I write this as a way to heal from the trauma of an incident our family experienced when we took our son to the hospital, while suffering from dehydration. Every parent’s nightmare is a sick child and it’s not like this is the first time but it was the blatant lack of empathy and indifference that makes me wonder when our healthcare system forgot we are human.
In August, out of desperation and having tried to fight off an illness, my husband and I decided to take our son in to see a Dr. It was 10 pm at night and having heard horror stories about 11 hour waits in emergency rooms by friends. We wanted to do the responsible thing. So we took our son into Urgent Care. Now first of all to us Urgent mean sick enough that you can’t wait till morning and go a clinic or walk in. We learned the error in our thinking very quickly.
At 10pm we arrive at the Misericordia Urgent Care and take a seat to be triaged. The nurse took his temperature; up slightly, and takes his blood pressure; which is too low. He is weak and is having trouble walking, but my husband and I support him as we are told to head over for blood work. AKA the purple chairs. They call his name and we walk him to the bed where a technician takes his blood. We are then sent back to the “purple chairs” even though my son tells her he is dizzy and nauseous. We sit there for a few minutes and my son is looking worse so I go as what I presume is a nurse behind the desk by the purple chairs if he can lay down somewhere because he doesn’t feel well and is dizzy and nauseous. She tells me to go ask triage, I toddle over there and ask politely if there is somewhere for him to lay down. I was told to have him lay on the FLOOR! Now I saw empty beds; in fact the one he gave blood in was empty. But apparently those are only for giving blood and EKG’s. So he couldn’t take it anymore and moved to the floor.
A few minutes later a Dr. looks over and asks if he had fainted. I said no but he wasn’t well and they told us to lay him on the floor. He looks at the nurse in charge of the area and tells her to get him off the floor. She sends an orderly over who tells us to move, I ask where and he looks around and sees that a bank of chairs with no arms have come open because the past occupants are outside having a cigarette. Points to them and my son goes and lays across 4 chairs for 2 hours.
At midnight the triage nurse comes over and tells us to get him up and over to the desk as she needs to take his temperature and blood pressure again. So over he shuffles as we support him on either side and his temp is now 39.2 and his blood pressure is still low. I explain that he is getting worse and she blames the hoodie he is wearing and the thin blanket they were kind enough to offer. I shake my head because at this point the hospital is so cold even the nurses are wearing hoodies. She tells me he is still 8th in line, but she will get him a Tylenol. I look around the room; there are people playing cards, having coffee, going out for cigarettes, having fun watching YouTube, etc. No looks visibly distressed, all are capable of walking on their own except for the lady with the ankle issue.
So she comes back with the Tylenol and he tries to take it and starts to vomit. She tells me to take him back to where he was lying down. I have him sit at her desk. Thankfully a different nurse from the back comes forward and sees him. I believe she came to deal with me but when she sees him, she asks the triage nurse his temp and I add he has low blood pressure (all signs of dehydration) and she runs and clears a bed for him. She also sees how weak he is and gets him into a wheel chair rather than let him shuffle down the hall at a Tim Conway pace. Only one of us was allowed in the room at a time (the other had to sit in the purple chairs, even though there were 2 chairs in the room. The nurse was kind enough to tell me to go get my husband when she saw him asleep and me in the room watching my son sleep.)
An IV is hooked up and some Gravol added, another med was injected to deal with inflammation and within 10-15 minutes he was looking and feeling better. The Dr walked into the room about 30 minutes after that and sees he is sleeping and looking better, tells us to get him up and put on his shoes and move around. He leaves so we do this, and waited another 20 minutes, the Doctor doesn’t return to see him moving around so I told my son to go back to bed and rest, because the body heals while it rests. At 2:15 the doctor comes in and says that his blood tests are back and that his platelets are low he wants a second test done. This is done by the nurse and we wait till 3:30 for the results. The Dr. then walks in and tells us it looks viral, but could be bacterial so he is going to give him an antibiotic and send him home if the platelet count didn’t go down. Good news, platelet count close to the first one. NOW he comes in and does a throat swab, and says the nurse will administer the antibiotic, and that if his platelets are lower we will have to go to a “hospital”. Oh and then he adds that we may have to come back for an x-ray because the x-ray dept was closed. I ask why an x-ray; he replies for his chest. Befuddled, I reply that the nurse said his chest was clear, he looks at me and walks away. Now the nurse that needs to administer the meds on her dinner break, I think I paced outside enough that at 4am another nurse came and did the blood oxygen walk around. He passed, was given the pills and a prescription, and sent home.
