Friday, July 16, 2010

The Waiting Room

93 Days to the Mount Desert Island Marathon

And I spend the afternoon in the Accident and Emergency Ward of St Vincent's Hospital.

Over the last few days I've had an off again on again pain in my lower stomach which was getting worse. Last night it woke me up - which is unusual. It hadn't done that in the past. On arriving at work, I told Popeye about the pain. He then marched me over to the local doctor for an appointment.

It's not like it's bad pain. More growly, grumbly pain that is bearable, but there. Nothing too bad. The Nurofen I took in the morning didn't touch it, but I wasn't doubled over - just uncomfortable.

So, 11.45am, off to the GP across the road from work - not my lovely GP near home. This guy has little bedside manner to speak of - you only go to him if really necessary. He had a prod around my belly, stuck a thermometer in my ear, took my blood pressure and announce that I'd better get myself over to St Vincents for the afternoon - something was going on, but what he couldn't tell. Ovarian cyst? Appendicitis? It needed to be investigated.


Back at the office I collected my things, the spare clothes I keep in my desk, my mobile charger and a hairbrush. I could survive a week in the Sahara with these objects. By 12.45 I was being assessed by the Triage nurse across the road.

Hospital waiting rooms have to see the most diverse tangents of society. St Vinnies, which sits at the edge of the city, next to the once notorious Fitzroy and the occasionally seedy Carlton, sees its fair share of junkies, nutters, waifs and strays. Saturday night, it's Loony Central.

I've been lucky with hospitals. In my adult life I've never been admitted - only going to the emergency room once for suspected pnuemonia and once when I was bleeding out of both ears after a really nasty virus. Though I can cope with hospitals, I'm not fond of them.

Looking around the room, the prefab chairs took the weight of the every section of humanity. Under the light of Oprah who was being projected onto a wall sat the elderly with their wheelie walkers, a hunchback in a wheelchair, a young lifeguard sat holding her stomach, weeping. Mothers and daughters, fathers and sons. Greek, Chinese, Arabic, bogan were being spoken. A real melting pot.

From my perch at the back fo the room I watched as people came in and out, trying to ignore the increasing pain. A good looking man in a road crew vest asked for some attention to the laceration on his face. An old man with his zimmer frame stared at his foot encased in a plastic bag. An old Greek couple sat quietly, holding hands.

Some were angry, some dejected, some just wanted some attention. Some demanded loudly. Others just asked quietly.

I just felt a bit useless. I wasn't ill. I just had a pain in my tummy. All I wanted was something to eat and drink, which as I hadn't been diagnosed, was not allowed.

An obese woman, greasy hair, thongs, ill fitting clothing came in and out of the sliding door, popping outside for a cigarette ever half hour, on the half hour. The occasional yell. A drug fuelled rant. The squelch of sandshoes on linoleum. Names called. People shuffled by. People in lanyards and scrubs walked with purpose - different to the folks waiting for their attention.

The prefab chairs filled and emptied, filled and emptied once again.

After an hour or so Reindert came to sit with me. He's cried of a couple of meetings to be there. The phone ran hot. How was I? Where was I? Did I need anything? Standard answers. Ok. Still waiting. No needs, other than to get this over and done with.

Four hours later, things started to happen. Reindert returned to work - but his company until then meant the world to me. Ultrasounds with earnest, intelligent young women phographing me from the outside in and the inside out. More prodding and poking. More questions.

Finally, five and a half hours later, I was seen. I got my own cubicle, something to lie on, a curtain, an powerpoint to charge the phone and some privacy. A lovely German doctor, Sebastian, got to have a look. A flamboyant queen with a tyre rim in his ear took my bloods. More questions. How much do I drink? Smoke? Exercise? Questions of a more personal nature. Nothing really added up. I'm in shockingly good heath and live a rather stupidly healthy life.

At six-thirty, finally, they let me have something to drink. And I started to feel a bit better. Combined with the opium derived pain killer he gave me, things calmed a bit. Never doubt the power of a good narcotic.

They let me go at eight 'o' clock, just as Reindert and the Grounded Dutchman came to see me.

The diagnosis - ovarian pain to be investigated. Definitely not appendicitis. Not Ovarian cysts. But something that will need investigating in the weeks to come. I've been given some antibiotics to kill the inflamation. Got told to take it easy for a bit.

I'm just really glad we have access to a wonderful, free, health system over here.

I'm also glad I wasn't dying. After witness the full brunt of Accident and Emergency it's not somewhere I want to go back to in a hurry.

Reindert took me home, gathering some necessary dinner on the way. The calls to family and friends have been made. Viv, my dream group's leader made the comment. " Right ovary. 31st Path. You're not using your intellect enough."

She might have a point.

I'm just glad to be home, safe, in some minor discomfort - with the knowledge that I'm going to be okay.


Kath Lockett said...

Bloody hell!

Okay that was my first reaction, because ANY visit to the A&E is exactly as you describe - full of every single aspect of humanity, warts and all and a hellishly long time of waiting.

Second reaction - you'll be OK but rest, take your medicine and get it properly investigated, pronto.

Third reaction - your recent posts always mention 'the countdown' to the big run. Dare I ask the question: do you HAVE to do it if your body is just starting to have a few doubts? Can you do another event later in the year? Is the big hand of God going to come on down out of the clouds and give you a good slapping for not able to do the deed in 96 days' time?

Just asking...

Word verification - Aximisha: the conflict suffered between wanting to achieve something after a great deal of effort and training and the reality that sometimes it would be better not to. Sufferers tend to put themselves through a lot of agony when friends and loved ones are urging them to be easier on themselves.

Pandora Behr said...

Agree with everything you say Kath. Will be okay with rest, medication and further medical checks.

As for the marathon - this will be evaluated in a few weeks - I can't train until this is fixed (or at least pain free - and I'm reckong that walking or run walking will be a better way to go - already lost 6 weeks of training with the calf strain. I'm going to be sensible about this no matter what happens (and thanks for caring too)