Becca Jane St Clair

Personal Blog

Adventures with A&E

I know I haven’t updated in a while, and I’m hoping NaBloPoMo in November will jump start me, but in the meantime I thought I would write a post to expand on what I’ve been posting on Facebook.

Last night around 2 in the morning I had to go to A&E for my knee, but let me backtrack and tell you what happened….

My knee had been hurting for the past few days. I was chalking it up to the change in the weather (quite literally we went from the upper teens/lower 20s to single digits overnight) or maybe I was developing arthritis (I joked on FB that I was too young for arthritis), but while we were in the US we went to a train museum and when I was getting down off one of the engines it had a particularly high step and I remember telling Tim after I climbed down that my knee hurt and I wasn’t going to climb on any more trains. It might have hurt the following day and on-and-off for the rest of the trip, but it was never anything really horrible that a hot shower or regular pain relievers didn’t take care of.

Yesterday, the pain seemed to increase throughout the day and I actually wound up in bed with the bedwarmer as a heating pad earlier in the evening. I had plans that included getting up and showering before Tim got home from his overnight shift (because our boiler is in a closet in the same room as the bed is currently if I use the hot water while Tim is sleeping the noise of the boiler wakes him), then going back to sleep for an hour or two before being picked up for my chorus’ open workshop that took place today. That didn’t happen. Instead, when I went up the stairs to go to bed, my left knee completely gave way from underneath me after I turned the corner (we have a tight spiral staircase that turns back on itself on a landing 3/4 of the way up). I managed to pull myself up on the banister, and limped down the hallway and managed to get onto the bed, where I texted Tim and told him what happened.

Tim wrote back and asked me if I was in pain and I told him that the pain was making me cry, so he suggested ringing 111* to ask them for advice. The first guy I got was a call centre person with no medical training and he asked me all sorts of weird questions that had no relevance and in the end told me that since I wasn’t bleeding or feverish that I should wait and go see my GP on Monday. I asked him what I should do about the pain because it was making me cry and he transferred me to a nurse. The nurse advised going to A&E as soon as I was able because she suspected a torn ligament and said I would need an X-ray and strapping up. I rang Tim back and told him what was suggested and he said he would get home to take me as soon as he was able to get someone to take over where he was.

I think we got to A&E around 2AM. Surprisingly, the waiting area was pretty empty and I was told there were three people ahead of me after I went through triage and it wouldn’t be a long wait. But then we started hearing screaming coming from behind the door and a nurse came out and asked the receptionist if the police were at the hospital and then three carloads of police showed up! Yikes. Still don’t know what that was about, but when I was finally called back two police officers were stationed right near the entrance to the examining area.

The doctor I saw was an intern and he admitted to me that he had no experience with orthopedics. He bent my knee this way and that way and sideways and based on the crunch and crackle (seriously, my knee sounded like walking on gravel does) he determined that it probably wasn’t a ligament, but was a meniscus tear (cartilage) and that an x-ray wouldn’t help since cartilage doesn’t show up on an x-ray. So he told me to make an appointment with my GP on Monday because I would need physio and to stay off it for about a week….but he didn’t give me a brace or anything to keep it immobile. He also gave me a prescription for Diclofenac but told me the hospital pharmacy was closed for the night and I would have to take it to an after hours.

We left and headed for the Boots at the Carleton center only to find it completely dark and no afterhours window open. Puzzled, I fired up google to find out that at that particular time (nearly 5AM) there was not a single pharmacy open in Lincoln. Nice. So we headed home and I took some Naproxen I brought back from the US.

I tried to get comfortable in bed and immediately put myself in pain when I tried to get into my usual sleeping position (knees slightly bent). I still had my knee brace from 1998 when I had surgery on my right knee, so I had Tim get it out for me and I stuck in on my left knee. I was asleep, finally, by 7AM. I woke up around 10 to go to the loo and with the knee brace the steps were a piece of cake. When I woke up again around 3PM I took off the brace (since the hospital told me I did’t need one) and I was in a ton of pain going down the steps. I think I will be asking my GP for a brace on Monday. While the one I had worked, it wasn’t designed for the left side so all the fastenings are on the wrong side.

So I’m pretty immobile for the weekend until I can get in with my GP on Monday. I’m going to go back upstairs now and get into bed. I have my laptop and my kindle, both with BBC iPlayer and LoveFilm to keep me company.

Oh, and PS to my American friends – My trip to A&E didn’t cost me a cent. I’ll only have to pay for my prescription, but I pre-pay for those (unlimited prescriptions for about £12/mo) so I won’t even have to hand over any cash when I pick it up, either.

*111 is a service in the UK that replaced NHS Direct. Basically, you can ring 111 when your GP office is closed for advice and they will help you determine if you need to go to A&E, an after hours GP, or wait until the morning when your GP office is open. For more information:

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