Watch my life unravel...



Top Canadian Blogs - Top Blogs

Local Directory for Ottawa, ON


We know how to have fun

GC got a sliver in his foot from the hardwood floor. He said it felt like a long, skinny sliver. There wasn’t much to see, but he was limping and wincing. Later, when we were getting ready for bed, we saw that his foot was swollen.

I insisted we go to the hospital because he’s diabetic and you should never ignore a foot problem if you’re diabetic. (My friend Jeremy was diabetic and he ignored a foot problem and the next thing we knew, they had to cut off his foot. And then, to make matters worse, he died.)

Anyway. We arrived at the Civic Hospital Emergency Room at 9:45 p.m. There weren’t many people there, so we were optimistic it wouldn’t take long. Little did we know that this was just the outer waiting room.

While we waited, a young woman who didn’t appear to be a patient circulated among the patients, asking for change. A man emerged from somewhere within the hospital, looking for a cigarette. He wore work boots, a bomber jacket, and a hospital gown which was wide open at the back. Nothing else. We all looked at his ghastly white bum as he wandered among us. He stopped to watch TV right in front of a pretty young woman who was talking on the phone. She turned sideways in her chair and shielded her eyes with her hand so his buttocks wouldn’t be quite so directly in her face.

gchosp2Shortly after that, GC’s name was called, along with four other names, and we were admitted to the inner waiting room, which was both smaller and fuller than the outer waiting room. Half an hour later we were escorted to the Procedure Room, which was an examining room with a stretcher for GC and an uncomfortable chair for me. This turned out to be the real waiting room.

The thing about emergency rooms is after awhile you start wondering if you really need to be there, if your medical problem is worthy of all these hours and all the germs you’re exposing yourself to. After all, nobody is treating your emergency like it’s an emergency. But usually by the time you start questioning it, you’ve already invested a great deal of time, so you stay.

zoomhospitalWe read to each other and played games on our iPads and took pictures of everything in the room. At 3:30 in the morning I wandered out to see what was happening. There were all kinds of little rooms with mostly miserable-looking people in them. GC and I were having the most fun of anybody there.

I found the admin desk and asked how much longer it would be. The nurse smiled brightly and said there was only one person ahead of GC. And, she added, there were doctors on duty now, which suggested there hadn’t been doctors on duty earlier.

simpleminorAt 3:30 a.m. a very nice resident arrived. He poked around and tried to find the sliver, and then got his supervisor. The doctor prepared the freezing.

“I’m not going to lie to you,” he said. “This is going to hurt a lot. But whatever you do, try not to kick, because I might end up sticking myself with the needle.”

He wasn’t lying, it did hurt a lot. GC’s back arched in pain, and he gritted his teeth and grimaced, but he didn’t kick. The doctor dug around in his foot with a knife and tweezers and there was quite a bit of blood, and then he announced that he couldn’t find anything. He said maybe it slid in and right back out. They bandaged the foot and told us to go home and watch for signs of infection.

By this time it was 4:30 in the morning. Almost seven hours of waiting and all we got was a big hole in GC’s foot and a night out. We know how to have fun!

8 comments to We know how to have fun

  • So socialized medicine doesn’t speed up the process — that just kills my buzz right there. I’ve been thru that whole ordeal of waiting all night to get help for the spouse’s problem; he’s been misdiagnosed twice to boot. Both times, went in with back pain, diagnosed as a pulled muscle which turned out to be pneumonia — and they had the chest xray!–and as a kidney stone the second time, when his doctor thought it more likely a gallstone. And no, there weren’t any doctors on staff at night at that ER. We will never go there again.

  • Linda Anne

    I’m glad that GC is ok, but I’m surprised that they did not X ray the foot, since GC is a diabetic. Years ago we brought my nephew to Cheo since the top of his foot was swollen. After about 6 people holding him down to look, they couldn’t find anything. After an X-ray they discovered a small piece of sewing needle in the top of the foot. It was so small that it wasn’t initially apparent. It turned out all right in the end.

  • Poor GC! I hope his foot is feeling better.
    I had to pull a metal sliver out of Dave’s foot the other week. He was working barefoot in his basement work room! This after repeatedly nagging me about running around the garage barefoot (Something I’ve done since I was 5 – and I’ve never gotten a sliver from it – the back deck was another story…!)

  • I have gone through exactly the same waiting room thought process as you did so many times…you nailed it. I wish you hadn’t had to go through any of it, though. So glad you always know how to make the best of things. :)

  • Lucy

    I once got my finger stuck in a window and ended up spending the whole day at the Civic emergency room. I had just moved and I opened up one of the ground floor windows for the first time, and while I was standing with my hand on the window sill marvelling at the fact that it appeared to be the only window in the building that stayed up and didn’t need to be propped open, the window slid down and jammed tight on top of my finger and I was stuck there with the baby in his car seat across the room. After struggling to lift the window, yelling for help and even breaking the glass pane thinking that would make it easier to lift the window pane, I eventually managed to get help from a boy riding his bike down the lane who called his dad. The guy managed to lift open the window with a hammer and called an ambulance because my finger looked crooked and broken and my other hand was bleeding from the broken glass. So I arrived at the Civic in an ambulance with a bandage over my hand and then I spent the whole day there rocking the baby in his car seat. I didn’t have the option of giving up and leaving because I couldn’t put the car seat in a taxi. I needed to reach my partner, get him to go home and get the car seat base, and then come back to pick us up, but that was complicated because I didn’t have a cell phone. By the time I finally saw a doctor, the swelling had gone down; he looked at the x-ray, concluded it wasn’t broken, gave me a tetanus shot and put on a band-aid! But that finger is permanently slightly crooked, still now 8 yrs later.

    Shortly afterwards I replaced all the windows in the building. Some years later I sold the building and now live in a house with windows that slide horizontally. :-)

  • My favorite ER is the Wakefield Hospital, worst the Civic Campus ER both for waits and how useful/useless I feel the visit was….I actually think I might not be *able* to visit the Civic ER ever again – PTSD after that time they gave me a gorilla of an orderly to watch over me when I went in with a psych emergency….I was planning my escape most of the time I was there – they get you into the inner wait area pretty quickly when you’re crazy and hyper ventillating and are measuring the distance to the doors.

  • Julia

    I think it is great that you were together and able to amuse each other. I also think hospital staff do appreciate patients who are pleasant and don’t give them any grief, even if they might forget to say so. Also, I highly recommend having a friend and advocate with the injured or sick person. So, sorry about the boo boo! But glad that it all worked out in the end.

    Once upon a time, I went to the emergency room in the middle of the day with what turned out to be an esophageal spasm, but others thought it might be a heart attack. When they think you are having a heart attack, they see you PDQ. Another time, I had a corneal abrasion that hurt like, a lot. They didn’t see me for hours. I kept getting up to bathe my eye in the cold water fountain, to ease the pain. Then when I was seen, the doctor said, “they should have sent you in right away for something this painful!” but I just looked at him balefully with the other eye. Turns out, there’s nothing that really needs to be done for a corneal abrasion, if you can tough it out, the pain goes away and the cornea heals itself. It’s nice when they can give you a freezing drop in the affected eye. By the time it wears off, the pain is less than it was.

    Fun stuff!

  • Tom Sawyer

    God, I wish I hadn’t read this.