"Knee surgery at Doncaster Royal Infirmary"

About: Doncaster Royal Infirmary / Trauma and orthopaedics

(as the patient),

I was asked to be at ward 6 at the DRI at 07:30 on Friday 9th May 2008. I arrived at 07:10 and assumed that I should very likely be the first patient to be called for my knee operation. However, this did not happen. I waited and waited and waited, hungry and thirsty after being without either food or drink. I was prepared for this, but I expected something to happen much, much sooner. The weather was hot and sticky and so was the ward. Noon came and nothing happened for the next few hours. Then a surgeon or doctor hurried past me, saying as he went “Do you mind if another patient takes your place, as his operation will be quicker than yours”. The patient was already being pushed past me in his bed, and passed me before I could refuse. At last I was called (I was the last). Eventually, I was taken into the preparation room, where I was anaesthetised by an injection in my spine, which I wanted. It was a painful event, but I felt that the anaesthetist was being very careful. I had a nurse to hold my shoulders, to help me to keep still. In the middle of all this the surgeon hurried past (at the back of me) saying “You are going to have a learner, but we all have to learn.” He was gone into the theatre before I could reply. There was no turning back at that stage! I had chosen not to have any gas at all, but if I changed my mind at any point I was to let him know. I could hear the drill and other tools, but I felt no pain. At that time I could hear little conversation from them at the other side of the curtain. Then I did hear a male voice asking someone to go get the joint. She returned saying “There are only two boxes on the shelf and neither is the correct one. I heard one of the men say to the other “I thought you would have checked this before you began”. I heard all this because there was no noise from the tools whilst they were deciding what to do. “We shall have to cut it”. I assume they did, as then one said “The holes are too small, we shall have to drill them to fit.” I then heard one of the men say “You need to vacuum all these bits.” This was where everything began to be worrying from my side of the curtain, but there was nothing I could do about it. There was a lot of concrete (glue) being used. I then suddenly began to become colder and colder. I told the nurse and she found some silver material and wrapped it around me, and gradually the warmth came back to my body – but that was scary too. Just before they finished, they were pushing a piece of wood hard up and down my right leg. They kept on and on. At that time I could feel the rhythm, but no pain. When the surgery was finished I was taken to the ‘recovery room’. Whilst there, I was talking to the nurse about what I heard, and a surgeon came over to me and said “You dreamt it all, you were asleep. People often come back with these dreams.” He was surprised to hear that I had not had any ‘gas’ at all and I was awake the whole time. I arrived back to ward 6 at about 18:30. What a day! I was given an appointment to return to see the surgeon at 11:10 on 23rd June 2008, but there was a lot of commotion in the waiting room and nurses kept coming to apologise. Everyone was just waiting and waiting, then I was called, but I did not see the surgeon who initially operated on me. Then all went calm and normal. I have not seen the surgeon since. The aftercare was excellent. The nurses who came to my home replaced my dressings and discussed my situation with me. One came to remove my outer metal clips – I was dreading this, but she was very gentle and careful and it did not hurt at all. The Red Cross were a lot of help with providing chairs, toilet frames, etc., for which I was very grateful. There was a man, and sometimes a lady, who helped me to exercise my stiff leg, and then I was taken to the gym at a later stage. I am concerned that I am left with one leg longer than the other and it is not straight now. This is causing me a lot of pain on the soles of my feet and toes.
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Response from Doncaster Royal Infirmary

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