So we are so looking forward to heading out to NYC to see our lovely daughter & son-in-law and beautiful young grandsons. We’ve both been busy as hell these last few weeks in preparation but these last few days have been quite a challenge on the patience front. And it’s also been quite a while since I’ve regaled you with one of those it-can-only-happen-to-me stories about my creaking body. Hey ho here we go again…
We were having a lovely dinner at our place last Sunday with Ems, Steph and the lads. I’d finished cooking everything and was slightly behind everyone tucking in to my roast chicken and vegetables when with my first bite of chicken I swallowed a bone which lodged in my throat. Oh bugger. It wasn’t making me choke but it was horribly uncomfortable. The guys checked the internet and advised chewing on some dry bread and drinking some Coca Cola to try and dislodge it. Neither worked so I thought that making myself sick might help to dislodge it from the opposite direction. Up to the bathroom and did my best but it still didn’t work. Oh FFS. There was no alternative really but to head off to A&E at Horton hospital over in Banbury. Carol stayed with the boys whilst Emma and Steph drove me over and stayed with me. It was about 6.30pm when we registered in. I saw a treage nurse relatively quickly who simply asked me if I could breathe. Yes I said as I’m doing that through my nose. Ok go back and sit down she said, it’ll be 2 hours plus till you’re seen. What? I’ve got a chicken bone stuck in my throat – isn’t that kind of important to sort out before I choke? She looked at me as if I was a complete nancy boy and explained that there were several more urgent cases ahead of me including some children. OK fair enough. But after returning to my seat I checked out the room and there were a few people in there ahead of me granted including some kids but I didn’t see anybody in obvious distress but you cannot really tell can you. I told E & S about the likely timings. St still had to get grandson Sammy back to his home in Stratford about 45 mins away (and that’s after returning my car to Brackley and collecting Sam of course) so it made sense for him to head off. With luck he could collect us on the return journey. Ems stayed to keep my company.
A couple of hours passed and more people arrived. Meanwhile my throat was getting increasingly uncomfortable and swollen and I was having real difficulty swallowing. It’s quite tough to remain calm when it feels like you’re slowly being throttled. Steph returned and with no end in sight decided to pop back to Buckingham – at least another 40 mins away in the other direction – to go and get some pj’s, toiletries and clothes for the morning for young G to allow him to stay at our place.
One pretty old lady just had enough of the wait, put on her woolly hat and headed home. Bless her. It became clear to Ems and I that people who had a moan at the receptionist suddenly got seen more quickly – including several people who arrived after us. So Ems had a chat and the receptionist said she’d get the nurse to re-treage me. But 4 more people arrived and she didn’t call me back in . So I went and had a word and told her my condition was getting quite painful. Lo and behold she went into the treatment area and returned to say I would be next to be called in. Thank goodness.
As it happened two people were called in before me, sigh. But then I got the call thank fuck. The doctor examined my throat but couldn’t see anything as the bone was too far down so she asked me to have an x-ray. More waiting till I was called in there. The radiographer asked me to stand sideways on for the image. I said to him wouldn’t it be better to take it from the front as the bone felt like it was right on the front of my throat. No he said it’ll never show up with my spine in the background. OK you know best. Another 45 minutes later I was called back into to see the doctor, who promptly told me the X-ray image hadn’t been able to show anything. I told her the radiographer was about as convincing as a Labour Party broadband pledge and she just smiled. We had a bit of a chat and this was the situation. She didn’t have the equipment nor the expertise to do a down-the-throat procedure. They did have the kit at the Radcliffe hospital over in Oxford but the night registrar wasn’t confident about doing the procedure either – it normally requires a team to handle it. On top of that, and thanks to the murky X-ray, it wasn’t clear if it should be an EN&T procedure (ie the airways) or a food pipe procedure. I wasn’t really bothered who dealt with it as long as someone put a probe down my throat to remove the bloody stuck bone. She said the best thing to do was to have a procedure in the theatre at Horton in the morning – she’d schedule me in. I could either be admitted or spend the night at home and return first thing in the morning. I decided to do the latter having spent a Sunday night in hospital before and always been allocated next to the person with uncontrollable bowel movements.
