Monday, July 23, 2007

What's With These Guys?

Sunday evening, I was making my way home from recording a podcast with Mucky Sarah, in London. I was rushing between the Jubilee Line and the Piccadilly Line, at Green Park station, trying to catch an earlier bus to Bracknell, at Hammersmith. Suddenly, my nose started bleeding. "Oh no, not again!" I thought. It was bleeding so profusely, that it quickly soaked the napkins I had with me. I started leaking blood onto the floor. A kind woman, passing by, gave me a tissue. I quickly decided that I couldn't travel like this and went upstairs, to the ticket sales window. There, I asked for help and a station security officer quickly came to my assistance.
After he took me into an office area, I asked him to call an ambulance. He was great and very helpful. By the time the ambulance crew arrived, I had been bleeding for about half an hour. Once I was in the ambulance, the crew considered which hospital to take me to. They wanted to take me to one that had an ENT specialist on duty. Ultimately, they decided to take me to Guy's and St. Thomas' Hospital. This is the same hospital that my good friend, Tom, went to, last year, when he broke his leg in a bicycle accident. Tom kept raving over this hospital, saying how great the treatment was which he received there. Thus, I was anticipating good treatment.
The ambulance crew were great...very caring, kind, and patient. They wheeled me into a treatment area in the Accident and Emergency (A & E) department, then left me. Eventually, a Scottish nurse turned up and attended to me. She had a great attitude and kept calling me "my darling." While I was waiting, some blood had congealed in my right nostril, which was causing me to feel very uncomfortable. The nurse tried to remove it, using a suction device. Subsequently, a German sounding doctor turned up. By this time, the bleeding seemed to have stopped. The doctor began interrogating me over the technique I had used to try to stop the bleeding. He asked me questions, then interrupted me while I was trying to answer. I didn't find him very helpful. He left, then a different nurse came in. This second nurse was a man. For some reason, I always feel funny in the presence of a male nurse. His name was Andy, or something like that, and I noticed he had a pink ID card. Andy was tall, slim, and had red hair.
There must have been a shift change, or something, because after Andy replaced the nice, Scottish nurse, a different doctor came in to see me. This doctor was female, short, but pretty. She looked to be of Indian, or Pakistani origin, young, possibly mid-twenties. After looking me over and asking me the same questions I had been asked half-a-dozen times already, she said she was going to check with the ENT specialist. She told me I could clean myself up at the sink in the examination area. While I was washing blood off my hands and arms, my nose started bleeding again, although very slowly. I laid back down on the gurney and waited.
Lady doctor came back and criticized me for holding a tissue to my nose. I pointed out that my nose had started bleeding again. She rejected my statement and said it wasn't bleeding, that the ENT wouldn't see me because it had stopped bleeding, and telling me that I should go home. A debate commenced in which she kept refuting my assertions. She spoke to me in a very patronizing and condescending manner, then told me that she was the medical expert. I told her that I had no confidence in her medical advice. This set her off and she accused me of being rude to her. I countered this by telling her that she was aggravating me. I told her she was talking rubbish and asked her to leave me alone, immediately. She finally left, but after a few minutes, Andy returned.
Andy asked how I was doing and I told him that my nose was bleeding again. He asked me if I wanted to see the doctor. I retorted that I didn't want to see, "that woman," again. Andy then took on an authoritarian tone, telling me "that lady" is a medical professional and that they (him and her) knew what they were talking about. I responded by repeating my accusation that she was talking rubbish. Andy then told me that the National Health Service (NHS) had a policy that they wouldn't treat patients who were rude. I told Andy that I wasn't being "rude," I just wasn't accepting being told that my nose wasn't bleeding anymore, when I could see and feel that it was. Andy's response was to act even more hostile, telling me that I wouldn't be treated, and that security would escort me from the building. By then, I had stood up again and, low and behold, my nose was bleeding. Lady doctor came back and I pointed out to the two of them how absurd it was to say my nose wasn't bleeding, even as I dripped blood all over their floor. I asked Andy how he could sleep at night, turning a bleeding patient out into the street, just to avoid admitting that I was right.
I have lived in Britain for over nine years, now. I have had numerous encounters with the NHS, in that time. This was, by far, the worst experience I ever had. A friend of mine, who is a former NHS worker, told me that Guy's and St. Thomas' is one of the worst hospitals around. Both Lady doctor and Andy were younger than me. This did not motivate them to act respectfully toward me. I was so horrified that they would turn out a bleeding patient, into the night. My advice is to avoid Guy's and St. Thomas' like the plague.

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