My brother was in hospital for surgery today.
He’s had a kidney stone for months. It is one of those things the NHS no longer fix in the early stages. They hope it will just ‘go away.’
I understand this. There is no money, and if you know anything at all about the NHS you will know that they now routinely employ what they call rationing. This means that they do not stop offering certain treatments/drugs, but they do make the criteria to get them almost impossible to achieve. Kidney stones, along with hernias, are things that are often on hospital trust ration lists.
To be fair, sometimes people do pass kidney stones without any help, but sometimes they don’t and in my brother’s case, he didn’t. In fact his kidney stone got bigger and bigger and worse and worse. In fact, the drugs they gave him several months ago which they swore would decrease the size of the stone and make it possible for him to pass it, actually caused it to double in size.
It was still not enough to get him on the emergency surgery list.
He used up all his sick leave a long time ago, and has been put through horrors at work because they couldn’t make their minds up if he was ‘putting it on’, despite numerous doctor letters, hospital letters etc.
And the fact that in the last few months he has collapsed at work three times and had to be taken to hospital. His work is very physical, and it aggravates his condition. On top of this he has had endless UTI’s, been passing blood etc. It has been properly grim. His daily drug regimen is truly impressive.
His work only really started to take him seriously the last time he collapsed and the hospital doctor actually said that if he collapsed again, they would have to do emergency surgery to bypass the stone until they could get him on a waiting list to remove the stone.
How mad is that?
He finally got put on the emergency surgery list at the end of May. You would think that emergency lists mean that you get seen quickly.
You would be wrong.
He finally went in for surgery three weeks ago, and got that appointment only because he kept ringing them. Originally he had not been scheduled in June or July.
Three weeks ago, he spent nine hours sitting in a cubicle in a split back nightie and then they sent him home.
They only have one surgeon who does this kind of treatment, and he hadn’t managed to fit my brother in.
He was rescheduled for today. He was first on the list for surgery, except that they mixed today’s notes up with the notes from the last time he was there and hadn’t followed all the correct pre-surgery routines, so he was delayed.
He got out of surgery an hour ago.
They had called my parents to come and pick him up at five o’clock. When my parents arrived it transpired that they had mixed my brother up with someone else.
Luckily, they didn’t mix him up with someone else in the actual operating theatre, although since going up to the ward, they have managed to lose his bag with all this things, including his phone in it.
He should be out tomorrow. Unless they send someone else in his place. Possibly with his bag.
We, his family, are furious about this. The whole thing, the months and months of fobbing off, and rescheduling and having to constantly phone, and push people, while my brother got sicker and sicker and more and more desperate. His quality of life has been dreadful for months. The pain of a kidney stone is likened to the pain of giving birth, to put things in perspective.
The most infuriating thing? It’s that I know all these people today were doing their best. The hospital is woefully underfunded and understaffed. Mistakes are made because there are individuals working ridiculous hours, there are individuals doing two or three people’s jobs and trying to fit in too many things in too short a space of time, and it’s not just my brother that is suffering, it is everyone, patients and staff alike.
When stuff like this happens, you feel bad complaining to people you know are trying to help you, who have too many patients, too few hours, not enough pairs of hands. You know they are doing what they can with the ridiculously little they have. You bite back the words you want to say because it’s not their fault, just like it’s not yours.
And if it’s like this now, God help us all when Hunt forces the new junior doctor’s contract on these poor buggers, and Theresa May sends back the 26% of NHS workers who aren’t UK passport holders or who don’t earn £35k a year or more, and they cut and cut and cut more and more services and budgets, selling off the bones to the highest private bidder.
I don’t have a solution, except to push Jeremy Hunt in a cupboard and lock the door, and pray for a miracle. I just needed a place to vent, and it’s here. Thanks for letting me rant into the ether.