Son #3 uses a special splint on his left leg – this is as the result of an injury in a car accident in 1995. The splint is moulded to fit his calf and foot and is kept in place with special bindings. Today I went with him for an appointment to check out why it was causing trouble. In actual fact an ordinary NHS appointment turned into a good outing.
The technician was a young woman who was obviously well skilled in the details of her profession; as she examined his gammy leg and foot she was able to assess areas of poor circulation and swelling. Indeed she quickly worked out that he needed a new appliance, in particular he needed a bit more support and a bit less flexing in the foot, so she decided that he needed a new splint, which meant she would need a plaster cast.
I was fascinated by now, and impressed at the best that our Health Service can deliver. Fortunately, Son #3 was her last appointment of the day, so she had time to do the mould then and there. After a bit of a flurry to collect all the materials she spread out a paper sheeting on the floor – she was keeping up a flurry of chatter and comments to which beloved son was responding as only he can to a pretty woman. I was expecting him to have to put his foot in a bucket – how antiquated are the workings of my mind. Instead, she first produced a slip-on tubular stocking. Inside that there was a long, channeled plastic tubing. I was puzzling out whether a liquid was to be poured in, but no, it was the same principle I suppose as a plaster cast for a broken bone. (I hadn’t had one for my broken ankle last year, so that’s my excuse for not knowing what was to happen.)
The next step was to run hot water – by the by she had to use a plate as a basin stopper, apparently Oban Hospital just doesn’t have sink-plugs. My guess is that it might be to do with germs and cross infection? Anyway, a large roll of pre-prepared bandage was duly soaked, then she ran across the room to wind it onto Son’s leg, smoothing down the emerging liquid plaster as she went. Another big roll sufficed for the foot, and she finished off by smoothing the whole leg down. As a finishing touch, she made a series of mysterious markings which looked like outlines of either bones or muscles.
The whole process only took about fifteen minutes, by which time the cast was set and ready to be removed. Then the blue channelling came into its own, it was the base for her to use as a guide for her blunt scissors to allow remove the cast, leaving a perfect impression for the lab to work on. She wielded the special scissors with skill and there was no point where I even wondered if she was going to slip. Son #3 was grinning throughout, making jokes and thoroughly enjoying himself. To top it all, the technician asked what colour he would like the new one to be. He asked for red, of course, as he is an Aberdeen supporter. She told him that some of the children had football stickers on their appliances, and he even looked disappointed when she said he was a bit old for that.
So – a perfectly ordinary appointment turned into a happy occasion. We’ve even another to go to, when the new splint will be checked and fitted. And I was pleased to be able to feel proud of our NHS – there are too many times when I hear of things going wrong.