Well it’s been 14 days so far ….
So a new ebike arrived and after my normal Sunday ride with the boys I decided to test out the turbo levo comp.
As with new bikes there may be a little initial fettling required. Mine had been fitted with a “too short” dropper post cable which failed and although I managed to fix it, it failed again.
So I dropped it down as far as possible and got a good measure of what the bike can do on the Twin Towers enduro trail in our Tholt-y-Will plantation, a bit sketchy/reckless without a functioning dropper but doable nevertheless.
At the bottom I paused on the firetrack, then decided to finish the last small section of trail. As I was pushing off I had a “Mr Bean” moment and inadvertently stepped off the edge, got tangled with the dropper and chest planted into a tree placed as a berm for a separate big jump at the bottom, followed swiftly by the bike landing on my back..
As well as compressing my chest I was stabbed for good measure by a small branch.
There was quite a lot of blood so I took a couple of selfies to try and assess the damage knowing that I’d need a couple of stitches at least.
At this point I noticed that the wound was jetting and realised that this was an arterial bleed and I was starting to feel faint, not a great situation when you are on your own in a plantation with no cell phone signal.
I quickly stuffed two fingers in the wound, sat down next to the bike and finished off the rest of my water.
After a good few minutes of compression, the wound fortunately had stopped bleeding, and, after assessing my options, I decided to ride home on the road and then drive myself into Noble’s Hospital A&E.
Obviously, all of the rational actions that I took were my own but I’m pretty sure that I was heavily influenced by a 2 day first aid course, tailored for our type of riding, that a bunch of us had done the month before.
When I got to A&E I pretty much crashed and the rest is a bit of a whirl.
Without boring you with the detail, after a CT scan, I was given ketamine and a team quickly inserted a chest drain and stitched me up.
I was sat up and fully conscious during this procedure and I remember everything including the scratchy pain as it was done. I also recall turning to the consultant who, bless him, had obviously come in on his Sunday afternoon just to do me, that “I was completely off my tits”.
The episode was like a slow benign assault by 3 or 4 people. Wonderful stuff! This is what the NHS is good at – dealing with ACUTE trauma that will kill you quickly.
So I had given myself a pneumothorax via my mammary artery/arterioles and a haemothorax lower down which needed a chest drain. This had removed just over 800mm of blood and fluid by the following Friday evening. This stage wasn’t too bad. I was recovering well but I had an infection brewing that was just being kept at bay by broad spectrum antibiotics.
Then things started to go downhill for a little while.
I was in the CHRONIC phase of my accident and recovery; the initial drain hadn’t cleared the haemothorax, the source of corruption and infection in my body, and so it was replaced with a suction drain which did not work from the minute it was installed, despite undergoing a small procedure 3 or so days later to pull the drain out slightly in an attempt to clear the blockage.
Neither did it help that the suction was inadvertently turned off twice by staff, the second time witnessed by me.
I went off very quickly, for two reasons.
Firstly, there was a small window between Friday evening and Sunday morning (I think) where I had no antibiotics. I don’t know if this was due to time needed to culture the bugs in my blood to fine tune the next course of antibiotics as communication by decision makers has been dreadful; when you do manage to drag something out of someone it is difficult because they assume that you are a complete idiot (to be fair most people are – more on people later!).
Secondly, tethering me to suction immobilised me – this was a REALLY bad move in my opinion and for ABSOLUTELY ZERO gain.
By Sunday evening I thought I was going to die of sepsis. I had also developed pericarditis, which was picked up by CT scan and confirmed by echocardiogram. Mr Risha declined to posit on possible causes of this but a quick google search indicated infection; so a big thanks to google for putting me at ease when I needed some reassurance.
Fortunately, once the new antibiotics started their magic, it only took a few days for me to start to recover.
Getting the suction removed proved more difficult, however, and in the end I resigned myself to letting Mr Risha entirely explore this medical cul-de-sac. Ultimately, the drain finally came out on around Wednesday/Thursday 10/11 August to my huge relief.
So, where are we now? I still have fluid in my pleural cavity which will likely need a small specialist operation in Liverpool to sort out, and currently I believe I am only in hospital because my antibiotics are more effective delivered intravenously rather than orally.
So what have I learned about the NHS and its people and patients during my stay?
With regard to the NHS, the key takeaway is that it serves ACUTE (ie., imminent death) patients very well, and is probably world class in this area. CHRONIC (ie., dying slowly) patients are less well served in my opinion, which makes sense to me in ANY situation where “expediency” and “scarce resources” are bedfellows.
As to staff, the NHS is no different from any large corporation because people are, well, just people.
Generally all of the staff at all levels were very professional, kind, competent and patient. But there were some standout examples of staff who were exemplars.
But it seems the NHS is not flexible enough to reward the exemplars, in the same way that would be feasible in a private structure, because roles are very strictly delineated and thinking, or indeed stepping, outside the box is completely unacceptable.
With regard to the patients, most of us are incredibly stupid but invariably very grateful. This is no surprise as it is merely a reflection of society at large.
From my own perspective it has been very useful as an “is the grass greener over there” exercise , in the sense that these days I spend all of my time in my sanctuary in Kirk Michael, allowing the world to come to me through computer screens and technology.
When I venture out I surround myself with a very select bunch of likeminded friends who I am always learning from.
But I have questioned myself on occasion as to whether such isolation from general society is healthy and that maybe I should be mingling generally more.
Well these two weeks have taught me that I am missing nothing and that in fact, I am extremely lucky and have the perfect life.
Furthermore, I sometimes give my own family a hard time for perceived failings, when in fact, when compared to the general population all of them are exemplars!
I should probably do some more mixing with them!
UPDATE: I had a consultation at the Liverpool Heart and Chest Hospital on 22nd August with Mr Woolley, a lovely man who took me through all the scans and x-rays taken over time. Whilst an operation to remove the blood left in my pleural cavity would have been a good option right at the outset of my admission to hospital, it might not be the best option right now.
We agreed, because I am recovering well it seems (now that I am out of hospital), to reassess this in a month or so to see if my body can deal with it on its own or not.
Time will tell.