Friday, 6 August 2021

A Difficult Week

 It just takes one thing to knock you way off balance and bring home to you just how helpless we really are. My brother called last week to tell me that he had badly scalded himself, he had called 111 and was still waiting for them to reply after nearly an hour.  He sounded desperate and in considerable pain.

My brother has MS and is confined to a wheelchair he stubbornly manages his day to day care and refuses help even though his hands are now affected and he can barely stand.  I called 999 and made it clear that he was in need of urgent help gave them his history.  They said they would send an emergency Ambulance but there could be a bit of a wait and they would phone and speak to him.

 I live a good distance away so I jumped into my car and picking my daughter up on the way made my way to his home, he called me while I was driving and said the ambulance had phoned him and when he knew I was on the way sounded much calmer.

The sight that met my eyes when we arrived was heart breaking.  He had made himself a large cup of coffee and placed it into his lap, it had tipped over and scalded him, he had managed to remove his trousers and shoes and had gone into the garden to douse the burn with the hosepipe, so he now sat in a very sodden wheelchair every item of clothing was wet. 

I'm sure you can imagine what followed trying to help him is difficult because he feels embarrassed even more so in front of his niece but we got him as comfortable as we could.  The burns were quite extensive on both legs he had lost most of the skin and what was left was blistering.  I applied cling film to protect it and gave him some pain killers and fluids the nurse side of me automatically kicking in. I could see they needed dressing quickly to minimise the chance of infection.

To top it all my back had gone off earlier in the day and I could hardly move myself. I had called the ambulance at 1pm and they didn't arrive until 7 pm! In the meantime we had tried unsuccessfully to try and get him into the car to take him to A&E ourselves but he's a tall guy and his legs wouldn't fold he can barely stand, I had no strength because of my back and it was impossible for my poor daughter to do it alone.  

To cut a long story short he wasn't seen until 10 pm and he didn't get home until 4 30 am when my daughter and son in law went to collect him because the ambulances were too busy.  It took four people to get him into the car!

We have had a very difficult week as you can imagine firstly because of the burns and the pain he's in but also because of his attitude.  I love my brother dearly but he's very hard work, because I have been with him a lot this week I have seen first hand the difficulties he must experience every day because of his MS, the burns of course have exacerbated the situation.  

Everything I have suggested he has dismissed, from getting his pills dispensed in a weekly pill box  (he can't open lids on bottles and finds blister packs difficult) to bringing in social services to assess his care needs. I will of course do my best to help him in anyway I can but although I hate to admit it am an old lady and don't have the strength both mentally or physically to give him the help he needs. Thankfully I think the burns are healing, they are getting dressed often but it's early days yet and I hope that they don't become infected.

I worry about the way our health care system has deteriorated, when the 'emergency' ambulance eventually arrived they told me that they had dealt with 105 calls and that's why it had taken them so long to get to my brother. I pity those who may have had a heart attack or a stroke! When the nurses were dressing my brothers burns they said we will give you some dressing so you can dress them yourself!! It had taken three of them to do his dressings how did they expect him to do them himself? Only when he said he wouldn't be able to manage did they reluctantly agree to get him a district nurse and when she came the following day had great difficulty because of the extent of them and the position they were in.

I could go on and on because what I have experienced this passed week beggars belief. Thinking back from when I did my nursing training in the early seventies and the care people received then compared to now I can only wonder how did it all go so horribly wrong.

If you have managed to get this far, thank you all for listening and hopefully normal service will be resumed next week. Sending love to you all and I'm hoping and praying that every single one of us stay fit and healthy because if you need health care it appears that here in the UK you will be very lucky if you get it. xx 


  1. Oh Linda, when you told me Billy had scalded himself I had no idea it would be this bad! I do hope he is recovering. I understand his reluctance to accept help and it must be very frustrating for the rest of you. My love, thoughts and care are with you all. With regard to the emergency ambulance, sadly a lot of people abuse the emergency care system and ring 999 for an ambulance when they are perfectly capable of hopping into a taxi. Some people have forgotten what 'emergency' actually means. I think that, ultimately, we will go the same way as many other countries and we will have to pay for our health care. The NHS was a good idea at the time, but with too many people now abusing the system, they just can't cope. xxx

    1. I totally agree Babs, I felt sorry for the ambulance crew when they did arrive, they were very apologetic that it took so long but it really wasn't their fault they have to follow the system. There's so much wrong with the health service right now I think it's beyond repair. xx

  2. I hope your brother is healing, it's such a worry, and with the distance, nothing is easy. I do worry as we get older, our NHS is struggling, too many calls not emergency, so when they are really needed there is a backlog.

