After a two-week gap, I was back at Aberdeenshire Royal Infirmary this morning to have my fractured wrist checked.
The appointment started well: only a small queue of people waiting to be seen by the consultants, a small delay in X-Ray while a badly injured accident victim was seen to, and then in to see the doctor.
After asking how my wrist was going, the doctor asked why I’d not come in for check-ups as recommended by the senior consultant. I explained that we couldn’t afford the time or money to have the Other Half taking time off work to act as my taxi service, especially as we lived so far out of Aberdeen.
He nodded and said normally, with an injury as severe as mine, he’d leave the cast on my wrist for at least another week.
However, given the progress my wrist has made, the doctor said he would consider taking the cast off early and discharging me provided everything was to his satisfaction.
He studied today’s X-rays meticulously, then compared them with the previous three sets. He quizzed me about how I was managing my wrist.
Eventually, he said he’d agree to having the cast off early provided I agreed to use a wrist brace with two splints full-time for the next fortnight, then gradually ease off its use for the following 8-10 weeks. He went into detail about what I should do and when (no driving for eight weeks, no high impact pushing/pulling for at least 20 weeks and so on).
I agreed and the doctor said he’d see I was passed along to Plaster to get the cast off and Physiotherapy to get more advice.
Excellent, I thought, and went off to wait.
And wait. And wait. The queue for physiotherapy grew.
Eventually, a physiotherapist wandered over to tell us they were running late and we’d have to be bumped back. In my case, I wasn’t going to be seen until 11.45am. (The OH and I arrived at 9am for a 9.15am appointment and I was finished with the doctor by 9.50am).
I told the physiotherapist I’d have to talk to the OH as she was due at work around 12.30pm, we had an hour’s drive back to the croft and after that the OH had a further 20-minute drive to work. I headed off to the Fracture waiting room to talk the OH: she was prepared to phone work and see if she could get more time.
I went back to Physiotherapy and started speaking to the physiotherapist, only to have her say I couldn’t go on her waiting list as I still had my cast on. We went to Plaster, only to be told they didn’t have my chit and couldn’t take the cast off without it.
Physiotherapy wouldn’t put me on their list until the cast was actually off, so I was going to lose the 11.45am slot.
Bear in mind that Plaster and Physio are open rooms on either side of a corridor, while the Fracture clinic is about 30 feet further along the corridor.
It should have been easy to sort out—someone walks along the corridor and picks up the right chit—but that’s not the way the NHS works.
Instead, I was going to have to wait until the right chit appeared at Plaster, then go into the Plaster queue, then have the cast removed, then wait for the chit to go to Physio, then go in the Physio queue (which was already a couple of hours late) and then see the physiotherapist.
I said it wasn’t good enough, I was out of time and I was leaving. Politely, but firmly.
The physiotherapist said I couldn’t go. I said I could.
A red T-shirted male member of staff, who didn’t introduce himself, came over and asked what the problem was.
I said I couldn’t wait all day for treatment, the physiotherapist explained about incorrect chits, and the man said I had to stay.
I told him I didn’t have to stay.
A female consultant stood up from her desk to tell me I had to stay. I told her, no, I don’t.
She and the physio said the cast had to come off. I said yes, I’ll take it off myself and use a brace as the doctor advised.
They both said I couldn’t do that. And repeated that I had to stay.
I told them I could remove the cast. And I was leaving.
I walked away. The consultant, in particular, was quite annoyed that I wasn’t doing as I was told.
In the Fracture Clinic, I told the OH what was a happening and we left. Self-discharge done, self-treatment next.
A wrist brace with front and back splints is on order from an online medical supplies shop. When it arrives, I’ll cut the cast off and fit the brace.
I have an excellent guide to suitable exercises for rehabilitating a fractured wrist (thanks to the Warwickshire NHS Trust), I’ll see if I can self-refer to the nearest physiotherapy service to the croft (probably Inverurie) and I’ve made notes in my diary to remind me of the doctor’s advice.
No more chits, no more waiting for procedures and processes. I’ll get on with healing thyself.