Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Hot weather, asthma and a night in A+E

I do enjoy the warm weather and good sunny days are few and far between in the West of Scotland.
But the past few weeks - oh, man - it has been sooooo hot and clammy, even at night I've had the bedroom windows open and we had to trade in our superdooper high tog duvet for the thinnest one we could find. And even then it was getting kicked off the bed.

It was sooo hot one night that I even found Simba the cat cooling off in the sink in the bathroom!!!!!!
That's when you KNOW it's hot!!!!

But last Thursday afternoon, things came to a head for Louise.
We were in town and decided to go for some lunch (Kimble's of course!!)
Lou seemed to be struggling to breathe and had to take her inhaler. Not just the once, but several times in a short space of times.
So we decided to head home - abandoning any other plans we had - and we would phone the GP on the way home.

Few more puffs of said inhaler and a girl who was finding it hard to breathe still - my comment was that we should just go to the health centre on the way home. It just seemed stupid that we were so close to not go  and that given the circumstances someone would prob decide to do a house visit, it seemed like we would just be wasting time.

When we were at reception and the girl was taking the details, one of the Gps came through. The look on his face said it all. He has known my kids since they were tots, knows that we don't abuse the system or shout at the reception staff. He obviously thought we had done the right thing.

In our Practice, we now have a Nurse Practitioner, along with our Practice Nurses. This helps free up time for the Gps, she can see, assess and treat patients and prescribe drugs if needed and refer back to the Gp if needed.
She did say that many patients were coming in suffering from the effects of the weather on various conditions - chesty stuff was a biggy since the weather had changed fairly rapidly and peoples bodies hadn't had time to catch up.
So she checked Lou's sats which were good. Bit of a surprise there, but ok.
Her peak flow was much lower than normal, but it was her heart rate that was really worrying - over 100.

So she decided to prescribe some steroids.
And put Lou back on her brown inhaler.
And said that if things were still bad, to come back. We had done everything right.

SO by the time we got to the chemist and back home it was nearly 4pm. Lou decided to phone work and tell them she wouldn't be in - she felt it wasn't fair on them if she was this bad and had to be sent home.

But her breathing and heart rate were still dodgy.

By 6pm, I was beginning to think that this was serious.
I mean - 4 hours and she was still struggling and puffing on her ventolin inhaler.

AND that brings problems as well - the shaky hands and the pins and needles

Andrew arrived in after dropping his mum off. I kind of wish he's brought her in - Janice is so sensible.
Eventually, I decided that we would just go for it. No point phoning NHS24 - they would just send an ambulance and that would stress Lou even more.

I don't know or care what speed A did along the M8 towards the Royal Infirmary and neither do I care. I just wanted to get my daughter seen and better.

By the time we got out of the car, Lou was in tears on top of the dodgy breathing and holding on to that inhaler like it was gold.
Andrew picked her up and ran.
I ran and we got a look from a staff nurse who had just come off shift and into the carpark. She came over and told Lou to try and calm down and that she wasn't far from A+E and they would help.

I booked her in (after she had spent about 30 seconds at the reception desk, just to let them see what she was like) and she went to sit dow.

Now in amongst the dodgy footie injuries and the "it's after 6 and the Gp is shut and this itch on my nose just needs seen to" she was getting some strange looks. The triage nurse came out and called another patient who got up to go into the room. Then she heard Lou's breathing and told the other girl that she's have to see Lou first.

When we went in, she asked what was wrong. Lou just looked at me and I told the story. By this time, she had been having trouble breathing for 6 hours, nothing was helping and she was scared.

The nurse said "are you sure  it's not a panic attack or anxiety???"
I pulled myself up to my full height of under 5 feet and said "no. It's not a panic attack. We tried the breathing into a paper bag and it didn't help. It's an asthma attack" and thre her a look that said "get your big girl pants on and DO something - NOW"

So she took loo off in a chair and told Andrew and I to go back outside and wait.

So we did. And waited.
And waited.

So we started to people watch.

Now - I was trying to be calm for Andrew, who was being calm for Louise and was getting pretty scared.  

Oh - I forgot to mention that A has type 1 diabetes.
He hadn't managed to get something to eat.
So I then had him to worry about, thinking that he may just drop down on me!!

Once I checked he had something to eat in his bag, we set to our people watching.

The guy in the footie shorts with the fantastic shiner on his eye. We hoped that he and his girlfriend weren't planning on getting married at the weekend!! The photos would need to be airbrushed big style to get him looking good.
The woman with a towel over her head - we found later she had been bleeding - had she fought with the cupboard under the sink?!?!?!

