Arse and Elbow


Yep, I’m going to have a moan.

A year ago, exactly a year ago, I saw a consultant who, having seen scans of my gallbladder, decided it needed to come out. Multiple gallstones apparently. Great, at last, an end was in sight for the sleepless nights, curled up in pain, not sure whether I was having a heart attack or not, (and yes, the pain IS that bad – so bad in fact that my GP sent me to the cardiac unit for tests).

An appointment will come in the post, I was told. So I waited. And I waited. For a year – to the day, spookily.

My surgery, they said, was scheduled for 22nd March, and I was to be there at 7.30 am and was not to eat anything after 10 pm the night before. I was also told I would be called in for a pre-op appointment beforehand. So I waited. Again. Less than 48 hours before my surgery, I was told to go in for my pre-op, so I duly went off and had bloods taken, and I left with a cheery ‘See you on Wednesday’.

Wednesday morning, having not slept, I arrived at the hospital. My son had taken the day off to take me and bring me home again as it was day surgery, and my daughter had had to cancel plans so she could look after her little sister. I had been told at the pre-op that I wasn’t allowed to have anyone wait with me as there wasn’t enough room, so I said goodbye to my son and went in alone.

They had no record of me at the day case unit.

I was sent to a different department.

They had no record of me, either.

I was asked to wait – wait in a room full of other patients with their families! I, on the other hand, was alone because I had been told not to bring anyone with me. I watched patients coming and going, and eventually, I was told I had come in too early and that I was on the afternoon list. I begged to differ and produced the letter stating 7.30 am.

No good, the letter was wrong and I would have to wait.

I promptly burst into tears, in front of everyone. I was tired, hungry, thirsty, and worried, and now I had to sit for another FIVE hours on my own? In a room with no TV, no magazines, and a toilet which had no sound-proofing and a steady stream of patients who were nervous.

Eventually, though, I was called for the fitting of the compression stockings and again left to wait.

A bed became available – yaaaaay,  at last things were moving. I was shown to the ward and asked to undress and put the gown on. I was scared but happy that pretty soon I’d be fast asleep and when I woke up it would be all over, and after the lack of sleep I was looking forward to an hour of unconsciousness.

The anaesthetist came in to talk to me, explaining what would happen, and that I would probably be given morphine even though I was wearing a bracelet telling him I was allergic to it.

“I’m allergic to it”.

“Why, what happens when you take it?”

“I’m violently sick and my stomach explodes.”

“That’s not an allergy.”

“Well, it was my GP who flagged it as an allergy, and I really don’t want to be violently sick when I’ve got four stab wounds in my stomach.”

“You’ll be fine.’

Right then.

The surgeon also came in to see me, and as she left she looked at my file with a frown.

“Your bilirubin levels are high.”

“My bilirubin levels are always high.”

“Oh, well, you can’t have the op until you have had an MRI scan to determine if it’s caused by a blocked bile duct.”

andI looked at her. She looked at me. Then she told me to get dressed and go home to wait for an appointment for an MRI. Considering I had waited 365 days for the surgery, I wasn’t holding out much hope.

As I was leaving, again in tears (this time through frustration) the surgeon promised me she would be in touch within 2 weeks.

Now, my problem is this – had the pre-op been done in time, they would have had my bloods in time, and I would have been spared the entire day. But, as with every other detail of the day, it was one big cock up. They didn’t have me on the system. I was told not to have anyone wait with me. I was then told I was on the afternoon list. I had to wait hours and hours, only to be sent home again, and all of this could have been avoided if the admin staff had taken their heads out of their behinds and started singing from the same hymm sheet.

My son lost a day’s pay. Parking cost me an arm and a leg. I had spent a small fortune on petrol taking my youngest daughter to her sister’s the day before, and now she had to spend the same bringing her home again.

And I still had the effing gallbladder!

But, my friends, it gets worse.

Almost three weeks later I received a letter, telling me I had been scheduled for surgery on 23rd April at 7.30 am. No MRI. Exactly the same bloody thing again. So I called the hospital and left a message, telling them that it had been a comedy of errors, and how could I have surgery when I hadn’t had the scan? In fact I left two messages.

Three days later, I received a message in return, informing me that my surgery had been cancelled as I needed an MRI!

Jesus wept.

So that is where I am now. Yesterday I went to see my GP, and told him what had happened, and that I would no longer deal with that hospital – I have lost all faith in that particular hospital and no longer trust that they would even remove the right organ. He has agreed to refer me back to the local hospital, but I now have to start the process all over again. Ironically, I chose the hospital over my local one as it had the shortest waiting list – now I know why, although a year, to me, is an unacceptable time frame.

I don’t blame the staff – the nurses and the doctors I saw were lovely, if a little abrupt at times, but they were run off their feet. On the day I had my non-surgery another man was also sent home without his op for the same reason – he had been told he was in for morning surgery but was on the afternoon list. How many wasted man hours does that amount to? The surgeons, the anaesthetists, and the theatre staff all twiddling their thumbs because of an admin team who don’t, as the title says, know their arses from their elbows.

This week I read in the paper that this particular hospital has been placed in special measures by the CQC, who, incidentally got a damning report from me about the fiasco.

Let’s hope that my gallbladder doesn’t rupture before I manage to get seen again, although I think that perhaps A&E might be my best bet.

I will keep you posted.



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