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A very unpleasant night - Musings of Unayok

2008 Nov 26

12:13A very unpleasant night 

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About midnight last night I went to change the dressing on the partial (stubbed) drain that was de-bagged earlier in the day. There has been some seepage and I thought it would be a good idea.

In the long term, it was, but in the short term it was a monumentally bad idea, as every contact with the tubing caused intense pain, to the point where I could barely shift in bed, let alone sit up, stand or walk. This did not abate after a couple of hours, so after calling the (USELESS) Home care nursing service, I decided I needed to go back to the hospital to have this dealt with. This meant getting an ambulance. Didn't go through 911, so no sirens or anything.

Meanwhile, I removed the rest of the dressing from the drain and (once my vision returned) improvised a kind of Molly guard over it (a small plastic bowl placed over the tubing, secured with some Transpore. This made moving tolerable, albeit barely.

Still, I needed assistance from the EMS team of Sean and Sean who were excellent, patient, helping and skilled. And we made our way to emergency.

A more stark difference from my inpatient hospital stay there could not be.

If there is one significant failing in the current implementation and state of socialized medicine in Canada it is emergency wait times for "urgent" care (as opposed to immediate life-threatening "emergency" care).

Getting registered was simple as most of the data had been entered by Sean #2 on the ride to the hospital. The wheelchair was even comfortable.

However, it took 3 hours of waiting in the primary waiting area, and many more hours in the "Minor Treatment" section before my existence was really noted. All the while, I am in considerable pain (4-5 on The Scale, where as any contact with the tubing shot it all the way to 8-9). Now, 4-5 is manageable for me for periods. But that's not the point. There was no communication on status, only one query as to my pain levels, and a resigned "it can be up to 8 hours" when I asked a nurse how long I should expect it to take.

In the end, I pulled a bit of an end-run. I went into the hospital at around 0200. By 0830, my surgeon's office was open, so I called there and explained my predicament. Unfortunately, he had just gone into his first operation of the day, but it was relatively short and he barreled down to see me when he got the relayed message. I never actually saw the ER doctor.

In the end, it was resolved by a couple of minutes of exquisite agnoy. The remnant of the drain tube was shorter than the surgeon had allowed for, and had worked itself most of the way out; all of the irritation was the last few millimeters aggravating the abdominal wall, with some associated pus. A quick pop and out it all came. Very much not fun, but within a few minutes I was beginning to feel somewhat more as expected. He ordered some blood tests to check for infection; they were clear, and I headed home (where I'm typing this).

This feels so much better.

Having recently experienced very good nursing care and very very poor care at the same facility within the same period I feel that I am in a good position to rant long and hard about the inadequacies of the latter. And I will be. To the hospital and the Minister of Health. We can do a lot better.

Now I desperately need some sleep. And finally, I may be able to get some reasonable skeeo


Date:2008 Nov 27 - 15:49 (UTC)

Glad that it worked out in the end, but not a fun experience. Definitely make yourself heard, since I'm sure most people don't, which is why the system is the way it is.

Hope you got some sleep!
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Date:2008 Nov 27 - 18:51 (UTC)
That is so dispiriting. I've always thought that my endless waits at emerg. were because my issues weren't major enough, but if even yours didn't get adequately treated...

Grumble. I'm glad you're feeling better, but sorry to hear about the ordeal.
[User Picture]
Date:2008 Dec 01 - 22:31 (UTC)

I sadly relate to your ordeal all too well. I pray that since you posted this a few days ago, that your pain levels have improved. I'm sorry I haven't been very good at keeping up communications on my end. My own medical dramas are ongoing and I've unfortunately been lax in being a good friend to my other good friends.

(gentle) hugs my friend
[User Picture]
Date:2008 Dec 01 - 22:32 (UTC)
By the way, what is "reasonable skeeo?" Is there such a thing as "unreasonable skeeo?" LOL :-D I can't type well either when the drugs are working.
[User Picture]
Date:2008 Dec 02 - 22:28 (UTC)
I think the word was "sleep". Maybe. I was very tired then. Very very tired.