Fast forward to Sunday and my son receives a call from the Dr on call to tell him his throat culture showed strep and that he needed an antibiotic. My son puzzled, informs the Dr that he is already on an antibiotic. The Dr from Wednesday night had forgotten to put that in his chart. Sunday night, my son starts to feel sick again and Monday morning his chest is hurting and he is having trouble breathing. I immediately look up the drug and find that Government of Canada has issued a health warning that this drug should not be administered to anyone with an electrolyte imbalance. You know, that stuff they were putting into him via IV. I call Urgent Care and ask if I should bring him in. I was told well you know what he looks like when he is healthy, you decide. I asked what about the effects of this drug- do you want to see him? I was told it would pass. We ended up at the St. Boniface emergency on Wednesday because he couldn’t breathe and his chest hurt so badly at one point I could see his heart beating through his shirt. We waited 2.5 hours to be seen and the pains had gone away by the time an EKG was done. The doctor informed me after only letting my son talk that is was a side effect and it would go away. I asked what was he to do if/when the chest pains started and the heart started beating rapidly again. His reply was the heart rate was normal. I responded that, yes it is NOW, but when it does happen again what is he to do? HIS PROFESSIONAL ADVICE was LIE DOWN! and turned and walked out. Dismissed. We had been through hell. Any 19-year-old and their parents would be freaked to suddenly have heart pain after being sick for so long. Especially when he is normally very healthy.
Our family rarely uses the medical system, we pay to see natural practitioners from our own on what’s left of our disposable income. We have only used Emergency rooms when it was absolutely necessary. Our family hasn’t taken any prescription meds in 9 years or more.
So my son went through the summer recouping and one night I convinced him to come with me to take the dog for a walk. We weren’t a half block and he had to stop and rest; he couldn’t keep up with me. So we sauntered, and I mean the seniors from the care home down the street were passing us – but he made it. My heart hurt for him. How do you take a physically active young adult and turn him into a… Oh yeah, take him to a Dr.
So now he is seeing another Dr. because we want to see if there is any damage. The Dr has to order the tests. He did another EKG and it came back normal, but now my son isn’t sleeping. So the Dr puts him on a waiting list for an Echocardiogram and prescribes and antidepressant for sleep. REALLY!!! My son brings the meds home. He hadn’t slept well for weeks and is desperate. First thing I do is read the attached warnings. Remember, he isn’t sleeping and is tired all day. First side effect is may cause drowsiness and dizziness. I keep reading, bottom of page one: This drug may cause a condition that affects the heart rhythm. Are you kidding me? They prescribed a med that affects the heart with the exact same warning as the first one, knowing his heart was affected and he was already having problems with heart rhythm. In case you are wondering, he chose not to take it. We adjusted some of his vitamins and I put him on the Bioresonance Machine and discovered Mono. I cleaned out his body of the Mono and any toxins left over from the meds. He is sleeping and doing much better. His immune system is down but coming back. He is starting to work out and get his strength back. The 25 pounds he lost is slowly coming back. We are still going to have him proceed with the Echocardiogram to be sure but I know this has convinced us that our choice to use natural remedies is the best course for our family.
Questions I have about our “health care” system.
There is more money than ever being pumped into it and yet you tell a 19-year-old with a fever and severe dehydration to lay on the floor and the people who have enough strength to be yelling and fighting with each other, are ahead of you in line – why do you bother with triage?
Why is it not acceptable to tell someone to go to a walk-in, you aren’t sick enough for here but it’s acceptable to tell a legitimately ill person to lay on the floor of a facility?
Why are Doctors prescribing drugs without researching the side effects etc. and why are they not responsible for the drugs they prescribe? And yet you want us to trust them and not question their decisions.
Why can’t there be 2 parents there, the nurse explained that they need room to do the testing and stuff but common sense would be to have one wait outside till all that is done and then have them sit quietly. I watched a nurse make an 80 year old woman wait alone while her husband sat on the other side of the wall. So SAD!
Why at the St. Boniface Hospital are the emergency wheelchairs made from shopping carts (I kid you not) and some don’t have cushions? You understand the people using them are the elderly, who are fragile and frail and those metal bars would be so painful, never mind after 2 hours of sitting.
What happened to the human aspect of healthcare? The whole job itself involves people and making them healthy, some compassion and understanding that people are upset would go a long way. The last thing people want when they are sick is to be told what the “rules” are.
And because the whole purpose is to get us healthy and keep us healthy, why is it that they can’t communicate what is happening and just ignore questions? Even an “I don’t know but we will look into it” would go farther than an eye roll and walking away.
I understand they are human, but so are the patients, some common decency would smooth over a lot of inconvenience.
The question I just can’t get out of my head is, if these Doctors are prescribing and we are supposed to trust them, why have I had some eyes rolling or completely belittling of the natural side. Why can’t we all work together for the sake of the people.
So the moral of the story is this is not healthcare. This is the Business of Medicine!
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