  3. It is so terrifying the state of the NHS as your experience bears out.Poor Billy but it does sound as though he should swallow his pride and have some help.I hope his burns heal quickly.Keep us posted.

  4. Oh my goodness, how terrible. I can imagine the pain he's in, and having to wait all that time for an ambulance. I think our NHS do a fantastic job but the truth of it is that they're just run off their feet these days. You only have to watch Ambulance to see the sort of 999 calls that are received, many people wanting ambulances when it just isn't an emergency and they could make an appointment with their local GP instead, or make their own way to A&E by taxi. I do hope your brother gets all the help he needs now.

  5. Oh my goodness, what pain your brother must be in, and to have to wait so long for the ambulance and care. Hoping he is coping now. Take care.

  6. Hope your brother is healing well and not in pain anymore...
    Calling a taxi is sometimes faster than waiting for an ambulance...
    Take care !

    1. We tried Anna but there were none available with wheelchair access.

  7. Your poor brother Linda and also how nerve wracking for you too! Having to wait such a long time for the ambulance, it just isn't right! The NHS need to receive more funding and employ more staff. They are front-line after all! Such a difficult situation but your brother is going to have to accept more help. Do hope he heals quickly. Take care Amanda x

  8. Oh Linda, I am so sorry for all of it. Reading it my heart was breaking for both of you. Such a simple accident led to so much trauma. I hope he is healing, I hope you are healing and I hope that things get better for him, both with MS, that is hard. Stay safe my friend. Sending you a big hug.

  9. Really sorry to hear about this awful experience. I really don't understand how GPs can close down during a pandemic. Many patients must be going to A&E because they can't see their own local GP. I found myself this week paying to consult an online doctor about something fairly minor, too minor to bother my GP with, and then had to pay for a prescription that should really have been free for me. Does NHS atand for Not Helping Sorry?

  10. I am so sorry to read this, I do hope your brother is healing, and he gets the help he needs.
    My experience of the NHS has been good, but I know that this isn't the case for all. In many areas our NHS is struggling, and it is worrying.

    Take care.

    All the best Jan

  11. That's terrible making him wait that long for an ambulance! I can tell believe it though as gthe doctor ordered one for my mum a few weeks ago, mum had a very low heart rate and the ambulance was asked to come at around 1pm and it arrived at 10pm. I think the NHS work very hard and can only think that its miss management that's at fault. I do hope your brother is doing better now and I wish him a speedy recovery

  12. OMG, I am so sorry, Linda. Your brother learned by the worst way that he need to accept help. Hope he heals quickly.
    Stay safe and take care.

  13. I'm so sorry to read this Linda and I hope your brother has a quick recovery.
    It would be a weight off your mind if your brother had a helping hand, so to speak, and I hope he might now be willing to accept some sort of assistance. X

  14. Linda, I am so very sorry for what has happened to your brother. I am saddened by the dreadful time he had in trying to get medical help. How awful for him and for you in trying to care for him while you waited for emergency care. It is a blessing you are a nurse and knew what to do. Thinking of you and sending you many hugs for the days ahead. I hope your brother's burns are healing well. Xx

  15. Linda, I am so sorry your brother (and you) are having to deal with this. Saying a prayer for him now. I hope he will be able to get (and accept) the help he needs.

    Take care of your back, and I hope it gets better soon.

  16. I understand so well why those in need of help refuse it. Asking for it is such a stressful process (very detrimental to good health) and there is such a small chance of actually receiving it. People talk about it a great deal but practically speaking it is thin on the ground.

    As a chronically ill person myself I am so dependant on my daughter which upsets me. However she is wonderful and unlike so many other people who have no one, or those that are uncaring, her depth of understanding and patience she shows me is something I am so grateful for her. I would not survive without her.

    My father was pig headed and refused to go to the doctor and was finally taken in by ambulance. He was actually terminally ill by this point. However he bypassed all the interceptions and stress he didn't want and ultimately died supported by my mother and Marie Curie (if only all sick people had that care). He had a 'good death'. My mother on the other hand now suffering from dementia.....(along with other people I have looked after - before I was ill). What I witnessed in hospital was shocking. And one of the reasons I stay away from doctors.

    It makes me difficult I know. Your poor brother will eventually need to 'give in' I just hope he gets the things he needs. Family will be left to get on with it long after they should and is appropriate. If your own health is at stake just stand your ground. Eventually health services will have to kick in.

    What a nasty time for your poor brother, I hope he feels much better soon.

  17. This was so heartbreaking to read, Linda. I am very sorry your brother was injured so badly, and how traumatic to not receive care for so long. I honestly can't fathom that kind of wait in an emergency situation. What a good sister you are to your brother. I pray he recovers soon.


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