A few days ago, in a fit of sheer rage, I threw my fist repeatedly into a wall. Suffice to say that I came off worse and yesterday, while attending the Practice Nurse for a different reason, I showed her my rather painful and misshapen looking hand. She deemed it probable that I had a fracture and dispatched me to A&E.
I’m known to most of the A&E staff, and wasn’t given a chance to fully explain my visit yesterday before the receptionist told me to ‘take a seat’. The waiting room was heaving with people, including a woman in obvious agony, vomiting into a sick bowl. My anxiety levels immediately rose, but my Dad was with me and we coped by playing games on my phone until I was called to the triage room.
While I was being triaged, I was asked how much I’d had to drink when I decided to hit the wall…excuse me?…what the actual f**k? I don’t drink. Ever. I assured the Nurse the answer to that question was zero, and was left feeling like a piece of filthy scum, someone typically ‘mental’ who gets drunk and violent when things don’t work out.
Sent back to the waiting room, now feeling ashamed and stripped of my dignity as well as anxious, I waned to leave. But if there was a fracture, it needed seen to. Surprisingly, my name was called quickly…but don’t get too excited. We were led to an empty cubicle at the very back of the department and told ‘someone would be with us soon’. A whole hour later, we were still waiting. I heard other patients come and go, Doctors calling new patients in. We were treated to the finer details of an elderly man’s very intimate problem in the next cubicle, with words like ‘little man’ being used as a euphemism.
It was obvious I was a non-urgent case, despite the ever rising anxiety and the accompanying agitation which meant I couldn’t sit down, but was instead pacing the cubicle like a feral animal. I could imagine the Doctors at the bank of computers in the middle of the department, arguing over who wasn’t seeing me, drawing straws.
I’ll skip on a bit now. I was eventually ‘examined’ by a Doctor who barely touched me, as though she were frightened I was ‘contagious’, sent to X-ray and told nothing was broken. The Doctor did suggest that having my fingers taped would make me a bit more comfortable since I have a fair amount of soft tissue damage. We were told to take a seat in the cubicle and a Nurse would be with us shortly. Three quarters of an hour later…no Nurse. So we left.
Don’t get me wrong. I know A&E departments are stretched, and that there are staff shortages across the board. I don’t expect to be treated better than anyone else…but I think I deserve the same level of care and respect. Things need to change. End of story.