By Alan Burt
With COVID-19 being in thenews so much these days I thoughtI would share my recent experiencewith the Ontario Public Health system.
Three weeks ago I started feeling a deep, dull ache in my lower left side that did not subside despite asking my wife to leave the room. Finally, after 2 hours, devoted spouse drove me to the Emergency department at Scarborough Centenary.
Once I was checked in thingsmoved fairly quickly and I was ushered into an examination roomand asked to change. This is where things started to get interesting. You see, I am six foot, eight inches tall,or five foot twenty or two meters if you prefer. It became apparent that I am an outlier, statistically speaking, with regard to the whole hospital experience.
The hospital gown was ratherrevealing so I had to request a blanket to augment its length. A little exhibitionism is okay but it was also atad cold in there! The check-innurse certainly enjoyed my embarrassment.
Emergency ward beds are also a challenge as they fell about 18”short of a substantial part of me. On top of that they are not that comfortable. According to the wardnurse ‘they are designed that way’.So on top of being in an emergencyward where I don’t want to be at all,the chairs and beds are deliberatelyuncomfortable. Supposedly so thatyou don’t want to stay or return anytime soon. Seems a bit like over kill to me.
After a 12-hour stay I was finally diagnosed with a 7mm diameter kidney stone. That’s considered somewhere north of bad as kidney stones go. The problem with kidney stones of that size is of course that they don’t go.
A few days later I went to visit a resident urologist to learn my options and set up a date for the eviction of my uninvited guest. But first , I had to get past the urology receptionist who had a sadistic sense of humour
She proceeded to describe, in thoroughly unnecessary detail, what
I would be experiencing for the procedure.
Suffice it to say that it involved a cable with a camera and laser attached.
The Marquise De Sade of typing pointed out that since women go through childbirth it was only fair that men undergo this experience.My wife, and the mother of 2, was quietly smirking nearby. On the plus side, my kidney stone was so big I got moved to the front of the line. It also helped? that my left kidney had swollen to almost double its normal size Hence the title.
A few days later I showed up at the hospital at 11 am to get ready. Once again into the really short gown, with complementary blanket included. In addition, I put on a barely large enough pair of booties over my size 16 feet. If my feet were smaller I’d probably fall over; a lot. The only thing that fit well was the hairnet.
After sitting around for what seemed like 10 hours it was finally my turn. It turns out that surgical beds are no bigger than the emergency ones. I was assured that they wouldn’t let me slide off. From then on I certainly appreciated the use of a general anaesthetic since I don’t remember a thing. I’m assuming I stayed put for the entire procedure.
Unfortunately, when they remove the stent (small plastic tube to help ensure proper urine flow) they use a local. I’m informed that it’s really quick and only takes 30seconds. Somehow, I just don’t quite find that reassuring. I would prefer no memory of any of it a tall and I can’t help hearing the laughter of the receptionist again.I’m researching methods of affecting short-term memory loss.
Size Matters – The Epilogue
Well, as you may remember from the earlier installment, I had a 7mm kidney stone removed that set off a whole hospital experience. This was followed up recently when, after about 5 weeks, I finally was called to have the stent removed. While this was a positive announcement, I was filled with some trepidation. This was aided and abetted by the urologist’s receptionist who regaled me with the procedure for that. You will get a local she said and it will be all over in 30 seconds. Uh huh. Somehow that was not encouraging. So I in I dutifully, if not slightly reluctantly, went. Dressed once again in the ill-fitting drafty gowns I was joined by three female nurses there to assist. Can we make this anymore embarrassing? I will have to admit that I may not have reacted as stoically as I might have but, gods, that burned! However, it was over quickly and the burning sensation only lasted for the rest of the day. I have come to realize that perhaps these procedures are designed to ensure that you don’t want another one of these. Certainly the diet required to do that is not exactly enticing enough to ensure compliance. I am beginning to think that having doctors experience some of their own procedures might have them develop a little more empathy.
Having said all of that, let me make it clear that I have nothing but respect and admiration for our medical system. There just a few parts I wouldn’t mind making some slight adjustments to.