There’s 6 days to go before my surgery and I’m terrified.
But you know what sucks? That the thing I’m most scared about is being left in pain on the wards after surgery. It’s 2019 and I’m not afraid of the surgery but that I won’t be given pain relief. How is this OK?
On three occasions now I have been left in agony on the wards after having major operations. Usually in the day after the epidural is taken down, the pain relief is not adequate or more likely not given at the right times by nurses.
You know that I love the NHS, I feel so lucky and blessed to have free at the point of use medical care and it’s something we should be protecting but something is going majorly wrong here.
I have been left multiple times sobbing and crying in agony on wards, begging nurses to please get me some pain relief. I have had nurses ignore buzzers, walk right by me whilst I’m writhing and hysterically crying.
Why is it that weekend wards seem to include some terrible nurses on the teams? Of course not all nurses, but I’ve found in each of the 7 previous surgeries that the care goes massively downhill at weekends.
Despite putting plans in place last time and seeing a specialised pain team before they took down my epidural and warning them of my fears that I wouldn’t have adequate pain relief and having my husband there as an advocate writing everything down. But the following day the nurse seemed reluctant to give me the pain relief. She said she’d be back and left me for well over an hour sobbing, walking past my bed and pretending she couldn’t see me.
And others tell me the same story, that their pain is not taken seriously, that nurses especially on weekends are either extremely late in giving pain relief or make excuses and they are left in agony.
So why is it that our pain isn’t taken seriously in hospital?
How is it that my biggest fear of a major op is that pain medication will be withheld and I will suffer? I’m so frightened of this happening that it makes me not want to go in for the surgery.
I spoke to the Pre op nurse about this, her advice? Kick up a fuss, don’t be a “good quiet patient”, demand to see the ward matron and if nurses won’t do that then phone the switchboard, ask to be put through to the ward matron and tell them the bay and bed you are in and that the nurses are not giving you adequate pain relief. Then call PALS and put in a formal complaint.
Honestly this doesn’t sit well with me, I hate to be a bother and I know that the majority of nurses are so hard working, passionate and brilliant. I know they’re under paid and over worked. But there are a few rotten apples who are ruining it for everyone.
There are many reasons that patients don’t complain, from a lack of knowledge to inability due to physical or mental health to a fear of how your complaint will affect your future care and wanting to be a “good patient”.
But being a “good patient” is not about sitting in pain because you don’t want to bother the nurses. Being a good patient is about being a responsible participant in your own health. I read a book that said that “good patients” die more than people who are active in their health and recovery. Struggling in pain worsens your recovery and outcome and so we should be ensuring we have proper care.
But if a confident and outspoken person like me has been failed with pain relief and post op care then how many others without a voice are there? How many older people who don’t want to cause a scene are laid in pain? How many people too anxious to press their buzzer more than once?
When you’re in hospital after surgery you are at your weakest, you have little or no control and are completely vulnerable. Yet we are being let down.
This issue has given me panic attacks, I’ve had to write this in a few sittings as my hands are shaking and I can’t breathe when I think about my surgery next week. When I think about it, I’m taken back to the pain, the tears, the begging. I’m taken back to a vicious old bitch of a nurse walking past me several times. To her rolling her eyes as I cried in pain and finally stabbing me hard in the arm with the morphine jab. To phoning Timm and begging him to discharge me as I had no trust in the nurse now. And I’m terrified it’s going to happen again.
Timm did come last time, he demanded to see the matron and get some answers as to why we’d seen the pain team that morning and had a plan in place and why it was ignored. He got me moved to a new ward and a promise that nurse wouldn’t come near me.
He has said he will be there this time and make sure it’s all ok and I have a back up plan.
But it shouldn’t come to this when all we are talking about is some painkillers.
And I still can’t answer the question of why our pain isn’t taken seriously.