This week on Monday (it really was blue Monday for me!) I underwent surgery on my leg, as I have suffered with painful varicose veins for the past six years. I wanted to tell you about my experience and why I think we should be so proud of our NHS. We often hear so many negative comments about the NHS, but I want to remind us all that despite the ever increasing challenges and pressures on the NHS, we have something very special here in the UK.
As you know I’m a registered nurse and have worked in the medical sector for the past 21 years. However 6 years ago when I gave birth to my Daughter, I had an awful traumatic birth which wasn’t helped by the care (more like lack of care) that I received in a certain London hospital. My experience was so bad that I wrote an official complaint to the NHS Trust in question, this in turn lead to the member staff concerned being unable to work in that Trust again.
The whole experience left me wondering what had happened to the NHS that I know and had loved? The place where I have spent much of my adult life working, it even made me question my career choice. However, my experience this week as a patient has left me with a new view point. I now once again feel proud to be part of the nursing profession and I can tell you that there are still nurses who do care and know how to really get down on a patient’s level.
I have needed varicose vein surgery since 2016, but essentially I have been putting off having the treatment, because in reality I was so terrified to put my life in the hands of health professionals again! To cut a long story short the first time my surgery was booked, unfortunately the hospital had to cancel it. The second time it was booked I cancelled it, because I was having mental health issues with anxiety so bad that I couldn’t face it. So it was third time lucky!
Warning – there is a graphic picture of my bruised leg below!
Anyway, the point I want to make is that my Daughter’s birth was just one bad experience and this time (obviously I was not giving birth, more having an uncomplicated procedure) at Charing Cross Hospital – part of Imperial Healthcare. I was treated with dignity and respect. I was very nervous about having a general anesthetic, but everything was explained to me and it was the little things the nurses, doctors and other members of the team did that made me feel cared for.
So now the surgery is done I feel like a weight has been lifted from me. My leg as you can see doesn’t look very pretty, I had what is known as a ultrasonography guided percutaneous radiofrequency ablation of the long saphenous vein. I am still finding it very uncomfortable to walk and sleep at night, as the bruising can get worse before it improves. However I am back at work and trying to get on with things, I’m just a bit slower than usual.
I have found a new prospective of both hospitals and medical care. I also think being a patient myself again has reminded me what is really important in nursing and that really it is the basics. As cheesy as it sounds it’s the human touch and the reassuring words that make all the difference. I was so lucky to have a lovely recovery nurse looking after me when I woke up from the general anesthetic. I remember her looking at me and making direct eye contact. She spoke softy and was reassuring, she didn’t rush me and I felt heard when I said I was in pain and very cold. She held a cup of water for me so I could drink small sips and made sure I had an extra blanket.
To practice as a Registered Nurse in the UK you must be a member of the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) and you must uphold the code of conduct. I have just pulled out the very first part of the code for you to read, as for me this part really stands out, but every single part of it is really important too. You can read the full code on the NMC Website.
“You put the interests of people using or needing nursing or midwifery services first. You make their care and safety your main concern and make sure that their dignity is preserved and their needs are recognised, assessed and responded to. You make sure that those receiving care are treated with respect, that their rights are upheld and that any discriminatory attitudes and behaviours towards those receiving care are challenged”.
“1 Treat people as individuals and uphold their dignity
To achieve this, you must:
1.1 treat people with kindness, respect and compassion
1.2 make sure you deliver the fundamentals of care effectively
1.3 avoid making assumptions and recognise diversity and individual choice
1.4 make sure that any treatment, assistance or care for which you are responsible is delivered without undue delay
1.5 respect and uphold people’s human rights”
From the NMC Code of conduct – Publication date: 29 January 2015
Effective from: 31 March 2015
Updated to reflect the regulation of nursing associates: 10 October 2018
Finally, I want to thank every single member of staff at Charing Hospital for their care (I doubt any of them will read this), this post is for their hard work and dedication. From the lady on the ward who brought me a cup of tea up to the Consultant Vascular Surgeon who performed my operation. I thank you for your care and consideration.