Thursday, February 7, 2008

"Close" only counts in horseshoes, hand grenades and hospitals. If only hospitals got that.

I woke up yesterday morning in considerable pain and in a pool of blood. For a time, I really thought there was a chance I had been stabbed. You know, when you're dreaming about O.J. and then you wake up in a pool of blood...your mind does weird things. But I had not been stabbed or shot or injured by the hand of another. What happened (without going into too much gory detail) was that this weird growth thing that I had on me right near my waistband had burst. Causing massive pain and lots of blood. So I bandaged it up as best I could, and went to the hospital after work. I have not yet replaced my health card since I lost it a few years ago, so I can't go to a clinic. At least the hospitals can figure out the OHIP number for me. So I drove to the Queensway-Carleton, figuring the only thing to do was to go to Emergency. So I followed the signs to Emergency, which stood to reason in my mind. However, when I pulled into the Emergency area, the signs all said parking was just for five minutes, tops. I turned around and drove to the parking lot, took my ticket, and walked the one kilometre back to Emergency.

So this is what I gathered. If you are dropping a patient off at Emergency, you can park right in front of the door. But if you are getting yourself to Emergency, you must park several miles away and walk. OK. If I'm just dropping someone off there, I don't need to park. I will pull up out front, they will get out, and I will drive away. If they are unconscious and need my assistance to get inside, if I have to carry that person, running and screaming for help while blood flies everywhere like in the movies, then I am still not going to park. Speed will be the key thing for me, and I will pull up to the curb of Emergency with the tires squealing and the back end fishtailing and the horn going, just like in those same movies. You know how the handicapped parking spaces are right in front of the Zellers or the Liquor Store? That's because it is more difficult for the handicapped to get around, and they should not have to walk so far. But some of those handicapped people have motorized wheelchairs. So they don't need to be closer. But they need to have wider spots in order to get into those wheelchairs. So those are provided for my shopping - what gives with the hospital?

I wasn't so badly off. All I had was a bleeding open sore near my waistband and I could walk OK as long as I kept the waistband of my pants off my skin. Not so much the guy who followed me out of the parking lot to Emergency, who had blood spurting out of his foot. He came in about three minutes after I did, and that must have been a hell of a walk for him. Once I got inside, a very nice young woman took my information, checked my blood pressure. She remarked on my Heart and Stroke Foundation T-Shirt (another freebie). I told her I only wore it to smoke. She said I should find a family doctor and I should keep my blood pressure down and I should probably get a health card. I said "duh" to all three. I then settled myself in for what I knew would be an interminable wait at the emergency room. I had the latest issue of the Randall Moore book-of-the-week club with me, Mordecai Richler's "Barney's Version". I put my feet up, got comfortable, rested my arms and I began to read.

But then - what? I was being called in already! I got sent to one of those small rooms, where I waited less than ten minutes before a nice young nurse came in and gave me a gown. I had to take off my shirt and put on this gown. I tried to explain that the gown was actually going to make it tougher to see my injury than my shirt would, but she had already gone. I figured it was some sort of hospital thing. Like, the gown identifies me as a patient, but if I was wearing my shirt and pants, I might just be a courier taking a break in a hospital room. I put on the gown. It was freezing as I waited there. For three more hours. How did I get into this room so fast, and then wait so long? I had been comfortable reading Barney's Version in the waiting room, with arm rests and my feet up. In this little room, I sat on the uncomfortable bed, the uncomfortable stool, I tried to stand and lean against the wall, nothing worked. Finally, I could not sit in any way without feeling pain from my waistband, so I took off my pants. I figured when the doctor got there I would just pretend that I thought I was supposed to do that.

When he finally did get there, he took a look at my open wound, and said he thought he knew what it was. He squeezed it between his fingers, opened it wide, and jammed a gigantic Q-Tip about a foot into my stomach. I actually made a screaming sound and may have sworn a lot. I asked him why he did that without warning. It would have been nice to hear "brace yourself. This will be the most painful moment of your life." Or even "This may sting. Brace yourself." But no, he decided that the element of surprise was best. Perhaps he really likes looking at the faces that are screwed up in agony. Maybe my picture was being taken by some hidden camera in the room, later to be featured on the Fox TV show "Faces Of Agony: Tales From Emergency". He might have been in my room for one and a half minutes. He said "you have an abcess. It looks like it might be infected. Here's a prescription." And like that - whoosh - he's gone. I sat there for a bit, not sure if my time at the hospital was over, and then finally, I put my shirt back on, left the robe on the gurney, and sort of confusedly made my way toward the exit.

I went to three pharmacies. The first one had absolutely no parking available, the second had gone out of business, and the third was a long walk that I ended up having to undertake. Today, I apparently have to take a bath with something called Epson Salts, and open the wound up myself with my fingers in order to make sure as much salt as possible gets inside. Intentionally salting a wound seems like bad medicine to me, but then, I am no doctor or health care professional. Or parking lot designer.


  1. I think I had one of those wounds once, when I was younger. It was the size of a loonie on my side half way between my waist and my arm pit... and HOLY SHIT did it hurt. It was like a massive zit. I ended up popping it myself and all this creamy pus came out, followed by blood.

    Hope nobody was eating breakfast when they read this.

  2. Maybe it was a massive zit...

    Eric, it looks like no sympathy on the parking lot thing. I've been to that same hospital emergency twice now (once for my wife and once for my 1-year old daughter). The first time I got lost looking for the parking lot (it's across the main driver, nearest the entrance to Tim Horton's). Both times we were into a room relatively quickly...but then a two-hour wait once inside to see a doctor.
    The sucky thing? It was late at night both times and Tim's was closed. The vending machine coffee didn't taste like crap. I've worked on a farm...crap tastes better.

  3. Yeah, the pain was ridiculous - especially when he jammed that Q-Tip thing in there. And I'm sure others have the same parking lot problem there - it truly wasn't a big deal for me, but watching that guy with the bleeding foot make it into the ER, I felt for him. I wanted to go back outside and see if I could find his car by the trail of blood. Now I'm just glad I didn't try the coffee.