F***** on Friday

Feeble actually. Feeble every day, although my fit un-feeble appearance is proving to be a disadvantage.

Tuesday it was back to the hospital. No wonder they have long waiting lists the amount of time they are spending on me.

Patient transport due at 10am. They usually arrive early. I was dutifully waiting from 9.45. Partner had opened the front doors to the block and was standing on the landing with the wriggling rat in his arms.

After five minutes of perching on the sofa arm, zimmer frame at the ready like the start of the OAP Olympics, I told him to come back in, and I flopped down on the sofa. He returned to the sensible tactic of looking out of the window. Just as well, they didn’t arrive until gone ten.

Appointment No 1

I was a few minutes late for the appointment, but time is not of the essence in the orthopod outpatient clinic.

Porter took me to the desk. There was no-one there.

‘I’ll tell them who I am when they return,’ I said. Helpfully. Which was what I’d done last time.

‘I can’t leave you here. I need to take you to the waiting area.’

Um. That would be why I’d spent two hours in the corridor by the desk the last time. As did the other wheelchair inhabitant in front of me in the queue.

He walked behind the desk, and looked at the computer.

‘What’s your name?’

But as he started to key me in, one of my super nurses (N1) shot out and beamed at me.

‘Hello darling. I’ll take you in right now.’ And she airily dismissed the porter. ‘I don’t want to keep you waiting.’

Why not? That’s what we all expect in hospital. However, in we flew to the plaster room for her to examine my dubious non-healing scar.

Not only that, but the nurse (N2) I’d seen before appeared. Two nurses? I was feeling like royalty.

‘Did you have a swab last time?’

Oh, so that’s what you were doing.

‘Yes.’ Why is it up to me to tell them about something I didn’t even know had been done? Fat lot of use it was because N1 and N2 agreed the results wouldn’t be back over the long weekend.

Much peering and muttering over scars. Much daubing of various liquids all over it. Cream rubbed into remains of blisters. More mutterings, this time about what they were running out of, and someone needed to put in an order. That might explain why I had two short plasters over one scar when I’d had a long one before.

‘Fragile skin,’ said N1 as she applied magical potions to one scar. There was more debate about whether or not to apply a plaster to the not-so-bad side.

‘It didn’t have one before.’ (They’d obviously forgotten that so I helped them out)


They clearly wanted to cover it. ‘The splint pulled off some of my fragile skin,’ I said sadly.

That sealed it. Plaster slapped on in no time. Just as well I took the gory pix last week. (see below)

And then, she wanted me back again on Friday. What is this? Three visits in a week? Thursday, Tuesday and Friday. I sighed.

I asked for a prescription for more painkillers, just in case. No doctors around. My consultant was in theatre and he didn’t know my medical history, I would need to go to my GP, she said.

What medical history in Gib? What GP? No idea who has been nominally allocated to me as I’ve never been. And how do I get to the health centre?

But as luck had it, on my way out, who should appear but the nice doctor who had been subjected by me to the Gibraltarian Inquisition over the patient consent form before my op, and a prescription was duly dished out. Charges here are £2.50, and this covered a month’s supply. The only drugs I have bought recently have been for my dog, and a month of painkillers for him costs €54.

[For captions for all photos, please click on piccies]

A mere two day’s respite and I was off again. This time with a 9.30 appointment, PTS due at 9.00. I set the alarm for 6.30. It takes me so long to get moving that I had visions of being half asleep when they turned up.

Partner groaned as he struggled out of bed to take the dogs around the block. I lay on the sofa like the limp rag I now am.

I was puzzled. PTS work from 9-5 so how could they get to work for 9, pick up an ambulance and be with me for the same time? In any event I was ready early.

They came just after 9am.

The service has a fine chair on caterpillar tracks that trundles up and down the stairs merrily. They guide it rather than carry it. I listened to the two staff arguing about the merits – or otherwise – of this chair which they were using.

‘I don’t want a bad back,’ said the younger one. ‘Why carry someone when we have this chair?’

‘I don’t have a bad back,’ said the older one smugly. ‘It’s a smoother journey for the patient to carry them down.’

Personally I think I might have more experience of bring carried, and I don’t really care how they do it. But if I was them, I’d use the fancy chair.

Appointment No 2

I was rushed in, up to orthopaedics, and arrived a good ten minutes early.

Receptionist beamed. ‘There’s someone in, but you’ll be next.’

And just like last time, one of the nurses (nurse 2) walked up, saw me, beamed and said, ‘I’ll take you straight in. We don’t like to keep you waiting.’

The only reason for this strange priority treatment that I can think of, is that they give wheelchair patients priority?

