It occurred to me that this blog promises a deaf perspective on events, so here is my perspective of surgery in a modern NHS. Overall, I thought it went quite well, but there are still areas for improvement. For example, everyone that I came into contact with had to be told that I was deaf and I have to lip-read. Classic example; one of the surgeons turned up, he knew I was in for an Akin Osteotomy with medial capsular reefing, but apparently hadn’t seen the note on my file.
Note for improvement; basic communication and reading of files.
The nurses were quite patient with me in that they were willing to repeat things a few times and even to write things down, but I did have some trouble, mainly because of the accents. Some were British, and I followed them OK, but others were not, and they were occasionally hard to understand. I didn’t actually say it was because of their accent to their face but I think they guessed, and were very understanding. One of the questionaires we got through simply by her pointing to each question and me answering as appropriate: “yes… no… yes… no… no… no… no… yes… no…” etc.
I have to say things have definitely improved on the anaesthesia front in modern times, though. Mum can recall when she had surgery on her knee about thirty odd years ago, and they made her take her hearing-aids and glasses off long before being knocked out, she just had to go with the flow and take it on faith that what was happening around her was meant to be happening and the needles being put in her arm were meant to be there. I can only imagine the stress. These days, one is allowed to keep hearing-aids and glasses right up until the anaesthetics start going in, and by then when one takes them off, one is giggling inanely and feeling quite relaxed anyway. I did get a bit stressed without the glasses though, but this is where the nice anaesthetists came into their own; one of them held my hand and stroked my arm soothingly while the mask was put over my face and the last shot went in. A small gesture of comfort, but one that was much appreciated nevertheless.
The surgery itself was an in and out job, if you can call turning up at 7am and being discharged at 5pm-ish in and out… interesting to see how they did it this time; last time I was wheeled into pre-op room, knocked out, then I presume wheeled into theatre. This time, I was walked into theatre (they’d kindly hidden knives and sharp implements out of sight), they got me to lay down and started setting me up i.e. wires, blood pressure, finger sensor, veins while they were shooting me up. The nice woman (the one who held my hand after they got me to take my hearing aids and glasses off) said it was easier this way for everyone. I said as long I was out when they started cutting, I didn’t mind. That was 11-ish, next thing I knew, I was in recovery. Those anaesthetists were good. Spent most of next 3 hours sleeping it off, then an ‘after’ x-ray, then crutches, then goody bag with post-op pills and discharge papers and goodbye.
Overall, as a deaf person going in for day surgery, it wasn’t too bad, and could have been a lot worse. The nurses were patient and friendly, the doctors and anaesthetists clearly knew what they were doing, and I felt safe enough.
The only notes for improvement I would give is a basic deaf awareness course for everyone, and encouraging people to read basic patient notes. The ones in capitals on the front of the file.