Thursday, January 6, 2011

A&E Observations

My dad on St Paddy's Day 2010...he is happy honest! :)

Late on Monday (3rd January) night I had just gotten into bed when our phone rang around 10.45pm. You know when your phone rings at that time of the night that it cannot be good news; and it was not. Mark answered the phone and I could tell that it was one of our parents. I then realised that it was my mum and rather than give the phone to me Mark talked to her. He then put his hand over the phone and explained the situation to me. My mum was concerned because my father was dizzy and is balance seemed to be off-kilter. She wondered what the symptoms of a stroke were. I asked for the phone. Mum explained that dad had not been quite right throughout the day and she was wondering whether she should take him to A&E. I did also say that it had been a pretty hot day as well.

Now you have to remember that my father is now 81 and while he is fit he has had some major health concerns over the past couple of years. He went from not having had many things wrong to all sorts of things like a bowl bleed, hernia, melanoma etc. So, I said it was best to be safe than sorry and my mum went away to “convince” my father to go. She was successful and I explained that Mark and I would meet them there.

After I got dressed I asked Mark for a few moments on my own before we left. He did this and I was able to have a huge weep. These are my parents and I am NOT ready for anything to happen to them. I am an only child (within my adoptive family) and so really only have Mark to lean on when things are tough. Most of the time I just internalise things and heal myself; perhaps this is the result of being an only child.

We got to the A&E at about 11pm and dad filled out the forms and we sat down. He seemed in pretty good spirits given the fact that this was his second trip to A&E in the past week; the last was for gout. He also started talking to me about the final season of Outrageous Fortune and explained it was quite risqué…I asked whether it was more risqué than Green Wing and perhaps that was what had caused him to feel dizzy. He smiled. I have to say that my parents are pretty flipping amazing and have WICKED senses of humour; even in times of stress.

There were already people waiting to be seen and like any A&E they operate on a Triage system so the most urgent cases are seen to first. My dad was not counted as urgent so we waited about an hour or so for him to be seen and then he was in the cubicle for about 2 hours. Turns out that normal blood pressure is 120/80 and that is fine for younger people but as you get older it is good to keep your BP slightly higher otherwise when you get up you can feel dizzy and lose your balance. He now has to get his BP medication changed to reflect this. Still scary though.

Even though I am not a parent it still breaks my heart to see sick children and hear them crying/screaming. There were a couple of little babies/toddlers with parents in there already. So over the 3 hours that we were in the waiting room…yes 3 HOURS Mark and I saw the following:

- Sick children
- A little girl in a yellow sundress with her parents; they waited about an hour and a half to be seen. She was pretty “lively”…her parents looked exhausted
- Lady on her own needing help; hopefully she was able to drive herself home
- Ambulance staff bringing a guy and his mum (?) who were on holiday from Australia. Advised by the staff that it would cost $158 to see the doctor
- A Westie gal and her man with a wet flannel pressed over her head and eyes. She could barely walk
- A guy with a sore arm which seemed to have popped out of its socket after “sparring” with a mate. Out of everyone he seemed to be the most vocal about needing help/a sling etc. Although, apparently it happens to him regularly; this made me wonder why on earth he would “spar” with a friend?!
- Older Polynesian couple; advised by the staff that he would be waiting at least another half hour to an hour
- Younger couple and she is told to “pee in a cup” : (
- Polynesian mum and her supportive family with a near naked toddler who is itchy (please do not let it be chicken pox) and covered in a lava-lava. She was so hot that her mum was blowing on her to keep her cool. They waited for an hour
- An absolutely stunningly, beautiful African (possibly Kenyan) family of 5 with the older girls in their dressing gown. Dad filled out the forms. He was wearing a refugee services t-shirt. They waited about half an hour or so only to be told by the nurse that they would have to take their son to Starship. I could tell how gutted the father was by this news as he looked exhausted. He explained that they had been driving most of the day and that it was hard for him to keep his eyes open.

I was stunned at how long people had to wait (and yes I know it was a public holiday) and how unbearably hot it was in the waiting room. Even the receptionist had to put her head outside to get some fresh air. The other thing that just blew me away was how expensive it was to get help in an emergency. Had it been Mark or I it would have been $100! We even have health insurance. This made me wonder how the hell other people cope if they or their children are sick. Mum told me that last week she saw a woman leave with her obviously sick child after realising that she just did not have the money to pay for her to be seen.

Disclaimer: Please do not think that I am bagging the A and E or health professionals as my birth mum is a nurse, as is her best friend and a close friend of our family. I also know a few nurses/doctors (waves to Champagne Lulu, Bernadine and my mum's friends). I guess it just makes me sad that people that may need help will not go to A&E because they simply cannot afford it. I can now understand why people go straight to the hospital and take their chances there despite being told to keep hospitals free for absolute emergencies. I hope all the people that were there that night managed to get some help :)

1 comment:

  1. Hope your Dad is ok Ness, Big loves from us. Call if you need anyhing. Love Shona