Yesterday I dislocated my knee cap. And yes that is about as painful as it sounds! Thus far I have learned two things from this experience, I am in equal parts impressed and infuriated with the NHS.
When I dislocated my knee, all I did was stand up. Not a particularly dramatic reason for displacing ones knee cap I know, but there you go. I stood up, there was an almighty crack and suddenly I was on the floor. And screaming. I do remember screaming a lot. Unfortunately I was on my own in the flat at this point and quickly realised that screaming was not going to get me anywhere. Luckily considering that I couldn't move I had my mobile on me and managed to call an ambulance, so enter irritation number one. I had to repeat my details about 3 times because I live in a new build flat and the address didn’t seem to be easily found on their system. Secondly, despite telling them that I was on my own and unable to move it took nearly an hour for the ambulance to get to me. As I understand it this was because the first crew on their way to me got diverted to a ‘life threatening’ emergency, reasonable I know, but still an hour seems a little excessive to me. Now in the intervening time I did what any girl does when they are panicking and alone, I called James and my Mum. Mum managed to get to be in about 20mins and James about 40mins later because he was working out of town. Life is a lot less scary when you have people around you that love you.
So when the first ambulance crew arrives it is one ‘first responder’. Now these are paramedics who travel in cars instead of actual ambulances and, who as their job title might imply, try and get to an accident scene first to keep the patient stable until a full crew can arrive. This lady was lovely, she gave me some blessed Entonox (gas and air) for the pain quickly ascertained that she was going to have to radio for an actual ambulance to take me to hospital. To cut a long story short, the other crew got to me and after finding that between the two ambulance crews neither of them had a leg split, jimmied one up, relocated my knee cap (which was more painful than dislocating it in the first place funnily enough) and got me to hospital. With copious more quantities of Entonox. By this point the world was decidedly fuzzy.
Once at the hospital I can’t fault them for finding me a bed in a private room, assessing my knee and sending me for an x-ray which I got with almost no wait time. (Has anyone else ever had an x-ray, I hadn’t before and my my that was one impressive funky machine. It was attached to the ceiling on runner and they could move it and swing it around to take x-rays of different parts of the body without moving the patient. I was very impressed.)
(The funniest part about this photo is the flatline!)
Thankfully I haven’t chipped any of my bones, just torn the ligaments. The hospital gave me this snazzy looking blue split, some crutches and booked me an appointment to see the specialist joint clinic on Monday morning to work out how long my rehabilitation will take. Current estimates are anywhere up to six weeks off my feet.
(Me in hospital looking decidedly un impressed with my knees lack of ability to be a knee)
So here is what I am thankful for, I cannot fault the paramedics and hospital staff for being friendly, caring, professional and knowledgeable. I cannot fault the hospital facilities, they were clean and modern. I got seen quickly and my treatment was effective. I am thankful that I live in a country where universal health care is a right not a privilege. I am thankful that I got all of this treatment, and on going out patients care for free. I am grateful that both of my employers will give me paid sick leave until I am able to return, which could be a considerable period.
I looked up on the internet what this may have cost me if I lived in America and I would have been looking at a bill along the lines of:
$1000 Non-surgical treatment- ie. putting my knee cap back in to place
$200 X-ray of my knee
$200 Doctors fee
$500 Emergency Room fee
$750 Ambulance ride
$100 Forearm crutches
$50 Knee brace
Grand Total: $2800
(My fancy blue splint)
And thats just so far, not counting all the outpatients clinics and physical therapy that I am likely to need and receive. So I guess that most of all I am thankful to live in the UK today. I know some of my readers come from across the pond. What are your experiences of health care? Have you ever been to hospital and been charged for it? The concept of charging the sick for care is unthinkable here so I would be really interested to hear what it is like to live in a country with such a system.
(Me walking out of hospital, no I haven't gotten any better at walking on crutches!)
So this means one of two things for this blog. Either because I am forced off of my feet and will be sitting on my sofa for a considerable period of time I will be posting a lot more, or because i’ll be so doped up on pain meds it won’t be worth me posting much of anything! We will see how it goes.
(And yes I have spared you the pictures James took whilst my knee cap was still out of place!)