What Else Is In Scott's Head?

The blog site for writer Scott C. Smith. Some observations on the world we live in and life in general. And maybe some politics.

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Fun (Not) With Medicine

My wife and step-son have been pretty sick the last week, and so far I've been lucky in not catching their flu. On Monday my wife was feeling pretty bad, with a bad migraine and sharp pain in her neck and joints, so it was off to see her doctor.

It was a short visit; the doctor told us we should go to the emergency room.

That was when the fun began.

We arrived at 1:45 or so, and was told we'd have a 45-minute wait. And it's weird to sit in an emergency room packed with people, some cradling injured limbs as they pace the floor, waiting to be called. Portland is Oregon's biggest city, with a population of about 1.5 million, but it still has a small city feel to it. There are plenty of hospitals, but of course our insurance company wants us to go to a specific hospital's emergency room, which also happens to be one of the busiest hospitals in the area.

So, we waited, first for 45 minutes, which soon became 90 minutes. As we waited an older man wandered around, his arm in a sling (broke or sprained), his leg bleeding (he was wearing shorts), and he had waited almost as long as me and my wife before he was called in to see a doctor.

Finally, it was our turn, and we headed for one of the small treatment rooms. By then it was somewhere around 3:30. I'm not sure when the doctor arrived, but it may have been at 4:00. My wife told him her symptoms and he was a little worried as her symptoms were the classic symptoms of meningitis. There's viral meningitis, which is treatable, and bacterial meningitis, which can lead to death if not treated. So, we decided to have the spinal tap procedure done on my wife to test for meningitis. Luckily, the tests were negative, so the diagnosis was just a strain of flu.

In our nine hours at the hospital, the actual time spent treating my wife was about 45 minutes, probably less. I guess that's the reality of modern medicine: lots of waiting.

As we left at 9:45 p.m., the emergency room was still filled with people, and more checking in to be seen.

Anyway, that's why I didn't post anything on Monday. Rest assured I will resume my anti-American, Bush-bashing posts soon.


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