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Interview 22

Age at interview: 71
Brief Outline: Was admitted to ICU in 2004 because of a rare infection caused by slight dog bite. Had finger and toes amputated. Was in intensive care for 17 days and was discharged after a short stay in a general ward. Later attended another hospital for skin grafts.
Background: Occupation: retired head master. Marital status: married. Number of children: 2. Ethnic background: White British.

More about me...

 

The less drastic amputations that he consented to are now gradually healing.

The less drastic amputations that he consented to are now gradually healing.

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Before I left [city] when I was very poorly, my wife and my two children were called out, and I remember them being called out by one of the physicians to tell them how dreadfully ill I was. And then they came into me, it was, I think there were four surgeons there as the doctor who spoke to me painted a very bleak and black picture in fact which concerned [laughs] me somewhat even though I wasn't, you know, fully compus mentus.

But they wanted there and then really for me to decide to have my hand and both my feet amputated. And I said no. I said I'd wait and see how I got on. And fortunately it was the right decision because within a couple of days I felt that much better and, as I say, [consultant's name] took me under his wing, took me down to [city]. He's a brilliant chap really. And he skin grafted my hand because the back of my hand was completely eaten away. And the first graft didn't take. Then he did another which did take and is almost healed now. And he amputated one of my fingers. Took off one of my fingers off my left hand there and then.

And subsequently I stayed in hospital until February and then he let me out for about a couple of days, you know, which was very good really. It's nice to go home. And then I went back in and they amputated my toes. And again they are healing up very well. It's the pressure sores on my heels really that are causing, you know, the most problem at the moment but they're improving. And then he finally. And then I came home again after that. Then he had me in just for one day for a local anaesthetic and he took the tips of two other fingers on my right hand. And he doesn't want to see me now until the middle of September.

 

He praised the care and treatment he had and felt he was very well looked after.

He praised the care and treatment he had and felt he was very well looked after.

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Yes well when I was taken out of intensive care I was put into one of the general wards, and was well looked after and well catered for. And I felt, and I have felt ever since then, well in myself. You know, from the time I began to realise that you know, had things on the mend. I haven't felt ill in myself at all. I've had an amount pain, you know, from my feet but I feel in myself I've felt very well. I have done all the way through. 

Was this all on the NHS or did you also have private healthcare?

No, all on the NHS and people knock the NHS but I've got nothing but, you know, the highest praise of them because I couldn't have been better looked after even if it'd cost me hundreds of thousands. Yeah.  

Have you felt that you've had all the support that you've needed or are there areas where you felt there could have been improvements?  

Oh no, no it couldn't have been any better at all and I really mean that. The support I've had and the help I've had, you know, and the treatment I've received couldn't have been better anywhere really.

 

He often took his daughter's dogs for a walk but on this occasion a little bite led to a serious...

He often took his daughter's dogs for a walk but on this occasion a little bite led to a serious...

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Well it is sheer unfortunates that I ended up like this really because until now I'd never been ill in my life in fact. And at the end of November I picked up my daughter's two little dogs as I did every day. I took them out. Took them down the park. Picked up a stick for one of them to run after but he jumped up to grab the stick and his tooth just nicked my knuckle. Not a bite, it was just, you know, it was just a knick really and I thought nothing more of it really. I went up to the doctors the next day just to check that my tetanus was up to date, which it was. But then, within three days, I was in Intensive Care where I spent seventeen days and apparently was very poorly. My wife and children were told that I had less than 30% chance of surviving. 
 

He usually enjoyed reading but couldn't concentrate and felt bored.

He usually enjoyed reading but couldn't concentrate and felt bored.

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And how did you feel throughout this time you were improving?

As I say never felt poorly in myself at all, you know. Obviously I wasn't right but I didn't feel as if I wasn't right. And it was just boredom more than anything else there. 

One thing that surprises me particularly and I'm still surprised by it because I've always been an avid reader ever since I was a little boy. Read everything. But while I was in, you'd think while I was in the hospital I'd want to read and I didn't want to read at all. My daughter brought me that The Da Vinci Code book that everybody raves about and I started reading it in December and I still haven't finished it. And in fact I don't rate it very highly anyway.

You just didn't feel like reading?

I don't know why I didn't read, I used to get the newspaper and I'd read the newspaper but as for books, everybody gets something, kept bringing me books all the time. I didn't read them.

What did you feel like doing because you were probably quite bored weren't you?

Well I was. Well I used to get out, spent most of my time out of bed. We had the television you know. I looked at the news and any sport and so on but everything else, you know, television was boring and poor really. And I used to get up and walk around really.

 

The physiotherapists were 'brilliant', sometimes visiting him twice a day, and he continued with...

The physiotherapists were 'brilliant', sometimes visiting him twice a day, and he continued with...

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And can you remember at what stage the physiotherapist was coming?  

Oh yes they used to come in. Oh they were brilliant. They used to come in every day, a couple of times a day and mainly, not so much for my feet because I didn't have a lot of trouble with my feet. Even though I've lost my toes I haven't lost my balance. But they used to come in to the ward at least once or fairly often, twice a day, to give me physio on my hands because I'd lost, because you know the ligaments were affected. But thanks to them really, you know, my thumb and my forefinger and my little finger are fine. Only two of the, you know the ring finger and the small finger on the right hand are not very good and the specialist said they'll never be 100% but they used to give me all sorts of exercises. We spent a lot of time chatting and talking, you know. And one of the physios there, we used to spend a lot of time talking about rugby and you know, sport. And since coming out of hospital I've been to [town] once a week and down to [city] twice a week for further physiotherapy. And again they are superb. 

 

He'd never been in hospital before and surprised himself at how easily he accepted all that had...

He'd never been in hospital before and surprised himself at how easily he accepted all that had...

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So you were in the other hospital for a couple of months and then came home, how were you physically by that stage recovering?  

I was fine. I was fine in myself anyway, you know, but I knew there's a lot of healing still to be done, and it has been done you know, slowly but surely it's, everything's getting better.  

Could you tell me a bit more about how you felt through the different stages emotionally? 

Very well considering, you know I've always had a dread because I'd never experienced it before, I always had a dread of having to go into hospital.  

This would have been the very first time?  

This has been my first time yeah. And when I used to visit people in hospital, relatives and friends, I used to think, you know, "Good Lord I'm glad I'm not in here. I should hate to be in hospital." But then it happened and I'd been taken in and well everything, I seemed to accept everything so readily, so calmly and didn't seem to bother me a great deal to be quite honest. I amazed myself I think really. I thought I'd have been a dreadful patient but apparently I wasn't too bad. 

[laughs] So you came back home and you've slowly been recovering?

Well yes. 

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