October 31, 2009

End of October, more hospital rant

Not sure anyone’s reading this, so it won’t matter that I say that I’m dressing up like a honeybee tonight. Hallowe’en, and the first costume party I’ve attended for a very long time.

I tried on the costume (I wore it in ’06 for a breast cancer fund raiser, and I was damned if I was going to wear pink – think before you pink: evil and insidious – dig deep and discover the corporate agenda). It fit. It’s pretty girly for a middle-aged women (me) – striped mini dress with wings and a stinger (not loaded). Throw on the antennae, voila. It’s not pretty, but it’s a costume. Frankly, the hardest part will be walking around in heels, being a Josef Seibel follower for a long, long time. Sensible, nunnish, boring. Comfortable.

Were I to break an ankle, I’d have to go to the emergency department at the QE II, our main hospital – the only emergency centre in the Halifax peninsula. But….dunno. I might be better served to re-set my own ankle and rig it up with mud and baling twine. Why? This is one reason why, and I challenge you to not be shaken by this:

A friend went to the emergency with pain in her back between her shoulder blades. She sensed it might be a pulled muscle, but after some discussion with her husband and some anxiety about using medical services for no good reason, she finally went. She went because she’s living with metastatic stage IV breast cancer – mets to liver and bone. It’s a troublesome concern when this gal has some severe pain in a place not too far from where she has bone lesions. OK…we get that, right?

The intake person (the guy who took her information and decided where she fit into the triage system they have) had to ask her what “metastatic” meant, stumbled on the word several times, and finally asked how it’s spelled. My friend, who brooks no fools under the best of conditions, asked if he didn’t have a medical dictionary to look it up. He replied, in chilly tones, that he was trying to save time by having her spell it. Well, to be fair, perhaps she should have. She should have because he then asked her to take a seat, which she occupied for two hours waiting for a doc.

Ok…here’s the thing: don’t you think that if one does not know what metastatic cancer is, that one cannot know what the implications are, and how serious the situation could be? Were my friend to suffer a break in her back…well, not good on so many levels.

The doc saw her, got a little chippy and dismissive, did nothing but tell her it was probably a pulled muscle. And it probably was. But it still does not instill faith of any kind in our emergency care.

So, if I break an ankle tonight, it will be mud, baling twine and a very nice Pinot Noir (classic pairing with lamb, I hear).


One Response to “End of October, more hospital rant”
  1. Jane Greening

    WHAT? More ridiciulousness (is that a word)? A nurse should be on duty in the triage room at ALL times. These guys just aren’t equipped to do much other than apply paddles (CLEAR!)and make tourniquets. I can’t imagine the hospital would be thrilled to know they had a jerk on duty who didn’t know what metastic meant. They just can’t have. Please tell me they can’t have. Unacceptable.