My year of medical issues had one final hurrah this past week. Why not go out with a bang?
A minor cut became infected and landed me in the ER at Vancouver General. I won’t give you all the gory details but I’ll share that I’m embarrassed that what should have been a minor issue escalated to me screaming with pain when the doctor touched me. This was not my usually stoic self. I was wimpy and pathetic. Yup, I begged for mercy. Morphine and fentanyl did nothing to ease the situation. Thank goodness the medical team opted to just knock me out.
I woke up out of pain and with a profound love and appreciation for everyone at the hospital. The profound love may have been the drugs still in my system… but I still thought I was damn lucky to have survived.
At 5am I was stable enough to be sent home and told to come back in 24 hours for more meds and most likely more pain. I was given a prized “fast-track” designation so I wouldn’t have to wait in line back at admissions. Lucky me… that’s how you make a patient feel special.
The hospital emergency entrance is a quiet place a 5am
So Saturday morning I showed up at 5am. The staff laughed. I found out no one expected me to actually come in in exactly 24 hours. I had the pass; I didn’t have to be that early. More pain and meds ensued but things had greatly improved. Out of caution they wanted me back again… we laughed because we all knew I would return at 5am.
I liked these people. And part of me noticed just how different we all looked. One nurse was covered with tattoos and had purple hair. She’s the one that gave me the fentanyl and tried to help me stop crying. The first doctor was an older Asian looking man, the second, a very young Caucasian woman. One nurse had dark skin and probably sounded more Canadian than me.
A global community all trying to help me feel better. I am blessed.
Spending any time in the ER is a chance to notice all the other people in desperate need. If you ever want to feel empathy sit in the waiting room. People are in pain, people are afraid. All of us are there hoping these kind doctors and nurses will save us.
So, Sunday morning, same place, same time. The staff laughs at me again. I get my regular chair where they administer the IV. It’s a good spot because you can see everything that’s going on. I like to watch people.
A young man comes in, sits a few chairs away from me and the doctor greets him right away and asks what the problem is. The man explains that he fell two days ago and his hand “Isn’t right.” He can’t do his regular push-ups. The doctor starts to examine the hand and asks if there is any pain. The man says no.
“So no pain at all?”
“No, but I need an x-ray, I can’t do pushups, it might be broken.”
The doctor continues to examine the hand and then explains that if he can do all the manipulations then it’s not broken and will probably just take a week or so to heal. The conversation goes back and forth for a few minutes. The young man gets angry and with a raised voice explains, “I never get mad but I want a different doctor and a lawyer! I want an x-ray. My hand might be broken. Do something.”
The doctor’s voice stays soft but firm. The young man finally stands up and struts out. I hear other raised voices as he makes his way to the exit. The doctor followed, but I’m sure it was just to make sure things didn’t escalate with anyone else. Within minutes the doctor is back at his post looking at someone else’s chart before heading into another examination room.
My point in telling you this story and the reason I will get in trouble for telling you this story…
We humans are all so damn predictable.
The nurse that hooked up my IV that morning was Japanese Canadian. The doctor was a middle aged man and he could not have looked more Jewish if he tried. He sounded BC born and raised.
And the young man upset because he couldn’t do his pushups… well he looked African Canadian but his accent sounded American. He was wearing a full camo emblazoned outfit. He had style.
And me? I’m a middle aged, Caucasian Scottish Canadian woman that thanked all the staff before I left that morning.
Sometimes we are all so very typical.
A much happier face with all the help from the folks at VGH