Thursday, June 17, 2010

A draining experience

G'day all!

Well what a fun week it has been!

I experienced the Australian emergency health system. More on that later.

Nathan has a full time job offer - it was part time but something changed in the funding (I think someone left).

One of our chooks flew over the fence and we haven't seen her for a day and nor have the neighbours. She is probably fox food now. We are sorta peeved but well given that their ex-owner highly disapproves of wing-clipping yet still gave us a chook that can fly about 5 metres high and well we are not sure how far but more than 15m in the air (ie an aerial acrobat in the chicken world)... We probably should've just clipped all their wings.

We've run out of bandwidth on our cable plan so I've got no new photos to share - we are throttled to dial up speeds.

So more on our health care system.

As I whinged in my last post, chemo and/or the anti-nausea drugs can cause the other C, the one whose name is whispered about in jokes about prunes. Constipation. There.

Well in my case, none of the standard remedies worked. I've never been so clagged up in my life. One shouldn't be in tears sitting on the floor cos it was the only way to even slightly control the cramps. At four pm or so, I ended up getting Nathan to drive me to the local public health system hospital, one with an emergency department, where he dropped me off, promising to come in later after finding a car park.

So I went inside and saw the triage nurse and alas I did not have a fever. Oddly enough the massive gut cramps that had driven me to the emergency dept disappeared once I got there. I sat with all the sick people (actually most seemed to be relatives/friends - everyone had to bring the whole family along or at least 3 support crew - dudes how about not clagging up the waiting room?) for an hour and a half. Nathan had disappeared. He had the mobile with him - I had expected he would show up sooner or later and hadn't grabbed it off him. I had intended to text people - we have texting credit but not phone call credit so we can SMS people and receive calls, just not make them.

At around six-thirty, they called my name and took me out the back. I was asked to strip completely (I kept my nice handknitted socks on) and put on a hospital gown. A rather tall nurse with the cutest ringlets cut at jaw length took my details again (checking I was the right person) and what was going on and inserted a line (he was most peeved cos the "lovely" vein he tried to skewer disappeared when skewered and he had to try a different one), took bloods, took my vitals, put me on a drip.... Half an hour later they wheeled me into my own room - not actually as an in patient, still in emergency. I thought I was special and privileged cos of the chemo - no shred wards for me! There I stayed for the next what 3 hours? I had a book to read and I was knackered, so I napped on and off. No Nathan still. But he did call though they didn't bring the phone to me. A doctor came in and examined me, asked me what I thought was wrong (I didn't think it was a bowel obstruction or twist, just chronic constipation with a nice fat plug at the end) and said they would take xrays to see what was there. At some point I was whizzed off in my bed to the xray room where a nice Kiwi radiologist took pics of my guts, and then I was whizzed back again. The hospital bed-trolleys are very smooth. I guess they need to be, as much for the driver as the person watching the lights go by...

Around 10pm MiL called at 10:30 to see what was happening (not much). I had a diagnosis - clagged through my whole colon! No wonder the little enema I tried hadn't worked. MiL and I had a lovely little chat and she said if I needed help to get home, just call, ANY time. I heart my MiL.

11pm I've finished drinking colonlytely (the stuff used for colonoscopy prep) and am promised an enema. Oh joy oh bliss! It was rather unpleasant going in - a bit burny and umm leaky. (You needed to know that right?) That was 11:10pm.

11:25pm - success! So much for holding it in for 30 minutes! And now I realised why I had my own loo. The one across the corridor from my room was in constant use. There was NO way I could've held the plug in! I had about 10 seconds warning - enough to leap off the bed, push my IV trolley into the loo and then realise that the loo door was wide open meaning anyone walking past my room would see me sitting there exploding. Also the hospital gown and no knickers? Very handy...

At 10 past midnight I had expelled the lot. Oh my. I had turned into a pumpkin! (and one particular part of me felt like a pumpkin too 8-) I was exhausted - I had been laying along the disabled toilet rail kindly installed in the bog cos I couldn't sit up any longer - but felt somewhat better, if a bit sore. They checked on me three times during that period.

At 3:30am I was discharged. They were concerned that I am neutropenic (I have a low neutrophil count which means my immune system won't be able to fight off colds and flus). Umm hello, I'm on chemo! It is expected that I'll be neutropenic. I'm supposed to see my doctor to get more bloods taken to confirm that I am neutropenic. I have a letter for him, I guess I should do as instructed....

Lovely MiL picked me up. I had to wake her up at 3am. DH had thankfully left a way for me to get into the house - he had taken my keys because they had the car key. It turns out he had driven home to get the chooks into their pen (the remaining chooks were in there), then he had tea, thinking he would come back in the evening, and then fell asleep at around 8ish.

My experience was positive. I learned a lot about how things work in the public health system from the patient's perspective. I was treated well by the nurses and doctors. I was polite and appreciative in return. I knew I was not an emergency emergency case - I was not gushing blood, I had not broken anything major, I was not in severe pain (at that point) or running a high fever but I needed hospital level treatment. It took a while to happen but they looked after me. And you know how much it all cost me?

Zilch. Nothing. Just some time.

I have felt so much better today. The colonlytely (love the name) is still removing itself from my poor battered guts but I think it is pretty much done. I'm not terribly energetic but I'm human and vaguely capable again. We got some shopping done and some car fixing done - Helmet has been playing up rather badly when Nathan was in him. My BiL's FiL-to-be loves playing with cars. He established that it was the fuel filter (as we suspected - that or the fuel pump) and a $3 part later, Helmet was fixed (we think). We have to replace a clip with a clamp on the fuel line cos there is a slow petrol leak but it is not a great problem beyond the pollution and fuel inefficency caused. It will be nice to have a car that does not lose power going up hills - he actually cut out today when we had just breasted a hill. In pouring rain. At least I was in the lane closest to the side of the road and we still had electrical power so the hazard flashers worked. I waited a minute or so and he restarted.

So things are better for the nonce! I am feeling very tired but ok and my temperature is good. It is freezing here today - a strong cold front blew through (Californians would call it a storm) with 100km/h winds. Whilst we were out and about we saw a couple of coppers pulling half a 20m high tree off the road - that was a good thing for them to do! It isn't actually in their mandate but the resulting accidents would be... Lots of trees came down near BiL's FiL's place including one that must have been as tall as a houseblock is long (given that it covered the whole road and all of a front yard - hope it didn't come down on the house!).

I hope to sleep well tonight. Just have to get dinner donner and have a wee bit of time for the indigestion tablet to settle...

anon!

4 comments:

  1. Hope the chooks are all OK!! Good news about Helmet and hurray for our A&E at the hospital. I and glad you were well looked after and that you are feeling better!!!!

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  2. ack what an ordeal! Glad its over with and you have some relief. Also good hubs found a job woot woot!

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  3. Fantastic news about the job ---
    Hang loose baby!

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  4. OMG!!! Ken spent half today at BH Hosp for the opposite reason - he was getting dehydrated from some gastric bug he's had since Tuesday! Yes, we've always had good service etc at Emergency at BH, and as you said, all it takes is time, unless you are having a heart attack or are bleeding copiously.
    BTW, country theory about flying chooks - you clip one wing only. If you clip both, many determined fliers can still get off the ground enough to disappear, but if you only clip one, they are unbalanced and tend to fall down, or go round in circles. Not efficient for escapologists!!

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