INPUT at St Thomas’ | Week 1 | Day 3

Nightmare of all nightmares.  Let me just say that day 3 and 4 didn’t quite happen.

I’m writing this from home having arrived back from London at 2pm this afternoon.  I ended up spending from 9pm last night (Tuesday 11th November) through to 11am in casualty at St. Thomas’.  When I eventually got back to INPUT I was in no fit state to continue the course and they sent me home for an early weekend break with the hope I would be recovered in time to continue again on the following Monday.

As I mentioned yesterday, I was feeling pretty rough with some sort of stomach bug that I had probably caught from my two sons before arriving at INPUT.  I’d got back to the room after yesterdays course, and had a snooze for an hour after which myself and two of the other guys decided to go out and grab something to eat. (The two guys being “Bernard”* and “Robert”* (the horse whisperer from Alderney.))

We walked down Old Marsh Street and found a small cafe.  The other two had fish and chips whilst I had a burger and chips washed down with a few cups of tea.  The food was nothing special, but it was good home cooking and a damn site more palatable than the ‘stuff’ that Toms was serving up.  Several other people were already complaining that they felt ill after eating what they called “lunch” yesterday.  When I got back to the INPUT accommodation, I was feeling really low and went to lay down.

Unfortunately I started vomiting which in itself isn’t a major issue, except that after the last surgery I had in Jan 2008, I have a small internal hernia where the surgeon made an anterior approach to my spine.  After an hour of vomiting, I was in complete agony.  I went over to casualty to see if they could give me an antiemetic to stop the vomiting but there was a 4 hour wait just to see the doctor which took me up to 1am.  The doctor then wanted to make sure that the hernia had not ruptured any further and transferred me to the ward until I could be seen by the surgical team.  At least up on the ward I was given a few shots of an antiemetic injection which stopped the vomiting dead, which meant I wasn’t straining the hernia in my stomach.

The surgical consultant eventually arrived at around 10am and his first words were “I don’t think it’s appendicitis so we have nothing to worry about”.  I asked him if he had me confused with another patient since I was waiting for an ultrasound to see if I had damaged a hernia further. He then got all flustered, made some excuses and said he’d arrange for an ultrasound. By this time I was majorly peeved and said since the antiemetic drug they had given me was working fine, there would be no need.

And if anyone needed an example of the “instant friendship” that is formed between the members of the course, “Bernard” and “Robert” proved the point last night.  They both insisted on coming over to casualty and sat with me until 2am despite me talking into a vomit bowl for most of the night.  I can’t thank the two guys enough for the company and for the concern they showed. It was much appreciated.

The night certainly provided more entertainment than was available in the TV room.  Apparently the computer system that controlled the ambulances for some parts of London went down and that left Guys and St Thomas’ casualty covering a large chunk of the area (hence the 4 hour delay before I was seen by a doctor). It took almost 45mins just to see the triage nurse.

My ‘fragile’ stomach wasn’t helped by some street bum coming in and sitting 3ft away from me absolutely stinking as if he’d lost total control of all bladder and bowel functions. To say he had me reaching for the “vomit bowl” was an understatement.  Every time my stomach settled, I’d get a waft of his ‘odour’.

I’m not complaining about the waiting times either.  The staff were marvellous.  Overworked and underpaid, but marvellous none the less.  (Apart from the consultant who was as effective as a chocolate fireguard.  Not only did he not have a clue about anything in my notes. When he eventually arrived at my bedside, he was streaming with a cold himself, sniffing like a snotty little kid without a hanky. He then proceeded to sit on my bed about 2ft away from my face coughing and spluttering away like I needed to catch something else for the fun of it.  He was going to send me for an ultrasound, but since the antiemetic had stopped the vomiting, that had stopped the pain from the hernia so I just asked him for another injection and to let me go.

When I eventually got back to INPUT, I looked (and felt) like death.  They knew I had been fighting something since the start of the week and advised me to go back home and rest for a few days and hope I would recover in time for Monday.  What surprised me was when they told me that if I did not recover, or if the other members of the course didn’t agree to me coming back, I would probably never get to complete the course.  The course costs my local primary care trust around £7000 for the 4 weeks and once you start the course, if you have to drop out for whatever reason, you don’t get another go at some point in the future.   (There have been extreme circumstances in which some people have been allowed to restart the course but these were few and far between). That had me worrying in case I didn’t recover in time for Monday.

Needless to say, there won’t be a post for Week 1, Day 4 so I’ll be back on Monday night with Week 2 Day 1.

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