Tuesday, 17 November 2009

Is it bedtime yet?

Yesterday morning, I dropped our van off at a bodyshop to have a paint job. It all worked brilliantly; Mum came here to sit with the girls, Dad picked me up from the garage and dropped me back home. Mum and Dad were both at work in good time, the girls were happy to see Grannie albeit briefly, and I had the hope of a car without scratch marks and a dented rear door.

A peaceful day yesterday - sick children needing lots of cuddles, and plenty of time to sit and do just that.

This morning I woke up and realised Little Fish had an appointment at our orthopaedic hospital. What's wrong with this picture?

(hint - two children off school, and no van).

Ever resourceful, I called our local reliable taxi service. They have no wheelchair accessible taxi available at the time we really need, but can provide one 15 minutes later; we should just squeak in on time as no need to worry about parking. Our carer turns up late, the taxi turns up early, and somehow we all tumble out of the house and land more or less the right way up and definitely heading in the right direction.

We arrive at the hospital 15 minutes early for our appointment. I cast a brief glance at the cafe, but decide to be good and head on in, thinking we'll have time for breakfast after X-ray.

We get sent from reception to X-ray, we arrive in X-ray to find the world's fullest waiting room. Two rooms overflowing, and some very harried looking receptionists. And so we find a corner and sit. And sit. And sit. And watch as the waiting room empties and refills. We find three of Mog's schoolmates, all of whom arrive after us and get seen before us. Mog decides the waiting room is overcrowded and overheated, and decides to start fitting. 1 hour into our wait, 25 minutes into Mog's seizure run, 45 minutes after our appointment time, I decide to go and check we have been booked in correctly. We have - but apparently there was a problem with the sticky label on the X-ray request so we have been delayed longer than everyone else. I get a bit wobbly about the unfairness of this, and wobblier still when the senior radiographer (radiologist?) attempts to move us out of the corridor and back into the overcrowded festering pit waiting area. Picking up on my distress, she somehow manages to sort things and we are suddenly standing inside the X-ray area no longer waiting.

One member of staff volunteers to sit with Mog in the waiting room, changing her mind when she watches Mog stop breathing, and deciding instead that Mog will indeed be fine behind the big screen with the other staff. And Little Fish is stripped ready for her X-rays. I offer her legs, they request her spine. I am confused, check my diary and realise I haven't written down which clinic she is attending, so assume it is spine and not hips.

1 hour and 20 minutes after our appointment time, we make it back to outpatient's, where I see that there are no spinal doctors in clinic today, and so we must be seeing our hip man instead. I debate double checking the X-ray but the thought of another 90 minutes' delay is somehow less than appealing.

We sit, we wait, we sit. And then the magic moment; Little Fish's name is called. A new chap; I steel myself for the inevitable medical history questions, gather our bits together, and follow him through to the consulting rooms. And find myself at a loss; he has vanished. Eventually we locate him; for some reason he didn't wait for us but just went straight back to his little room. And when I say little, I mean so small that there was no way of closing the door once Mog's wheelchair (with Mog in it) was inside the room. I realise space is at a premium, but given the fact that this is an orthopaedic hospital, where, presumably, a largish number of people with physical disabilities may be patients, it shows a certain lack of forethought (nb - this is a new building).

Anyway, our doctor says hello, checks which child is his patient, and clicks onto the computer to find the X-ray pictures. 10 minutes later, he summons a nurse in, who manages to log him into the system. He then fails to find Little Fish's notes - apparently she doesn't exist. Since the file with her notes in is still marked prominently with her birth name, and since there was a sticky label error earlier in the day, I'm not overly surprised. When I see that he has put her date of birth down as the 18th of August this year, I'm even less surprised.

We discuss the x-rays as we wait for the computer to load. I explain we are not here about her spine; he insists we are. I point out she has a spinal consultant and that this is a post-op follow up on her hips. He reads the notes again and agrees this is the fact, and then apologises for ordering the wrong x-rays.

The doctor shuffles out of the consulting room - a manouvre which involves me folding my legs up under me, Mog resting one arm on the clinical waste bin, and Little Fish being stepped over. He finds another computer, locates the files, and looks at the x-rays. And returns.

