Monday, 17 February 2014

Time for a trip to the ER ~ chest pains

I have deep respect for our healthcare system. Hubby has gone through the long process of cancer treatment. My ex-husband was taken to emergency with a heart attack last week. Our healthcare employees, from all sides of the gurney, are amazing.

For those who complain about our system, it damn well works most of the time. Sometimes, individuals within the system make mistakes (for that there should be accountability, corrections, consequences), but that is a different issue.

All of my faithful readers know I'm active, either on the elliptical or snowshoeing with Daisy, hauling firewood, shovelling snow, and the like. I had chest pains Saturday morning at 10:00 a.m. I'd been having them for 6 weeks or so, many times in the car on the way to the Ottawa Hospital for hubby's diagnostics and treatments. I figured it was time to check it out. The pain was bad on Saturday.

12:18 p.m. You'll note I scratched my eye ball!
Daisy and I have eye infections.
You'd think I'd have better
handwashing skills than that.
11:00 a.m. Off I went, alone. Hubby is in no condition to sit in an ER waiting room. He sat and fretted at home. He was afraid that my daughter might phone, she was dealing with her own issues (her daughter with flu). He didn't want to worry her!


Since I was having chest pains they triaged me into a cubicle immediately. It was a slow morning!

The handsome male nurse, J, took my information: symptoms, history, prior conditions, my current prescriptions. (How peculiar it is to be taken care of by as good-looking age-peer, and as caring man as my sons!)
He took my blood pressure, which was high. (No guff!) He explained that if it was a heart attack, the enzymes do not appear in my blood stream until 4 - 6 hours after the fact. Since the chest pains were gone, it was a bit of a puzzle. I felt good that someone was looking after me. I've been caregiver for months, and it was nice to be the care recipient for a change.

Perth ER - not like the big city!
12:30p.m.  I had nothing to do, except relax. I'd taken a book with me, and relaxed, reading and watching the world go by.  They took my BP, still up at 204/90. I got myself into a gown, as requested, and another nurse did a ECG of my heart. I have no idea of the time, as I don't have a watch! My job was to relax, and I did manage to chill out. I knew there were a lot of people far more ill than I, and I knew I'd be gotten to when time called for it. Someone was bleeding from a construction incident. Each person dealt with with concern, and attention.

What struck me as being ironic is that after working as a consultant on the NSM Aging At Home Project in Muskoka (PDF 2007/8), I then went on to run some BP clinics through the Cardiovascular Health Awareness Program (CHAP). I'd trained Adult Day Away Program staff in doing regular BP check on clients!

1:00 p.m. A nurse, M. (who'd retired last month, we are short nurses!), brought me a lunch tray. Bless her heart. I was hungry.
Time passed, I went back to my book.

2:30 Nearly time for the
final ECG test!
The female doctor came in, told me they'd do a blood test at the 4 hour mark, another in 6. She gave me a prescription and a ticket for a cardiac stress test this week, we agreed I'd double up on my depression medication, as I was clearly under stress.

2:30 p.m. It was interesting, watching the people go by. I was trying to read some (managed ~100 pages!). Staff and patients cycled through the ER. Staff were incredibly kind to some older seniors, including a man who didn't seem at the top of his game, looking a bit the worse for wear and short of love and money. Everyone was treated with dignity and respect. The ambulance crews (always male/female duo) came in a couple of times, more patients, crash, a couple of young kids. All efficient, caring, well-trained staff; checking my wrist band and DOB before determining I was the correct patient to poke with a needle.

3:00 p.m. The 2nd and final blood test was taken, results back in (normal). One more BP reading (high), one more ECG (normal). I was eagerly told I could hightail it out of there.

Every single person I met during hubby's treatments at Ottawa Hospital, all staff from stem to stern (clerks, technicians, nurses, physicians), were amazing. Today, I had the same treatment. Wonderful staff. All taking care of stressed little me. I was home by 4:00 p.m. with BP meds. Hubby was pretty darn glad to see me at the end of the day!

I am happy to see the changes in gender roles over the years. No longer do we choose a job based on stereotypical gender roles. My husband, during his surgery treatment and recovery, had a lot of male nurses, he told me. We are moving forward, as a society. Changes and improvements are being made.

12 comments:

eileeninmd said...

What a fright, to be having chest pains. I assume the stress can be too much, causing your BP to be too high? MY BP is usually the opposite, too low. Take care and I hope everything is Ok after your stress test.

Olga said...

You were smart to get that checked out. Care giving can be a highly stressful business, even more so when the person is close to you. Take good care of yourself and follow through. Then let us know how things are going.

bettyl-NZ said...

Glad you got home. People watching is fun but I don't think I ever tried it in a hospital!

Karen said...

Take care and give yourself some love Jenn. It always gets me when the medical people tell us to cut our stress.....okay folks, tell me how?

Karen said...

Take care and give yourself some love Jenn. It always gets me when the medical people tell us to cut our stress.....okay folks, tell me how?

Karen said...

Take care and give yourself some love Jenn. It always gets me when the medical people tell us to cut our stress.....okay folks, tell me how?

Red said...

Great that you're okay. Get that blood pressure down!!! Stop and think what you can do to bring down the BP.
It is amazing what our health care centers can do.

Yamini MacLean said...

Hari Om
Seeing it from the inside is not a bad thing - once in a while. Usually I am saying 'stay warm'... but time to say 'stay cool'!! Follow the cats' instructions and flop on your perch for a bit &*<>. YAM xx

Sallie (FullTime-Life) said...

Oh my dear Jen take care of yourself too.

I am so envious of your health care and wish we could get our darn act together here....maybe we have just taken a step in the right direction but so much still be to be worked out. (We are fortunate to have adequate insurance ourselves, but so many... way too many ... do not.

Susannah Anderson said...

Glad you're ok, and there was no heart attack to leave residuals.

Your ER waiting room looks wonderful! Ours is full 24/7.

I hope the high blood pressure was just from the worry about having to go to ER, but if it's a regular thing, get it down, however you can (if de-stressing, pets and exercise don't do it, you need meds.)

Skipping my bp meds for a couple of days is enough to put me in hospital with chest pains.

DeniseinVA said...

I am sorry you have had this scare but good to hear the hospital staff took great care of you and I wish you well.

Kay said...

It's really good that you went in and had everything checked out. This was pretty darn spooky. I'm happy to hear that your health care system is competent. My nephew is training to be a nurse right now.