Last week I under went caffeine infusion number 4 and so far the results have been very good. I know I am probably going to regret typing those words in probably less than 24 hours but I can’t lie, I have had a number of days with no head pain. Even hubby has remarked how much better I have been. Although it seems I have picked up a bug of sorts whilst there, since the infusion I have been racked with joint/ muscle pain, sore throats and levels of fatigue that have been off the chart.
It’s really weird but every time I attend the hospital for the infusion I get the same chair. There are 6 chairs in the bay but every time I get the middle chair on the right hand side of the unit. This time the bay was incredibly busy and noisy which I found very draining. Since getting sick I find situations with lots of light, noise and people incredibly difficult to cope with. I don’t know why this is but I seem to burn through any energy stores that I do have. I was in a very bad way when I attended the hospital this time, I was unable to maintain my body temperature, I had barely slept and the CSF Leak headache was reaching epic proportions. I really wasn’t in the mood to be social and thankfully everyone was too busy to spend too much time with me. Normally there are only one or two of us in this bay but on the day of my infusion people were coming and going like it was the platform of a tube station.
Due to feeling so bloody awful my veins decided to play silly buggers and disappear from view the minute a needle came near them. On one of the four attempts everything was fine with the vein until the nurse flushed it with saline. It then decided to pop and I was left with a weird bubble of saline in the skin (which disappeared very quickly) and an impressive bruise which has healed very quickly. The poor nurse gave up after the third attempt and brought in his secret weapon which was a student doctor who was incredible at finding veins in people who were difficult to cannulate. He managed to get the vein on the first attempt, the only problem was it was on the outside crook of my elbow, which meant for the next two hours my arm had to be kept perfectly straight or the machine used to run the infusion beeped, informing me that there was a flow issue.
The day before the infusion I had been informed by the consultants secretary that the only way that she could book me in for the infusion was via an appointment with the acute care gp service. I would have to “convince” the doctor that I needed the infusion and to make matters worse they hadn’t been able to locate my notes. I spent over an hour that day photocopying all my letters and notes to ensure that I wouldn’t be denied the treatment after travelling for an hour to get there. I was more than ready for a fight however the infusion was started before I even spoke to the doctor who was supposed to be the one “agreeing” to the treatment. I have the nursing staff to thank for that, as I have seen them once a month since June they know me now as caffeine infusions are not a common occurrence. They just cracked on with it as they were so busy they needed the space in the bay.
I wasn’t impressed with the doctor at all when he decided to rock up to the ward. He spent about 30 seconds looking at my notes before coming over to speak to me. He checked my diagnosis and then without a word of lie asked me “So apart from the CSF Leak your normally fit and well?” I thought observation of the patient was important and something that was taught to doctors. I was wrong, this is a photograph of my foot in the pink trainer touching my wheelchair that is at the end of my bed.
I wanted to say “Well who do you think owns the wheelchair? Is that a give away that I am not normally fit and well?”. Of course I didn’t and I managed to suppress my rage long enough to list just a few of the conditions I suffer with. It really annoys me when a big deal is made about a doctor having to see you before the infusion has started and then they don’t take the time to read your notes. I know it was an incredibly busy day in A&E (this bay is attached to this department) but to not read the notes of someone who you are taking responsibility for legally and for their care is a bit, well it’s actually very crap practice. He was a muppet, who then when he finished talking to me left all my notes sat on the table that was being shared between mine and the next bed. The notes were left there until I drew attention to them when the infusion ended roughly 90 minutes after he had seen me. I hadn’t said anything as I presumed he would be back to scribble something in them evidently I was wrong.
At around 12:30pm the patient next to me, started kicking off about the fact our bay hadn’t had lunch. Two hot meals had been served but the rest of us who would be provided sandwiches had been forgotten. Her husband very kindly got me a cheese sandwich from the meal cart that was parked a little outside the bay. The health-care assistants had to track down the catering staff to get the other two people in the bay fed. A member of the catering team came in around 15 minutes later, brandishing a clear plastic refuse sack (I’m not lying we used the same clear refuse sacks in retail!) with the remaining sandwiches available for lunch. As one of the health care assistants was near my bed I whispered;
“If she thinks that presentation is going to earn her a Michelin star, she’s very much mistaken”
The health care assistant doubled up laughing and had to wait for the catering staff to leave the bay before sharing what I had said. On all other occasions that I have been in there the sandwich selection has been brought around on a tray, never has it been hauled around in a refuse sack. It may not seem like a big deal but this was the patient’s lunch, yes the bag was clean, the sandwiches were sealed but it wasn’t very appetising for those having to select their lunch from a rubbish sack. It’s small things like this that if allowed to slide let bigger problems become acceptable.
As soon as my infusion was finished I was allowed to leave, this session was a little odd in the fact no observations were done at all, no temperature taken, no blood pressure readings and no ECG. I know I have suffered no adverse reactions in the past but with me I can use a medication for years and then suddenly develop an allergy towards it. The staff were exceptionally busy but if something had gone wrong they had nothing to fall back on to prove that I was ok before the infusion started. I like the staff, they are fun and make the infusion time fly by but basic nursing protocols shouldn’t be forgotten just because it’s been ok all the other times. Getting to that level of complacency is when mistakes are made and really how long does it take for a set of observations to be done?
At least on this occasion my next infusion has already been booked for the 31st October so no more having to chase up doctors via the consultant’s secretary. I now should be able to book in my infusions every four weeks which will make life a lot easier for me. Why this couldn’t have been done before I don’t know. I asked six different members of staff about booking them in before my PoTs & EDS consultant came into the bay, grabbed the diary and booked me in on the spot. It really was that simple yet everyone else claimed that it couldn’t be done or was it that they just couldn’t be bothered to get it done?
It is a shame really that the unit that I am treated in works so well and efficiently in some respects can let itself down on the basics.
P.S – slightly off topic but I have managed to get out on my trike (wheelchair plus trike attachment) twice in the last 7 days. It is thoroughly knackering, using a lot of upper body / core strength which I don’t possess but utterly liberating. It is amazing to see the paths I used to walk every day with the dogs pre 2008 have changed so much through erosion or the opening up of paths by the estate management. The dogs really enjoy me coming along too although their have been a couple of close shaves when they have got a little too close to the front wheel. Currently I am still going out in the early morning whilst I get to grips with using it and the dogs get used to seeing me out with them. I really look forward to my trips out and can’t thank those of you who donated to help me achieve this dream. Thank you xxx