I had to spend a few hours in the emergency room of a hospital and observe the incoming tide of human wreckage walk, limp, hobble and roll into the reception area.
Here a broken arm, there a heart attack (apparently), and everywhere an unstated plea to the overworked caregivers: “Help me. Something isn’t right here.”
I am aware of recent stories stating that three out of four emergency room patients don’t belong there because, hitting your thumb with a hammer might not be a true emergency when a guy over there is turning blue.
Accessing the ER is something like taking Old Betsy to the garage and telling the “customer service representative” that Betsy is having trouble on cold mornings. She tends to stall every time she comes to a stop.”
The guy writes the symptoms as described by you on a work order, “car tends to stall when cold,” and hands you a pen.
That’s your cue to sign a document indicating that you agree with the mechanic when he says, “We’re doing the best we can, dude. We’re not brain surgeons, you know.”
Except that in the case of the hospital, they are brain surgeons, some of them at least, and it’s your brain or spleen or heart they’re monkeying with.
It’s your skeleton they’re bombarding with X-rays, it’s your vein they’ve pierced with a needle and it’s your stomach that all those little coloured pills are rolling around in.
There comes a point in every patient’s life when realization hits with the force of a medicine ball.
“What have I set in motion by coming here? Do they really know what they’re doing? I want my mommy.”
Michael Gillgannon is the former news editor of The Western Producer and managing editor of Western People. Contact: [email protected]