November 04, 2006

Sticks and Stones

It's been a rough few weeks, so if I start sounding the least bit whiney, please turn away immediately and go look at some pretty pictures instead. Thanks.
As proof that exercise is indeed bad for one's health (something I have long suspected), I was striding energetically along a bush track when my previously trusty hiking stick slipped on the loose gravel and I skidded gracelessly and with increasing speed down a hill. Even without medical training, the quiet but nasty snapping sound and the extremely rude word that I suddenly shouted were a good indication that all was not well in the leg department.
Being neither suitably dressed for a live interview, nor overly keen on publicity in any form, I was unwilling to lie there until winched out by a search and rescue helicopter in time for the evening news. So there was no alternative but to extract my leg from underneath me and persuade it to carry me a further kilometer or so to the main road. Fortunately I was able to call a friend to collect me there.

A few nights later, as the result of some astonishingly self-destructive muscle spasms while I was asleep, I had to call an ambulance to take me and my even-more-broken leg to the emergency department where I spent an eye-opening night experiencing the shortcomings of the public hospital system. I spent 6 months working in that department as a new graduate, so I know very well how stressful and busy it is, but I'm afraid there is simply no excuse for some of the regrettably uncaring behaviour I saw towards many patients. It takes only a second to draw a curtain or pull up a sheet over someone whose nakedness is obviously causing them added distress, and privacy guidelines alone (let alone basic consideration) should ensure that someone's diagnosis or results are not shouted across the room.

On the other hand, I also witnessed amazing restraint by some nursing staff. As it was after midnight on a Friday night, and this was the inner city public hospital, there was a steady stream of drunk and/or drugged and/or aggressive patients. Security has been hugely upgraded since I worked there, with an assortment of burly individuals wandering around to help prevent and quell unruly or dangerous behaviour. They were seldom needed, thanks to the calm and patient tolerance shown by some nurses. I was particularly impressed with the lone individual in triage, responsible for deciding the urgency of each new case. He spent well over 15 minutes calmly talking to a very agitated but apparently uninjured woman who refused to be either seen by medical staff, or to leave. I would have called in the "troops" after she first started hammering her fists on the glass screen of his cubicle, but he managed to talk her down and she eventually wandered off into the night.

So now I'm confined to couch and wheelchair for a month, the novelty of which wore off in less than 24 hours.
Still, the enforced inactivity means I might post here more often than once every few months.


Related Posts with Thumbnails