Shimoniac Jones

I didn't lose my mind – it fled in terror.

Archive for the tag “health”

Hospital-ity

At about 1500 this past Saturday, I whacked my elbow on the corner of a wall whilst lurching about ever so gracelessly at home. The impact itself didn’t register on the Richter scale, but it was harder than my usual clumsiness. I spoke a few choice four letter words, rubbed the elbow and staggered away.

Since I work the midnight shift, I was actually headed for bed, which might have contributed to my ungainliness; this time, at least. Six hours later I woke up for some food and social interaction with my family. My elbow was more than a little stiff and sore at this point, so in addition to food, I ate a painkiller. It was naproxen to be precise.

As the rest of the evening wore on, in spite of the painkiller taken, my elbow got more and more painful and was stiffening up considerably. I crowded the next dose of naproxen and iced the elbow; nothing doing, the arm kept on hurting worse and worse, while the range of motion grew more limited.

Finally at about 0630 Sunday, I was pacing the floor sweating and swearing with the pain. I made the decision to go to the local Emergency Department. Dressing to be able to leave the house without getting arrested was an exercise in interpretive dance and putting on my jacket was a teeth-gritting experience I don’t want to have again.

I arrived at the hospital about 0700. Now the local procedure at this hospital is for patients to rub their hands down with sanitizer, then click a mouse key to print out a full-sheet form asking if you have a new or worsening cough, or if you have travelled to any designated areas in the past year. If no, `x’ the box and don’t read any further. Since I didn’t have a cough, and haven’t travelled to the areas I quickly `x’ed the box and went to the triage nurse.

The first thing the triage nurse asked me for was the form and my Health Card. The Health Card is a form of I.D. that tells them I’m allowed to access their services. So, next she asks me what brought me in this morning. I manfully bite back my knee-jerk response of “Taxi”, and tell her my elbow really hurts, and what I think caused it. She asked me if the accident happened at work, this time I couldn’t resist and replied, “No, I can be clumsy at home, too.” To be fair, if this had happened at work they would have had to open a WSIB file, and double the paperwork.

Before she had a chance to ask, I pulled a piece of paper from my wallet and told her that it was a list of the medications I’m currently taking. Pro-tip, if you’re taking prescribed medication, supplements, birth control, or something like that, write down the list and carry it with you at all times. Your intake nurse will appreciate knowing this and being able to note it in your file, it can prevent unfortunate drug interactions which might lead to suboptimal patient results like a slight case of death.

Now she asked me to take off my jacket.

Ordinarily this isn’t a big deal. Today my arm hurt. Taking off the jacket only wrung one whimper and a gasp of pain from my manly machismo. Then she had me do a range of motion test with the sore wing. When she asked me to straighten it out I said, “No.” She asked me if it wouldn’t straighten, or if it was too painful to straighten. I told her it was too painful. Done with me, she sent me on to the next station of my medical adventure: Admitting.

I had to walk around to the other side of the desk which was a good ten yards away to have my Health Card returned and receive, if not a dead tree, then certainly a major load-bearing branch. I got my card back watched the Admitting Nurse affix stickers here, there, and everywhere. Including on my hospital I.D. bracelet, which was colour-coded red. When I asked for purple, she told me that was for Psychiatric patients. I said, “Well…” “No” was the firm reply. I was then directed back past the triage station, down the hall, on the left, to Ambulatory Care. That just means people who came in under their own power, not on a gurney.

So I show up in Ambulatory Care and hand my half-inch of paper to a receiving nurse, who receives it and offers me an only slightly uncomfortable seat in this waiting area. I cast an eye over my fellow sufferers. On the left is a stooped little old lady in a push chair; on the right is a twenty-something male with an ice bag on his right thigh, squirming like a little kid who has to go to the washroom. Then there’s me, a particularly lumpen and hairy member of malehood.

I considered my choices and decided to take a chair where I could watch the both of them, the nurse’ station, and the television. When I came in the TV was playing the fireplace channel, the taller of the two nurses decided to change the channel (boo) and we wound up watching what, at first, I thought was a different fireplace channel, turns out it was CNN covering the California Wildfire Season. The on-scene reporter’s barely concealed glee at the suffering and destruction was too much for me, so I tuned it out in favour of watching what was happening in the room.

