"Levels of Care"

About: Burnley General Hospital / General surgery Burnley General Hospital / Pain Management Royal Blackburn Hospital

(as the patient),

Two days ago I returned home after a stay of four days in the Royal Blackburn Hospital. The treatment I received there throughout the whole of the four days has prompted me to offer this account of my stay there to try and 'put the record straight' abut this much maligned hospital.

I went in on Tuesday morning at the unearthly time of 7.30am full of the normal levels of apprehension which anyone going in for major vascular surgery would be expected to experience. When my name was called my partner left me to go home, she was as nervous and frightened of what was going to happen as I was.

The first stage of the journey was to be taken into a waiting room by a Staff Nurse called Sarah. She explained what was going to happen in this part of the process and I took all my clothes off. Not in front of her you understand, but in a cubicle! She did appear to be broad minded but I felt it best not to push my luck so soon into my visit. She bagged up my outside clothes and then introduced me to the consultant anaesthetist who told me what he and his team of two were going to do. He then walked me through to his little theatre where I was 'wired for sound' as it were.

Judith, his registrar, and his other assistant, were all equally calm, helpful and reassuring, then they knocked me out. In the nicest possible way.

Some five hours later after the surgery I awoke in the recovery room next to the operating theatre, then fell asleep again - I think. All a bit hazy as you might imagine.

The next stop was the POCU ward (Post Operative Care Unit) - a bit like a mini intensive care unit. Four beds all wired for sound and vision and very accommodating staff as well. By the time I was able to take note of what was going on the staff nurse, Joanne, was there to help me control the large dollops of pain washing around my abdomen with all sorts of goodies. Intravenous Morphine and then any number of pills to prop me up through the night. I am a bad sleeper at the best of times and this was no real exception. She kept me happy throughout the night with cups of tea and chats so that when her replacement came on duty later in the morning I was happily full of tea and ice cream and ready for what life would thow at me.

Andrea and Aliss came on duty and looked after me through the day and kept me occupied as best they cold. A bit difficult as I was strung up with more drips and feeds like Frankenstein!!

The day went on and at some time I was moved (during the evening) to the general ward where I met the staff nurse there, Carly, who was more or less constant during the rest of the couple of days there. During this time I met two physiotherapists and Jim from the pain management team. What a bunch! Terrific people - all of them. Professional, concerned, caring and helpful.

I think one of the overriding memories was the fact that though I had had major surgery and was in some considerable pain, there was no obligation on my part to put up with the pain. They all together had the means to stop or lessen the pain, and they did.

By Thursday I was getting itchy feet and started to have a wander around the hospital on my own, sometimes I think to the consternation of the staff but there were always people around to keep an eye out for my safety.

On Friday afternoon on a return from one of my log walks I bumped into the surgeon who had worked on me. He had been to the ward to tell me I would be going home on the following day and could not find me. Anyway, we had a chat on the corridor. It would be wrong I think here to give his full name in view of his professional status, but Mr Al-Kaffaf is a really nice man. He talks to you and explains everything in as much detail as you want. Ask him a question and he will answer it honestly, even if it is bad news. As for his skill as a knife thrower? Time will tell, but I have spoken to others who have been treated by him, and I am confident that he has done a good job.

All in all, the whole process was made as painless and easy as it possibly could be. Nothing was too much trouble for any of the staff, no matter what their status.

A quick example. I was in the shop on the ground floor buying two boxes of chocolates for the staff in POCU and the general ward. A young man wearing a porters uniform offered me his pen to write out the cards I bought to go with the chocolates. During the brief conversation we had, I told him who the chocolates were for, then realised I would probably not be able to deliver the POCU gift, so asked him if he would do it. "Of course" he said, and took them from me.

A half hour later when I was back on the ward he came popped his head around the ward door and gave me a thumbs up to indicate that delivery had taken place.

That sums up the overall concern and care I had during my four day.

Wonderful, caring and professional.

If you have to go to the Royal Blackburn Hospital then have no fears. You will be well looked after.

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