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Health Issues and Emergency

I can’t believe how long it’s been since I actually posted anything here!  Sorry about that.  Things have obviously been busier than I thought.

Anyway, I thought I’d give a little update on my saga yesterday with my health and my escapades yesterday at the Emergency Department of our local hospital.  First some background…

I have been suffering with some breathing issues the last year or so and was finally diagnosed with allergies to cats and dogs.  This is NOT a good thing when we have had cats for the last 25 years and a dog for the last 4.  I had to buy some of the best crates for keeping your dog in for my puppy since I didn’t want to get rid of him completely. I’ve never had any problems with cats or dogs before, but in the last little while it’s been causing me some grief.  Or so we think anyway.  Partly this was what prompted my nasal surgery last month (which is healing VERY well, thank you!).

Anyway, on Sunday night I got into this coughing fit when I decided to go to bed, and as a result I couldn’t breathe very well at all.  I took my Ventolin puffer (which I’m supposed to take when my breathing gets bad), and it seemed to help.  On Monday night the same thing happened and Ventolin seemed to handle it was well.  On Tuesday things were better (a small fit, but I didn’t need Ventolin).  However, on Wednesday when it happened again (this time at work), I decided that I needed to go see someone.

Well, the logical choice would be my family doctor, however she doesn’t work on Wednesdays.  My second choice was the respirologist who worked with me earlier, but she was going on holidays and was booking appointments into February.  My third choice was some local walk-in clinic, but the “after hours clinic” wasn’t open until later that night and I didn’t think I could wait that long.  I couldn’t find any other walk-in clinics in my area, so I figured I’d better go to the Emergency Department and see what they had to say (their website did say to go if you had “breathing problems” so I figured I’d go).

I arrived around 11:00am and there was one couple with a newborn in front of me being looked at.  Poor little guy.  While I’m standing there another lady and her daughter came in (the daughter had fallen and eventually needed two stitches to close a cut on her chin), and they proceeded to butt in ahead of me.  Oh well, I thought!

When I finally saw the triage nurse it was like being in a circus.  The nurse asks me to take my coat off to take my blood pressure etc, and another nurse says to be “You look like a clean fellow.  Try this on.”  Turns out she was wanting me to try on a fleece jacket that she was thinking of buying her husband for Christmas and decided that I looked about about his size.  (Later she described that to one of the other nurses as “pleasantly plump” so I’m not sure if that should be taken as a compliment, or not!!)

After about an hour wait in the lobby, I was sent into the very back of the ER — the “Ambulatory Care” facility, where I was greeted with another waiting room of about 12 people.  Here I waited and watched as people came and went, and I listened to all the various ailments of people.  There was one guy there who was from a nursing home had fallen.  There were two people who had slipped on ice and injured themselves.  There was post-op people who just felt their surgery wasn’t healing well.  And there were a couple people there, that should have just gone home and sucked it up!!

Finally my turn came (I thought I’d been forgotten about, but didn’t say anything) and they decided they’d give me an EKG and take some blood for tests.  They did that, and then I sat and waited again.  Finally at about 2:30pm the doctor saw me and we talked about my conditions, what the triggers were (I don’t know!), and how it felt.  He then decided that I could either have a chest XRay, or he could give me a ventolin mask and see how it went.  Together we decided on the mask.

About this time my wife came in, and we sat and chatted.  The nurse came in and gave me the mask (about a 10 minute procedure) and then we sat and waited.  Well, the doctor had gone off to get some lunch/dinner.

The time moved on and on and on, and finally Nancy had to leave pickup our daughter from school, and so I waited.

Now, at this point it’s starting to get a little hectic in the waiting room.  People were starting to complain about how long they’d been waiting.  One gentleman (and I use that word loosely) complained that he’d been in ER since 1:00pm.  I wanted to stick my head out and tell him I’d been there since 11:00am, but thought better of it.  Turns out another gentleman in the waiting area took up the cause and called the guy on it and explained that we all had to wait and his ultrasound on his leg, was just of lower priority than others.  “Suck it up!!” were my thoughts.

Anyway, the long and short of my experience was that I had to wait a long time, but they were busy!!  There was no one standing around doing nothing and everyone was very nice, it was the patients (or more accurately, the people accompanying the patients) that were the problem!!

The doctor decided to change my puffer prescription and I now have to take it every day (twice a day).  So far so good.  The breathing is back to normal.  The coughing has subsided somewhat (although it’s still there from time to time).

Let’s hope that I have no more problems.  5 1/2 hours in the Emergency Room is enough for me for one stint, thank you!!




  1. Ken Woodhouse

    Hi Murray,
    My family has been busy at the Emerg this week too. My Dad was brought in and diagnosed with a partially blocked small intestine. The emerg seemed to be staffed by creatures from Hell! My mother, after asking a polite question and being barked at, was accused of “pushing” a nurse because she happened to bump into her while leaving the desk. She had asked how long the surgeon might be and was told “maybe he’s in surgery, would you like me to go and pull him out for you?” Yes, this is the treatment a 75 year old woman got who is very understanding and supportive of our health care services. Apparently the rudeness was just part of the continued care plan. Last night I went to visit my Dad in Emerg and phoned my brother, who had spent much of the last few days there, who told me “be prepared to be disemboweled”…Hmm, I’ve never been disemboweled before so I thought I’d give it a try! Fortunately Dad had been moved to another floor, one where the nurses were actually polite and considerate. Dad’s GP has advised Mom to write a letter of complaint to the hospital. We still don’t know what the obstruction is. Anyway, glad your ER visit was a little nicer than my family’s.
    Keep on musing!

    • mwlahn

      Sorry to hear that Ken. I’ve always had good experiences with the health care system as have my parents and in-laws. Unfortunately the doctors and nurses are people too and we have to remember that they may be having a bad day too.
      Hope your Dad is on the mend, and that they figure out what the issue was!!

  2. Ken Woodhouse

    We’ve always had good experiences too, that’s why my parents were so shocked at this treatment. Dad’s in a room in a ward now and the nursing staff and doctors are doing a wonderful job. He’s confident they’ll figure out the issue and deal with it.
    I’m glad to see that they finally figured out what your breathing issue was. I remember your coughing attacks from well over a year ago. The worst part is when you don’t know what you’re dealing with…very anxiety provoking.

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