Summer Rituals & Healthcare Challenges
All last week I was experiencing a bit of irritation within my ear. Not abnormal for me given that I wear a hearing aid in that ear for twelve or more hours a day. On Friday, during an appointment with my audiologist, I was fitted for a new mold and by Saturday morning the mild irritant has become more pronounced. Sunday morning, I awoke with a full-blown ear ache but I was hopeful that it would ease. It didn’t. Some of you noticed that I was off my game on Sunday morning! By the time Jenn and I arrived home from visiting my Mom who is in hospital in Charlottetown, and my Dad in Strattford, I was in significant pain – so much so that I decided to visit the Emergency Department at the Cumberland Regional Health Care Centre in Amherst.
You might want to debate whether an earache constitutes an emergency… but it does for me – especially when the likely infection affects the only ear I have that works!
The Emergency Department at the Cumberland Regional Health Care Centre was recently renovated and is a lovely space – at least it would be if one were not ill, in pain or frustrated by the length of the wait times.
Over the course of the six and half hours I was there, I saw no less than six security guards and changed chairs seven times!
Of course, the Emergency Department operates on the principle of triage, the most serious cases are attended to sooner. I must admit though, the system of numbered chairs had me smiling through the pain at a couple of intervals. When the person in seat #1 goes into the triage room everyone else moves one seat down and it continues like that all evening. After being triaged, you are registered, and then go and sit it one of the waiting pods.
Three hours after being triaged the pain had increased to the point where I needed something (anything) to take the edge off. I was directed to have a seat in the triage chairs again! That’s how I came to sit in seat number 5 again and then bump down the line again. Thankfully it took only an hour, and I was given some Tylenol by the Triage Nurse. Following another ninety minutes in the Waiting Pod, I was in an examination room. I waited another fifteen minutes for the Doctor to enter and it took him all of five minutes to look in my ear and write out two prescriptions which I filled first thing this morning!
Ear infections are a summer ritual for me – at least once or twice each summer, as a result of moisture being trapped behind my hearing aid, I’ll end up with an infection of one sort or another in the only ear that works! Fortuitously, I have an appointment with my ENT (Ear/Nose/Throat) Specialist on August 31st – hopefully by then this infection will be cleared up and it will be a routine checkup! Regrettably, since Dr. Wall closed her practice, I do not any longer, have a family Doctor.
Yes, I am grateful for the medical care I received last night. I am grateful as well for the medications that relieved the pain and will hopefully work soon to clear up this infection. And yes, I am grateful for the renovated Emergency Department, the Triage protocols and the staff who worked long past the time I left this morning. But I do wonder, would our resources not be better spent on systems that provide more ready access to primary care physicians – clinics where doctors can focus on medical care provided as part of a healing relationship and not need to focus on the complexities of running a business?
Anyways, that's where my mind is this morning as these awful tasting drops run down the back of my throat – hoping that they and we, all together, might work for healing and hope!
I am taking today as a medical day (Well, sort of, I guess. I am writing this and I’ve been responding to emails all morning) . My inner ear is so swollen that my hearing aid is not fitting well and as a result my hearing is off.
Tomorrow (Tuesday) I have two visits scheduled in the morning. In the afternoon I will meet with the family of the late Albert Sears to plan a funeral service and at 4PM I will meet with the co-Chairs of the Executive to plan our first fall meetings of the Executive.
Wednesday includes a pastoral visit and two meetings in the morning followed by a two pastoral visits in the afternoon and Thursday will be devoted to writing a liturgy and reflection for Sunday and a liturgy and reflection for the funeral on Friday at 3PM in Midgic.
I hope to have Saturday off before gathering with you all again on Sunday at 10AM followed by a rescheduled meeting of the Trustees at 11:15AM.