We seem to do trauma on a fairly regular basis in this household and yesterday was another one of those days. This isn't a diary entry as such but a collection of observations from an eventful evening.
I've never had to endure the delights of City Hospital in Birmingham before although it was known to me basically because the former workhouse building turned hospital was the place one of my Great Grandmothers died a very premature death. My entry to A&E after an expensive but necessary taxi journey was to witness two women, one middle aged, the other barely out of her teens arguing, older woman calling younger a 'motherf****r' and the younger retaliating by informing older of her husbands paedophilia and child abuse tendencies. The half full waiting room appeared to be enjoying the drama unfolding in front of them and if they could have drawn up their screwed down seats for a closer view I'm sure they would have.
Waiting has never been something I have endured gladly. It's a necessary evil in life but those 15 minutes I waited whilst 'the system is down' seemed like an eternity due to my desperation to gain access to the inner kingdom of A&E. So began my five hour marathon endurance test which was nothing to the suffering endured by my poor man.
Let's be positive first. The two Doctors encountered, one an A&E Consultant and the other a Junior Doctor on his orthopaedics rotation were excellent. Mr Consultant deemed it necessary to chase up the nursing staff on several occasions on what was a pretty quiet night in there if the number of empty cubicles was anything to go by. Mr Junior happened upon us when plastering was about to start, realised that something was amiss in the way things were being done, he left (I later discovered to read the notes and ascertain what was supposed to be happening) and then returned a few minutes later to take over the process. Later, on the ward Mr Junior was once again thorough, reassuring, courteous, considerate and quite happy to give his time, as was the health care assistant.
After being there for an hour and a half and female Sister nominally (use of word nominally deliberate there) in charge of care barely managing to provide pain relief let alone all the other things that Mr Consultant had ordered and even in that short time had started chasing up, I needed to go outside to make a few calls and being honest, a much needed smoke. One step out of the exit and 'have you got a spare fag love?' , three steps out 'have you got 25p for a cup of tea love?' which prompted the thought that I must investigate where it is that one can purchase such cheap beverages, five steps 'can I borrow your lighter love?'. I declined the first two requests and then stood slack jawed as I handed over my lighter to watch it being used to light a decent five skin reefer, right in front of the security cameras and two police officers standing a few yards away.
Back indoors nursing care improved a little by way of a young male nurse but female Sister was still busy moaning about Mr Consultant chasing her up for her lack of attendance and care. She quite clearly wasn't interested in doing what had been asked of her and her persistence in not providing basic care was astonishing in its intensity and deliberateness. Young male nurse advised me that going outside in the evening was a not a wise idea due to the local wildlife quote 'you've seen what goes on in here' and he also advised me that under no circumstances should I wait anywhere but inside for my taxi when I was leaving. He was right though I did see what goes on in there and I bore witness throughout the evening to arguments, bad attitudes, lack of respect to either the law or humanity and general all around nastiness. What a sad reflection of what life must be like for those that work there and perhaps in a way an explanation for what can only be described as a cynical 'don't care' attitude towards patients by the majority of nursing staff encountered.
Five hours after my man's entrance to A&E tracks were finally made to the Surgical Assessment Unit for admission. It would have been nice to observe a different standard and attitude towards nursing duties but alas niceness wasn't in the line of duty.
My taxi driver home was lovely. Five children to look after, he clearly worked hard and long hours but was a cheery soul who demonstrated real compassion to a very tired and stressed out woman and for that I am grateful. When you see the worst aspects of humanity all thrown together in one evening, it's always good to be shown that there are people out there who have not grown so cynical with life as to be uncaring and unkind. I am reminded of one of the strands in my life that I always try and act by; treat others as you would want to be treated....otherwise that bad karma will one day come up and bite you on the bum.
Oh and if you are ever unfortunate enough to suffer an accident in Birmingham may I suggest that you offer bribes to the ambulance service in order to get them to take you anywhere but Birmingham City Hospital. The Manor in Walsall is a paradise in comparison and I never thought I would hear myself say that!