Thursday, 11 September 2014

Through the Looking Glass: A Patient's Perspective

A phrase that makes hospital stays a little more hopeful.

Stardate: 92288.3

I've noticed that in all the posts I write, they're all from the imaging department's perspective, and none helping to understand how a patient really feels when in hospital, either as an outpatient or an inpatient. Let me tell you, after working in a hospital myself, it felt incredibly strange being a patient, as you do absolutely nothing! Resisting the urge to ask staff if they needed help felt lazy and weird!  So, I decided that I would just  give you all an insight into what it's like to be a patient, rather than a healthcare professional.

Recently, and a few times in my youth, I've felt first-hand what it feels like being a patient. To cut it short, I randomly collapsed one morning while running (and they say it's supposed to be good for you), and after waiting for 6 hours in A&E, was admitted, and even then, I wasn't sure whether I was staying overnight or going home. 

I had my blood pressure taken a good total of 8 times in those first 6 hours, a blood test done, and initial assessments from both a nurse and a doctor; all the while I was still wearing my muddy running clothes, and in desperate need of a shower... no-one gets up to go running and expects to be rushed to hospital! I was then taken to the second hospital, where I was to stay overnight for observation on the cardiology ward, due to the unknown cause of my collapse. Here is where I say, I wasn't told a single thing about why I was being admitted, until another doctor did another assessment, then told me why I was staying... at nearly 10 o'clock in the evening, almost 12 hours since I'd first gotten into an ambulance! Talk about speedy...

Staying overnight is difficult, and slightly scary, especially on a cardiology ward, as everyone is hooked up to a heart monitor, so there's machinery constantly beeping through the night (I still have sticker marks on my skin even now). Nurses wake you up at 6AM (more blood pressure readings), and the doctors do their rounds around 8AM, so you have the rest of the day to fill with TV or reading. The hardest part, is all the waiting you have to do, and that you're mostly alone. I believe the best part of a patient's day is visiting hours. And that can be tough if no-one is actually visiting you. Well, you're not called a patient for nothing... 

I'd been told I was in need of two examinations: an echocardiogram and an exercise test. This was to rule out the possibility of Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome, a condition that affects my younger brother. Sunday and Monday were spent being visited by my very good friends and my boyfriend's mother, all the while my mother sent me texts constantly, trying to find out if I'd escaped.

After a truly difficult exercise test (which I aced at an above average athletic level), and a quite relaxed echocardiogram, (where you get given a chest ultrasound while being hugged), I was deemed fit and healthy, and sent home!

For me, it was just a long waiting game, to eventually be told after 3 days there was nothing they could find that was wrong. But it's a lonely ordeal, and you're not always told what's exactly going on, or when you're going home... which is why I may or may not have peeked at my notes... shhh. Overall, I learnt (but already knew) that patients go through quite a lot... so always be that person who gives them a smile and talk to them. You never know, it might just make their day :3

Only one more day until I get up at 5AM to get the train to my conference!

LLAP guys! 

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