Almost a pleasant visitPublished 11:01pm Thursday, February 21, 2013
A visit to the emergency department could never be described as pleasant, but for my wife and I recently, I would say it was about as close as it gets.
I won’t describe the unhappy symptoms of norovirus, which my pregnant wife began exhibiting Sunday evening a couple of weeks ago.
They persisted through the night and the next day. On Monday evening we decided to err on the side of caution and take her — them, debatably — to be checked out.
We headed out Route 164 toward, for insurance reasons, Sentara BelleHarbour at Harbour View.
I believe it was our third ER adventure in our several years of cohabitation. A bad case of the flu and a broken tailbone, both also afflictions my wife suffered, were responsible for the other two.
Neither of those two experiences even remotely approached “pleasant.” Both times, the ER at Westmead in Sydney, Australia, the southern hemisphere’s largest hospital complex, was clogged with broken bones, burns, screaming children, sobbing parents, mostly all lacking somewhere to sit as they waited for hours to see a doctor.
Every time the automatic doors opened for a new arrival, which was every few minutes, cigarette smoke wafted in.
On the second occasion, my wife was forced to stand with a broken tailbone for about three hours. They gave her a powerful painkiller after about an hour, but a bed to lie face down on was out of the question.
But we were in and out of BelleHarbour, including the intravenous application of about a liter and a half of fluid, within about two hours.
The actual wait to be seen, during which comfortable seats were available for both of us, was maybe half an hour, and the main reason the rest of it took a little while was that a nurse, for a while, had the drip rate set too low.
It having been a Monday night at BelleHarbour, and those other visits, I recall, being Saturdays, may have something to do with it, but it definitely wasn’t your usual tortuous ER visit.
We were home in bed, both sleeping soundly, by midnight. I’d read several more chapters of my book, but not the whole thing.
Australia has universal public health care, but I would attribute the difference in experiences between the two countries less to that than the fact that Sydney is a city of three and a half million people, and Suffolk isn’t.