Monday, 9 March 2009

Does He Really Need To Go Tonight?

It's been an eventful weekend. It started with a large vomit at 6.30 am on Fri. I had a feeling in me waters that, for Rory, this was going get worse before it got better. Me waters are rarely wrong. As the day progressed, the bug took hold. Phone calls back and forth to Temple St. ironed out a plan. The plan then changed hourly. Initially, I had some success giving saline fluids down his NG tube. But, as the afternoon rolled on, he was tolerating less and less and I was playing catch up with his fluid balance. If action wasn't taken quickly, we were looking at dehydration, which is never a good idea with a transplanted kidney.

We assessed the situation, weighed up the time it would take in Friday evening traffic to get to Temple St., versus the time it would take for Rory to get into difficulty. I/V fluids were required fast. With the team in Temple St., we made the decision to go to Galway hospital to get an i/v line started before transfer to Dublin.

The Paeds unit in Galway has been an invaluable support to us. The nursing staff there are second to none. They provide that wonderful combination of professionalism and humanity.So, I made all the arrangements, left Jess with her granny and auntie, then made a run for it.We were met at the door, they had liaised with our consultant in Dublin and a bed was waiting.So we checked in, and watched helplessly as this group of highly trained professionals had to wait for registrars to arrive from various other wards in the hospital to put a cannula into Rory's arm. It was not a pleasant wait.

Now, I feel that the 5 years I've just put in, allows me to speak with some authority on how to get blood from children. There is no nice way to do it. The kindest thing you can do for a child is be swift. Lessen the stress by having all you need prepared in advance, and don't let the child see the paraphernalia until you are ready to stick the needle in, draw the blood, and then get the hell out of the room. Putting a tourniquet on their arm and then realising you're missing a vital piece of kit is not an option. We didn't manage to get i/v access to Rory as the Registrar had to cover many other wards in the hospital and Rory was not an easy case. The consultant in Dublin called a halt and asked for Rory to be transferred immediately without delay by ambulance to Temple St.

So acting on consultant's orders, the highly trained wonderful nursing staff phoned ambulance control in Castlebar at 10.00pm. The call was greeted with annoyance, as the controller impatiently asked 'Does the child have to go tonight?' OK, now here's where I loose the plot. Where exactly, did that ambulance control phone operator do their training in paediatric nephrology? When did their job of delivering ambulances requested by consultants, morph into a second guessing of those same consultants? The Paeds nurse, fair play to her, remained calm in the face of such insanity and politely answered yes, he did indeed need to go tonight. It was 10pm on a Fri night - what did they think, I was on my way to some designer shoe sale? Piqued by the answer, our friend the consultant nephrologist ambulance controller, then inquired if the patient had private health insurance!

That's when I put a stop to the conversation, I was in no mood to be insulted any further by another HSE Muppet. We called a taxi and, with a pump very kindly on loan from those wonderful nurses, I managed to continue to pump i/v fluids into my son's NG tube arriving in Temple st at 1.30am.

It's not enough that I have to worry about my son's health, but I also now have to defend his use of the health service. I am no longer shocked when I see that patient respect is non existent, I've been desensitized so much over the last 5 years. However, I was shocked to see the complete erosion of respect for the professionalism of health care workers. Paediatric nurses are highly trained busy professionals, they are overworked and often abused by the public. They now have to take abuse from Muppets at the end of a phone who are abusing their power.

I don't know about you, but I've just about had enough.


Sharon said...

Oh, I am so sorry that you have to put up with this. It is awful.
What kind of training to these people have that makes them think it's OK to speak like this?
You have made several important points in this post, each of which would take very little to address and all of which would lessen the stress families like yours have to suffer. Don't they know how hard it is already seeing your son so ill?

How is Rory now?
Hugs to you all.

AnnB said...

Thanks Sharon, mercifully Rory made a full recovery and we got home yesterday. Unfortunately, another small glitch has come up and we have to go back tomorrow. Never a dull moment.

steph said...


I'm so sorry to come to this late. Thankfully the outcome for Rory is good. You must be so exhausted and yet I see you're heading back to Temple St today.

Having had a child that needed numerous emergency admissions to Temple St, I can really appreciate the urgency of your situation which is of course, multiplied tenfold by your need to safeguard a very precious kidney plus the long journey you must travel. It's really good to hear that you have good telephone support available from both hospitals.

I'm horrified but not surprised to hear of your experience on Friday night. The treatment received in an emergency, really is the luck of the draw. How well I know that feeling of longing to be back under the care of people familiar with your case. I'm sure Rory must heave a sigh of relief as well when he sees the familiar faces and surroundings of Temple St.

Whatever about the failure to cannulate Rory in Galway, the reaction from the ambulance controller was disgraceful. I blame Harney and her shower in the HSE entirely for this. It's patently obvious that cutbacks feature more highly than patient's lives. You were very right to take the situation into your own hands and fast-track yourselves to Dublin.

The saving grace in all of this, is you and your instinctive knowledge of your son. Never underestimate the power of your waters!

I hope today goes well at the hospital and that you and Rory are back on track again shortly.


AnnB said...

Thanks for your kind words Steph. We arrived home again today and I'm punch drunk! We spent yesterday between Crumlin and Temple St . All's well, and I'm happy to report that I was met with nothing but kindness, professionalism and very humbling compassion in both places. When our health system works, it works very well. But Shussh! don't tell Mary Harney or she may try to make us pay for kindness and compassion.

Looking for Blue Sky said...

Why is it so often A&E that fails us all? Just when people are at they're most vulnerable and desperate. Glad it was all sorted in the end though x