Sunday, February 5, 2012

The ER Zone

The Love Affair / Pencil drawing /

Here's a medically related video that is deeply offensive, horribly politically incorrect and (because I'm forgetful these days) probably already posted before:

This column was published in the West Quebec Post in 2011. I am republishing it with the hope that things have changed and proper funding and resourcing have been found and are fixing the appalling Emergency Room situations in parts of this country. Perhaps you've had a few experiences with Canada's ERs these days? Why not post a comment below? Maybe the people in power haven't got a clue what it's really like so how will they ever know if no one tells them?
The ER Zone

It has been almost four hours now that we entered the Wakefield Memorial Hospital Emergency waiting area. We are running out of food now. Sure they said there would be food… but there isn’t any. It’s after hours now and the Giftshop Lady with all her candy and muffins has disappeared. We don’t have any change left. We spent the last tooney on the parking token. What was the use of that? It’s not as if we can leave. They haven’t called our name yet. I don’t think they will. The other ones are going in and some aren’t coming out. We don’t know where they’ve gone. We have no hope now of ever leaving here. If you get this message please send help and tell our friends and families that we love them.

It wasn’t supposed to be like this. George had a sore throat and a low-grade fever. He had red splotches and white bumps. He was missing work from the coughing and that relentless body ache. It could have been strep. What did we know? We were fools. Just fools. I phoned for a doctor’s appointment cancellation. Any doctor, I said! Anyone! We weren’t fussy. But there were no cancellations. None at all. Not even two hours later. So I called the Nurse phone-line who said we should see a doctor just to be sure. “A simple swab” she said. Sure. Sure. Simple swab she said. So I called the first clinic. But it wasn’t open. It was a Friday. I called the next one but it wasn’t open either. The next one had a recorded message. It sounded like a recording from a lunatic speaking tongues. It made no sense. None at all.

The next one was open. Oh yes. It was open. Open for what? There were no doctors. No doctors until Sunday they said. Why? Why were they open? Were they just teasing us all? Promising hope for all the sick in one breath and snatching it away just like that. Were they laughing? I think so. There is just cruelty when compassion has died. They knew we would have no choice. They knew we’d either die of terror from the unknown “infection without a swab” or go there… to the Emergency Room. They knew we wouldn’t bring enough food or books. They knew we’d end up frothing and insane. They didn’t warn us. They didn’t care.

It only took three hours of waiting before I cracked. George said I stopped making sense. We asked them how long the wait was. They wouldn’t commit. They said it was an “Emergency Room” for heavenssakes. “What did we expect” they said. I lost it then. That’s when I told them that wasn’t right. That doesn’t make sense. It’s an oxymoron or something, I said. But no one would listen. Logic has no place in an asylum.

It doesn’t take long for the paranoia to set in. “It’s your name,” I told George. “Nobody in their right mind can pronounce it. They’ll never call your name! You fool!” I said. “Why didn’t you say your name was Beauchamp or something!” But he said there’s no point in blame. He said it was just the way it was. But I knew differently. No one got out of this without scars. Someone had to be accountable. “Why did you bring me with you?” I screamed! “WHY?”

The paranoia got worse. I started looking at the other ones--the few that got in. One had duct tape on his thumb. “Dammit George” I said, “why didn’t you put some duct tape on! You ‘know’ they like duct tape! You could have limped. You could have fainted or something! ANYTHING!” But George ignored me. He’d been slowly going into a coma staring at the red dots on the floor leading into the far reaches of the hospital. He had woken up startled thinking they were skull and crossbones leading to the morgue. I tried to calm him but I couldn’t. I knew we were doomed then. We were beyond hope.

“That woman,” I said, “Look at her! For godssakes… she only had one kid when she arrived. Now there are two! It’s too long I’m telling you! Too long!” But he wasn’t listening. He was humming the same stupid tune over and over and over. Over and over and over. I had to slap him. What else could I do? He’d gone mad.

It didn’t help. The relentless fluorescent lights done him in. He couldn’t talk. He still can’t. How many times do I have to slap him? He’s still mad. I can’t go on! I can’t I tell you! I can’t!

No… it won’t be long now. If you get this message. Please send help. They haven’t called his name yet. I don’t think they will. For the love of God people! Send Help!!!

No comments: