"Mitral valve repair surgery."
About: Aberdeen Royal Infirmary / Cardiology / Coronary Care Unit Aberdeen Royal Infirmary Cardiology / Coronary Care Unit AB25 2ZN
Posted by Daibhidh (as ),
I underwent cardiac surgery. Prior to the operation I had been advised by the surgeon, Mr. Buchan, that his option was to either repair or replace with a prosthetic one, my heart's mitral valve. I was surprisingly fit before the operation having lived with the problem for sixteen years.
Upon completion of the four hour long procedure, I awoke in the ICU to be told by Mr. Buchan that a repair had proved successful. Thereafter followed days of recovery.
The good points? To begin with, any patient admitted to the North of Scotland Cardiothiracic Unit at ARI should have nothing to fear. The care and skill shown by Mr. Buchan and his theatre team cannot in any ways be criticised.
Mr. Buchan himself proved to be the epitome of a gentleman yet not masking risks, potential downfalls and the slog that recovery would be. A quite, unassuming professional to say the least.
Secondly, the nursing staff very much lived up to the 'Angel' sobriquet in the care shown to me. The dedicated nurse in ICU that greeted me on my return to consciousness I only know as May but between her and her colleague, Michelle, they tended to my every need and assisted when pain (which was not so dreadfully bad) became too much. I shall never forget such kindness that was far more than mere clinical professionalism.
In HDU following my transfer there on the day after the operation, the same level of professionalism and genuine compassion was evident; one of the staff nurses was an experienced nurse - Audrey - and she helped me during my worst phase (when I received a blood transfusion and felt absolutely rotten for a full day) with a mixture of touching kindness, professional clinical care and a firm no-nonsense hand. Was soon told off should I be seen not to be helping myself! Again, here is a lady whom I can never forget and like her colleagues in ICU, cannot thank enough.
Finally, my final five days were spent on Ward 216. Here again, the staff were thoroughly wonderful and nothing ever seemed too much of a burden (even though I'm sure it must have been given the demands laid upon them for what seems little reward compared with other public sector employees). There are too many to name but that does not mean to state their contribution to my care was in any ways less than elsewhere.
I could write pages more about the staff, such was the impression they made upon me.
The other aspect of life at ARI that I could not help but observe was the commitment to hygiene and infection control. First class and something other NHS trusts could learn from.
The bad points? The first is, of course, an opinion - and one that may differ greatly from other patients. That is, of course, the catering. I did not look forward to mealtimes whatsoever owing to food either being overlooked (vegetables particularly) or overladen with salt content. The potatoes proved to be bland and tasteless and, being a country lad, could only compare them with those that would have traditionally been mashed up into poultry food. In other words, cheap brands barely suitable for human consumption. During one meal I encountered a very generous portion of salmon steak. That proved inedible owing, the fish tasting as if it had been pickled in brine. Similarly, ham salad was awful, the ham again being 'bargain-basement' quality and heavily salted. By the time Of my discharge, I genuinely felt nauseous at the prospect of lunch or high tea. Breakfast proved okay - but then again one can't really make a mess of bran flakes or toast! Finally, as regards food, those items that could have been more acceptable (eg 'fresh fish') lost a lot of nutritional value by being kept heated during its journey from kitchen to ward - on arrival fish could be dried out an 'curly').
As regards the hospital environment, whilst I appreciate that substantial changes were underway with the cardiac ward having been temporarily relocated, small matters like being kept in a ward with no opening windows and an air conditioning system that failed for a 24 hour spell must demand addressing by NHS managers. My final two days in an environment such as that was absolute torture. Even staff commented on the problem. I am not a medical clinician, but I have a sufficient understanding of biology to realise that such us a breeding ground for all manner of bacteria or virus. No fresh air, no access to coolness save for some feeble fans that were in short supply, unbelievably high temperatures - it was dreadful and unpleasant.
Thus my experience was overall positive. Clinical care and nursing would be, I would contend, difficult to find anywhere else. Hygiene was as it should be - excellent. However, food and ward environment was very disappointing.
On a final note, wouldn't it be conducive to recovery if blank spaces on ward walls could be adorned with some appealing images? After all, we live in a beautiful part of the country (a few landscape photographic canvases would be nice) with wonderful wildlife (imagine waking up to see a handsome Golden Eagle or Roe Deer fawn? ). That's just an optional thought!