So 4 hours after entering A&E the guys took me home and dropped me off before heading home themselves. I wasn’t able to sleep much as my throat was really sore and swallowing was incredibly painful. Next morning Carol and I got away early and we were first to check into the day ward at the Horton hospital at about 8am. I was eventually checked in and seen by a very lovely nurse who did my bloods etc. It took a while before I was seen by the equally lovely and very considerate registrar who immediately determined that I definitely needed a procedure (thank you baby Jesus) and she got me a slot within the endoscopy unit although I was about 4th in line to be taken into the theatre. I saw Carol and suggested she head home as I was in for another wait and headed into the End’y unit to wait my turn.
It took about 3 hours before I was called in. I’ve had several probes up the other end thanks to my cancer treatment but none down the throat. Because they were going to do clean-up work I had to have sedatives. I didn’t care as long as they got the thing out – my immediate thought would be that they’d just hook it out and pull it out through my mouth. No, no fishing. They sent a thing like a toilet brush down my throat and proceeded to scour the bone out. Not pleasant but never mind. We are pretty sure we haven’t perforated your throat and the remains are almost heading for your stomach the main doctor said. You may have a lot of discomfort, particularly in the stomach, for a while. Well it can’t be worse than I’ve been experiencing the last 24 hours I figured. I needed to rest up and await my drugs. Carol had arrived in the meantime. It shouldn’t take too long we thought. Nearly two hours later and 8 hours after we arrived that morning we headed home.
So that was 12 hours at the Horton extracting a bloody chicken bone but at least it was out, or at least somewhere in my already delicate colon area.
I thought that might be it but over the course of the next three days I got steadily more unwell. My throat remained incredibly sore and I was producing unconscionable amounts of phlegmy saliva and which I couldn’t shift. Concerned that we were due to fly out to the USA in a few days time the last thing I needed was a massive infection to have to deal with. So I headed up to the walk-in centre at our doctors and after a two and a half hour wait saw the GP. She was very nice but concerned about how stressed I was feeling. Well a little bit I said but I’m more concerned about getting this infection sorted out. Can you give me some anti-biotics please because I don’t want to have to buy them in Manhattan. I don’t think you have an infection she replied. Your throat’s experiencing serious trauma and you’re drawing up phlegm from your stomach. A course of Gaviscon should sort it. Eh? So no anti-biotics? No. Time spent there 3 hours. Sigh.
I trundled off to the chemists to get the bloody stuff and got some soluble paracetamol too. I tried the stuff twice and it was useless and pretty manky to taste. I always remember that my great dentist mate Pete tells me to gargle in strong salt water to help cure mouth soreness. So that’s what I’ve been doing 3 times a day along with the paracetamol for two days. And after 4 nights without any sleep it’s at last starting to ease. But that’s not the end of our NHS waiting saga because yesterday Carol had her pre-op consultation for her 3rd knee operation over at the Nuffield in Oxford. As ever it was a drawn out affair waiting forever to see the various essential folk as well as the consultant (or the registrar in fact). We had to leave before the X-ray and will return for that. Time spent hanging around – 3 hours. But at least it was a very positive review.
Now not counting travel/parking time etc (add 6 hours for that) I’ve spent a total of 18 hours this week waiting around various NHS centres. I’m lucky enough to get that bloody bone removed (even if it was extremely uncomfortable) and met some very nice and dedicated staff. But I’ve felt a lot of frustration waiting to get some relief from a fair bit of pain and a lot of discomfort. And ultimately I’ve had to self-medicate to get things cleared up. It kind of sums up the NHS for me; much that is great but some awful procedural issues.
Well we’re off to NYC tomorrow. If I don’t see the inside of another hospital, clinic, surgery, pharmacy for at least 8 days I’ll be incredibly grateful, happy and relieved.
pasta always a drama paulie