22 November 2019

Gratitude for oven mitts and public health

| Ian Campbell
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"I managed to get the pot back down on the stove top before rushing for the relief of a running tap" - Ian Campbell. Photo: Ian Campbell.

“I managed to get the pot back down on the stovetop before rushing for the relief of a running tap” – Ian Campbell. Photo: Ian Campbell.

Any chance I might have had as a hand model melted away last Saturday night when I burnt my hand and arm and was rushed to hospital.

It’s was supposed to be easy dinner of beef filled ravioli – packs of the pasta were on special and we were hungry so it was an extra big pot that came to the boil just before 7:30 pm.

Using two tea towels to grab both handles of the pot I moved to the sink to dump my cheap tasty load in the strainer, but one of the tea towels got hooked on a gas burner and tipped the boiling water over my wrist, thumb and lower arm.

I managed to get the pot back down on the stovetop before rushing for the relief of a running tap.

Skin and hair instantly hung from my right hand and arm – my bum wiper by the way! It was intriguing to see and while ever the burn was covered by running water I could enjoy the spectacle.

My three kids sprung to attention, breaking the lock of their devices – they do love me! Starting to get woozy and faint my 15-year-old boy grabbed me a stool to sit at the sink.

Meantime, my wife, a trained medical professional freaked out a bit, I was the calm one! We got to the car, my burn wrapped in a wet towel my daughter had made for me, and off we went to the Emergency Department of South East Regional Hospital, about 10 minutes from home.

“I think there is still enough pasta for kids to make dinner,” I boasted proudly.

It was now that the pain kicked in, the wet towel helped but the air cut into my exposed, raw, red flesh with a sharpness I couldn’t escape.

Pulling into the drop off car park we looked through the windows of the ED trying to get a sense of what we might be in for.

There were a few people there, no one in obvious distress, mostly watching Star Wars surrendering to the patience waiting rooms call for.

I pressed the buzzer and a nurse appeared within a heartbeat.

We were whisked out the back, my burnt arm put under another running tap.

“Out of 10 how much pain are you in?” the nurse asked.

“About seven out of 10,” I said, but the running water would soon knock that back to a five or six. Air was my enemy so I twisted my body every which way to get as much of my arm under the tap as I could.

“You’ll need to do that for at least 30 minutes, to take the heat out of it, I’ll get the doctor,” the nurse said.

A couple of ambos I know walked past on their way back to their wheels, “I suppose we’ll read about this on About Regional” they quipped.

The doctor came and was impressed with the damage done, “let me get some advice from the Burns Unit at Concord Hospital,” she said, “keep that water on it, its the best pain relief.”

My wife and I had a nice hour at the sink together, she’d calmed down and we were laughing about her fright or flight response. I was okay and we had a chance to chat – that never happens.

With advice back from Concord I was taken through to a bed and dosed up on pain killers ahead of more air and dressings being applied. Morphine and Panadine Forte did the job but sadly there was no ‘Lucy in the sky with diamonds’.

Around me, the ED buzzed with people and situations that were being dealt with by a calm hive of good-natured doctors, nurses, wardsman, and ambos.

“All these people here on a Saturday night ready to help when trouble strikes,” I thought, it was hard not to feel a warm glow – no it wasn’t the drugs.

Now that my arm was wrapped up in a cool, airtight bandage I was able to leave the ED with a supply of drugs to get me through the night, and a referral to see the Burns Unit at Concord on Monday.

Having to travel to Sydney was a bummer and required a monumental juggling of people and other appointments, but with my grade of burn it was considered wise.

I had received first-class care at my local ED but a country life comes with an acceptance of travel.

At home, there was still pasta left for me and the kids had discovered new ways to take the piss out of Dad.

At Concord, on Monday they were ready and waiting. A fancier dressing this time, attention from a professor, and phone/photo appointments with the Burns Nurse booked in, who sent me off with a big bag of medical goodies to take to my GP clinic for dressing changes.

Not once was I asked to pay anything and I am not expecting a bill in the post – public health, how lucky are we?! Tax well spent.

I know the system doesn’t always run as smoothly as it did for me, I know there are shortcomings – but what an amazing safety net to catch us when times are tough, how lucky are we to take it for granted?!

Perhaps we shouldn’t, that’s why I am pounding the keyboard. I should be elevating this arm, but gratitude and positive stories are important and inspire more of the same and in a subtle way protect the service.

It’s important those responsible for our public health system are reminded about the role it plays so that its people and future can be strengthened.

By the way, everyone is getting oven mitts for Christmas!

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Melissa Pickering9:05 pm 28 Nov 19

We too have had an experience with ED in the last two weeks, and we have nothing but positive things to say. The wonderful staff were so warm, friendly and accomadating regardless of the high pressure and understaffing they were experiencing. A trip to ED in Bega, 7 nights in a hospital in Canberra and surgery plus three months of ongoing check ups and therapy and we will not pay a cent. We are feeling very grateful for our health care system, even if the wait times for everything are so llllooonnnggggg…

Helen Swinbourne6:10 pm 28 Nov 19

So sorry, an awful experience Ian. Just shows that accidents do happen, unfortunately. Hope you heal quickly with no problems. Oven mitts an excellent idea!

Dr Douglas Simper11:22 am 27 Nov 19

Bloody hot story! Your pain tolerance is awesome! Hospitals can cost an arm and a leg but we have got a great health system.

Ian excellent news that it seems you have had a nasty scare but hopefully no lasting damage. clumsiness my friend comes with
getting older I believe, now there’s a worry and I am sorry to say I should know !!
Uncle Rob

Bev Hergenhan10:36 am 24 Nov 19

Firstly Ian I’m not surprised to hear the attention and care you received at SERH was exceptional
& lovely to pass on the positive news as sadly folk are to quick to grab a negative these days. I do hope you’re more comfortable after what would’ve been an extremely painful injury – burns are cruel … also great to hear your experience at Concord was also top class. I’m guessing ravioli is off the menu in the Campbell household? Love the idea of oven mitts .. take care

Kerry Newlin10:36 pm 23 Nov 19

Ah, so bummed to hear about your accident. Ouch! On the brighter side, my recent “just to be on the safe side” experience in the emergency department at SERH was also excellent. Careful with the keyboard pounding – in your pain reliever induced state, you might do it and your hand some damage.

My experience last year at Bega hospital with an appendix attack and subsequent removal was nothing but positive. Best wishes for your recovery Ian

Thanks for recognising the great work done at our local hospital – hope you heal well!!

Jenny Anderson5:25 pm 23 Nov 19

Good to hear such a positive experience of SERH as we often only hear the negative stories. They do a great job.

Would have been cheaper and less painful to have takeaway delivered 🧐

Ian, it’s good you wrote this editorial of your experience.

Take care and no chances with the injury.

Dad got scalded by a cup of coffee when he was a baby and had a huge skin graft over most of the inside of his forearm. When the kids and grandkids asked about it, he would tell them to smell it. He would then tell them the skin was off his butt 😂

Christine Welsh2:11 pm 23 Nov 19

So sorry to hear about your accident – burns are the absolute worst of injuries I think. And my experience with Emergency has been excellent. Well done all. Heal well. xxx

Alex Charles Nicol1:13 pm 23 Nov 19

Great story Congratulations for writing it. Yes we do need to be proud of and defend our health system. PS get better

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