From out of one of the treatment rooms came a tall, shinny emo-looking male(?), who asked one of the nurses if he could step out for a smoke. The nurse let him know that he wasn’t a prisoner and could go if he wanted, but that if the doctor came to see him in the mean time, he would lose his place in line and have to wait even longer to see a doctor. Emo-boy bounced, and I watched the nurse take a file from one slot, fairly high up, and put it in the bottom opening, one step above the circular file.

Little old lady asked a few times if she could have a drink of water, the nurses, not knowing why she was there were hesitant, but finally looked in her file and figured she could handle three ounces or so. Little old lady was overly grateful. Squirmy asked if he could get some more ice since his pack was water by now. The other nurse agreed, disappeared, was gone five minutes and came back with two coffees, and a tiny ice pack. The coffees were for the nurses, the three ice cubes were for Squirmy.

It’s now gone 0800, and the head nurse decides we’ve been good captives to this point, so she puts us into various treatment bays. I now can’t see or hear the TV, but I have a good view of the room across from me. The lights are low and someone in a chair is snuggled with the patient in the bed. I can barely hear that they’re murmuring to each other much less what they’re saying.  As a voyeur certified people-watcher I’m disappointed horrified by the lack of privacy these two have.

I pull out my e-book reader and try to concentrate on a story. Before too much longer, Dr. Young scurries in. First place he goes is the room across from me. Turns the lights on and starts talking to the patient, a woman who was suffering from a dog bite to the face. At this point I’m feeling not quite so bad.

She said that the fault was hers. Turns out the dog belonged to a friend, she got into the dog’s space, wouldn’t listen to the dog’s warnings, got bitten. I suspect alcohol, or stupidity, may have played a factor.  She got her wound sterilized, sutured and had gauze put on.  The sutures were the dissolving kind and would disappear on their own.  When the doctor was done, he snapped off his gloves and left the after care instruction to the nurse.

The next contestant was Emo-boy, who hadn’t returned from his nic flit. Nurse said he’s been MIA for an hour. Doc says keep the file for a couple more hours, and then return it to Admitting for disposition.  Or was that disposal?

Next was Little old lady, she turned her ankle and someone over-reacted. The doctor asked questions and probable palpated the joint. I didn’t get to see. Nothing broken or swollen, Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation, painkillers as necessary, if it gets worse, come back in. Listening to Little old lady I think she had a minor case of lonely too. Turn an ankle, go to the hospital, and talk to people. It happens.

Squirmy’s turn had arrived. He’s suffering, and I do mean it, from a constellation of first- and second-degree burns to his upper right thigh. Damn, compared to Dog-bite Lady and Squirmy, I feel like a fraud. Doctor Young debrides the wound, that means he takes a scour pad and scrubs Squirmy’s leg like a pot with crusted-on gunk. Having had that treatment before I can tell you it’s not nearly as much fun as it sounds. He leaves the nurse to bandage the wounds and instruct about after treatment.

Now it’s my turn. Since I got here the arm got worse, then started getting better. Dr. Young palpates the joint, tests range of motion, and other stuff. Asking me about how I had done this to myself. The diagnosis: Impact Tendonitis.  The main tendon and muscle attachments to the lower arm are right where I smacked myself the previous day.  I didn’t hit the meat, I hit bone.

He asked if I wanted prescription naproxen. Prescription-level naproxen is 500 mg; over the counter (OTC) naproxen is around 375 mg. Prescription you take twice a day, he allowed that if I wanted to I could take OTC naproxen three times a day for a couple days, as needed. Ice the elbow if needed. If it doesn’t get better, if it gets worse, falls off, etc. I should see a doctor soonest. Have a wonderful day.

I only got a diagnosis. I didn’t get any treatment or medication, and I feel a whole lot better. My arm still hurts, but now I know why. Ignorance is scary. Scary makes pain worse. I was imagining bone chips, fractures, burst nerve sheaths, weird-ass stuff. Now I know and I feel better, relatively speaking.

Dr. Young left the booth; I gathered my stuff together and followed. I told them that I hoped not to see them any time soon and walked out. The whole visit only cost me a couple hours, and the price of a hot chocolate and donut from the hospital coffee shop.

