Walden World

The wacky and wonderful tales of Beth's and Catherine's global adventures. And all things Walden too.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Monster Hospital

An ear infection that transformed me into a female Elephant Man was bad enough. However I was lucky to able to snatch an appointment at my doctor's office with a resident doing student work there for the summer.

I sat in the examination room cradling my swollen face. "Wow, your ear is really, really bad!" she commented and said I had a terrible infection.

To my alarm she then pulled out a text book and spent the next 20 minutes reading through it in order to arrive at a conclusion about what to do with me.

Her main concern, she said, was that the infection was such that it might have entered "the bone".

"My jaw and face you mean?!" I squeaked in alarm.

"Ah yes...that can happen" she replied looking away.

The last time someone 'looked away' like that was in response to another of my direct questions. In that case, when I asked my guide in Costa Rica whether any turistas had been attacked by crocodiles in the particular river I was about to white water down, in a small, solo inflatable dingy, he replied: "not yet" while looking away.

Back to my resident appointment.

"Ummm... so what should I do?" I asked.

"Well, if you develop a fever or if gets any worse in terms of pain go immediately to an emergency ward to have your face and neck imaged."

She then sent me off with scads of antibiotics, garnered from the text, drops and mild narcotics.

By the middle of that night I was in excruiating pain and all the Tylenol 3s she had prescribed weren't doing a thing. I asked C to take me to the hospital. Assuming as it was 4:30 am on a Thursday morning I thought we would be in and our of emerg in at least an hour.

How was I to know that the emergency room in downtown Guelph in the small hours of the morning features a host of people who should be nominated for the Darwin Awards. They are those made up awards given to people who do really, really stupid things that kill them, thereby making the gene pool a better place for all.

I'm not sure how many patients were injured in the course of foolhardy drunken or drugged behaviour nor how many had been felled by a fist fight or an OD. One thing was clear though, we weren't looking at a bunch of elderly heart attack victims. Unfortunately this meant that for every Darwin case, all their friends, who had nothing better to do with their time at 5 in the morning, had accompanied them to the hospital.

Thus the entire waiting room was awash in White faux gang bangers sporting bandanas and filthy track pants going "yo bitch" every three seconds. I didn't have the heart to tell them, when hip hop artists refer to "South Central" they are referring to the impoverished South Central area of Los Angeles, not South Central Ontario.

The worst offenders were two teenage girls whose entire conversation consisted of "So yo, I said bee-yatch get the fuck out of my face" followed by racaus teen girl giggling and more references to a medley of yet other "bee-yatch"es they had taken on.

Suffice to say my mood was grim.

To add to my pain was the fact that there was apparentlly not one medical person around: no nurse, no doctor, no one at the "triage desk". After some 40 minutes I finally asked a guard to find someone.

A mean nurse finally arrived and perfunctorily informed me "Lisa" would take my details.

Lisa seemed to have been pulled out of nursery duty in light of the many cute animal figures featured on her scrubs. She pulled up the computer screen and proceeded to say "I guess you've just moved to Guelph." "No" I replied. "I've lived here for a year and half".

"Why then?" she asked, quite shocked "Haven't we seen you before?!"

I wasn't sure what to say. I hadn't stepped on a rake, fallen from a roof, been ejected off a motorcycle nor participated in a bar fight. C hadn't even said the words "yo" or "bitch" for the whole time we were sitting there.

"Ummm...because I've never had to go to emergency before???" I replied weakly.

She snuffed and looked at me suspiciously especially when I cited a family doctor of long standing relationship. Clearly I was some kind of con.

Ushered back into the waiting room, we continued to wait while all the staff yet again disappeared. Finally sometime after 5 am the first mean nurse reappeared.

Cradling my swollen face I pleaded: "When am I going to see someone?"

"Oh it will be a few hours" she replied with a curt and condescending snarl.

I looked around the now completely empty waiting room. Fed up with the entire place I said to her: "Well you know what? Then I am going home! I have waited well over an hour! This is the worst emergency room!!!"

"Dear..." she responded shocked "you haven't been here long at all"

I turned on my heels, and marched out of emergency into the cool night air, a beautful August moon shone above.

"Hell" I thought to myself. "If my face gets eaten, I'll sue the pants off the hospital! So take that that...umm...bee-yotch!"