scribbles tagged ‘2004’

bring the broken arm in now

Monday, June 27th, 2011 | tags: , , , , ,  |

falling over

When I lived in the US my job provided comprehensive healthcare insurance. I fell over on a green slope while learning to ski. It felt like I’d broken my left, writing, arm. A friend drove me to the local hospital accident and trauma centre

It took 90 minutes to drive there, it felt like 90 minutes

checking in

 The centre’s foyer was like an empty hotel foyer, large tropical fish tank, carpetted floor, quiet with easy listening music playing. A lady in a blue suit sat at the large oak reception desk opposite the double, automatic doors. The lady asked me what was wrong, to see my insurance card, then gave me two paper forms to complete and explained that the financial adviser would see me in a minute. There was no sense of emergency about the situation. When you’ve just broken your arm, it hurts and your sensible thinking can go to pot. Maybe she didn’t hear me the first time so I repeat:

wendy: I think I’ve broken my arm, its the one I use to write with, the form probably wont be legible

receptionist: do your best

She didn’t look busy, she could have offered to complete the form on my behalf.  It fet impersonal, like my NHS experiences. Unlike the NHS, the environment screamed of wealth. I slowly filled out the form with my other hand, then waited

It was probably only five minutes later, but it felt like an hour…

Can we get money for this?

Please ring for attention Another lady in a business suit introduced herself and walked me into a side room where she photocopied my card and forms. She then filled in more paper forms on my behalf. I wanted to scream:

Where’s a doctor? I want to see a doctor! it feels like an elephants trampled on my arm

Clearly they needed these forms filling in and copying, my crying and screaming would just delay everything by making me incoherent and her difficult to hear. She took me back to the waiting room and reassured me that the doctor would be along soon. Pressumably they were flying in a doctor from another State

It was probably only five minutes later, but it felt like an hour…

Should we X-Ray the patient?

A lady in pristine blue lab coat introduced herself. Hooray! This must be the Doctor. She took me to a large room of empty trolley-beds and asked me to sit on one. She drew curtains around the bed, which felt weird because I wouldn’t need to take any clothes of and there was noone else in the room. Getting onto a trolley bed that is higher than your natural bum-height, with one arm, when you’re in shock and pain is not easy. She watched me struggle without offering help. It made me want to cry, but I wouldn’t be able to hear or answer her questions if I cried so I fought off the tears

The lady used a checksheet to ask me monotone questions… “no, I’m not likely to be pregnant …I giggled, a little light relief.  The X-ray nurse would be along to pick me up in a couple of minutes, when the x-rays had been developed I would see the Doctor

wendy: You’re not a doctor?

nurse: No, I’m a registered nurse

It was probably only five minutes later, but it felt like an hour…

Get the patient to the X-Ray machine

X-Ray DeptThe x-ray nurse turned-up with a wheelchair, repeated the questions the registered nurse had asked then offered me the wheelchair

Wendy: I’ve broken my arm not my leg

nurse: enjoy the ride

I felt bullied to conform to her expectation that I use the wheelchair. Asserting my preference to walk might lead to confrontation and cause tears, I wasn’t up to confrontation. She watched as I carefully slid from my trolley and moved into what looked like a racing wheelchair. 6 or 7 xrays later she unceremoniously dumped me back at the trolley. This time I stood instead of wriggling dangerously back onto the trolley. I suspect the hospital charged my insurance company for wheelchair and trolley rental – both unnecessary. As the nurse left I noticed the signs forbidding mobile phone use. My only entertainment device, forbidden

It was probably only five minutes later, but it felt like an hour…

Instruct the patient on proper behaviour

Freeway ExitA Doctor appeared! He glumly showed the x-rays while announcing that I’d broken an arm. I think he was disappointed by my lack of of surprise at the diagnosis because he went on to chide me for not having made it more obvious that my arm was broken.

Apprantly, saying “I think I’ve broken my arm” to the 4 people I was required to meet before him didn’t count as making it obvious that I had broken my arm.  He was quite clear about my poor performance as a patient, more crying was required.

I started crying about being reprimanded for failing to follow a hospital behavioural code that I didnt know existed.  The Doctor demonstrated his skill of ignoring tears while he prescribed earth-movingly strong pain killers and talked me through the treatment regime. I never took the pain killers. If he’d waited until I had stopped crying I could have asked him not to prescribe pain killers, not to charge my insurance company for them. But he wasn’t there to listen or understand. The Doctor was all about delivering instructions.

The lecture probably only took five minutes, it felt like 5 minutes of detention in the headteachers office…

Get reciepts and discharge the patient

mobile of deconstructed dictionaryChecking-out of the emergency room involved more form-signing,  another visit to the financial lady, and another visit to the receptionist

I’d collected an armful of paper forms at different stages in my visit. The discharge added yet more to the pile.  Each form decorated with my, new, right-handed signature

A spider dance


It felt like being gagged, prodded, and pushed along a clean and good-looking production line.  I was ‘the patient with insurance’ not wendy who believes that being aware of internal pain is mainly a good thing and  conversations will include critical misunderstandings if one party is crying and ignored 

If a miner incident like this is made distressing merely because the services are set-up to remove illness, not treat people – the prospect of a long term relationship with medical services becomes frightening.

Unlike people in the USA, at least I know that I will get some form of healthcare from the NHS whether I have an income or not

Scribble inspired by Nick’s post on how a desperate uninsured US man commited a crime to get healthcare provided by the prison service
bring the broken arm in now
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The day after tomorrow

Monday, July 20th, 2009 | tags: , , , , ,  |

The soulful behatted pianist who does not sell his songs to product advertising,  and does proactively support peace and respect for fellow human beings.   I was lucky enough to see him perform live in 2004 on the Real Gone tour.   Hero.

Tom Waits sings Tom Traubert’s blues

The day after tomorrow
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