In Canada we have socialized medical care, something which seems to terrify many Americans for no reason that I can determine. In actuality socialized medicine is like fire insurance, you pay a premium at set intervals and if your place burns down you get a settlement to help you pick up the pieces. Only in this case your premiums let you get to see a doctor, get a diagnosis, and get treatment, all without having to put a second mortgage on your first-born.

People complain about long wait times and what treatments are disallowed, or allowed. I guess I’ve been lucky; I’ve never really had anything to complain about regarding hospitals aside from the incredibly nasty food when I was an in-patient years ago.

Auntie Vax

The genesis of this post occurred a few months ago, when I wanted very badly to drive over 900 kilometers to find a woman I’d never met and slap her sillier than she already was. I read an article about this woman who refused to get her newborn vaccinated.  Her pediatrician, family doctor, head of the medical association, the director of the CDC, and the Surgeon-General of the United States of America, have all advised, urged, entreated, recommended, and implored her to protect her baby against the possibility of getting mumps, measles, rubella, polio, etc.; while she was not deaf to their pleas, she just couldn’t comply with their entreaties.

Why did she refuse? Was it religious grounds?  No, it was basically stupidity.

Millions, perhaps even billions, of people have been inoculated against diseases ever since Edward Jenner made the connection between cowpox and smallpox. Arguably one of the greatest accomplishments of the 20th century was the final eradication of smallpox by the WHO.  Who, by the way, recommend vaccination as a safe, effective, and low-cost method of disease prevention.

The primary reason this woman refused to have her baby vaccinated, was because Jenny McCarthy thinks it’s a bad idea. The same Jenny McCarthy who is best known for taking her clothes off for Hugh Hefner and posing nude in his magazine.

On the one hand we have multiple medical professionals, with decades of medical education, research, and experience urging her to get the baby protected from potentially fatal diseases. On the other we have, a celebrity(?).  If Ms. McCarthy has a degree in medicine, virology, epidemiology, immunology, or any other related field it doesn’t show up on her Wikipedia page.

So many children in Canada and the U.S., have gone unvaccinated in recent years that our collective “herd immunity” is breaking down.  We’re seeing outbreaks of diseases like measles at rates unseen since, well, vaccination became common.  The side effects of these childhood diseases can be lethal.

This, I have to call her deranged, woman even admits that she thinks vaccinating her baby might be a good idea, but there are all those websites out there that claim vaccinations are responsible for everything from autism to demonic possession. So she can’t make up her mind what to do.

What I’d like her to do is: give the baby up to someone who can make an informed choice, go to a gynecologist and say `I want my tubes tied’, and stop being a bother. If she wants fact-based evidence that vaccinations work, all she has to do is look in a mirror.  She, and I, are of a generation that was all immunised against MMR, polio, etc., and we turned out okay.  Although I have to wonder if there is something to their fears after all; apparently after being vaccinated, she turned into an idiot.

Healthy Insanity

Since it’s been a while since I’ve posted, I thought I’d pass along some advice I received once upon a time.

HOW TO KEEP A HEALTHY LEVEL OF INSANITY:

1. AT LUNCHTIME, SIT IN YOUR PARKED CAR W/ SUNGLASSES ON AND POINT A HAIR DRYER AT PASSING CARS. SEE IF THEY SLOW DOWN.

2. PAGE YOURSELF OVER THE INTERCOM. DON’T DISGUISE YOUR VOICE.

3. EVERY TIME SOMEONE ASKS YOU TO DO SOMETHING, ASK IF THEY WANT FRIES WITH THAT?

4. PUT YOUR GARBAGE CAN ON YOUR DESK AND LABEL IT “IN”.

5. PUT DECAF IN THE COFFEE MAKER FOR 3 WEEKS. ONCE EVERYONE HAS GOTTEN OVER THEIR CAFFEINE ADDICTIONS, SWITCH TO ESPRESSO.