All seemed to be going well. No mention was made of the swab. I didn’t mention it either. As she peeled off one of the plasters something resembling a mutant spider fell out.

‘That’s a scab that was due to come off,’ she said cheerfully.

‘Please don’t tell me, I’d rather not know.’ Patient information is all well and good when I need to make decisions but the detail of scabby wounds is a little too much.

Long pause while she decided how to dress this lot. She wanted to leave the blister area free so I could keep applying silver sulfadiazene, but she didn’t want to put adhesive plasters on my fragile skin.

The nurse’s dilemma. What to do?

Silver whatsit bit the dust. Everything was slaked in antiseptic liquid and disinfectant (no, not domestos), gauze dressings applied to both scars, and a light breathable bandage wrapped around to secure it. It looks like a very neat little footless sock.

We admired her work.

‘Monday,’ she pronounced. Oh no.’But I’m coming on Thursday. Do I really need to?’

The secret plan of course, is to shuffle down the stairs on my backside, hopefully clamber into the Landy, and see if we still have a house – preferably with electricity connected – in Spain. It didn’t seem smart to admit this. Monday did not fit with my plan. At all.

Kind nurse thought about it. I mean they are busy. Why the need to see me twice a week disrupting my idle sofa life? Or my escape to Spain?

‘Well, I’m quite happy with it, I suppose we can wait until Thursday. But you MUST come in if you have any worries. Any day, any time.’

Sweetheart, I’m more worried about my finca right now. And as I can’t see the dressings or scars, I’m not sure what would alert me to a problem. I promised faithfully. We beamed at each other.

‘Have a lovely weekend darling,’ she said, pushing me back to reception to wait for a porter.

‘You too, you deserve it,’ I replied.

‘And we’ll see you on Thursday. Don’t forget, any problems, come straight here.’

Those sort of comments could be quite worrying. You don’t get priority treatment in clinics unless you are a serious case. There are probably red alerts next to my name on the computer.

But we’ll see what Mr Doom and Gloom surgeon has to say on Thursday.

I waited for return transport and got the same couple who managed to argue about whether to use the fancy chair again, or carry me up. Mr Old Habits Die Hard won this time and I was carried up.


Once on the landing, I struggled to get off the – low – carry chair to stand up on one leg and grab the walking frame. Partner, holding dog in arms, gave me one arm, while youthful ambulance man gave me the other.

Seeing me get up, mainly using Partner’s very strong tree trunk arm, the youthful one let go and I nearly toppled. Mr Old Habits promptly stuck his hand in the middle of my back to support and straighten me. Perhaps the old ones are the best ones?

The problem is, that I do not look like a frail old woman. Tall and slim, long brown hair with so little grey it isn’t worth getting out the magnifying glass, and people think – she looks fit, she isn’t old – she can cope.

Mr Old Habits had learned though, from a previous trip when he wanted me to climb in the ambulance up three steps. I can not sit on a step and push myself up on one leg. Simple as that. I need someone to give me support, and that means full body weight. I’ve met two good people who have done that well since the accident. One Spanish cleaner, and Mr Old Habits. The other one is Partner, who provides fantastic physical support.

If health service staff are to be put in a position of physically supporting patients they should receive decent training to be able to do so. Because the amount of wimpy arms that I’ve received have been worse than a limp handshake. If I’d put my weight on them we would have crashed down like dominoes. This isn’t about just needing balance. This is about taking weight when I don’t have sufficient strength.

Chatting to one of our neighbours, Partner mentioned I couldn’t use the wobbly crutches with my wobbly leg.

‘Och,’ (she’s Scottish), ‘neither could I. I had to get around the flat on my backside when I had a bad leg.’

And then, the inevitable, ‘But she looks so fit, and so do you.’

Dismissively Partner explained, ‘She worked in an office. The heaviest thing she had to lift was her pen. She didn’t work in construction. She’s got no upper body strength.’ Got to love a man like that. True though.

So never think someone is as fit or as young as they look. They could be feeble and fragile like me.

If anyone doesn’t know, Phil and Leti became King and Queen of Spain, so now everything in the Spanish garden will be rosy. Hopefully I’ll hear what my Spanish neighbours have to say about that.



97 comments on “F***** on Friday

  1. This is unbelievable. Maybe they are doing their best, but the Gibraltarian health service doesn’t inspire confidence. It seems to be taking such a long time to cure your injury, you must be fed up to the back teeth.


    • Now, let’s be fair. One, I had a complicated nasty fracture. Two, they couldn’t operate for two weeks due to fracture blisters which cause infection if you operate and/or incise in that cite. Three, post-op I think they are trying to take good care of me and ensure any problems are minimised.

