Written by a patient
17th August 2020
The day started well as I arrived bright and early at the Day Treatment Centre in N19. I was due to have a small operation on my 2nd toe (right side), having broken it previously in 2019. The procedure would involve 'fusing', my toe with KY Wire, as it now resembled a right-angle rather than a 'semi rigid digit' as would normally be expected.
The story behind the break is near tragic to tell but, I feel I should enlighten you dear reader so you might properly understand the full context of my woe.
It was a bright, sunny April morn in 2019, when I raised myself from the familiar slumber that was my Silent night at just past am when for no good reason, my right 2nd toe decided to make heavy contact with a protruding phone socket lowly placed on my bedroom skirting board.
In the context of the life-span of a Pyrus Salicifolia 'Pendulum' (Weeping Silver Pear to you!), it was effectively newly installed but in reality, having been in place for over 24 years, I really should have known better! This will also teach me to cover my hoofs with suitable attire in future!
That then is what brought me to the Whittington on this bright Wednesday morning. I was soon to learn however, that yet another such basic error on my part was yet to play a major role in the day's events.
J*, was to be my Practitioner (asst) for the duration. It soon emerged that the decision to drink a glass of milk at 05:30, this to settle my stomach, was a really, really bad idea.
There can in truth be no excuse for downright stupidity, a 'Homer' moment if you like therefore, I humbly offer none.
I am soon informed that my operation will have to be put back till at least 11:30, this to allow the 6 hours deemed necessary for the stomach to properly empty as 'Milk' I learn, is regarded equivalent to solid 'food'.
I have no option but to apologise profusely for my error and ponder just how I'm going to while away the next couple of hours? It is now 07:40.
There are three operations booked for the day and as we have all now arrived and been duly processed, we move to our ward to await the coming of the knife. It is suggested to me that I perhaps go for a walk as there is little I can do to affect the new order of play. After a moment's thought, I decide to stay exactly where I am and try to rest.
Unfortunately, that decision proves to be yet another huge error of judgement on my part, I'm making a habit of this it would seem of late dear reader!
My bed is located directly next to what appears to be the operational dispensing centre of the ward, a white MDF waist high counter where all programmed activity appears to originate from.
I am separated from the counter by the merest thickness of the startling electric blue pleated curtains that rattle when anyone passes at speed, as many do. Though I cannot properly see them, the ghostly outline of their variously proportioned frames are clearly visible. A strange sense of alien separation is felt, almost as if I were an intruder as yet to be discovered.
There is much activity already noticeable from behind the curtain as I lay my head to rest. The sheer cacophony of ever competing voices really should have alerted me to what was yet to come over the next couple of hours, but sadly it didn't.
There is a second, more standard looking desk that is adjacent to the operational counter some 8 feet away. This second desk has a working PC on it and was being used as a place for study, this amidst a fully functioning ward I should point out!
The lone desk was clearly being utilised as a place of study as all I could hear for hour on end, was continual questions & answers being loudly exchanged between the male questioner and his female pupil, this whilst I was unsuccessfully attempting to snooze.
After a while, I couldn't help but actively listen to their increasingly amusing exchanges, as it soon became apparent that the quality of the questions posed were at times, beguiling in their simplicity i.e., how many millimetres in a meter? Really? "Where was I?", I wondered, certainly not a NHS Trust ward, perhaps a year 5 classroom then?
To be fair, occasionally a more challenging question was posed i.e., is a nano-metre bigger or smaller than a millimetre? Although, I probably think the prefix 'Nano', rather gave the answer away. What do you think dear reader? Lol!
The other distinct, conversational memory I have of that day was not so amusing as it was one of continual 'bemoaning' of others. It appeared to emanate from a senior dispenser and I quote; "She's just not learning! We went through all this last week!" Not the kind of comment that inspires confidence in your surroundings me'tink's!
Other memorable mentions go to one particular non 'Angel', who had clearly returned to work recently and appeared more than a mite indignant that she would be limiting both her time there, as well as any effort expended to suit herself and not the patients, this due to her 'back', if I remember correctly. Hmm-mm!
However, the real issue for me was not so much the content of what was said, though it proved amusing if striking at times, it was the sheer volume of it all.
On 5 separate occasions during my prescribed wait, I heard J* politely but explicitly ask the gathered ensemble that the volume be tempered as there was a patient trying to rest. However, it soon became clear, primarily due to the lack of response she received, that the main cause of the noise pollution was in fact senior to her. There was little then she could do bar politely ask again and again.
In short, to my mind, there was absolutely zero consideration shown to me that day from the gaggle responsible, they just didn't care. Simple as that!
When I was eventually called for my Op' at just past midday, the screens were finally drawn back to reveal a number of happy, smiling faces. A voice from the collective then kindly asked how I was feeling, I replied with the following. Verbatim; "I'm good but, I heard lot's of conversations. Lots of conversations! In fact, I could write a book about the number of conversations I've heard today!"
And lo & behold, did the whole ward become finally silent for the very first time since arriving all those hours ago? It certainly did!
As it happened, my gaze naturally fell upon who I believed to be the main cacophonic protagonist, and to say 'daggers' were mutually drawn, is truly not an overstatement!
Unsurprisingly, my brief walk to the Operating Theatre was a rather muted affair, as the CP (cacophonic protagonist, similar to the CCP, only more dangerous when cornered!) lead the way, pushing the bed ever onward while I dutifully walked behind. She did kindly (?) ask if I wanted to go in front but, having just made such expressive eye contact with her, I thought it best to keep her just where I could see her! Lol!
Having so far been rather damning of my away-day experience, it is finally at this point, I can now properly add some balance to this very minor, literary narrative and mention some good interactions enjoyed that day.
I am not (generally) a foolish man and I can honestly say, that I was never treated thus by anyone tasked with explaining the various procedures I would necessarily be 'enjoying', during my all too brief stay at N19.
From first inception, my Doctor at the surgery, treated the delayed response to my injury with both understanding and compassion. He also wrote kindly about me to the Consultant Surgeon who himself, was both wholly approachable as well as entirely honest as to my limited options.
My anaesthetist, who like me, hated speaking through her mask just as much as I do, again took the time to gently and carefully explain what, when, why and just how matters were planned to progress.
My smiley nurse who was fully prepared to 'catch-me', if I should fall from my first attempt at walking after returning from theatre (what an offer!).
The lovely lady, with whom I spent 30 plus minutes in the recovery room, listening to and exchanging mindful concepts with. Her intrinsic humanity and inherent positivity absolutely shone through. I feel she will touch many lives for the better during her own.
Then, there was J*, who stayed close till she was finally able to dispatch me to my neighbours Dagenham born steed, this when all others had seemingly long since departed for their own place of safety.
To those listed above, thank you all very much for your kindness, consideration and care, it was honestly and sincerely appreciated.
As someone who has explicit knowledge and experience of feedback forums (Trustpilot, Google ect), I would honestly hope that my words are embraced as not so much a criticism of specific individuals, but more of a modest insight as to what occurred during my brief visit to the Day Treatment Centre.
It is however, still worth repeating my parting remark to J* as I left N19, as she continued to apologise, bless her, for the behaviour of her selective colleagues; "it is what it is hun, it is what it is!"
Let's just hope that in the future, such a maxim proves needless when speaking of, the Day Treatment Centre, N19.
9 August 2020