6. WRITE “FOR SEXUAL FAVORS” IN THE MEMO LINE OF ALL YOUR CHECKS.

7. FINISH ALL YOUR SENTENCES WITH “IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE PROPHECY.”

8. DONT USE ANY PUNCTUATION.

9. AS OFTEN AS POSSIBLE, SKIP RATHER THAN WALK.

10. ASK PEOPLE WHAT SEX THEY ARE. LAUGH HYSTERICALLY AFTER THEY ANSWER.

11. SPECIFY THAT YOUR DRIVE-THROUGH ORDER IS “TO GO”.

12. SING ALONG AT THE OPERA.

13. GO TO A POETRY RECITAL AND ASK WHY THE POEMS DON’T RHYME.

14. PUT MOSQUITO NETTING AROUND YOUR WORK AREA. PLAY A TAPE OF JUNGLE SOUNDS ALL DAY.

15. FIVE DAYS IN ADVANCE, TELL YOUR FRIENDS YOU CAN’T ATTEND THEIR PARTY BECAUSE YOU’RE NOT IN THE MOOD.

16. HAVE YOUR COWORKERS ADDRESS YOU BY YOUR WRESTLING NAME, ROCK HARD SHIM.

17. WHEN THE MONEY COMES OUT THE ATM, SCREAM, “I WON! I WON! 3RD TIME THIS WEEK!!!!!”

18. WHEN LEAVING THE ZOO, START RUNNING TOWARDS THE PARKING LOT, YELLING, “RUN FOR YOUR LIVES, THEY’RE LOOSE!”

19. TELL YOUR CHILDREN OVER DINNER, “DUE TO THE ECONOMY, WE ARE GOING TO HAVE TO LET ONE OF YOU GO.”

AND THE FINAL WAY TO KEEP A HEALTHY LEVEL OF INSANITY…

20. START A BLOG AND HAVE PERFECT STRANGERS COME BY AND READ IT.

THANK YOU AND HAVE AN INSANE DAY!

Blasted Cold

Here we are at the end of the first week of January and I have a cold. Boo-hoo, I hear you say out there in the blogosphere. I will take your pity, even as you mock me; I have no shame, you see. This cold started innocuously enough; a little tickle in the back of the throat, caused by the dry air I thought.
Then I coughed through the time I was supposed to be sleeping. Cough medicine, decongestants, and analgesics, all ineffective against the dread invader of my body. I was sitting in the living room before work on Friday when the chills set in. I can still make it to work I assured myself, I’ll just dope myself to the gills and wear some layers. I got to the kitchen table when it suddenly felt like I had been set on fire. I was now running a fever. “How high?” you ask. I don’t know. I’m not interested in knowing how close I came to death. I want to be surprised when the Grim Reaper taps me on the shoulder and says, “Come with me”.
I gave up and called in sick to work. Even assuming I could get there, there is no way I could operate heavy machinery safely. I take some comfort in the fact that I’m not the first one to take a sick day this year; two of my co-workers took Thursday off. On the other hand, one guy at work; let’s put it this way, I’ve buried things that looked healthier than him, and still he staggers in.
I’m going to blame him for my current condition.
After calling in, I went back upstairs to bed. I pulled the sheet over my face to save the coroner the hassle of doing it himself. I won’t say that I went to sleep, only that I lost consciousness. Sleep is restful and restorative, what I got wasn’t all that restful, and I don’t feel very restored. I had fever dreams, was freezing one moment, broiling the next, and generally had a miserable time. I did swim back to reality a couple of times to dose myself with cough medicine, etc. again.
When I woke up, I began wandering through the house like a forlorn ghost in search of tissues and soothing potions.
So, here I am, sitting at my computer, timing my keystrokes to my coughing and sneezing, telling you how miserable I feel. Why? Because I can.
I looked at myself in the mirror. Shudder. I won’t make that mistake again soon, I can tell you. I still feel like crap, but I think that with good luck and perseverance, I might, just might, survive this trip through illness.
On the subject of sick days, my company, a couple of years ago, in an effort to reduce absenteeism, put a program in place to reward people who don’t take unscheduled time off. If you make it through a predetermined six month period with perfect attendance, they will give you a day off with pay. I’ve actually earned two of them. Oh well, there’s always next time.
If you’ll excuse me, I have to go pour the hot water over the tea bags and let the pink elephant out of my head where he’s been doing some renovations.

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