The Broken Leg Part 1 – From the other side –  What I have learnt.

For none regular readers of my blog,  I’m a occupational therapist who works for a mental health trust,  but i also have a disability – if you are interested to can read theses below post to give you an insight in to my life before this event.

A week in the life of an occupational therapist with a disability for OT week 2015

#otalk 14th October 2014 hemiplegia

occupational therapy professionals with a disability

What to call this blog, many titles have come to mind as I’m laid staring at a pink wall and clock that says the wrong time and date.

Among the ideas –

  • Thank you Apple watch
  • The waiting game
  • Mothers are the best
  • How small the world can become?
  • Communication feels like the hardest thing to do
  • Beep ………….beep ……………beep

 

But I settled with from the other side – what have I learnt.   As much I’m hating this experience I’m trying to find the positives.  I’m learning lots that hopefully will improve my practice and maybe that of the the odd blog reader.

What happened  – Sunday 20th Dec 2015 I was busy getting the house ready for hosting a party.  About 11am I was walking down the stairs with the washing when my right foot lost its footing about 4 steps from the bottom, the basket went forward and I went backwards, I heard a cracking sound as I lay there for few seconds to catch my breath, I know I had broken my leg.

My mobile phone was in the washing basket and had actually landed under the foot of the broken leg. Luckily I was wearing my apple watch.  I knew I needed to get the door open before an ambulance came.  My brother has a spare key so a tried him first however he did not answer.  My neighbour had a key, but she has just given birth to a little girl, using the ring feature on the apple watch, I rang her first to make sure she was in, and then some friends who live round the corner.

Whistled I waited for friends to arrive I rang the ambulance, again on the apple watch. I also tried to ring my mum but she was away at a friends, rang my dad to let him know, and then my brother rang me back.  My friends arrived and open the door, my brother shortly after.

Then we waited for the ambulance.  I’ve done a lot of waiting this week, but the three hours waiting laying on the stairs was the worst.  My friends and brother did their best to make me comfortable placing pillows under my head and back.  We tried to stand me twice but the pain was too much.  Laid there I was convinced I would be home in time for the party, (how silly that seems now) so instructed the boys to get the desserts out of the freezer, and told them where they could find something to eat, (I was nil by month of course).  Mum had also rang and set off on the just over 2 hours’ journey from her friend’s house to mine.  She arrived at my house at the exact time same time as the ambulance.

I need to praise the paramedic’s once they arrived. They were so patient and kind. I was in a difficult position on the stairs and had little strength left after supporting my self with my left leg for 3 hours.  They had great problem solving skills and used a slide sheet to move me up the stairs enough to stand on one leg and be move on to a stretcher.

At this point I’m still convinced I’ll be home for the party if not a bit late, so sent a message to everyone, saying I would let them know.

I don’t remember much once we hit the hospital, other than the x-ray showed I had fractured my tibia in several places and also broken bones in the ankle.  I was going to need an operation, they gave my drugs whilst they reset the ankle and then moved me to the ward.  I cancelled the party.

The waiting starts – Its difficult for me to write the next paragraphs, I work in and love what the NHS is, but unfortunately not all care is perfect, and when you’re on the receiving end even the smallest thing can be seen as so wrong and big.

Firstly, I have received some first class care, from a few staff members, these are the things they did that made the difference.

  • Told me their name. (more than once)
  • Stop for a brief chat.
  • Took their time when helping me move, wash or help use the toilet
  • Listen to me
  • Asked what I could do and what I needed help with.
  • Just pop their head in.
  • Told me everything they were about to do before they touch or moved me.
  • Gave me encouragement
  • Made sure things were put back in my reach before they left.
  • Asked if there was anything else they could do for me.

 

However unfortunately this was not always the case, the most frustrating was communication issues.

When I came on to the ward I was swabbed in the month and nose, no one told me why then at 2.30 in the morning I was woken and moved to a side room, told I had tested positive.  I had to ask for what.  MRSA was the answer. I was given stuff to wash with every day and told I would be re swabbed in 5 days,  by day 7 this had not happened,  I had to asked,  2 days later I had to ask for the result,  I was clear.

From admission I was nil by mouth waiting for an operation, however when the surgeon came round at 10.30 on day 2, I was told I would not be operated on that day.  However, this message did not seem to be passed on to the ward and I was not fed at lunch time, again I had to ask.  I ordered tea, but it never came.  The nil by month went on until day 8, having to remind people every day I was nil by mouth became frustrating, staff were often putting water within my reach and asking if I wanted lunch or not giving me any when I could have it. coupled with the problem of being told I was on/off the list for an operation. Sometimes the nursing staff informed me and offered food,  but often I had to ask.  On one occasion the nursing staff were told at 1pm,  but no one told me until 3.30pm.  I went without food and water unnecessarily many times.

Day 3 I heard the ward round outside my door but they never came in, I complained, but just felt like the buck was passed.  There was not enough time.

Lesson number 1 Not having enough time to communicate with your service user should never be an excuse, you might not have time but it’s likely that’s the one of a few things they do have.

The nil by month went on until day 8, having to remind people every day I was nil by mouth became frustrating, staff were often putting water within my reach and asking if I wanted lunch or not giving me any when I could have it.

I had some bad experiences will staff manually handling me.  Before the operation the leg was in a back slab, it was painful when moved and the heal rubbed constantly on the back slab, which kept me awake at night.

You learnt pressing the nurse call could mean anything from a 5 to 15 min wait, whilst it beeps continuously at you, the longest I waited was 25min.    On one occasion a staff member took the bed controls without me noticing or her saying anything, the bed was suddenly moved and I scream out in pain shouting, ‘let the patient use the controls’ –  she shouted back – ‘we never let the patient use the controls!!!!!!!!!!’  She also refused to use the glide sheet provided.

Lesson number 2 – The patient is the expert in how they feel and want to be treated.  Always inform the patient before doing anything around them, and if they can and it suits them let them have the control.

In part 2, I plan to explore, the therapy, how to be an occupational being in one room, the emotional roller-coaster and more waiting.

Published by otrach

Clinical Lead OT, working within acute and rehab mental health, 1/7th of the Otalk team. Lived experience of disability. All views expressed here are my own.

9 thoughts on “The Broken Leg Part 1 – From the other side –  What I have learnt.

  1. Brilliant rach, well done for making the best of a ad situation. All health professionals can learn from this. Mine lesson learned is asking the patient to control the bed, I frequently do it (telling them so first) but never thought ofpassing the control back, which is ultimately what we want patients to do with their rehab!

  2. So sorry Rachel to hear about your accident 😦 I really hope things have/are improving for you. Thinking of you Kat xx

  3. Like you I have recently experienced social care (on the other side) and while most people try hard. I think communication is a major issue and the other thing is if you don’t know how to do something don’t just blunder your way through it…get help and advice from those more experienced.
    Hope you heal soon.

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