This past year has been a year of milestones and anniversaries.
Last month I celebrated 15 years of being arthritic.
This month I celebrate 5 years when I almost died.
In October of 2006 our focus was on Ashleigh’s first birthday. We always do a nice bbq dinner with family and cake for the first birthday.
Then around mid-month I pulled my groin muscle. What I didn’t know then that I do know now is that it doesn’t take much trauma to the body to set off my arthritis when it isn’t under control. After the injury on top of everything else I started to develop the symptoms of what we thought was the flu.
The day after Ashleigh’s 1st birthday my mom took me to the St. Boniface ER where we waiting hours to see someone about the fever that wouldn’t break, the fact that I couldn’t bear to eat, and that it has been going on for almost 2 weeks. Longer than any flu usually goes without some sort of concern.
I can remember being in the hallway for days on end. I can remember the humiliation of folks staring at me and commenting on how they thought hallway medicine was over. I can remember the frustration of hospital staff as they pushed hard to get me out of the ER and into the General Hospital because technically I was a General Hospital patient who shouldn’t have been stuck in the ER hallway to begin with but there were no beds to put me in.
Just a hallway.
Never mind the humiliation that comes by having your Dr. consults in a hallway where you have no privacy, no expectation of privacy, and they need to confess they don’t know what’s wrong with you.
I can remember Kevin coming to see me on the hallway on Halloween and that he brought me a picture of the kids in the costumes before he took them out. I can remember clutching that picture after he left to my chest as almost a way for folks to identify my body. I can remember closing my eyes to sleep that night and thinking, praying to some invisible force that my kids would never found out I died in that hallway.
I did wake up the next morning and with that decided that I wanted to go home. If I was to wait things out I was going to wait for it with my family, in my bed…no more bad news in hallways.
Of course 5 years, 2 surgeries and 1 baby later here I am.
Frankly still pissed off just now I channel my anger into more productive things like arthritis advocacy and running for office to make change.
One thing I learned from my experience 5 years ago is how things can be spun. Wednesday during my week in the hallway I went to meet my family for dinner in the restaurant in the front of St. Boniface. When they wheeled me back to the ER my gurney had been wheeled into a room marked “Day Surgery Recovery” where several bays, separated by curtains held my fellow ER refugees. After my family left content that I was somewhere semi private I can recall drifting off to sleep hearing the announcement on the CTV News that the NDP claimed to have ended hallway medicine.
At 10 pm after the inspector has been through guess where I was….
How did you know?