Apparently the metalwork is all in the right place.

This is good. The doctor then attempts to discharge us; I ask about the remainder of the appointment, the debate about her feet, the appointment with orthotics. He asks to look at Little Fish. Always a good start - shame it's taken about half an hour to get there. And then decides, once she is stripped and on the bench, that LF is "too complex" for him, so shuffles out again to find the consultant.

We spend the next twenty minutes with Little Fish in her underwear, in a room with a door we cannot close. The registrar lurks in the corridor, waving nervously at consultants as they breeze past with varioius patients. I hear LF's medical history repeated several times as he asks passing doctors for advice. He pops back in, squeezes past us all, asks about LF's eating and drinking. I say she eats fine and has a gastrostomy for flouids. He apologises, and disappears again.

Finally the consultant walks in. He glances at LF's feet and says no op yet. This is good news. I ask about an orthotics appointment. He says there is a clinic today; I ask for an appointment at some point in the future, but am persuaded to attend this one.

And so, three hours after our 10AM appointment, we cross over the road to the orthotics clinic. Where, despite being ridiculously busy, we are taken back immediately. We sit in one room, the orthotist examines LF's feet, and decides to recast her splints. Good. We are shuffled through to a room without a carpet. The orthotist disappears. And reappears to apologise for forthcoming delay. We decide to return to the waiting room, where LF makes the most of the toys, and Mog coughs loud and long to the disgust and terror of the other patients. It isn't swine 'flu people, just Mog.

Finally we get to the plaster room proper. LF chooses a new design for her splints, and the orthotist begins his work. Mog wakes up at this point, and kicks him repeatedly until I mover her out of the way. She then decides to need suction instead. Little Fish watches and bosses us all around. Eventually she is cast, we clean her legs, replace her shoes, and head back across the road for a very belated lunch.

And then we go to call a taxi for the return journey. I ask at reception for a phone number, and am pointed around the corner to the freephone taxi phone. I pick up the phone, the man at the other end tells me I should have booked the accessible taxi and that they have no others, and hangs up. We head back to reception. I can see a Yellow Pages, and ask for it. A man waiting at reception hears what the taxi controller told us, and says he will "feed that back" before disappearing and looking important. Instead of handing over the Yellow Pages, the receptionist phones the original taxi company asking them for competitors' numbers. They claim to have a wheelchair taxi available right now. She books it in our name, we head outside to wait for it.

We wait. A very small taxi pulls up, looks us over, and runs away. Ten minutes later, a big beastie bus from the same company turns up. We load up, and finally arrive home six hours after we left it, 5 hours after our appointment, and 3 hours after the girls should have had their lunchtime meds.

Little Fish has managed the day really well; I phone her school to let them know she will beback in romorrow. Mog has had seizure after seizure after seizure; I decide she needs another day at home and do not call her school.And then LF has a very long and fierce meltdown, much screaming and sobbing and utter exhaustion. And Mog finds the sense of humour she's been missing over the past wee while hand has an eeevil laughing fit, throwing herself into the edge of her bed and laughing some more, kicking her cushions over and laughing even more.

And I leave you with my thought for the evening - which is worse; Amoxycillin poo in a pad or co-amoxiclav poo without a pad?



Tina said...

Being totally selfish here I hope our day tomorrow is less stressful than yours today. Hope the girls sleep well and leave you time to relax and then sleep well too!
Oh and Amoxycilin pooh smells worse whther in a pad or on the floor.

Tina said...

Being totally selfish here I hope our day tomorrow is less stressful than yours today. Hope the girls sleep well and leave you time to relax and then sleep well too!
Oh and Amoxycilin pooh smells worse whther in a pad or on the floor.

Anonymous said...

Please please please let our spine consult on thursday be quicker - its not until 4pm!!

sarah bess said...

Goodness. I can so relate. I'm usually pretty chilled, but I WIGGED OUT last week when patient after patient got into x-ray before Paula. I think because we come a lot, somehow everyone else's stuff seems more urgent somehow.

Seems like we never eat on those hospital runs--don't know how I've chubbed up so much lately--must be the STRESS of it all!! :) :)

Elinor said...

Good crikey!


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