DEALING WITH A TRAUMATIC EXPERIENCE IN HOSPITAL

It's been almost two years since my traumatic experience in hospital, and it hasn't been something I've spoke about often. No, I'm not talking about almost dying from an infection, turning yellow, my organs shutting down and being hospitalized on three different IV antibiotics for 2 weeks...although that was pretty traumatic. But the experience did happen at the same time, as it occurred in the hospital, by a nurse.

I started to think about this experience again as yesterday I was once again in A&E and cannulated. Something I've become fairly familiar with over the past decade. My fear of needles which once reduced me to tears, was long gone. However, in the past 18 months, that fear has returned with a passion, and any trust I had left in the NHS dwindled.

I've tried to talk about my experience many times over the past 18 months and I finally feel ready to share what happened. Writing has always been my therapy and my way of processing, so I hope this gives me some closure on the situation.

I had been in hospital for a few days, and had gotten significantly worse since being admitted. The dreaded day came when they were to change my cannula (has to be changed regularly) and my usually amazing veins, failed me repeatedly. Several nurses came and went, and I had around 30 tiny dots all over my hands and arms where they'd tried to re-do the cannula.

The attempts were sore but I needed IV antibiotics stat. It got to 11pm and the nurses told me I needed to sleep and a doctor would be round in the morning to discuss next steps, and try again. At this point, I was exhausted and desperate for rest.

At around midnight, a nurse I hadn't seen before came in, with one of the ward nurses in tow. I was asleep at this point, and was woken to them switching my cubicle light on and shoving the needle in my arm with no consent. I was half conscious and had no idea what was going on.

I protested that the ward manager had told me to wait until morning and I needed rest. She ignored my pleas. The needle still wouldn't go in (obviously) but she persisted. To the point where I was screaming for her to stop and the pain was unbearable. At this point, the ward nurse held me down to stop me writhing in pain. I lay there silently, tears streaming down my face.

After my latest cannulation, and after the incident
Without warning, they changed to my other arm and tried to cannulate again. After a few minutes, it went in and they left without a word. I was paralysed with fear and unsure what to do. I looked down and the first arm hadn't been tended to and blood was still steadily flowing, and some had already dried on the sheets.

I dragged myself to the bathroom, cleaned myself up and sobbed. I called for a nurse when I was back in bed and she changed my sheets for me and gave me a cuddle. I was unsure whether to tell her what had happened; I was terrified. My arm was now swollen, and the bruise started to form immediately.

I've included a photo of my latest cannulation after a day. And how my arm looked a day after the incident with the nurse. I seldom bruise, so was shocked at how painful and sore the wound looked. 

The next day, the phlebotomist came to take my daily bloods and wondered why I had suddenly become so fearful. I broke down to her and she told me to report the nurse immediately, make a complaint and she would help with the process. She told me that if a patient of sound mind says no to something, their wishes should always be adhered too. This comforted me.

I later discovered that the nurse had been fired a week after I filed the complaint. They wouldn't tell me why, but I think the reasons were clear. The complaint came to no avail and I received a letter...a YEAR later that took no responsibility for what happened. 

I'm not really sure why I'm sharing this. I just finally felt ready to, which seemed important. If you've made it to the end of this post, thank you for reading. I've had counselling since the incident and been reminded repeatedly that I did nothing wrong. But the trust I lost will be so difficult to get back. And it's not ideal with the amount of time I do spend in hospitals.

That particular vein has now collapsed and you can still see the scar slightly, which isn't a great one to have. Hopefully my fear will lessen to what it once was, and the damage will heal over time.

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