      Post-op infections in the UK are frequent. I know, I had two.

      The issue about Gib, rather than my specific care, is that it is so small they can’t afford the specialisation of big UK hospitals. That’s always a worry, but it applies anywhere. But there is less pressure here, and more time for patients, very regular and good in-house cleaning, and very thorough nursing care. Only time will tell how successful it has been. Broken ankles don’t heal in a few weeks. Sprained ones don’t.

      Sorry if my post came across as critical. It was meant to be objective. Don’t forget I’m writing from the perspective of a former NHS manager, so I’m almost standing aside, writing my patient report. Maybe I’ll write a final score when I get discharged. It’s certainly hovering around 3.5 to 4 right now for an overall report.

      They can’t hurry it along. As other commenters have written, it takes time and patience.


  2. They seem to be distinctly thorough…but I can understand you wanting to make a run for it to the finca!
    I was lucky enough to have the strength to haul myself up and down stairs when I had a broken leg – and a fine mess the French Health service made of that – but how you cope with having to have constant support I do not know.

    Part of Leo’s illness is that if he closes his eyes he cannot balance.
    On one occasion in a French hospital a specialist – a tiny woman – decided to demonstrate this to her students.
    But I will fall…said Leo
    I will catch you, she said.
    He closed his eyes, fell, and she went down like a house of cards.
    It amused her students as they hauled Leo off her and put him back in a chair…she had a rather more regally Victorian attitude to it all…


    • I don’t mind the thoroughness. Never had it in the UK, and to be fair, not a surly person yet. But it’s all very civilised. And of course everyone sees someone they know in the corridor – even I’ve seen the odd few people I know to speak to. It’s quite the social club.

      I could only manage a staircase with rails either side, and it would be a struggle. I tell you. Crutches – no way.

      I am bemused why someone who has not lived in my body – or Leo’s – thinks they know how to cope with it better. I know my limitations, they don’t. I empathise with Leo. Being asked to hop out of the ambulance sent technicolour images of me sprawled in the road as I toppled. I hope he was all right after that incident. As all right as you would be.


  3. I would definitely say Uch rather than Och.

    I would put out a wimpy arm, and brace against whatever weight you place on it. If I try to make my arm firm, I have to lock the muscles against each other, so that I did not have the strength left to support you. I would also seek to do it unconsciously, as autonomic brain structures are better at that job than my conscious thought.


  4. Mm… looks like it’s healing now at least. But, it is taking its time. Dear me, what a ride you’ve been in. The escalator thingy sounds good, though. ;) Hope you have a full recovery.

    Besides, as you are, you’re too much of a challenge for poor smeagol. :D Dangerous dogses get in the way. Good smeagol wait until gibetses gets better, fogets everything and takes nice stroll. Then smeagol will take care of gibetses… no more worries about legses and footses. Smeagol take care of neckses. Nice gibetses! Gollum. :D

    Oh, almost forgot… (Shut up gollum! Or I’ll throttle ye. :D ) Here’s the Turning the Tide post: http://kevs-domain.net/2014/06/21/turning-the-tide/


  5. So good that things are progressing well even if you’re none too keen about being reminded when dead spiders fall off.That the nurse would let you miss an appointment in your current state is to be taken as a good sign.
    Incidentally you’re right, wheelchair cases tend to be given priority except over emergency cases.
    Keep looking after yourself and enjoy the few days away.


    • Aw thanks David, that is so reassuring, and no, I haven’t looked at the laptop yet. Bad me.
      And thanks for the comment about wheelchairs. Apparently ward patients are high up the list too, presumably because they are pretty ill because they in-patients.
      Let’s hope it’s a relaxing few days without too many problems to sort. Thank you.


  6. Your experiences jive reasonably well with my own. While I know that there are jerks in all professions, including medicine, it also seems the case that if you show up on time, prepared, that things tend to go just fine. No doubt there will be exceptions from time to time–people do have bad days; mistakes are made sometimes–but that is what they are: exceptions.
    Glad to hear that things are going reasonably well. I believe that “progress” is something that you will now only see in hindsight. i do not believe that you’ll notice positive change from day to day, or maybe not even week to week. As you look back a month from now, though, I have no doubt that you will have reason to smile a bit.


