The Waiting Game

Another day of waiting in a hospital. Today we went to the fracture clinic to see what the next step was. My faith in the NHS was sky high after last weeks experience. Today it took a bit of a knock. I hate moaning about the NHS; I think we’re incredibly lucky to have so many amazing people working for shockingly small salaries but I think the system can sometimes be pretty awful. It’s probably just my tiny patience but even the most patient of people would have been a bit fed up today.

T’s appointment was at 11.20am. We arrived around 11.15am expecting around a half hour to an hour wait (based on previous experience at the Orthodontics clinic with A). I wasn’t banking on four hours. One of the doctors (of three) was not at the clinic and the person covering for him was running 1.5 hours late. Guess who T was assigned to? Not one of the other two, who had a half hour delay. We waited an hour and a half before being seen by the doctor who sent him off for an x-ray. Quite why we couldn’t have gone to x-ray as soon as we arrived I’m not sure. Then a further hour and a half while we waited for another consultant to arrive to look at the x-rays as the doctor wanted a second opinion. Due to an accident on the motorway (fingers crossed it wasn’t a serious one) the consultant was delayed. We were finally seen by the doctor again to be told that the bone is still in the same position that it was post-casting at A&E and so they would like to leave things as they were and see him again next week. They don’t want to risk moving it to change the plaster as that would mean surgery would be a probability and not a possibility.

I could have cried. In fact when the doctor left the room briefly my eyes did leak a little bit. We had (probably foolishly, naively, ridiculously uncharacteristically optimistically) been expecting him to have the heavy, cumbersome, painful back cast removed and a new, featherlight, fibreglass one put on, leaving him free to come and go as he pleased (within reason). To be told that he would have to continue to be basically bed-bound for the next week and beyond was not what we had wanted to hear. Not at all. Another week of him being stuck in bed, not able to take himself to the loo, not able to move without assistance? Oh dear god.

I think the doctor could see we were distressed by the news. T was amazing. I felt like I was back in A&E being told he had snapped his tibia all over again. We explained how much pain he was in any time he tried to move. How it is impossible for him to get on the toilet alone. He asked one of the Plaster Room Technicians to come in and see him. They explained they couldn’t make the plaster any smaller but may be able to make it more comfortable for him. I was not convinced.

Some of my faith in the NHS was restored by Al the Plaster Room Man. He explained that T’s cast wasn’t long enough; it needed to go further up his thigh so that when he moved it would support the entire leg and not place any pressure on the break. He would then be able to sit on the loo with the leg up on a chair and do his thing. Alone. With no help other than getting into the loo and lowered down. OMG really? How amazing would that be? He also said that he didn’t see any reason why he couldn’t complete the cast as it was a week since the break occurred and swelling should have gone down by now. He checked with the Doc and so he now has a full cast. It’s crazily heavy -weighs as much as an overweight small child – but it is more supportive and he no longer feels any pain when he moves it. Lovely Al also fashioned him a handle halfway down his cast so that he can MOVE HIS LEG HIMSELF! He showed him how to get from sitting/laying to standing ALONE and has adjusted his crutches so that they are at optimum height. We have the number for the Plaster Room who we can speak to directly if we need any advice or help.

So, although we have to repeat the whole sorry process again next week (and probably me and mum accompanying rather than me and K) and he still has this horrible thing on his poor leg, at least he is not in pain when he moves and I am hopeful that he will be more mobile as the days go on. If the bone remains in this position for the next few weeks then surgery will be a shadowy, distant possibility that we won’t have to think about. And a few more weeks after that he may be able to move to a lighter-weight cast. All we can do is wait and see.





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