And so it goes

Hottest summer ever! Cold inside. Broiling oven outside. And so it goes.

Finally, when there was a reprieve for a few days, my foot found a small hole in the sidewalk, the exact shape of my shoe. The hole was marked with a pink circle, which the rose-coloured sun glasses clearly missed. The fall was a heavy thud. What hurt most was the left hand. Tried heat, then cold. Still hurt. Bruising spread.

Five days later drove to Emergency at the insistence of 92-year-old mother. Having been there a couple of years before by cab, I knew where to park. Didn’t know the rules inside. Observing my confusion, a smiling man came to help obtain a number from the electronic information gizmo.  Right away, the number 259 was called. Reporting the fall and injury, a first question by the first nurse attendant was a screening about woman abuse.

Happy to hear that. Years ago, I had a project on hospital triage screening on this critical subject, at the Vancouver General Hospital. The protocol became nation wide.

She said she ordered an X-ray, then onto the identification intake. Afterwards – sitting and waiting. Oddly pleasant and serene! It had been weeks since I remembered simply resting without any other commitment than to me. The white noise of the television overhead on some unidentifiable channel and far behind from view at any area seating, mumbled on as background noise. The walls covered with various required signs melted into each other.

Opened the Kobo to continue the wretched book I had begun two days before to be finished in two days for the monthly book club meeting.

The frantic single sound from an infant interrupted the reading – as did the voice of a young girl who took a seat too close by. She was accompanied by a well-dressed woman.  A pungent odour of stale cigarette smoke wafted over the free seat between us.

“Oh, dear lord no!” I heard my inner thoughts. “But, I can’t just get up and move,” though that was foremost on my mind.

The need to do so, quickly passed as my concentration shifted. The young girl took out a sheet on which she had created a naive coloured something. She rifled through her stuffed back pack…

“There’s a fly on me!” her child voice was frantic. “I hate flies!” She brushed it off her shoulder. “But I like butterflies. They’re nice. I’ll draw one.”

The woman said, “That’s a good idea.”

“I’ll also print the butterfly’s name, Barbara. How do you spell that?”

“B- A-R- B-A- R-A” the woman’s voice was calm and encouraging as she helped form the letters.

“That’s a long name. A lot of As. Maybe I’ll just print BARB,” came the voice now sounding louder and more shrill.

“Yes. It is long. Alright to shorten it.” Said the woman. “Soon we’ll go up to that window. See number 3 over there?”

“I see. Number 3. There’s a person in there. Can she come out? Does she have a name? Everyone has a name! Can I ask her, Marilyn?”

“Yes, you may.” Came the continued kind response to the persistent inquiry.

And when the call came, the woman went first to identify some group home. The young girl with the child like voice gathered up her belongings and followed. She was taller than her companion. Could have been 12 or 18. A challenge to guess her age.

The first nurse came to advise she should have instructed me to go straight to X-ray. She apologized. Too bad. The hospital’s average stay wait-time might have been reduced – had she not erred.  So then, onto the blue triangle route which meandered on and on, hall after hall.

In that waiting area, an older man was holding court about his knee surgery recovery and his sixty-two stitches. He wore beige shorts revealing his now healed knee. A woman far in the corner wanted details; she was scheduled for the same operation. Having found his audience, he continued disclosing alarming caveats:

“The worst part was, you have to sleep on your back. I’m a side sleeper. Didn’t sleep much for the duration.”

He eagerly showed unsolicited photos to everyone on his cell camera, taken straight after the surgery. Really! Impossible to turn him off. Impossible to tune him out.

“Dear lord, help keep my knees in tact!” I offered a silent prayer to the great beyond.

The woman beside me was youngish.  Sharing a camaraderie smile between us about the man, we chatted quietly.  She fell from her bicycle. Cast on her left arm. Accidents. Incidents… Sigh.

More waiting for Emergency doctor to read the X-ray. Tiny fracture in an odd place on the hand. Unhappy diagnoses and advice. Then, dismissed to another attendant who located a left-hand medium size hand-arm brace

“So, what’s next?”

“I think you can leave.”

“Are you sure?”

“I’ll check with the Dr.”

Emerge Dr. appeared across the hallway. “Wait for a call from Dr. X, the specialist.”

“You mean by phone?”

“Yes. You can leave.”

Intake time 9:40 am. Out time 11:40 am. Parking ticket $6.  Waiting for follow up.

It’s hot again. And so it goes.


Katalin Kennedy,  September, 2018

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