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Gallstones- refused an ambulance for a severe attack

(24 Posts)
ragalrar Wed 27-May-15 14:57:37

Hello everyone, a bit of back story: I am currently living through the hell that is gallstones. I first had symptoms while I was pregnant, was rushed to delivery suite at 25 weeks with suspected pre-eclampsia, to be sent home with a bottle of gaviscon. The doctors all said there was no way I could have gallstones as I am not fat fair or forty.
I had a major attack when DD was 8 weeks old, and was rushed to A&E, the only thing that would sort it was tramadol. after two more attacks I was diagnosed with gallstones from an ultrasound scan. I am waiting to see the surgeon. I have been told over and over that every time I have an attack I must go to A&E to rule out infection and pancreatitis, as the wait for surgery in North Wales is so long, this is bound to happen to me at some point.

The night before last after I was putting 5 month DD to bed, the pain came on so suddenly, I took the usual for it, buscopan, cocodamol and ibprofen and my OH called an ambulance. To our horror the call operative refused to send an ambulance and got NHS direct to call us back. I was writhing on the floor screaming in agony, only just coherent. NHS direct called back, I managed just about to speak to the nurse, I begged her to send an ambulance and she told me that "if you are really worried you can get a taxi." at that point I lost it, I was completely terrified. My MIL came and picked me up and broke the speed limit to get me to hospital while my OH stayed at home with DD. When we got there, the receptionist in the waiting room told me to sit down even though I was delirious with pain and screaming. There was a little boy about three years old sitting opposite me, I was so worried I would scare him that I managed to gather my strength back and slow down my breathing (he probably did me a massive favour). By the time I did get seen, the triage nurse rushed me straight into paediatrics for some reason. The nurses and doctors were shocked I had been refused an ambulance. After blood tests that showed my liver function is not great, and after pain management, 6 hours later I was sent home.

I am now absolutely terrified that next time this happens, I will be refused an ambulance and have to go through that trauma again, also have no idea what we would do if I couldn't get a lift as neither of us drive and most taxi's refuse to do A&E runs in this area. The pain was far far worse than labour, I described it to my MIL as one huge contraction around my chest and into my shoulder that just was not letting up. I am still in pain now, feeling winded and uncomfortable, and really scared if it gets worse I will not have help. I am frightened that if it does become pancreatitis it could get far worse than is necessary.

Two things: how long did you wait for your gallbladders to be taken away?
And: have you ever been refused an ambulance?

I am really struggling to live like this. I am also breastfeeding DD which has made it all a lot harder.

treaclesoda Wed 27-May-15 15:06:44

I was also diagnosed during pregnancy, you have my sympathy.

I waited about eight months to have my gallbladder removed; it would have been longer but I ended up hospitalised a couple of times due to complications and it became urgent.

As for the ambulance, I imagine that since you know what is causing the pain, you know it's not a heart attack or something imminently life threatening, that's presumably why they feel there is no need for an ambulance. I know it is scary when you're in so much pain though.

pinkje Wed 27-May-15 15:12:13

I would ask your local health authority for their ambulance protocol and take it from there. I suspect that with cutbacks they viewed your already-diagnosed ailment non-critical and so prioritised accordingly.

Waggamamma Wed 27-May-15 16:33:38

My mum was told 9month wait for the op so she went private and had it done. She has the date for her NHS op within 4months.

sorry you're having such a rough time but I agree as you have been diagnosed and unlikely to come to serious harm immediately it's not really an ambulance job.

DayLillie Wed 27-May-15 16:43:43

Whether or not gallstones are diagnosed, but the possiblility of pancreatitis has not been and this is serious and is life threatening. I know because my mother died of it, waiting for a gallstone operation.

I would do as pinkje says and go through the procedures.

I would pay to see the surgeon privately.

BluddyMoFo Wed 27-May-15 16:47:00

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

ragalrar Wed 27-May-15 17:20:55

thank you everyone, I have been told I really need to have bloods done each time to rule out pancreatitis as it can become life threatening. I will find out if I can I get an ambulance car to take me if I can't get a lift, and phone my local ambulance trust about this.

Daylillie I am so sorry to hear about your mum.

I have tramadol for next time now, here's hoping it won't be needed. I really can't afford to go private sad

bigbluebus Wed 27-May-15 22:13:23

WHen DH was waiting to have his gallbladder out, we were told to call an ambulance if he went yellow. Other than than he had to ride it out on the medication he had been given. Thankfully he didn't have many attacks before his Gall Bladder was removed after an 8 week wait - although they did try and cancel that op the night before.

Musicaltheatremum Wed 27-May-15 22:32:53

Next time say you have severe chest pain. You do need to get in quite quickly in case it's pancreatitis or perforation. I think I agree with what someone said above you know what it is so it isn't seen as a 999 call.

hopelesslydevotedtoGu Thu 28-May-15 14:46:45

Please don't say you have severe chest pain, imagine if someone with moderate chest pain from a heart attack was prioritised behind the op!

My sympathies as gallstones can be extremely painful and I hope your operation can be expedited.

However 999 ambulances are really for when people need urgent treatment at the scene. Whilst you do need to get your bloods checked, that does not need an ambulance, it would not matter if you caught a taxi and arrived 30 mins later.

Do ask your Surgeon or GP whether you can have some stronger painkillers at home to use whilst you get into hospital.

I'm not being unsupportive as it must be v painful, but with the current pressures on the ambulance service they may need to be strict about how resources are used.

cuntycowfacemonkey Thu 28-May-15 14:55:42

God yes don't lie about your symptoms to get an ambulance quicker!

