"Impressed"

About: Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother Hospital / Cardiology South East Coast Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust

(as the patient),

I was referred on Friday by my GP as an emergency with very slow heart beat requiring a pacemaker, and taken to hospital by ambulance. On arrival at A&E I was interviewed by two doctors who decided to admit me to CDC Ward rather than keeping me in A&E for a while. I was told I might have a temporary pacemaker installed until a permanent one could be fitted, but later on, after further interviews, it was decided that as my illness appeared to be chronic (I had had the breathlessness for several months) I would be closely monitored over the weekend and have a permanent pacemaker installed on Monday. I was glad I wouldn't have to have two operations.

A nurse offered me use of the ward telephone to contact my husband as my mobile had no signal here.

After a short time in CDC I was transferred (in my bed) to Coronary Care Unit, calling at x-ray department on the way. I was given a hospital gown, wired up to a monitor, and told I must stay in bed and ring the bell when I wanted anything (including commode). Fortunately I could use my mobile in this upstairs ward so was able to keep in contact with my family.

I arrived in time for tea - soup, sandwiches and tea or coffee - and was offered another hot drink around 10pm. I stayed in this ward over the weekend. I was very comfortable except for the dreadful lighting, which glared into my eyes all day whilst I was lying in bed; I wished I had an eyeshade. I was able to raise and lower the top of the bed any time I wanted, using a control hanging on the bed rail.

Each day started with fresh water jugs being brought round, then drugs, then breakfast around 8.30 (cereals, bread, marmalade or jam, hot drink). A large menu was offered to choose two-course dinner, served at mid-day. Small cardboard bowls of warm water were brought so we could wash, and I was given towels as I had forgotten to ask for one from home. The bed linen was changed each day, also my towel. The floor was mopped each day and surfaces wiped. Dinner was around 12.30, each meal being microwaved just before it was served, so it was very hot and the fish and some vegetables freshly cooked. I was very impressed by the quality of the meals. Of course observations were made regularly (temperature, oxygen count, blood pressure, blood taken) and when the machine couldn't pick up my blood pressure one of the nurses was called to take it manually. This is a dying skill apparently, and two of the other nurses were keen to observe, and 'have a go'. Daily stomach injections to prevent blood clots were also routine.

All the ward staff who dealt with me were very kind and helpful. The nurses answered the bell promptly, assuring me it was no bother and I should ring any time I wanted something. The student nurse I had most contact with was very enthusiastic about the job. The lady who brought drinks and meals, and also cleaned the floor, was delightful, and very patient with the deaf, asthmatic 90 year old lady in the bed opposite. I noticed several of the staff had back-pain but they conscienciously came to work anyway.

On Monday I was offered an early light breakfast in case my operation was late in the day. Then I was told there was a possibility I might have to wait until Tuesday for the operation. The ward staff seemed very busy, preparing for doctors' rounds at 9am. After a couple of hours my nurse told me it would definitely be that day, and later I was put into a backless hospital gown, put my own dressing gown back on, and was wheeled down to the Catheter Lab, where various patients waited in beds or chairs. I was accompanied by a student nurse who had obtained permission to observe the procedure. The lighting in the the Catheter Lab was lovely - indirect round the walls and with 'daylight' panels in the ceiling - very restful to my eyes.

It was uncomfortably cold in the operating theatre; one of the staff later told me they felt cold in there too. I lay on the operating table for a long time with bare shoulders, feeling cold. Eventually local anaesthetic was administered (probably the only painful part of the operation) and the pacemaker installed. I was slid back onto my bed and returned to the ward, where I was once more wired to a monitor but this time a hand-held so no longer restricted by the machine and was able to walk to the toilet (such luxury) and visit the patient in the next bed whom I had not seen before because of the wall between us. The surgeon came up to see me before he went home and gave me a keep-fit lecture (basically 'get a bicycle').

My lunch had been saved for me and the young man serving the teas microwaved it and brought it to me.

On Tuesday morning I had an ECG, and my pacemaker was tested again (raising and lowering my heart rate). When doctors and surgeon came, they said I could go home.

Do you have a similar story to tell? Tell your story & make a difference ››