Then Andrew says "Julie - I want one of those bracelets like that guy has got"

Now - I am  KNOWN for being dense and a bit slow on the uptake, but this time - I think a SLOTH would have sussed it faster. I was like "what?? WHERE?? Just show me" looking all round the waiting area.
I looked towards the reception desk at the only people there. 3 guys, 2 in uniform. They were Prison Officers and had a convict with a dodgy knee and had him cuffed!!!

All life starts and some end at A+E at Glasgow Royal Infirmary!!!!

Then there were the patients who were coming in, seemingly having no trouble walking and talking and you wondered just WHAT was wrong with them.
After hours, there are at least 2 minor injuries units open till 9pm and several out of hours clinics that are open till midnight or all night.
Now, these people maybe did have something wrong with them, and if needed the out of hours would have sent them on to A+E. But you just wondered what had made them bypass somewhere that could have helped and made them get to another place they would have to wait for ages to be seen.

Then (I found this oddly funny!!) a guy comes out of the emergency treatment area, with a gown on and his trousers on. Heads for the door, with a packet of cigarettes in his hand!!!
If you can get off the trolley and walk to the front door to light up - there can be little wrong with you!!!

Then we turned our attention to the screen which gave us times waiting for Major and Minor problems. Majors seemed to be either 1.5 hours or 2.5.

Don't know which was right, since the 2 times came one after the other!!!

And Minors was an hour and a half.
So we then thought that it would be good to have the screen telling us just where you were in the waiting - you know - Like Dominos when you order pizza and they tell you what part of the order they are at or like Argos, where you can see when your stuff has been brought down and you pick it up from collection.

But what would happen if someone died????

Oh, says Andrew - they'd just put up - gone to mortuary or crematorium!!!

What we do when we're worried!!!

By this time it was 9.20 and Lou had been in the treatment area for well over an hour. We WERE getting worried. So when reception was quiet, I went to ask if we could find out how Lou was. As the girl was phoning through, a student nurse came out. She said she had been looking after Lou and we would be allowed in soon. I explained that I was worried, so she went off and came back and said we could go through.

It turns out that she had said to the staff nurses that she thought one of us should be in with Lou - if for no other  reason than to tell them what had gone on during the day. Lou could barely talk by this time and her pulse had been up at 140.
She did tell me that one of the docs (a consultant she thinks cos he had dark scrubs on) had stopped at her bed bay, looked at her, turned round and walked over to the nurse and said "tell her to stop hyperventilating".
My first thought was "do your own dirty work", my 2nd was "just as well I wasn't here and heard that - I would have ripped limbs off him and asked questions later!"

By this time she'd had several bloods taken, was on a nebuliser and they wanted more bloods taken. They didn't think it was asthma - because she didn't have a wheeze.

Mmm - but she doesn't always have a wheeze I told them.

They thought she had undiagnosed diabetes.

Mmm - she's had steroids a few hours ago - they make your blood sugars go crazy. ANd anyway - Andrew had tested her bloods a few times to see what it was like and it was in normal range.

Maybe it's a panic attack.

Mmmm - no, because a panic attack wouldn't last this long. We were not doing anything that would trigger a panic attack and we did all the things that would have helped - to no avail.
The doc came back and said that her lactic acid levels were up

No shit Sherlock - lactic acid levels go up if you have had a load of ventolin in a short space of time

By this time I was getting majorly pissed because my daughter was really unwell, Andrew was trying not to panic and I wanted something done. Now please.

So it was decided to run fluids though a drip (this meant siting another cannula twice over the next few hours).

One doc went off duty after 11pm, the new one came to see us and said that the registrar was coming to see Lou .

All the while, this lovely student nurse was keeping me calm. I did say that I felt Lou was getting a bit pushed about - mainly because she looks so young (she was prob older than this girl!!).

The registrar came in and even before she spoke a work, there was a calmness about her. She explained that they just could not work out quite what was going on. She said that Lou was having an acute episode of illness, but they just didn't know what was causing it. We went through a few things again and she said that the pulse rate was a worry and that Lou was def dehydrated. She had a mild temp and while it may just be the asthma, they  had to check everything out.

Eventually, Lou got to the receiving ward (tho with her nurses hat on she says that possibly she should have been in HDU) about 3am. When the girls were doing the handover, we were allowed to go in for a few minutes to say goodbye .

