Notes on my health, and the state of the Emergency Department at the Ottawa Civic Hospital (also some footie)
Health-wise, 2018 has not been kind to me. To start, following a long evening sitting in a bad chair at my father's, and my first soccer game of the year, following three weeks off (one actual missed game — about which more, perhaps, in another entry — and two bye weeks for Christmas and New Year's eves), I woke up on Monday the 8th in an agony of lower back pain, something with which I have by this point had far too much familiarity. Used to be, my back went out about every 11 years; nowadays, it's more like every two, with a minor episode between the big ones.
I called in sick, then the next day, and the one after that and the one after that. When I called in the next Monday, my boss suggested I just let him know when I was ready to go again.
Good call; I ended up missing a full two weeks of work along with two more soccer games.
(Allow me a digression. We lost the first of those missed games, and a team-mate texted me the following (I quote verbatim).
We needed you today lol our
dé was all messed up
Lost 4-2 I got the two line goals
(Needless to say, I chose and choose to read the lol in a completely non-ironic way. Onwards.)
At the same time that my back decided to treat me to another round of I dare you to get out of bed without screaming, just try it!, another, perhaps more serious, health issue blossomed suddenly into crisis after what was, in retrospect, a pretty long and gradual gestation period.
Briefly, for some time — maybe as many as two or three months, I've been finding it increasingly difficult — and uncomfortable — to pee. My once-powerful, Niagara-like flow was coming more and more often to resemble the final stretches of the modern Colorado River: slow and inconstant. And suddenly, also painful.
Finally moved to action, I called my GP's office and, using the magic words, It really hurts when I pee, managed to get an appointment on the day of the call, the 11th of January. There I produced a clean urine sample. The Good Doctor prescribed an ultrasound and blood tests, telling me she thought I probably had a bladder infection, adding that she also hoped that was the issue.
That was a Thursday. I duly made an appointment for the ultrasound at a nearby clinic, despite the fact the appointment was eight days away, just this past Friday, the 19th.
Come that day, the clinic called me and left a message saying there was no technician available and, er, my appointment was cancelled. Would I please call them back, etc etc.
Thing is, by this point, the discomfort-verging-on-pain had become fucking agony. I was peeing every hour and a half — or rather, I was trying to pee. Forced to sit rather than stand, so that I need not fear should my mighty efforts to void my bladder also sent issue from my nether region, despite the pain I usually managed to get only a fitful dribble to come out.
Feeling kind of desperate I called the clinic back. They could give me an appointment only the following Thursday. I booked it, but started calling others, and found a place (The Bruyere, south of the Byward Market) that could see me next Tuesday. I took it and hoped I could hold on (as it were) til then.
Come Saturday, I decided I couldn't hold on. The quantity of urine I was able to pass was less than ever, while the amount of pain was entering into agony territory.
I marched myself off to the Ottawa Civic's Emergency Department, arriving around 14:30.
The waiting room in the Civic's Emergency Department is pretty small, seats for maybe 30 or 40 people, I'd guess. There were about a dozen people there when I stepped up to the triage nurse's station. There they took my OHIP card and told me to take a seat and wait to be called.
I settled in for what I thought would be a long while, but I heard my name no more than five or 10 minutes later. The Triage nurse took my particulars and sent me into another waiting area — this one frankly just a hallway lined with chairs — with a samble container for a urine sample. That took about three tries to fill only half-way, but I was told it was enough when I finally saw a doctor.
Finally was a couple of hours after I'd arrived at the hospital. The doctor was a young woman (you know you're getting old when doctors are probably young enough to be your daughter. Le sigh ...) who gave no sign of being rushed. She asked questions and answered them, and took note when I mentioned that the triage nurse had made a mistake: I was suffering from pain in the tip of my penis when I pee, not "abdominal" pain! She took an ultrasound of my abdomen and she even made the rectal probe of my prostate reasonably comfortable.
And then it was back into the waiting hall.
The second ultrasound came around 17:30, and the CT scan, complete with intravenous administration of some kind of dye took place around 19:15 and I was back in the main waiting area at around 21:00. Then another two hours or so to await my results. To wit, a probably bladder infection, no sign of enlarged prostate, but a slightly thickened bladder. At 23:20, I left the hospital with a couple of antibiotics swalled and prescriptions for a two-week course of same, and a 30 day course of Tamsulosin, a muscle relaxant meant to make it easier for me to pee.
All that, for an out-of-pocket cost of about nine hours of my time and $0.00 out-of-pocket. (Filling the prescriptions, on the other hand, did cost me, though happily not a lot.)
Raven declared, "Finally, after 9 hours!!" via text, but I wrote back, "I'm not complaining. No appointment, two ultrasounds and a CT scan, all for 'free', for everyone who needs it."
And indeed, that more included another ultrasound this week, and will include follow-ups with my GP, and then, well, who knows. But I suppose as I carry on growing improbably older, I'll have need of more, not less, medicare.
All in all, I was pretty impressed by what I found at the Civic. Yes, having patients wait in a hallway is far from ideal, sign of austerity, no doubt, but still a functioning system.
Pray we organize to keep it that way.
Finally, despite the fact that I missed two weeks of work, all credit to Raven! Despite earning barely more than the new minimum provincial wage and despite having just put two new pairs of glasses (one for driving/cycling &ct, the other a pair of bifocals for reading and computer work; and glass lenses, damnit, no more god damned plastic!), I am still in a position that will see me pay of the credit card before I carry any interest. Thanks to her lessons, the missed work and the extra expenses are drag, but not a problem, never mind a disaster.
Pics, of course, to come when the new specs are delivered. This coming week, I hope!
Thanks for bearing with me. If you read this far, you deserve a little break.
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