Wednesday, April 22, 2015

It was actually 9 hours…





This is a “dueling” blog, something that my housemate and I occasionally do – as she does with her husband: sometimes it even becomes a triple blog if we experience the same event together and all write about it.

But I digress: first of all her version: http://theexpatwriter.blogspot.ch/2015/04/seven-hours-in-urgence.html and here mine (without first reading hers as there would be a cross-transference probably of thoughts and that’s not the point of a “dueling” blog.

Here’s mine:
Friday my housemate saw her local generalist as she has been having re-occurring pains again in her esophagus (now there’s a word that’s not only un-spellable in either French or English, nor do either of us pronounce it correctly more than half the time) for the past couple of months. Some of you will recall my blog on arriving in Argelès for a visit only to find that she was in the hospital in late March. Her heart, of course (and long may that be the case) was in fine shape, no apparent reason for the esophagus problems so he was thinking that it was time to schedule another esophascopy (words involving the core word “esophagus” only get worse in pronunciation and spelling) – great, let’s get to the bottom of this, hmmm the part of the esophagus that is causing the problem is the bottom towards the stomach.

Saturday she awoke with pain – duh, it’s the weekend of course – which went up and down in between a 2 and a 9 (on a scale of 10) the rest of the weekend. The usual meds weren’t helping much nor for long so come Monday I was “right, either your doctor finds someone to send you to today, or we go to emergency”. Had I known: what’s that phrase about hindsight?

Anyway, she duly called the doctor, but perhaps neglected to stress the urgency of the situation as no one got back to her and at 10 we decided emergency it is so she called the doctor’s office and told them that’s where we were going.

Now, one would think that we would have learned our lesson with other trips to emergency: they always think it’s the heart no matter how much we explain the past. Anyway, they are always pleasant, always finally do take care of things in an orderly manner (quick check to make sure that you aren’t dying, then you queue like the other 20 people who have come in on a Monday morning).  We spent an hour in the outside waiting room, then she was transferred to the first sector of curtained “booths” at which time I went and changed the car (in and out to keep the costs down – this is a trick I learned back when I was working in the old town of Geneva. After two hours the rate goes up like every 20 minutes, then eventually 15, become quickly very expensive). Our one regret: Neither of us had thought to bring pen and paper or we could have had fun writing flash fiction about the other people waiting.

It’s amazing how divisive a hospital emergency room can be: personnel on the one side, bustling, healthy and the “sick”, ailing or otherwise in need of medical attention on the other. The latter are snippets of lives – all probably from totally different walks of life, thrown together by one dominant need – medical attention. In this particular emergency room on this particular Monday morning, it was about equal in between men and women. Ranged from young teenagers to the elderly; some came in under their own steam, others on a stretcher. The one unusual (as compared to other visits to emergency throughout the years) element: all were automatically put into a wheel chair (hmmm…. Maybe that had some correlation to the amount of persons? Again hindsight is 100%). Was it to keep them in line, to distinguish patients from accompanying persons? During my absence to change the car (I went up a floor) my housemate was transferred to the curtain-booth part of emergency and allowed to lie down. More interesting fellow humans to observe.

Some two hours after our first entry, she was transferred back to booth “S” – more curtains, but getting closer to a doctor. Then I remembered the last two visits to emergency: once with my older son when he was medically evacuated back with a herniated back disk; one with my housemate when she fell on her face, breaking her check-bone.

Another hour and I went off to the cafeteria for lunch – an interesting “salad” of couscous and smoked salmon. In the space of the afternoon we saw several nurses, a couple of doctors (towards the end with conflicting information) and she stayed hooked up to the recording machines. One blood pressure cuff had to be changed: the other just about killed her. At the end of some 7 hours it was deemed not to be a heart attack: here’s where the “had we known” comes in. this is always the case.  Then we found out that they couldn’t do a gastroscopy on an emergency basis (which was what had motivated us to come in in the first place…).

However, progress was made when they did the blood test (for heart attacks) and they discovered that there was an infection/inflammation somewhere. Off for an x-ray – normal results.  Nine hours later she was released; yesterday I picked up her prescription for TNT, which seems to help sometimes; today we are off back to the regular doctor.

There were positives to the day: I had to cancel nothing (she had to cancel three other routine medical appointments); I was able to get through my entire backlog of newspapers (remember the fun trip to Italy? Had lots to catch up on after that absence); read two magazines; played all the Sudoku games contained in any of the newspapers/magazines; had a decent lunch; even had coffee at my usual time; the weather was beautiful so I didn’t have to go change the car under the rain; every time I changed the car I went a floor closer to the exit; and the best of all – she didn’t have to spend the night in observation!

Hopefully this also will be the only trip to emergency for the year: I look upon these dashes as inoculation for the immediate future. Been there; done that so we’ll all be o.k. for another year.