Jack fell down and broke his crown, and bureaucracy damn near killed him.
Actually, it was the wife who fell down. She was just pulling up her pants after using the main-floor washroom, when her tinnitus, and other inner ear disorders upset her balance, and she keeled over backward, smacking her head against the door, and the floor. Then followed five minutes of painful wriggling to move far enough so that the son and I could get the door open and help her up.
With COVID distancing mandates, it was three days before she even got a telephone interview with her doctor. The doctor called at 2:00 PM. When she heard of headaches, sleeping for 12/14 hours, and slurred speech, she suddenly insisted that we attend her clinic, immediately.
At 3:00 o’clock, she found bruising, and a droopy eye. What we took to be a mild concussion, might be internal cranial bleeding. She needs to know ASAP! The city has two hospitals, but only one, shared, MRI machine. A scheduled appointment could take weeks – too long. She apologized, but said that, the only way to ensure an MRI today, is to go and sit in Emergency for seven hours. Eventually, it will get done.
At 4:00 o’clock, we got the wife registered at Emerge. It seemed simple. Take the doctor’s work order out of the fax machine, and do the test as soon as a tech could be scheduled. First, we waited twenty minutes to see a triage nurse. She checked blood pressure, heart rate, blood-oxygen percentage and temperature, and directed us to the dreaded waiting room. After another twenty minutes, another nurse showed up with a small cart, and took a blood sample for testing, and warned of a later urine sample requirement, and the need to see the on-call doctor before anything is done.
Then we settled in for the siege. It is not first come – first served! We know that she will be seen after the guy who slashed his fingers in a DIY accident, the woman with a bloody nose running down her face, and the young man knocked off his bicycle in traffic. If we have to wait (and wait, and wait), at least we could enjoy the floor show. Stupidity and larceny are in plentiful supply.
A chubby street hooker, with more ink than the New York Times, but no obvious distress, showed up. A young homeless (?) woman, with a giant backpack and two stuffed shopping bags, managed to find a seat in the crowded room, to get out of the rain. A young, female addict, who survived a minor overdose, stormed out and across the parking lot, still wearing the hospital’s blanket, and screaming, “Get away from me! I don’t want to have anything to do with you!” at a boyfriend who has had enough, and is already half a block away.
Two security guards have an office with security monitors, just inside the entrance. We caught a glimpse of them rushing outside, and chasing someone around the building. Two male, and one female, Police officers patrol in and around the Emergency ward. I looked for Tasers, but in tight quarters they might get grabbed. At 6:00, I got her a coffee, and me a hot chocolate from the in-house Tim Hortons outlet, upstairs. At 7:00 I got her a buttered tea-biscuit, and me a crème-cheese bagel. It’s going to be a long night, and her diabetes needs to be fed.
At 8:00 a patrol-car cop brings in a young, female shoplifter. He’s wearing a Taser, and she’s wearing handcuffs in front of her. The wife later said that, around midnight, two cops brought in three young males involved in a bar fight, not only handcuffed behind, but also connected to ankle shackles. One of them wailed that, He was just being paraded around, and everybody was going to know!
I had to reluctantly leave her alone at 8:30. Our two little dogs have been locked in a cage for six hours. The son needs the car to get to work at 10:30. I was going to drive him across town, pick her up when she called, and drive back out to pick him up at 7:30 AM. Already under work-stress, when he heard what was (not) happening, he took the night off, and ordered a pizza, because none of us was eating properly.
At 3:00 AM, she called to say that the (next-shift) doctor had examined her, and she was on her way to Nuclear Medicine. At 3:45 she called to be picked up. She entered the hospital at four PM, and finally got out at four AM. The threatened seven-hour wait had stretched to twelve hours, for a five-minute test. Thankfully, we now know that all is well. Without any visible blood or injury, she still could have collapsed out of her chair at any moment.
Do you have a hospital horror story that you’d like to recount? I will listen patiently, and commiserate.