I'm afraid I agree that this isn't an ambulance job.

DragonWithAGirlTattoo Thu 28-May-15 15:02:40

It must be really horrible and scary OP - but please do listen to the other posters saying, while its very nasty, its not really an ambulance job

NutellaStraightFromTheJar Thu 28-May-15 15:25:23

I had gallstones aged 17, and was sent away from a and e a couple of times before they were diagnosed, as it 'couldn't possibly be gallstones in a slim 17 year old'. My parents paid for me to have the op privately, and it was still a 5 month wait, during which time I had some attacks despite being on a fat free diet. So you have my sympathy, gallstones are horrendous. However, I was never told to call an ambulance, and never given any medication other than paracetamol and ibuprofen.

This was 11 years ago, so protocol must have changed, but after the diagnosis I was never told to seek medical attention during an attack. Even if I had been, I would see ambulances as being for life threatening conditions or ones which need immediate treatment where you have no other means to get to the hospital. Although the pain of gallstones is probably the worst I've ever felt, I can see why a and e would have to prioritise other conditions, especially once it is already diagnosed. Could you get a taxi to take you to hospital without specifying that you needed a and e? Certainly don't lie about your symptoms as suggested upthread!

I hope you get a date for treatment soon. Oh, and the op is a breeze compared to the attacks. In the meantime, going as fat free as you possibly can will certainly reduce your symptoms, although I assume you know this! Not sure how compatible it is with breastfeeding though, I wonder if a nutritionist could advise you?

BackforGood Thu 28-May-15 15:32:58

Hopelessly has summed it up beautifully.
I have been led to believe it is excrutiatingly painful, but, as others have said, it is not imperative you get treatment within 8mins or whatever target it is the ambulances are supposed to be working to now. You need to talk with them about managing the pain, and then get a friend / relative or taxi to take you to hospital. Please don't lie to them as suggested above.

Onemilliongal Thu 28-May-15 15:42:17

Sorry to hear you are going through this , it's only those people that have suffered gallstone attacks that know what you are going through
I got my first attack when I was 20 weeks pregnant I was taken by ambulance and diagnosed straight away and after being discharged I got an attack every week even after following a strict fat free diet.
Even after my dd was born I continued to get severe attacks and each time ambulance was called and I was taken in.
I had my operation 6 weeks after my daughter was born
May be the ambulance thing depends on where you live

ChestyNut Thu 28-May-15 17:50:38

Please do NOT lie as suggested about chest pain angry

Perhaps GP could give you it's morph to reduce the pain in order for you to be comfortable and get yourself to A+E if you've been instructed to go in every time?

blueistheonlycolourwefeel Thu 28-May-15 17:56:14

I am sorry you are in pain, but as you managed to sort yourself out so as not to scare a random small child, is there any reason you could not have done this before??
As others have said, whilst extremely uncomfortable, gallstones are not a life threatening situation and a taxi is more appropriate than a 999 ambulance who only carry morphine which is pretty crap for gallstone pain anyway

hopelesslydevotedtoGu Thu 28-May-15 18:36:29

I would imagine they were worried about your pregnancy, onemillion, so an ambulance was more justified. Or maybe your local service had more capacity then.

holidaysarenice Thu 28-May-15 18:44:33

I had gallstones at 17 and a removal at 18. I've had at least 10 episodes of pancreatitis.

I didn't wait long for my op as I was covered by my parents health insurance, but in the mean time I gt some strong pain relief in case of more episodes.

With my pancreas I have never called an ambulance despite being an hour from hospital, and my pancreas pain makes my gallstones look like a walk in the park. I drive, get a lift, taxi or bus depending on the circumstances. Get some decent fast acting pain relief and you'll cope until you get there.

ragalrar Sat 30-May-15 16:19:03

I would never lie about chest pains to the emergency services, even though my health visitor also suggested that. the problem with my gallstone attacks is they mostly happen in the dead of night, I am in a rural area and there are no taxi services that run past midnight round here.

However I have found out they will send a paramedic in a car for me, and during the day if I have someone take me, the emergency call operative will contact A&E and let them know I am on my way. I have been told I should get to A&E within an hour of the attack starting due to the nature of my gallstones (my gallbladder is very scarred). I didn't realise many people wait it out at home, the doctors kept stressing how important it is to go in.

lanbro Sat 30-May-15 16:25:20

I only had to wait 2 weeks from diagnosis to op although it was 10 yrs ago. If you are in that much pain I would be looking at going private. I am astounded at the waiting times!

Tummyrumbled Sat 30-May-15 16:31:05

Someone who has a cardiac arrest has a matter of minutes in order to survive.

tootiredtothink Sat 30-May-15 16:34:11

I feel for you having gone through the horrific pain of gallstones.

However I have to agree that you don't need an ambulance. Get yourself a taxi during the day or mil on standby to come and sit with baby while dh brings you in.

I kept phoning the surgeons secretary to see if there were any cancellations she could slot me in to....am shocked they're not taking it out sooner if they're insisting on blood tests each time.

cricketqueen Sat 30-May-15 16:37:11

I'm in North Wales as well and am also waiting for an op to remove my gall bladder after first having symptoms in pregnancy. I got told by a consultant to follow a low fat diet and take painkillers if I get an attack. They only said to go to hospital if it lasts more than 6 hours or I go jaundice again (which I did in pregnancy). Go to your gp and get them to push for an appointment with a consultant. As painful as it is I really don't think it's ambulance worthy especially with how stretched the nhs is right now. Which hospital are you going too? The wait at ysbyty Gwynedd is 20 ish weeks atm.

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