that and I wanted Les to stay in hospital until we knew for sure that the antibiotics were working. She told me I could call her any time with my concerns. I asked if she had received my email from last Friday. She replied, "No." So I've sent it again. 
It just never ends....


Sue said...

Jaq.. To be quite honest it will be better for Les to be at home with you... Hospitals are a huge source of infection and with the help of the district nurses I am certain you know better than the hospital how to rid it.

I know you are fighting to keep him in what you think is a good place, but your place might be better..


Mrs. Jaqueline Biggs said...

Sue, If I really believed home was the best place I wouldn't fight it. If I believed the district nurses knew what they were doing I would accept their help. If they remove a couple of clips on his incision it will be open to drain and also a pathway for infection directly into his body. In hospital is where he needs to be where they can respond immediately to a change in his health.

Anonymous said...

oh heavens enough is enough.... neither of you should have to be fighting this hard to have the basic stuff handled and to be heard. It makes me realize how fortunate we are here in the US and particularly in Pullman

Sue said...

OK You know best Jaq.

Just you know best above any hospital, let alone the best you are in.

You did it last time.. You can do it again you know xxx

Sue said...


It is a different system here, most of which is free. What is going on here with Les is free.

It becomes more expensive for us to take out a 'private' insurance for our medical needs.

But Les is getting, for free, as he should as much care and attention as would any other who paid. And rightly so

He is still getting fast tracked because of his condition.

Those that pay have not so urgent a problem and are wiling to jump the queue.... Ahem....

Just like I am at having to scrub the top of my boat with a scrubbing brush... You know it is 67ft long and I suffer from arthritic bones in my hand.. I would be tossed out of a hospital A&E if I turned up that after scubbing my boat today.

I totally believe in care at home Jaq xx

Mrs. Jaqueline Biggs said...

But Sue Les' care is not free! He's paid for it for years--and so have you and every other Brit whose worked and paid medical taxes. It is "free at the point of service" meaning there will be no charges out of pocket when someone turns up ill. Brits have got to stop saying "it's free!" Nothing is free and certainly not medical care. This is what allows the NHS off the hook for answering to the British public for its failure to its patients.

I'm not saying issues don't occur in the States because they do--no medical system is perfect. I've experienced incompetence in American care first hand--the difference is we don't take it laying down. We expect good service and complain if it's not. Brits don't want to rock the boat, make waves, etc. etc. so nothing changes.

I don't feel confident looking after Les with an infection this time because this was major organ surgery--unlike last time. The stakes are much higher here and Sue, as you've been kind enough to point out he is in one the best medical centers in this country--so they should be able to spot a wound infection when they see one and when a patient is telling them something is wrong; they should also take responsibility for it and make sure the infection is under control and the antibiotics are actually doing the job before Les is released to my care.

Thank you Karen and Sue for weighing in. I Know you both care deeply about Les and only want the best for him.

Marilyn, nb Waka Huia said...

Jaq, I know you are scared of having Les at home on the boat and a situation occurring that you cannot convince the district nurses to attend to. BUT BUT BUT - Sue is absolutely right: MRSA and C-Difficile are rife in UK hospitals. And the patients at highest risk are those who have been on broad spectrum antibiotics, as Les has.
Trust me, I have been in this situation with an aunt in Milton Keynes Hospital - shew ent in with a UTI and came out with C-Diff.
Les is in more danger in the Royal Free now he's on the broad spectrum Antibiotics than he will be on the boat. You will never forgive yourself if he develops C-Diff or MRSA in there. In his weaker state post operatively, he would find it hard to battle either of those infections.
I know you are scared, but, Jaq, you can cope, you and all your boatie and non-boatie friends will make this work.
PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE get Les home with you. He will be at far less risk of any infection on your cleaned boat than in hospital, I promise you that.
Love, hugs and courage, darling friend, Marilyn and David xxoo

Sue said...

I can feel your frustration Jaq in your blog post. It is so very, very difficult for you right now.

You have scores of friends out there, we might not all be by your side but you are in our thoughts and care.

Of course our thoughts are with Les, but they are also for you you know xxx

Mrs. Jaqueline Biggs said...

Yes I am frightened, exhausted, in a great deal of pain with hips and knees. I feel totally overwhelmed. They have opened up Les' incision and tons of puss drained out of it. It will be left open and he is being discharged this afternoon.

Anonymous said...

I hope Les is getting better, as you know I went to see him last night and caught him behind a curtain with 2 women. Hahahahahahaha. Cromwell came and gave him his antibiotics and I hope they are kicking in today despite them having to drain the wound. I am a car ride away if you need any help. Please do not be afraid to ask. Make sure Les gives you that kiss I sent you last night. Much love Carol BV

Anonymous said...

Dear Jaquie

I totally understand your concern about having Les at home - while I agree that it is the best place for healing, it is a tremendous burden of responsibility, and one which we, as healthcare professionals, should be taking from your shoulders.

I don't know what to say, except to offer my virtual love and support.

xxx Sue, nb Indigo Dream

NB Valerie & Steam Train by Les Biggs

NB Valerie & Steam Train by Les Biggs