Bopping with Niall JP O'Leary

Niall O'Leary insists on sharing his hare-brained notions and hysterical emotions. Personal obsessions with cinema, literature, food and alcohol feature regularly.

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

An Accident and Lack of Emergency

On Monday night, the tissue around my eyes suddenly started to swell and go red. I had used a spray-on bandage on my cuts, so I finally read the small print. "Do not use on face." That must have been it, I thought, and laughed at my continued folly. However, when next morning I still had these black (or I should say red) eyes, and as my head was still fuzzy to painful, I went to a clinic at lunchtime. It wasn't the spray-on bandage. The swelling around my eyes can sometimes indicate a fracture so they sent me off to A&E, well, after ascertaining I had no insurance that would get me to a place "where I would be treated quicker". But what did that mean afterall? An hour? Two?
I was told on admission that I would have to wait three hours. Sitting with a headache and the possibility of a skull fracture hanging over me does not make for a peaceful wait. Children's telly doesn't help either. No, it doesn't. As time went on a group in front of me started complaining among themselves about their six hour wait. I thought they must be joking. Well, I did until my six hours came around. I asked (hopefully) if I had missed my name being called out. This seemed a real possibility as the doctors just seemed to come out, mumble and then go back in. It didn't seem like there was a real attempt made to follow up and check the patient was there. Whether there was or not, when you are unsure you are going to get irritable. As I say I asked if I had missed my call and was told I was a yellow, there was a yellow ahead of me, but that three oranges (heart problems etc.) would take precedence. Fair enough, once I knew where I stood I felt calmer.
But I wasn't alone. There was a young guy and his girlfriend and a middle-aged woman both waiting as long as me. It might sound silly, but wouldn't an intercom announcement be better, or a number call? Someone timidly 'shouting' to a packed room with the television blaring just doesn't cut it.
Seven hours. The admitting staff changed shifts, so I asked again. There was one person ahead of me. At around eleven the middle-aged woman knocked on the door and managed to get herself seen to, but I had lost hope of getting out before morning. At 11:40 or so though I got the call, only nine hours after admission.
I have tremendous respect for what medical staff do, and I completely understand more serious cases should take priority, but there has to be a better way, even of just ordering the waiting process. Could there be a smaller team dedicated to the less serious cases? Just to get them out of a waiting room creating tension. And would ticketing be that much of a disaster? I can kind of understand that if it were ticketed and patients saw themselves apparently arbitrarily being pushed back and forward (depending on new more serious cases), people would get annoyed, but people do feel better when they know roughly where they stand. I was nine hours there without any proper food and worrying (at least initially), not knowing if they knew I was there or if I would ever get seen to. More than once I thought of just leaving and taking my chances (even if they meant death). There has to be a better way. Stupid idea number five hundred, but what about some games or magazines or some other distraction (besides the free 'Northside News'). The same copy of The Star was doing the rounds all day. If people are going to be waiting routinely for long hours, some distraction is better than none. A television is not enough distraction either, not when one guy turns the channel to Setanta and then sits down to read his paper. I do not like 'Top Gear', no, I do not.
When I eventually did get seen to, the intern had me wait another ten minutes, then more while he went looking for the hammer etc. required for reflex testing. As it happened he couldn't find them, so he improvised with his stethoscope. Ultimately he did no more (and probably quite a bit less) than the clinic. The clinic had sent me to A&E presuming they would want to scan me. In the event they didn't. They felt my fuzziness was concussion, the tightness around my head just the muscles contracting after the damage to my forehead. I was just glad to be leaving that hell. Again the greatest of respect to all concerned (and I am very sincere in that), but I never, ever want to visit A&E ever again. Never!


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