Sunday, 24 February 2013

A Day In The Emergency Room

One of the most intense studies on human nature is to sit for hours in the Emergency waiting room and watch as people come in, report to reception and take their seat (or not).

Grandpa was there today.  We received an early morning call:

"Is that you, Andre?"
"Yes, Brian.. what's up?"
"Can you take me to the hospital?"
"What's wrong?"
"I think I've got food poisoning..."

Sarah and I spent 7 hours waiting for Grandpa at the local hospital.  Grandpa didn't eat or drink in that time.  He also had to wait hours for some type of pain relief.

It's a false sense of 'moving ahead' in the queue when you get assessed at the front, then ushered to the treatment room.  There's another throng back there.  All waiting for attention. Those who are caring for them are sitting in the waiting room, oblivious to them also still waiting and not being treated.  As far as we know, tests are being taken.  Blood is being let.  X-rays are a-scanning.  Questions are being asked, assessments made and medication prescribed.

I've performed the waiting-in-the-ER game several times for various family members (as a mother / daughter / wife does).  Survival dictates that you have to occupy yourself and resign to be there for hours. People watching is a good source of entertainment:

Two men sitting together chatted loudly.  One seemed quite anxious, as he paced, queried his appointment time at reception, searched with eager, desperate eyes - each time a staff member passed through the room.  "We've got one and a half hours to get home and watch the footy..." came from his companion. "The staff here are mean.  They don't care at all..."  

They were waiting for meth.

An older man with a hoodie and pyjama shorts, revealing leg ulcers couldn't help but praise the staff and on his way out, leaned into the reception " .... thanks for getting things going, love..."

A mom (and her son probably aged about 9) was giving her details through the slatted glass window which said "Discharges".  The receptionist asked for her phone number.  The mom was relaying her number when the son shouted the rest of the digits out.  The mom was silenced.  Further questions were asked and relayed.  The son decided to push right in front of his mother.  Mom submitted and took a step back.... 

A large woman wearing knee length lycra and a spaghetti strapped top, revealing flapping upper arms, heavily tattooed.  Her hair was wire-like, but fly-away.  She had arrived with her daughter and grandson.  The large woman was glaring at an older man, also wearing lycra. And she didn't hide it, either.  Later, her daughter, attired in egg-shell blue track suit sat in the chair next to her mother, the sides of their bottoms firmly wedged together.  She sat with her legs sprawled boldly apart.  The little boy  was sitting on his mother's upper abdomen, while her lower abdomen bulged out proudly, acting as a back rest.  

Both women were talking with the meth men.

Methman one: "We're hoping to see the footy"
Methman two: "Yeah, if we make it on time"
Large woman: "Sure you will.  It probably won't rain..."
Daughter: "Course it's gonna rain, mom.  It's gonna piss down..."

A younger woman reported to reception, hobbling with crutches, scrambling through her bag for her mobile phone.  She reported in and then, phone still in hand, sat over three chairs; bum on one, legs on another, crutches on the third.  Her arched back prevented anyone from sitting behind her. Fourth chair: TAKEN!

Sarah asked if we could see Grandpa.  We were told we couldn't as there were two emergencies in the treatment rooms and they didn't want excess people hanging around.  The Machinist had called to see if we could run an errand.  We explained this to nursing staff.  They took our number and assured us that they would call if / when Grandpa was ready to be discharged.

Much later, we picked Grandpa up from the ER.
"Are you in pain?" I asked
"No, but I haven't eaten all day"
"We know.  We were told you weren't allowed to until you had seen the doctor"
Grandpa nodded his head
"What did they say was wrong?"
"They don't know.  Blood was ok, X-rays ok and I had a shot of morphine"
"Did they give you some pain relief for if and when the morphine wears off"
"No, but I've got some Panadeine Forte at home", followed by a cheeky, boyish grin.


As we were leaving town, Grandpa declared

"When I get home, I'm going to make some tea and crack open a packet of gluten free ginger biscuits.  You should try them, you know..."

Reading the Newspaper

3 comments:

English Rider said...

Emergency Rooms are similar, the world over. I usually get invited in to translate (and advocate) for my husband. At least, I know what's going on, although some sights you can't un-see.

The 5-Minute Messenger said...

It's always a nerve-wracking experience, and I dread the moments I'm ever waiting for someone in the ER.

Angelina said...

4319I love how you were able to pass your time in the ER. I enjoy people watching but not usually in the ER, mostly I sit with eyes firmly into a book I've brought to pass the time away. Luckily, I can't recall the last time I visited an ER. :)