Saturday, February 25, 2012

Crazy days... slip, sliding, away!

Winning 1st Prize
 in their division
Miss 4-H President
 making introductions
Now, I was going to go into a great deal of detail about the 4-H club and presentations we had last week or about the major snow fall we had last night, but ... really, who wants to hear about any more snow? AND... besides the parents, who really wants to hear all the detail about our 4-H kids, amazing as they are? I decided instead, to share a story of my and Len's Friday afternoon experience with the New Brunswick health care system. I know we are all still laughing and hope that you will get a chuckle or two too!

Len has a bad back and hip with 5 compressed arthritic discs and although he has suffered from it for a few years, lately he has been unable to sleep, walk and the pain has become almost unbearable at times. Since we live so far from town and only go once a week, the day our doctor's office is closed, we decided that since he needed x-rays we would go straight to the hospital and go through the non-emergency process at emergency. It sounds simple enough, doesn't it?

Well, true to form, the next 4 hours were spent with many bizarre and hilarious moments... Since we were in Woodstock for the Farmer's Market we decided to head to the hospital in Waterville afterward which was about 15 minutes further down the highway. My friend had mentioned that there is a doctor in the hospital who had an office and would take patients on a drop in basis.

We entered the lobby and we were greeted by a hospital volunteer who is available to show you around, lead you to the area you are headed or help find you information. This elderly fellow was very friendly although looked at me confused when I said "We are here to see a doctor, who works downstairs, I think his name is Dr. Mactaquac?" He continued to smile, although puzzled now and said he didn't know the name. I admitted, I MIGHT have the name wrong, but it was something like Dr. Mac....? He told us he knew the name, but now that I had completely screwed it up he couldn't even think of what it was. It turns out it was a Dr. MacElwain and he only worked mornings... so back up to emergency for service. (It turns out I knew the word Mactaquac because it is a place in NB that we pass on the way to Fredericton.)

I decided that since we were at the hospital and I was due for some blood tests next week, maybe I could save a trip and get it all done at once. So I sent Len off to sign in at emerg by himself and I headed off to get my blood work done. Amazingly I was in and out of the lab in about 15 minutes and rejoined Len in emergency. When I arrived he was in triage with the staff.

When Len came to sit down we knew there would be a long wait ahead of us so I got him his puzzle book and I settled in for a nap. There were a few women with little children who were ahead of us as well as an elderly gentleman who was very sick and was triaged ahead of everyone else. One nice thing about the Waterville hospital is that it is out of the city, rural and quiet. So it was easy to settle down and relax.

After about an hour into my nap, I heard a loud, belligerent clearly disturbed fellow in the waiting area. He was attempting to communicate with the two year old near us but instead he seemed to be tormenting the poor kid, who in response curled up into his grandmothers arms and started to quiver. The lunatic (we quickly realized the man likely had a combination of drug, alcohol and mental health issues) was loudly and angrily telling the child that the Montreal Canadians hockey team sucked and forced his baseball cap on the kid. We knew the afternoon was taking an interesting twist.

I woke up and both women and children had been taken in to see the doctors and we now sat in the corner with the mental man (ok I have to call him SOMETHING!) verbally abusing his poor old mother and grandfather, disturbing other patients and generally being disruptive. I do have to say that it was rather amusing at times...  Clearly  we learned, via the discussion that the man was unemployed (surprise) and looking for employment. Apparently he was expecting offers from the hospitality industry, uh, ya, ok... We tried not to laugh, out loud anyway,  when he tried to explain to his mom why he had damaged his knee and attempted to avoid the discussion on why his shaved head was all banged up.

His mother kept pushing the issue about his head, saying that he must be "on something" since he couldn't tell her why his head was bruised and had a goose bump on it. He finally told her, (honestly, I am sure we could all relate to what happened) ... Last week, he was walking and he slipped... no, not on the ice, but on his chowder. Yes, you see, he was eating clam chowder for dinner, of course he had to have two cans and he slipped, well, it was the chunky kind you know? Yes, he slipped, in his chunky chowder, slid across his apartment floor and since he had a pot in his hand he hit himself in the head... I mean really, we have all been there, right?

At this point Len is shaking, turning red and trying to hold in his laughter. His eyes were welling up and the long wait began to get more fun. Mental man's voice continued to rise, sprinkled with obscenities and colourful commentary. After 2 hours in the waiting room we were now (thankfully) called into the ER room.

The nurse went through a list of questions while we waited for the doctor and Len decided to stand after sitting so long. Then... the doctor arrived. The tall Asian doctor (yes his culture is relevant to the story), entered the cubicle... he wasn't even through the screen when he looked at Len and asked his age. "Are you weally 70? I am wooking for a 70 year old man." Len confirmed, yes, he was Mr. Sherman, he was 70 and yes he looked good for his age. The doctor walked past Len and semi-layed on the bed as he continued to talk to us. He was very taken with Len's look, physique and general healthy appearance. Finally, accepting that Len was 70 but could be taken for late 50's... he turned to me and asked if I was Len's daughter... (followed by laughter) um, no, I am his wife.... He then smiled and said "OH! I know why you look young!" with a smirk at the end.

He asked Len several questions about his back and while Len was bent over, his back to the doctor, butt in the air, the doctor said "How is your peepee and poopoo?" I tried to contain my laugh, Len thought he heard wrong and said, "WHAT?" The doctor repeated, "Are your peepee and poopoo ok?" Now Len is smirking, "yes..."

The doctor saw Len's boots, chicken shit and all and then interrogated us about how organic our food is, what kind of chickens we have, the farm market, etc... As interesting as that was... we did want to get home today.... At Len's request x-rays were scheduled.

This of course led to the next fiasco... At the hospital, they have "guides" who lead you to and from x-ray. An elderly limping woman, walked up to Len and asked if he could walk or if she should get him a wheelchair... he walked. (The woman was in worse shape than he was.) At x-ray Len was instructed to change and then he went in for the imaging.

While the woman and I sat to wait, I learned in about ten minutes, the following: she fell 2 weeks ago, she was off work sick and just returned yesterday...(Me: oh you must have fell bad. Her: No, I was off for strepthroat...?) I learned she was a 3x cancer survivor (amazing!) , I learned that she had 5 sons, 2 had passed away, I learned... well, let's say by then end I wanted to get her address to mail her a sympathy card! Crazy!

Upon returning to the cubicle, we heard more from mental man, who by now had been assigned his own security guard since the nurses were not impressed with his behaviour and the doctor was refusing to treat him. Why you  may ask? Well, because he was in a week ago for the same thing. Yes, he hurt his knee a week ago, had x-rays and was treated... The doctors asked what happened this time. MM: "I don't know doctor... you see, I was drinking... next thing I knew..."

Ah! Life in the big woods! Never dull, never boring! We now know for certain the following: Don't waste time going to the doctor to take 3 appointments, 3 long trips and 6 weeks to accomplish what you can get done at emerg in one afternoon AND if we get really sick... We are headed for Fredericton!

Now, time to see if my invalid husband has shoveled the walk before the snow plow comes and if he would like some lunch. Poor little guy!


Krista Whaley said...

Great story! And liked your conclusions.

.........Sarah Sherman said...

Thanks Krista! :)