Drain pain

I was moved to SSU (Short Stay Unit) because of the irrigation system and the staff ‘supposedly’ not knowing what to do on Juniper. SSU was supposed to be specialised and deal with these all the time, that’s true when you get Orthopaedic staff on the Ward, in the form of the Staff previously on Damson Ward before they closed it.

Sunday evening they changed the drain bottle not too long before the night staff came on. The pain in my knee increased, which was a sign that the knee was filling up. I had a look and noticed it was draining but very slowly. A Nurse came, who I had not seen before, and I explained the problem. Looking vacant she fiddled with the tube, machine, bottle etc. and then went to get some help. I was so disappointed when the nurse she brought back with her was the guy I’d had problems with over the drain last time. He only managed to flap around a bit more, pull on the tubes a bit more, get excited when there was the slightest movement, he’s a bit like a child really, and to be honest a liability to patient care. If he is on again I will ask for treatment by someone else.

Between the two of them they couldn’t get it started and then a Sister, previously from Damson, came to the rescue. She is so good I expected her to fix it straight away but she had to call an on call Orthopaedic guy who would be with me in half an hour. About an hour and a half later he came to see if he could get it going again. He ended up taking the dressing down, pulling the tube about, changing a couple of bottles and putting my leg in a trough until eventually (and they don’t know what they did) it started flowing again. This drain was becoming a major pain but it was only the tip of the iceberg compared to what was to come.

Late yesterday evening the Nurse gave me some Oramoph, waited about 10mins and came back to take the tubes of the irrigation system out. She took the dressings down and had to get a small scalpel to remove the stitches that were holding them in. I’ve had various experiences with drain removal in the past, an extremely painful experience, a couple that have been not too bad one even slid out with absolutely no feeling at all. The trouble is they don’t know how long the tube is that they have left in there, also they have no idea of its positioning i.e. where it is laying, if it is twisted or curled etc. etc.

We started with the right hand side (as I looked down at the knee) the nurse took it in hand and started drawing it out. I could feel it moving a bit and a couple of times it was quite painful. She told me to take deep breaths and kept apologising for the pain, then eventually it came out. I wasn’t too bad until she kept apologising, then I shed a few tears, I told her it wasn’t her fault, she had to take them out. The problem is its OK for the Registrar to just come round and say take them out but they have no idea what it’s like. The nurse feels bad while removing it because they are causing you pain, you feel bad for them because they are feeling bad, but at the end of the day it has to come out.

After asking me if I wanted a break and a drink, which I declined, we then moved across to the left one, where we’d had a small issue getting some of the stitch out. She started pulling on it but could tell straight away that there seemed to be much more resistance to this one, she asked me if she could have one go to get it out. I knew this was going to be painful and the problem is you tense yourself up to take the pain, when ideally you need to keep the knee relaxed to make it easier to get the tube out. I braced up and she started pulling, it didn’t take long before it was really painful and then she stopped. All the apologising kept coming out while she checked that there was nothing holding it in still. After another go she wondered if the suction on the drain was stopping it from coming out. She stopped the suction and clamped it off, away we went again. She was pulling harder and I could feel it moving in the joint and across something in the knee, like the ligament on the right had side, it was pretty intense. All of a sudden it felt like something moved and was pushing out the side of the knee, I was waiting for it to move back again, but it didn’t. This was now a lot more painful than before and after yet more apologies she said she would get an Orthopaedic Nurse, who from now on will be referred to as ON.

I was shedding a few tears from where the last nurse had been trying to get it out but I was trying to man up about it. The first Nurse had asked about the possibility of it being stitched inside (as they sometimes are), the ON said she can usually tell by pulling it a bit if it is stitched or not. The pressure on the side of the knee was extremely uncomfortable, you know it has to come out and you just want it to be over and done with. The ON told me to brace up as she was going to pull it, and so she began. It was already painful and as she started I could feel movement in the knee, the pain was just escalating the more she was pulling it as there was so much more resistance. She stopped and I tried to breath again, knowing I should be taking deep breaths as she was pulling it. The ON said it was coming out and that we’d go for it this time. As she said that I braced up and the other a nurse asked if I wanted to hold her had, just as the ON started to pull. She must have hit a nerve or something because my leg and body jump and my arm flew out, I thought I’d hit the Nurse but could say nothing as the ON carried on. It was excruciating, I couldn’t breath, my body was thrashing about a bit as there were sudden burst of nerve like pain. My teeth were hurting where they were clenched so tight, my hands were over my face and I felt the tube coiling around in my knee. Eventually after what seemed an eternity the tube finally came out.

I was just crying and trying to breath, my arms even hurt when I tried to move them, as I must have completely tensed up. There were loads of apologies but I just couldn’t answer them and there was no quick relief after it had come out. I have suffered some painful stuff before but this was a whole new world of pain, part of the pain scale that I never even knew existed. Then the ON came round and gave me the biggest tightest hug I think I have ever had and it was just what I needed at that moment. I found the words to apologise to the Nurse for hitting her but thankfully I hadn’t hit her at all. It wasn’t just my knee that went through that experience but my whole body.

I’ve been trying to think what I could use as an example or how to try and explain it, there is only one thing I can think of. There’s a scene in the film The Krays where they hold a mans hand over the pocket of a snooker table. One of the Krays has a sword and he puts the tip of it on the mans hand, slowly he pushes it down while twisting it as it goes through the hand and comes out the other side. This can’t be far off the pain that I experienced last night, all I know is its something I don’t want to go through ever, ever, ever again.

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