    • Not much jiving going on here, I tell you!
      I’m impressed with the attitude of patients and staff. No-one complains about a long wait, or says ‘my appointment was for 11am and it’s now 1pm’ as happened to me.
      The appointment slip does say, please allow all morning. There’s no point hassling people. I take the point of view they do their job to the best of their ability, and an ortho clinic is a busy one.
      But why does no-one else take a book?
      As people say, it’s somewhat of a long haul. But if nothing else, I’m in far less pain than when I fell over. State health care is wonderful when you need it :)


  7. Those are several visits for the doctor. At least there is PTS. Here if you have to do those many hospital visits, you are on your own and sometimes the wait can be annoying.
    I wish you well.


  8. I am certainly glad I was not in Gib when I was rushed to hospital,,, however it would have made good reading I suppose… Maybe their policy is to let people know – Never Break Ones Ankle- are the nurses making a student learning film of this, it looks and sounds as though it would be perfect for training…
    Can I assume that you are getting better though it be very very very very slooowww…. ;) good luck!


    • They ship people out to Algeciras and if you are really bad it’s Madrid or London.

      Hmm training. One nurse who put on a cast had a trainee or something with her and explained all the way through. Really interesting, seriously. I think I could do it now!
      I did get videoed when I was first picked up after the accident. No idea whats happened to that. I doubt I looked my best on camera.
      I hope I am getting better. I need the experts to tell me thatvone though. Thanks.


    • Dohn, I never thought of that. I’m not making use of pharma drugs but I’d forgotten about the others.

      Using body oil for dry skin – sesame seed oil plus organic essentials – but not thought of anything to aid internal healing. I’m in Spain and my herb etc book is in Gib, will look on return. I’ve got a good food book here about vitamins, minerals etc so will be checking that today. If you have any suggestions I’d be more than grateful. Thank you for such a helpful comment.


      • Thanks to earthstonestation for bringing herbal medicine to the forefront. When I had a terrible gunshot wound in my foot years ago that took many surgeries, and casts, and 18 months of healing, I learned the value of herbal medicine use for healing. In 2011 I had a stress fractured foot in that was nowhere near as bad as what you are going through but it was pretty bad. So once again I used herbal medicine and specifically, I applied Comfrey AKA Boneknit and Plantain poultices every day to reduce inflammation and pain, and to speed healing. Do some googling and you will find all the information your need on this.

        Using crutches was out of the question in the second fractured foot case – my wrists couldn’t take it. Using a cane was an awkward way to go without having another person to assist. I had hubby roll up the area carpets in our house. Then I spent a lot of time indoors where our floors are hardwood and ceramic tile scooting around on my butt.

        re: And then, the inevitable, ‘But she looks so fit, and so do you.’

        Looks are so deceiving and I prefer not to discuss my health with anyone isn’t very, very close to me. I’m usually independent and mobile, but sometimes that’s not the case, and hubby isn’t always with me as his position requires travel. I do plan most of my outings well in advance but from time to time in medical offices and labs or hospitals (horrors!) I have to reveal to other patients or orderlies that I am a disabled person with invisible disabilities who needs help. Then I have to nod and smile when the well intended: “You look so healthy and young for your age.” remarks are delivered. One day I may summon the courage to say:”Thanks, but in truth, my health is fragile and I’m soon to become a senior.” At this stage of my life the loss of face involved isn’t one I’m ready for.


        • I think you’ve discussed a fair amount on here with people you don’t know! I just scooted up the stairs buttwise, got into the flat, and finally heaved myself onto the sofa. When Partner came in, I was calmly lying on the sofa with a glass of cava for my birthday. I was quite pleased with myself.

          I’ve used comfrey in the past, but can’t right now due to the wounds.

          I totally get you on the wrists. My left one is even worse now as I have been doing more with it at the finca. I’ve resorted to crepe bandage again.

          Age, ageing and injuries …


        • Thanks Dohn. Been offline a few days but will be looking that up. Thank you for taking the time to find it. I’ll take any help offered. And indeed, time does help, I don’t lack patience. For the most part. Gracias amigo.


  9. Hey … they seem to be very thorough and that’s great! Can’t be too careful about those infections. Don’t know what the triage rules are there, but wheelchairs may be way up there on the list.

    If it had been me; people would have made the same judgement, except for the fact my hair is rather short right now :)

    Hang in there, you’ll be just fine! :)


    • I think they are thorough, I agree, it’s good, if somewhat disruptive. But they want me to get better. I want to get better.

      We’re appt based but the tiny appt sheet says other cases may take priority ..,

      I’ve had the appearance judgement all my life. Just a pain when I’m really without sufficient strength to do anything. Thank goodness for my strong partner who knows how to lift.


