Tuesday, February 7, 2012

A Day with the NHS

Today was the day of our 7 y-o daughter's 4th surgical procedure in her short life. She was having a minor operation to cure her reflux, which she should have grown out of by now. She has had repeated urine infections since she was given the wrong antibiotic in Sri Lanka so the infection lingered & scarred one of her kidneys.

I am always at a loss as to how to play these occasions. I always feel I am deceiving her or betraying her trust.When I used to take her for her many vaccinations, & for all her investigations, I used to wonder just exactly when to tell her what we were doing. I am sure she doesn't remember the dreadful experiences she had in hospital in Sri Lanka but they have left a legacy of anxiety about hospitals & a need to know EXACTLY what they are going to do.

On this occasion she wanted to know how exactly they were going to get a camera inside her bladder (I think she had visions of SLRs not Borrower sized micro-cameras) & how they would make sure she didn't wake up mid operation. She mostly seemed more interested in their professional expertise rather than what they were going to 'do to her'. Fairly reasonable I guess.

She was unusually chilled & apart from a slight weepy wobble briefly this a.m, she was fine. The nurses even commented on how relaxed she was. I was amazed, & relieved. Though after several hours wait she did have a small weep & admit to being scared.

But, compared to our overseas experiences, it was great! I never cease to marvel at the amount of information given, the play nurses (play nurses?!), the caring (paediatric trained) nursing staff & non-condescending consultants. Having "Where's Moshi" read to you whilst your numbed hand has a canula inserted in all of about 10 seconds flat, with no 'brute force' or coercion in sight, was, let's say, rather a pleasant experience.

An Aussie ex-pat friend very kindly, had offered to have coffee with me in the cafe whilst Annabelle was in surgery, & was as good as her word, providing me with scintillating conversation to distract me. I have only known her a few months too. It was a really kind gesture. She also brought some chocolates for 7 y-o, the loan of her ipad for the day, & a Little Girl-Gorgeous ice-dance dress her daughter had grown out of. It had a pink velour bodice, a strappy back with a diaphanous, very short, twirly skirt. It was the perfect distraction needed when my daughter woke up.

Unfortunately they gave her a urethral catheter rather than a tummy one as the surgeon had said he would, because the consent form I had signed, had evidently specified urethral not tummy one. Who knew? So even tho I had verbally agreed, it wasn't in the dang paperwork, so urethra it was.

So the aftermath wasn't so great. In fact it gave me a flash back to her in the recovery room after her angiogram in Sri Lanka & her heart surgery at Great Ormond Street. Both times she woke up furious, (understandably after her angiogram in Sri Lanka because she was, literally, elastoplasted by both legs to a board & couldn't move.) After her heart surgery, she had been pulling at all the tubes & wires coming out of her. On this occasion today she was very weepy, sore & uncomfortable & not at all impressed by the catheter, pulling at it & the bag & trying to see what was going on.

But she was also angry. I am glad in a way. It is this feistiness & strength of will that has seen her through her chequered medical career I feel. This time the angry 7 year old version was, in a hissed whisper;
"Mummy, I thought you said these people were experts? Why am I so sore then, they didn't do a very good job."

I explained that they did do a very good job, but unfortunately operations made you sore. Oh dear, there I was deceiving her again. I hadn't mentioned this beforehand.

So she was offered pain relief, insisting it was not making any difference & said yes every time more was offered, so has happily quaffed paracetamol, codeine, nurofen & something for her bladder spasms.

I must say a girl can never seem to escape very far from wardrobe dilemmas, even at the tender age of 7 & in a hospital. We made the wrong choice this morning for 'post-operative day wear'. Trying to negotiate Charlie & Lola pants past said catheter & then stuff the catheter bag into her (tight) leggings without looking like a severe case of early onset varicose veins, was a little taxing.

We return tomorrow, hopefully in more accommodating clothing, for her micturating cystogram to check it's worked. It works in 70% of cases. This evening my daughter looked wistfully at the floaty pink velour number at the end of her bed & said;

"Mummy tomorrow for my scan, can I wear my new dance dress?"

Hmm. Concealing catheter tube & bag in such a skimpy number (when the bag has to be lower than bladder so is strapped to her leg) would be optimistic & would necessitate a similar varicose vein impression of nobbly bits under tights. Not to mention the snow outside making it somewhat impractical.

I suggested we stick to something a little more concealing. She seemed happy with that.

And I am happy to be back in a country which has health care which I really can't complain about.

1 comment:

nappy valley girl said...

Good old NHS!
I do miss it. Had to visit the ER today with Littleboy 1 for stitches, and really the only thing different about US medical care is that you have to fill in loads of bewildering insurance forms, and you still have to pay a co-pay. The care, and environment, is similar. We are so lucky in the UK.

Hope your little girl is doing well....