SO we got back to our house at about 3.30 am. Lilo was very weird when we got in - almost pouncing on us, as if she thought we had left lou somewhere!!! I had to give Andrew some cat food for his cat (who would be going crazy because he had left for work at 8.30 the day before!!)

I knew I wouldn't get to sleep cos Matthew was getting up at 5am for work. So I told him when he woke and then made myself sleep!!!

When I phoned in the morning, the doctors were with Lou - she phoned me to say they still weren't sure but it was most likely not diabetes. She was going to be moved to another ward later on. Andrew came to pick me up sop we could take a few things into her - important things like chocolate and the portable DVD player!!!! Knew she was getting better then!!

So she had a couple of nights - it most likely was a combo of asthma, the weather and dehydration. She has 2 weeks off work (her boss is not happy, but that's tough)

Even today when we were having lunch, she was still a bit breathless. Mind you - telling her about the antics that Andrew and I got up to on Thursday night as we waited didn't help - she was laughing and she got more breathless and  laughed even more!!!

I know there are a lot of scare stories about the NHS.
And I know that some Americans in the recent past have tried to slate it and say that it's rubbish.

But while there HAVE been problems, I found that our NHS, when it comes to serious illness are GREAT.

Think about the number of bloods Lou got taken and sent off to the labs.
The nebuliser with combi drugs.
THe fluids she needed.
The number of staff we saw.

Because we have contributed to the system, it is free at the point of use for us.

No having to worry about having the right insurance, or even having insurance at all.
No having to worry if we would get to a point where they would say "well, that's you maxed out the insurance - here's a bill and we take all major credit cards".

It's not a perfect system, but heck, I doubt we would ever get one.

And I would just like one of these doubting Thomases to work a shift with some of the nurses and doctors. See what they have to put up with - all the crap they have to take from the drunks and junkies and the people who think they can just rock up after stubbing their toes and expect to be seen NOW.
No - not now -last week before it even happened!!

And to top it all, she has now got a damp ceiling in her bedroom - which can't have helped - a result of the torrential rain we had.

But that will be  a whole other blog!!

Sunday, 7 July 2013

And the winner is......................

......................Not telling you yet!!

That's because we have to go back 17 years to a cold and grey March morning. It was the day of Matthew's mum's funeral. My Dad looked after Lou and Paul, while Peter went to school. (just easier that way!!)

But unknown to us, some miles north of Glasgow, in a quiet little town called Dunblane, a nasty, crazed man walked into a school, killed some of the kids in the youngest class, their teacher and left the rest of the school and the community stunned and I shock.

One boy called Andy hid. It wasn't his class, but still, he hid.

Meanwhile, we were busy grieving.
We got back to Matthew's Dad's about 3 and by then, it was obvious that "something" had happened that day, but just what we didn't know.
The tragic events unfolded over the next few days and they made just about every parent in the country give their kids an extra hug in the morning.

When I took Lou into school the next day, I took one look at the teacher and thought "how are you gonna stop a mad man from hurting my child?".
But to be honest, it was most likely the safest place that she could have been.
And anyway - I think this girl would have been like a raging bull if ANYONE had come near her kids!!

So, life went on. We moved house, the kids grew up and we heard more about this guy Andy.
From Dunblane.
And he seemed to be able to hit a ball with a tennis racquet and he seemed to be good at it!!

Then last year - after years of trying, Andy got to the finals of Wimbledon - great! And even tho he didn't win, it was ok - he'd got there.

Then a few weeks later, he was back there, Olympic Final - and he won GOLD!!

Yes - getting there.

Then a few months later - he won the American Open.
Not just got to the finals and hey, did not bad - HE WON!!!

So we now get to a lovely Sunday afternoon in SW19.

The scene it set.
In the final again, but somehow, he seems different.

More ice, more fire  in the blood.

It took 3 straight sets and just over 3 hours to WIN!!!

But what is it with us Scots?!?!?!
Why do anything the easy way, when doing it the hard way is preferred??? (hand us a whip and we'll flog ourselves between games, twice between sets!!)

But win Andy did, in style!

He did an interview recently, where he talked about "that" day.

I'd like to think that he did what he did today for those kids who never got the chance to grow up a fulfil what they could have done.

It would be easy for him to say "oh, look at me, what I went through".

He could have turned to drink or drugs, but he didn't.

He hasn't forgotten those children and hopefully Dunblane can celebrate tonight along with the rest of us.