Sorted

It’s been an odd week at Chertsey. We’ve not been able to move out of this little corner west of London on account of the weather which seems to have paralysed most of the rest of the country, blocked the channel tunnel and caused problems in northern France too.

We spent most of Thursday in the waiting room of the Day Surgery unit at Wexham Park Hospital in Slough. Turned up as requested shortly after 8, and I was eventually taken to theatre at half past three. Was treated by a very nice young registrar who seemed quite dismissive at first (‘we’ll just splint your fingers together and you’ll always have some stiffness’) but changed her mind when I explained what I would like to happen in terms of maximising functionality and minimising deformity (thanks to Dee’s research into Type 2 Mallet fingers) and she saw the wound. Her anticipated ten-minute rush job turned into a meticulous 45-minute repair. I’ve got internal and external stitching including a nail bed laceration repair and an internal wire (with a hook at the end, so beware ticking crocodiles). And I got to see the inside of an operating theatre for the first time, which was fascinating. Under local anaesthetic so I could hear what was being said and chat to the surgeons (how ER is that?) but no mirrors and they wouldn’t let me watch.

Then yesterday morning we went back to the hand clinic where the nice young SHO (there is a pattern developing here) whom we saw on Wednesday morning wrote a detailed ‘To whom it may concern’ letter for me to take to a specialist somewhere else (eg France) explaining the treatment I’ve received and suggesting the aftercare regime that’s required in order to remove the wire. Then I had the wound redressed (under Dee’s supervision) and went to Rehab (saying no, no, no) to have a custom splint fitted. All sorted by lunchtime and we were free to go.

I’ve had more dealings with the NHS over the last four days than I’ve had in at least forty years. I’ve always thought of myself as a net contributor rather than beneficiary of the NHS. I’ve been really touched by the kindness, care and professionalism of all the staff I’ve come into contact with – from the A&E nurse practitioners at St Peters, the specialist hand clinic, day surgery unit, theatre staff and rehab clinic at Wexham Park. However, I’ve been less than impressed with the NHS systems and management practices. It took almost 48 hours from injury to repair which is ok but not great, not least because I spent eight hours unnecessarily waiting around with an open fracture risking infection. We had to make four return trips to two different hospitals, a cumulative distance of about 120 miles. We paid quite a lot of money for hospital car parking. There wasn’t anything worth eating (with any nutritional value) available in the hospital canteen. The nurses seemed to have to spend a lot of time and effort filling in forms (I had the distinct impression that the nurse who did my post-op checks was more concerned with ticking the box that said she’d taken my blood pressure than actually reviewing what the reading might mean in terms of my health).

But all is well, my left index finger is safe in its little plastic cradle, Dee has made me a lovely mitten so I can still do the washing up and fetch the water, and two days after the op I am no longer demanding painkillers at minimum intervals. We leave for France this week. Oh and some things definitely seem to run in families – Hannah Loudon has also broken a finger this week (and she gets to blame the boys at school).

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