Monday, 12 November 2012

Only when I laugh

OK, it's possible that you didn't sign up for reading about my medical history, but right now it's all I've got so you can take it or leave it.

Two weeks after the operation, I returned to Walsgrave to have the skanky bandage changed, where the highly efficient underpaid nurse was very good and even allowed me to lie down for 10 minutes after I caught sight of the wound underneath. Then off for another x-ray, then back to the packed-out waiting room for the chance of a quick chat with the Highly Paid Consultant. This one was clearly worth every penny of whatever it is that the NHS pays him, greeting me cheerily thus:

HPC: "Ah, Mr Ashton, do come in..."
Me: "Er, no, I think you're looking at the wrong notes there"
<pause while he finds the right notes>
HPC: "So you had the operation 6 weeks ago..."
Me: "Er, no, 2 weeks"
HPC: "Ah yes, OK, and now the wound is infected, yes ?"
Me: "Er, I hope not. First I've heard about it anyway."

Having established his credentials as a first rate professional dude, we proceeded to the, er, meat of the business. Obviously he couldn't check the wound personally since it was all wrapped up in a shiny new bandage, so I was instructed to get the community nurse out to look at it in a few days time. We then examined the x-rays for a few minutes and then I had to sit down again while I recovered. Finally I was packed off home with a bit of paper that explained everything I might need to know about the whole business. This told me that for the first two weeks after the injury I should have my arm held up in the air using the sling provided, but this being two and a bit weeks in and having not been given a sling in the first place, I figured this not to be terribly helpful.

A few days later I enquired locally about getting hold of a community nurse, but it appears that you need to have lost both legs before they'll come out to you, so I visited the practice nurse at the GP surgery and she cut the new bandage off and deduced that there was definitely no sign of infection. It didn't hurt a bit. A new bandage was applied and off I went.

Next day I went to St.Cross for my first round of physio, where I had to explain the whole story to some more nurses. At the first mention of the word 'infection' they insisted on removing yesterday's bandage and checking for themselves, eventually replacing it with an enormous band-aid, which was clearly going to stick to all the hairs on my arm and hurt like hell when it had to come off. I pointed this out to the battleaxe in question and she told me that I 'had to expect some pain if I wanted my wrist to work properly'. So that's all right then. By now I was starting to see why the NHS is so expensive to run - I must have got through about £5,000 worth of bandages all by myself so far, never mind the cost of hiring unsympathetic staff to stick 'em on.

Two weeks on, the swelling is subsiding and the bandage is off (yes, it did hurt), and I can look at the scar and show it to other people without having to sit down afterwards. I can use my right hand for light duties without whimpering at all, but the wrist joint is very stiff and inflexible. Moreover, it appears that the scar tissue is attempting to bond itself to all the tendons, bones and metalwork underneath as it heals, which could result in the whole thing being seized up for ever. The way to stop this happening is to do physio stuff to it, which hurts. I tried to fix it through exercise - sawing up a bit of wood in this case - but that just made the whole thing unusable for the next 2 days. So back to the physio stuff then...

Meanwhile we appear to be at T+6 weeks and counting, and I'm still nowhere near being able to get into a boat. I have spent my Sunday mornings watching the Draycote Posse strutting their stuff out on the water, and the racing still looks good even without me (and Peter Wood who damaged his finger in a Laser, and Badders, who is abroad). Various sailors still capsize for no apparent reason, various other sailors still sail way past the leeward mark on account of the kite not coming down, and a good time is apparently had by all.

Ah well, back to the physio then. Stretch that hand back - two - three - grit those teeth...

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