It was our 2nd wedding anniversary yesterday and 2 years have gone by in a blur, or so it seems. We both said it feels like 5 minutes and a lifetime since we said our vows. The adage “time flies when you’re having fun” is true, but it also flies when you cram lots into life, even if it is unintended. In the last 2 years we have managed to have an eventful time. We moved house, I completed a distance learning course, Husband started a new hobby which rapidly became an income source, I got made redundant, rejected from uni and started a new job. Husband has gone part time at his day job and is doing 2 days a week at his woodturning job and in doing so has managed a thumb injury and most recently a rather bashed up toe. We are, rather obviously, hoping for a less eventful year to come. Not quieter, just less dramatic.
It seemed rather appropriate that while we celebrated the last 2 years of marriage, at home, on the sofa both nursing colds and I a very upset stomach, that I was filling out the paperwork for my upcoming reconstructive surgery on the 2016 Ankle of Doom. In sickness and in health, we hear you loud and clear. Following the fall way back in July, it turns out that I haven’t just sprained it, but rather torn one of the ligaments clean in two and needing “Urgent” surgery. Urgent is clearly subjective – my surgeon optimistically wrote “within 4-6 weeks”; the NHS waiting list thought January at the earliest was the actual definition of Urgent. We agreed to disagree and I swallowed my pride and accepted a price to have it done privately. It seems, when you’re willing to pay the financial price, as well as the metaphorical one, urgent means within 2 weeks – I’ll be under the knife on 26th October.
The last 16 or so weeks have been trying; Husband’s patience with me in particular. I’ve been trying to carry on as normal for as much as possible. There have been times where I’ve done too much or tried to do something that could have ended very badly while in a cast i.e. carry 2 full plates from kitchen to living room while not using crutches and trying not to fall over the cat. I’m stubborn, independent and have a horrible tendency to feel crashing guilt if I need to ask for help. However, I have learnt to ask when needed, accept my temporary limitations and to try to take things a bit slower. Having said all that, it’ll be a whole new level of help needed post surgery and I imagine the old frustrations of not being able to do much will resurface, at least for a while. This time however, there is an end in sight. With physio rehab and time, my reconstructed ankle will be strong again and the crutches will become a thing of the past.
The reason I was filling in paperwork on our anniversary wasn’t because it was the paper anniversary, that was last year. This year, the paperwork is due to the simple fact the NHS is under funded, over patiented and under staffed. In Mid Yorkshire, the PCT that I fall under, there are not enough surgeons, not enough money, not enough beds and too many patients. They are trying to recruit another surgeon who specialises in feet and ankles. Just feet and ankles, that’s how stretched they are for specialists. There are also talks with Barnsley Hospital to see if they will take some of the most urgent cases for surgery but the wheels of bureaucracy move at a glacial pace. Just last week, PM Theresa May announced that there is no extra money for the NHS, despite a £22bn shortfall. Focus on the inefficiencies she says, that will sort you out.
I’m not part of the NHS employee group anymore, but I used to be. I’ve not seen inefficiencies when the paramedics picked me up from the pavement and took me to A&E. I didn’t see inefficiencies when the nurses and doctors looked after me in A&E, or in radiology when they took 7 xrays to make sure I hadn’t broken my ankle. I didn’t see inefficiency when I got a referral to physio a week later, or when the physio was so concerned by my lack of healing and pain response that she sent me back to A&E for more xrays. Nor did I see it when the consultant referred me for an MRI scan, nor in the consultation for surgery. All I saw were people doing their absolute best for me with limited resources, time and energy. The reason I’m filling in paperwork on my anniversary is that I can’t wait until January (at the earliest) for surgery – and it’s not the doctors, the nurses or the secretary that is at fault. It’s the system – too many people, not enough resources.
So, as we go into our 3rd year as husband and wife, I’m hoping things get better, if not a bit less painful, in every sense of the word. To my husband, I love you. Thanks for the cups of tea, the chicken kievs and curly fries and the patience and love, even when I’m not the most patient patient.