Tuesday, 1 November 2011

The Ottawa Hospital Health Care Opera

At exactly 2:45 a.m. last night, I sat bolt upright.

I felt like I was delivering a baby out of my mouth; the pain was excruciating. Did you know that having natural childbirth is the equivalent on a pain scale to having your finger cut off with no anesthetic?

I read that somewhere.

That's how much pain I was in.

No thanks to the little Asian junior kindergarten doctor I consulted yesterday morning, after waiting for three hours at a clinic after a droll receptionist had said chirpily, "forty-five minutes".

Dr. No refused to give me any drugs, or antibiotics, for the wicked little ball which had formed on the side of my neck, a ball that was shooting arrows of acid up my neck and into my ear canal.

"You have a virus," he said, slapping the laptop closed. "Wanna roll up your sleeve for the flu shot?"

Which I did dutifully, for only the second time in my life. Why not? I thought. I'm here.

The wicked pain was still there by the time Scott got home from work at 9 p.m. He fed me a sumptuous meal of Kraft Dinner and I chased it down with a nice Australian Shiraz. After hours of pain, bliss.

The arrows started shooting up my neck again, as I said, in the middle of the night and I wanted to chew my left arm off as some sort of distraction. I russled Scott and he padded down and started the car, then schlepped me up to my favorite holiday spot these days, The Ottawa Hospital emergency room.

I recognized the triage nurse from last week's adventure bringing my friend Doris in to have her five foot bones fused together. She did not recognize me.

I explained my dilemma, how the doctor had said it was a virus, but that my pain had gotten worse. That I'd had the flu shot.

She shook her head.

"Oops," she said. "They shouldn't have given you the flu shot when you're that sick."


"It'll be a wait," she said, motioning to the forty-five drunken Carleton students who were wheeling each other about the emerg. Some were bleeding outright, others had broken bones, still others were sporting fashionable bandages about their weeping noggins.

Must have been a helluva a frat party.

"Welcome to Hallowe'en at the emergency room," the triage nurse chortled.

"Hey dude," one of the walking wounded chimed into his cell phone. "Yeah, man. I'm at the hospital. What hospital? Search me."

"The Civic," said his helpful giggling galpal.

I just shook my head. They didn't even know what hospital they were in.

By the time the walking dead had finally had their wounds dressed, I was still waiting, watching CBC Newsworld, or whatever it's called these days.

There was Don Newman, who instead of anchoring was shilling the demands of some environmental lobby to the 3 a.m. shutins and drug users.

By 4:45, I was in an examining room, sitting upright in another uncomfortable chair, watching all the Carleton students sleeping in nice warm beds.


By 5 a.m., I was being harassed by the googly-eyed dad of one of the Carleton head trauma brigade, who was pacing in front of my room.

"Where's the doctor? I haven't seen a doctor since I've been here. Look over there, there are four people looking after that guy. Where's our guy?"

"He's over there," said, wearily. "The guy with the long grey beard."

"The Muslim guy?"

I shook my head.

"Jewish. He has a yamulka."

Clearly, it was going to be at least three more hours before the doctor was ready to see little old me. And Barney Google was getting more familiar by the second.

Suddenly, the pain in my throat dissipated. I mean, it went away.

I couldn't believe my good fortune.

I grabbed my coat and made a run for it.

The clinic would be open in three hours anyway. I'd have just enough time to get home, feed the dogs and wake up Scott.

I waved to the nurse.

"Good luck!" she smiled and waved.

It was just another night of mayhem for Madame Triage.

I waved back, a final tip of my hat to the Ontario Hospital Health Care Opera -- with shows seven days a week, and a weekend matinee.

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