Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Sick Observations

Sheena spent 4 hours today in Emergency because of a terrible persistent cough that goes so deep she wants to throw up. Paranoia still lingers after a nasty bout with pneumonia 3 years ago.

Now I remember why I hate medical shows.

In the pre-triage waiting room. Mostly elderly couples with one or the other having something wrong. Most have plastic sandwich bags full of their pill bottles as if they've been told beforehand to do this or as though they were about to go through airport security. I put my name on the list and wait.

A few feet away a special needs case worker sits with his charge, trying to ensure that the persistent wheelchair rocking doesn't hurt anyone. The figure in the chair is barely recognizable as human. I find out later that she is a girl.

In the triage nurse station my interview and stats-taking is interrupted by the security guard who is trying to locate some missing organs. Apparently taxis are routinely sent over for urgent transport of organs. Unfortunately the cabbie didn't know exactly what to ask for or who to talk to, so chaos ensues trying to figure out who has the loaner guts. At last a cop figures things out and with the thumbs-up, my new address at last can be written down.

In the next waiting area. The elderly couples sit close. When I get up to go to the can, one of the old guys steals my Frank Magazine. FCS. I keep my mouth shut though when he starts cackling and laughing and points to the pictures asking his wife "Hey, remember that guy? eh? that guy?"

A high school cheerleader type sits with an ice pack on her head. Teary eyed and pouty. Not talking to her mom.

Two fat chicks make googly eyes at the babies, making them laugh.

The creature in the wheelchair wails down the hallway. Bone chilling unhuman wails that make my hair stand on end. Wonder what her parents do to cope.

Buy some high powered cough syrup and run home in the snow in my slippers. Wondering what tier of health care this would be if certain parties got their way. Put extra noodles in my chicken soup and feel thankful.

19 Comments:

At 6:15 PM, Blogger rgraham666 said...

Sending healing vibes your way, Sheena.

 
At 7:29 PM, Anonymous spy said...

the horror! What exactly did the severely disabled girl look like? Could you tell what was wrong with her? At least you didn't see anybody dying or burned, etc. YIkes!

 
At 8:22 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Try taking your best friend to her appointments in the oncology wing of the hospital. It's impossible not to stare at the empty eyes, the bald heads & the constant stream of tears falling down faces. You stay strong for support but then get home & cry your eyes out praying that a cure for cancer is around the corner.

 
At 8:54 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey you could have been in some foreign country where emergency medicine means lining up outside the emergency doctor's door and whoever pushes through the door first is the winner!

 
At 10:07 PM, Anonymous sooey said...

I was telling a friend recently that I'd been really lucky and never had to take my kids to the hospital and all three (my kids were with us) were like, "Mom! Mom! Yes you did! Don't you remember?"

But I don't remember. And yet their stories did match up...

 
At 6:24 AM, Blogger whitenoise said...

Yeah, I get that thankful feeling when visiting hospital wards or doctor's offices, too. We take our health for granted, and there are a lot of people out there who were dealt a much worse hand.

 
At 5:41 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just went to the hospital on Monday to get my cast changed on my arm and the nerve of it all - my regular cast guy passed me on to a rookie - because he had to change a foot cast for a guy in handcuffs surrounded by two prison guards!

 
At 1:22 AM, Blogger Saskboy said...

Get well soon.

The nomination for a Weblog Award didn't go through, sorry, my bad. They dropped my WordPress signed in comments. Their site sucks.

 
At 6:08 AM, Blogger Sheena said...

No worries, Saskboy. I appreciate the thought. And I just didn't have the energy to fight a solid campaign this time round.

We'll get 'em next year.

 
At 9:20 AM, Blogger Crazylegs said...

Makes you wonder how anything actually *works*, doesn't it? I've spent too many hours in hospitals the last few years, and I'm pretty baffled by it all.

Last year, I was dealing with the aftermath of my mother's stroke, and I swear that 80% of the effort to get her treatment was understanding the politics of healthcare. I learned very useful skills like the secrets to expediting disability pensions (step 1 - read ODSP legislation) and how to prolong outpatient therapy beyond the mere 6 weeks actually covered by OHIP. The medical stuff was all secondary.

Recently, I've been dealing with another facet of the healthcare behemoth - cancer treatment. It's been a totally different experience. There have been no politics involved at all. Once my Dad was diagnosed, it was almost like he had private healthcare. Whatever he needed - day or night - the system would accomodate him. Sadly, he's in palliative care now. Still, they take care of him: nice private room, treatment aimed at 'comfort', etc.

So what have I learned? It's all anecdotal, of course, but in my narrow experiences we have a pretty decent healthcare system at the core. But it's a patchwork quilt of rules, approaches, and resources. We need to get the politics out of the way. And I think we need to be open to considering private healthcare operators inside the warm, fuzzy embrace of OHIP (and the like). So many of the problems I've seen are caused - or aggravated by - lack of scale. And we're just not going to be able to address the 'scale' issue without inviting in private enterprise in some way. Now, flame on.

 
At 10:50 AM, Blogger Sheena said...

Just struck me as odd and weird that to get on a waiting list for a family doctor here, I had to sign up with the local Chamber of Commerce.

I would say that 75% of the waiting room were non 'emergencies' that just had no other place to go on short notice.

 
At 10:11 PM, Blogger Leatherhands said...

Shit. The wife's Dad's on his last legs; he's 92 so I guess he's had a good run. Still, it's troubling to see the lack of dignity. The no-control of physicality, the incoherence and the bizarre requests for the stupidist little things.
It freaks me out and puts me in a deep...I don't know, depression isn't the word...it's more like a futile search for meaning, or purpose. I almost wish I could hold on to that urgency for meaning; without the sense of absurdity that seems to follow.
Having said that, I think you should have that cough looked at. As you already know, pneumonia can be pretty fucking serious.

 
At 9:25 AM, Blogger whitenoise said...

LH- we get so caught up in the details, in the race up the ladder and the struggle to survive, that we lose track of that feeling.

It's good to be smacked in the face like that with big-picture thoughts- it makes you appreciate the little things- like a hug from your kid...

 
At 10:35 AM, Blogger Sheena said...

Fucking Fuck, Leatherpants. I DID get the goddamned cough looked at. In Emergency because I have an estimated 2 year wait for a family doctor here in KW and only have a wait list to begin with courtesy of the fine citizens at the Chamber of Commerce.

So now I'm on Day 5. Nothing has changed with the bronchitis since Tuesday morning. At what point do I go back to Emergency?

 
At 11:24 AM, Anonymous sooey said...

What about a walk-in clinic, Sheena? You may even find it better than having a family doctor.

 
At 11:41 AM, Blogger Sheena said...

I will have to find one sooey.
At least I can walk to the hospital.

 
At 12:38 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I knew I should have kept in touch with that male nurse I met in K/W. I'm sure he would have taken the time to look down your throat - he sure enjoyed looking down mine! :P

 
At 1:07 PM, Blogger Sheena said...

Oh! I had forgotten all about that. Though it was really rude when he started taking your temperature at the table that night.

 
At 1:27 PM, Blogger Leatherhands said...

Holy shit Sheena, I'd go back now. Try early Saturday morning, might be less crowded.
(And no boozing it up. Or sleep deprivation.)

 

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