Well it’s finally done! After years of wincing, moaning and not being able to wear stupidly high heels, I’ve had a hip replacement. Right now, if I could turn back the clock, I probably wouldn’t have. I feel sore, swollen, uncomfortable and miserable. But I also know, that in a few weeks, I’ll be thankful that I did. I know it’s going to take time to heal. And I know without pain, there’s no gain! However, I was rather grateful for one thing. The NHS kindly paid for me to have the operation in a nice private hospital not far from where I live. Not uncommon these days apparently. The NHS have been outsourcing joint replacement surgery to the private sector for some years now. In fact, a recent analysis shows that NHS patients who choose to have planned knee or hip operations in private units spend less time on wards, are less likely to be readmitted and have fewer procedures that need to be re-done. And therefore, they don’t block beds needed for acute admissions. Win win!
Another recent study showed that four of the best six places for hip operations were privately run. By contrast, the three worst-performing hospitals for knee operations were all NHS ones. And therefore, the results have been seized on by some as evidence that the independent sector does have a key role to play in improving patient care as well as relieving the strain on our overcrowded hospitals. But they are likely to prove controversial elsewhere because of concerns that the contracts set up by Labour, under which private hospitals took in NHS patients to help reduce waiting lists, paid them far too much for simple procedures and wasted millions of pounds. So the funding row continues to rumble and probably always will. Thanks goodness we’ve got a general election coming, eh folks??
So back to the story. I arrived at 8am at the rather endearingly named Holly Hospital, and was promptly shown to my ‘guest room’ by the ‘concierge’ who gave me a guided tour of the facilities. To be honest, it was alot better than some 4 star hotels I’d paid good Euros to stay in. I got changed as requested and it wasn’t long before someone came and took me down to theatre. She was very nice. Like a smiling assassin. Because, despite my outwardly calm exterior, inside I was utterly hysterical despite her reassuring words that no, the consultant definitely hadn’t been drinking and yes, he’d done a fair few of these types of operations before. And in no time, I’d seen the anaesthetist and was being led, mentally kicking and screaming into theatre.
I’ll spare the details. But it went very quickly and in no time I was back in my guest room, with a constant stream of smiling healthcare professionals, checking blood pressure, giving me drugs and generally enquiring after my well-being. An hour later, a light lunch consisting of a freshly made cheese sandwich and fruit was served and I was given a menu to choose my evening meal. Melon to start, salmon fillet and veg and a fresh fruit salad. Sadly no wine list. “For obvious reasons”, she told me. I took that to mean that it was more to do the cocktail of medication I was on rather than a nod to a penchant for Rosé. I had Sky TV to keep me company and at the press of a buzzer, my assigned nurse would come scurrying in, attending to my every need. This is all rather nice, I thought.
However, I think after a couple of days, someone twigged that neither myself, nor a wealthy healthcare provider, was paying for this treatment. I was here courtesy of the beleaguered NHS and I’d probably hit my budget allowance. The offer of endless cups of tea disappeared, lunch was downgraded to soup (definitely Heinz) or a sandwich, and the evening meal was whatever the chef said I could have. And as Friday was curry night, and I don’t eat the stuff, the only other option was a jacket potato with cheese. And hopefully they could “rustle up some beans too if chef didn’t mind”! First world problems, eh? But I mustn’t grumble. It was still better than being on a mixed ward, and not having to listen to other patients peeing/snoring/farting/howling was a blessing. And I’m sure those patients would have felt the same.
Which brings me on to bed pans. How bloody awful are those contraptions??!! For a start, it seems to be a one size fits all, which is fine if you don’t have a humungous backside. Mine was pretty huge to begin with but the added addition of swelling and a pressure dressing practically doubled it’s girth. Plus it’s made of cardboard! CARDBOARD!! I mean it’s not know for it’s absorption qualities is it! Nor it’s comfort. Well the first day wasn’t so bad. I was numb and fairly dehydrated. Day two was a different story altogether. I’d been put on a drip as my blood pressure was rather low so when I asked for the pan again – well let’s just say I wasn’t dehydrated or quite so numb. In fact, let’s just say I was totally off target. The nurse was very sweet and said it was perfectly normal for accidents to happen. Well not for me it isn’t, love! The shame of sitting in your own piddle – three times in one day – will live with me for a while! It took an age to strip me and the bed, clean it up and put me and the bed back together again. She smiled throughout the whole half hour debacle, chatting away, whilst I – a grown woman of advancing years – sat there wrapped in a towel of shame, smelling like a tramp! I’ve since googled bed pans. There are far more ergonomic ones out there which look a lot more sturdy, comfortable and able to hold a few more pints. Maybe I had the cheaper NHS version.
I THINK THE NURSE ON THE FAR RIGHT WAS THE ONE LUMBERED WITH CLEARING UP MY LITTLE ACCIDENT
Fortunately they had me up walking pretty quickly so I could get to use the toilet. And by day three, I was on crutches walking up and down the corridor in my attractive hospital gown, all open at the back for the world to see. But I didn’t care. What could be more shameful than pissing yourself. Three times! My dignity went years ago. Along with non-disposable, ergonomically-shaped bed pans it seems.
I DIDN’T HAVE THE HORN!
And on day four, they sent me home, complete with crutches and complimentary raised toilet seat, saying if my leg falls off, just go straight to A&E and they’ll pop it back on. So long as I don’t mind waiting a few days. So here I am, selfishly wishing the days away, knowing that time is a great healer and codeine is the best invention in the whole world. Meanwhile, Mr H is embracing nursing/cooking/cleaning duties which involves a fair amount of arse-wiping, stocking-applying, pillow-adjusting and crutch-holding. Sadly not the type he’d prefer. But he’s doing a sterling job.
For a bloke. Who snores.