The latest from © Dr. Wes Browning's columns for Real Change, Adventures in Irony:
Last month I fell and broke some bones. Ordinarily I wouldn’t mention a thing like that here, because broken bones are not everybody’s idea of a treasure trove of socio-political humor. I only mention it now because the breaks in question have had amusing consequences indicative of socio-political realities. I went to Harborview for treatment.
Due to a pre-existing mental condition (being nuts) I waited two days to go to Harborview ER. Forget what I ever said about Harborview, just now. I love Harborview ER. I love sitting on the bench for an hour waiting for triage. I love triage. I love waiting half an hour after triage to check-in. I love waiting another half-hour to be taken to a bed, probably in a hall next to a screaming man strapped and manacled to a gurney. I love waiting another half-hour for a doctor to see me for the first time, while I listen to a man at the other end of the hall scream “I am Hitler!” or, alternatively, “I am the light!” repeatedly for five minutes at a time.
I love being seen by random doctors whose names I can’t remember, there being as many of them as dancers in a Busby Berkeley spectacular. Somewhere well into the fourth hour I was led to the X-ray room, where twenty or thirty X-rays were taken, and all I could think was, “That’s a lot of film there. I hope they know somebody’s going to have to pay for all that film.” Then I waited some more.
Finally, a verdict: “Good news, Mr. Browning! You have contusions, swelling, lacerations, and (I forget the fourth thing), but you have no broken bones! Just get a tetanus shot on the way out and go home, and nature will slowly heal you, and the pain will subside by April!”
The next day I checked my phone messages, and found out that even as I was on my way home a doctor I hadn’t even met yet had called me to tell me they made a mistake reading my X-rays and my wrist was broken after all, so come back!
So I came back and I told the people in ER I was just continuing treatment from the day before, and they said, no problem: Just wait on the bench for triage, wait then to check-in, wait then to be led in, listen to the other patients scream, and wait then for a doctor to appear. Which I did as directed, so only four hours later I got the splint on my right arm I should have gotten the previous day. Then they said, go home, you’re done.
The next day I found out I had a phone call from yet another doctor even as I was making my way home. They had missed a break of my other arm. Please come back.
So I came back and I told the people in ER I was just continuing treatment from the day before, and the day before that, and they said, no problem: Just wait on the bench for triage, wait then to check-in, wait then to be led in, etc., and I said, “Right, so I’m living in an Early Medieval Irish folk story,” and I did it all as directed, and four plus hours later I had a new sling for my left arm, and effusive apologies from at least two new doctors I didn’t remember. I told them there was no need to apologize, this is material!
So right now you should be asking, “Alright, what’s your socio-political point, Wes?”
Well, I could say that my experience is just indicative of the state of health care in this country, but I won’t go there, because I actually appreciate the treatment, and I know mistakes happen to the best of us. Hey, I didn’t plan to fall, either.
But, think about this: what if I’d had no home to go to, and no voice mail to retrieve?