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Being a Patient: The Real Side of the Story

As some of you know, a couple of weeks ago I had an unexpected battle with a metal trolley which resulted in a rather nasty cut to my thumb.  I was just getting my room ready between patients and the new trolley, which had been sitting there for a few weeks, still had it’s plastic, protective coating on it.  I decided, with the 5 minutes I had,  to “quickly” take it off so it was ready to use….. How many times do I attempt to do things “quickly” and I end up opening up a whole can of worms?  Well on this occasion,  it was my thumb that opened up along with a rather large cut and sent me to the Minor Injuries Unit (MIU) and effectively stopped me seeing patients for 2 weeks.  Doh.

How very darn annoying the whole thing was.  This is my careful, family friendly language!

As always,  there are life lessons in everything.  Once the shock settled (wowsers, adrenaline is a powerful hormone!),  I ended up learning a lot from the whole experience and I shall tell you what now (so you don’t think I’m even more odd than you do!).

Firstly,  injuries always happen when you least expect them and generally when it is most inconvenient!  Have you noticed that too?  There in lies a massive piece of psychology that can prolong our recovery as we battle with being so cross it happened in the first place.  The quicker you accept the situation you are in now,  the better.  Acceptance itself is so important for being able to positively move forward from any situation because until you do accept what has happened and where you are you stay stuck or making bad choices about stuff.

Secondly,  I had only been saying the day before how everything had got so busy again and I was totally over doing it at work… again.  My energy levels are precarious at the best of times as I,  like most of you guys,  struggle to maintain this often mythical idea of balance in my life whilst juggling lots of responsibilities!  So,  the universe stepped in and made me stop.  Perhaps this is a somewhat fatalistic way to view things,  but,  for me it helps me accept my current situation with much better grace than I would have a few years back.  The same thing happened last year but this time it was meningitis!  I had to stop and listen to my body and look after myself.  It was enforced.  It was taken out of my hands albeit in a rather dramatic way!

Thirdly,  I ended up feeling incredible grateful!  How very odd you may think.  Grateful for slicing your thumb open and losing the sensation in it? Actually I was so grateful that it wasn’t worse.  I could have severed my tendon which would have been a much longer recovery.  I was able to take a step back again and look at things from above instead of being stuck in it working away,  coping and not looking around me.  I got the opportunity to see loads of things that I wouldn’t have seen.  I covered front desk for 2 days and I have an even bigger respect and appreciation for what Sarah and Faye do.  The amount of things they juggle and hold on a daily basis is astounding.  It gave me the opportunity to think about how I can help make their roles easier and what could be done to support them better.  I was also super super grateful that it was me that it happened to and not one of our other team members or patients.  Finally I was grateful for the NHS and the fact I was treated so quickly and skilfully by the team at our local hospital.  Thank you.

Finally,  it is always good for a health professional to be a patient.  It gets us to remember what our patients feel when they come in to see us.  How scared,  vulnerable,  nervous, often terrified they are that something awful is going on and that the problem is far worse than it actually is.  I ended up asking some ridiculously embarrassing questions in the MIU which I berated myself for later.  Yes we all do it!  I was totally in shock and couldn’t think straight (at least that is my excuse!).

So,  my final thing to say is a massive thank you for all your well wishes and patience with my cancelled or re-arranged appointments.  I really appreciated it.  The kindness I see on a daily basis at the Hub makes my heart burst with joy.  Have a great week guys and if anything untoward does happen,  there is more often than not a positive spin we can put on it,  it just may take a little work in figuring out.