  10. Whew! Exhausted from all your efforts. Actually glad they are keeping a close eye on you – slow healing wounds (and this was a nasty complicated break) are at risk for infection ( as well as being as annoying as all heck when you are used to being active….just don’t heal as fast as we used to. Herbal treatments definitely worth looking into. Great idea)
    Those stair climbing chairs are fascinating – have seen some here.(mechanical oddities intrigue me – want to see how they work. Robots – if only I was younger and looking for a trade/ field for a career)
    Glad you are having a change of scenery. (cheers in hope for new King – at least they had a modest celebration)
    More later, US soccer game over, dinner to be fixed and grumpy person in pain
    Smiles to ya until more time


    • I’m even more exhausted after a weekend in Spain. More space to hop around, greater distances, new routes to negotiate.

      Chairs are redundant say I after scooting up and down 20 steps on backside. A new cheap way to transport immobile patients. Just keep those stairs clean, please?

      Smiles accepted graciously. I sound like RC or Rey Felipe. Hope you are out of pain sooner than I am.


  11. Regardless or how you look or what preferences are surely there is a process in place to assess needs and provide accordingly. But, pleased to see via the comments you staged an escape. My suggestion for natural remedies is to look into arnica, spray or pollutes, not topical (on broken skin) to assist deep tissue healing and bruising.


    • I think the processes are in place, but that doesn’t account for individual assumptions, even despite training.

      The escape was good. Too short though.

      I used to use arnica. Right now I can’t use anything topical due to risk of infection :( with time, hopefully I can use some natural healing remedies.


      • Breaks away, as opposed to time taken for recovery from something broken, are always too short.
        Arnica can also be administered under the tongue via spray or pollutes.


        • Breaks away take a couple of days to get into. And then it is time to come back just when you have started to enjoy yourself. I wanted to have lunch, take a siesta, and enjoy the evening. Not hit the road.

          I’ve never seen arnica like that. You Aussies are too advanced for me!


  12. I’ve learned, since becoming a little old lady, that one of the advantages to getting old is that people run to help. I was the only one who got my heavy tackle carried up the hills by staff when I went zip lining with friends. People now offer me their seats on buses and subway. I don’t have grey hair either (not color, just good hair genes) — maybe its the “little.”


    • Ah. The little woman thing. I’ve seen that and been had by that so many times. At 5′ 9″ I really can’t play that card. No-one has ever offered me a seat. Older men than me let me on first, but that’s chivalry rather than anything else. Society. Weird.


  13. Goodness you’ve been through it. That blistered skin takes a while to heal. Do you want some more books? I have got a few that a friend gave me and I’ve ploughed through them if you want new material….? Also you are spot on about not looking at someone and thinking, ‘oh yeah, they are young they can deal with x..y..z..’ As someone with rods and screws in their spine I get people glaring at me all the time when I refuse to tackle the back of the bus, pick up heavy items, or suddenly have to stop walking because my spine jars. Grey free hair doesn’t equal perfect health. (It equals Nice n’ Easy, in my case!)


    • I’m just writing it all out before I forget. Books? Silly question. Oh yes please. Can swap if you let me know what you like. Meet Adrian at VC or outside our block whenever you like.

      I’ve felt ropey on the bus sometimes and just hate all the school kids hogging all the front seats. My pet peeve. A avoids the buses with them on. Nightmare to carry shopping and go to the back of the bus.

      I used to use Lite n Brite. Or some such. Thirty odd years ago though :D I’m totally wysiwyg now.


  14. Just catching up – had to laugh when I saw your asterisks – took it quite personally – but sending sympathies as to your ongoing plight. Wimbledon’s started here so likely to be blog-tardy for a fortnight.


    • It was F for feeble :) so don’t take it personally. I’ve never really Wimbledoned much after the days of Evert, Connors, Nastase etc. I did like Roscoe Tanner too. Drool. I’ve watched the odd match since but not with the same enthusiasm. Like any sport, once you stop, it’s not quite the same. But do enjoy. Wimbledon was one reason my husband threatened to buy a TV for to keep me happy!


  15. Yuck…that’s enough hospital stuff already. We’ll we having posts on visits to the gynae next…sheesh!. You’re getting better. Good. That’s all that counts.

    Please put up a ‘Subscribe to this blog’ Widget, thingy.
    I don’t always visit my ‘Reader’ page and don’t get email notifications when you post.


  16. Bloody ‘ell…..I’m way behind with your posts, had no idea you were in hospital,…..we were only reminiscing about the NHS from the manager careers angle recently! take care and hope you heal a bit quicker from now on x


  17. For some strange reason, your blog has an aversion to Opera users – it simply refuses to accept comments from that platform. I had to switch to Firefox for this to take.
    You still seem to be well inside the forest alongside an extended blackboard writer – that is, not out of the woods by a long chalk!


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