Warning: This is part 2 of a lengthy tale. If you want to start at the beginning and haven’t already read part 1, you can find it here. All three parts of the story also contain some medical stuff that the squeamish might find a bit…icky?
The start of a very long day
The picture at the top of this page shows biliary drainage catheters. Very similar, if not identical, to the one that has been living in my right-hand side for the last three months. It’s also known as a pigtail drain since, once it’s fitted, the end inside your body is curled up like a little piggy’s tail to help hold it in place.
A stitch is then added where the tube leaves your body and a small valve and your drainage bag are connected to the plastic bit on the outer end. Simples!
Originally I had about 17 or 18 centimetres of that tube inside my body, with the curlicue tail safely seated inside my gallbladder and draining all the yuckiness out of there. By Monday, I only had around 14 or 15 centimetres of it still in place and who knows how much of the tail still where it should be. Although, probably, not quite enough as it turns out.
A long drive and several long walks
Tuesday morning saw us up bright and early and on the road for Dumfries by 8:00 a.m. We reached the hospital not long before 10:00 a.m. and I went in and presented myself at the reception desk. Having explained why I was there, I was told that I needed to proceed to the Assessment Unit next to A&E.
Dumfries and Galloway Royal Infirmary is a sizeable institution and, as it turns out, A&E and the Assessment Unit are both away round the other side of the building from the main entrance. So we got to enjoy a long walk in the pouring rain. I went on ahead, found the Assessment Unit and wandered in to find no-one at the desk. Glenda was a couple of minutes behind me and got to the door to find she couldn’t get in. It turned out that you normally have to buzz to be let in and I had somehow just managed to sneak through the door while it was still open. Luckily, an ambulance crew who were nearby found someone to help us and Glenda and I were reunited. Only to find that we should have gone to A&E anyway since surgical assessment all starts there. Aarrggh!
A nurse came to get us and took us on another long walk. Thankfully, this one was indoors and, once in A&E, we found that they already had me listed (so no need for triage) and I just had to wait to be called. The wait was still something over a hour but a nurse finally called me in, took the usual sets of observations (blood pressure, etc.) and said she would contact the Surgical Assessment Unit (SAU, Ward D9) to find out what they wanted to do with me.
We waited some more. Unfortunately for Glenda, all the walking around and dashing hither and yon had exacerbated a bit of a hip problem she has been having lately so she was finding it very difficult to keep up. She also needed to take a painkiller for it but…we’d left them in the car. D’oh! After a while, we decided that I’d keep waiting while she made her way slowly back to the car to pop the necessary pills.
By this time, it was getting on towards 12:00. Eventually, the nurse came back to say that the doctors and surgeons wanted to see me up on the SAU. Another nurse took me up there, so I fired off a text message to let Glenda know where I’d gone. Unfortunately, she didn’t get it so, having walked all the way back to A&E again to find me missing, she then called me and I was able to tell her where I was. This left her with yet another rain-soaked, long walk back around the hospital to the main entrance since, if you didn’t have a staff pass, the only way to get to SAU/Ward D9 was to go back that way.
The assessment begins…
Meanwhile, in the SAU, I was telling the whole sorry tale of St Bagnes the Bilious to one of the doctors. While we were doing that, Glenda arrived in a wheelchair, pushed by one of the volunteers who help out in the hospital. This lovely, helpful lady had seen Glenda hobble into the main reception and, learning where she needed to go (which would involve – yes – another bloody long walk) she had bundled her into a chair and brought her up to the ward.
The doctor wanted to get some blood tests done on me, so proceeded to stick a needle in me in the usual fashion and extracted several tubes of the red stuff. He also managed to spill a fair bit on the floor in the process but cleaned up after himself, so that was OK. We then had to wait a while until a room was available where he could examine me. So we sat around for a bit before I was taken away and poked and prodded in a suitably medical manner. A stethoscope was then used to listen to my chest and abdomen and the doctor pronounced himself satisfied with what he had found.
By now, it was heading on towards 1:30 p.m. and we were faced with more waiting around since my MRI appointment was scheduled for 2:45. We had a little chat with the doctors and nurses and, once we’d told them that we knew where we needed to go, they said we could head on down to the hospital restaurant/cafe and wait there instead of sitting around on the ward. This would allow Glenda to get some lunch and a cup of tea although I was banned from eating or drinking anything until the scans were complete.
So that’s where we went and waited some more…
[ Here endeth Part 2. Part 3 will be along shortly. ]