Adventures in Health Care

I went to see The Hobbit just before New Year’s, tripped on a gap in the sidewalk and did myself an injury.

“Only a sprain,”  says I, in my best Monty Pythonesque voice, and over protestations of my family who wanted to take me directly to the ER, carried on to see the movie. But there was popcorn at stake, which has its own therapeutic properties. The theater manager gave me a sling and an ice pack, and another ice pack halfway through. It’s a long movie. But there was, of course, popcorn. Liked the movie.

My wife prevailed upon me once more the next day to go to Emergency. “How bad can it be on a Saturday afternoon?” I thought, so off we went, but “It’s only a sprain,” says I.

Eight hours later we made our way home, arm in a cast. You’re OK, really, if the ER can triage you to the end of the line.

The doctors showed pictures of the shambles of my wrist, and they had to put me “under” to set it. Turns out reaching forward to fend-off the ground rising up is not the best plan, which did go through my mind as I watched things unfold like an inexorable slow-motion train wreck.

The follow-up orthopaedic consult said the way it had been collapsed didn’t bode well — so they slated me for day surgery, happening along New Year’s Eve day. Amused (and reassured!) to walk into the operating room and the team confirmed among all present that “we’re operating on the left arm — correct?”

Woke up in Recovery. Weird. My Recovery nurse (5′ tall, 7′ tough! — no nonsense!) didn’t like my oxygen levels coming down from anesthesia, and arranged overnight observation. So New Year’s Eve was different, sort of a float-through on opioids, and nurses politely inquiring about bowel movements and such.

All good now, though; on the mend. While I had privately grumbled a bit about the ER wait, once the system kicks in it pretty much kicks butt. And I shudder to think what this would have cost us without our health care system: ER visit, orthopedic consults, X-rays, ECGs, surgeons, nurses, anesthesiologists, orderlies, drugs and paraphernalia, admission to hospital. And more to come. Bankruptcy. But here it’s “No worries, just make it right.” I now see the ER wait as a front-end check-and-balance for the system as a whole, helping to weed out frivolous use.

Life skills observation: you really need two hands to put on your pants. With one hand, you pull up one side and the other falls down. And to actually do them up is its very own impossible. I figured out that lying down works. So bathroom breaks have become events where I scurry out, pants demurely clutched in a skewed semblance of propriety, and shuffle over to the couch where I can lie down and do them up. I don’t get out much, anyway.

In any event, kudos and thanks to the many extremely competent, caring, professionals well met in this minor misadventure, at Eagle Ridge and Royal Columbian hospitals in particular. And likewise to all those who I didn’t meet — things working so well and so smoothly shows you’re all out there, day after day, getting it right!

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