fame and shame · whine and cheese

Day 828: Nineteen Hours

Sorry I didn’t post last night; I had just spent nineteen hours in the emergency department.

I generally avoid the emergency room if at all possible, and days like yesterday are why. But on Thursday night I realized that my foot on the injured side was tingly and noticeably colder than the other. Pain and swelling I can handle, but impaired circulation can be very, very bad; so I asked Mr. December to drive me to the hospital.

That’s when we discovered that even stepping very lightly on my left foot (while leaning heavily the other way onto Mr. December) caused my knee to buckle under me. And along with the buckling came an awful sensation of nausea and lightheadedness. I couldn’t even make it past the front porch.

Mr. December called for an ambulance. Since it wasn’t a life-threatening emergency, they advised us it might be a couple of hours. I was finally picked up at 11:30, and delivered to emergency by 12. To my surprise they took me to a large hospital that has a dedicated trauma facility—that would have been my last choice, given how a trauma case pushes everything to the back burner, but that’s where the ambulance dispatcher sent me. I’ll never understand why.

I’m not going to detail every interaction I had while I was there. Here are some things I noticed, though:

  • The hospital is still using pagers. So a doctor gets paged, then they call the extension that paged them, and then at that extension someone answers and makes an announcement over the PA system for whoever sent the page to please pick up 63… I’m not kidding. In this day and age of computers everywhere and instant text messaging, why on earth are they wasting time using this archaic system?
  • The right hand doesn’t know what the left hand is doing. Multiple times I watched as a porter approached a patient and said, “I’m here to take you to x-ray/CT/MRI” and the patient answered, “I’ve already been there, I just came back.” If Instacart can tell exactly what items my shopper has already bought and what they haven’t, as well as where they are as they deliver groceries to my house, why can’t hospitals have a system that tracks what has been ordered for a patient and what is needed next? And if they already do that, why isn’t it working?
  • Nurses are doing jobs that could (and should) be left to housekeeping/maintenance, like changing the linens, and others that could easily be done by porters or even volunteers, like fetching extra blankets, water, or food for patients.
  • The hospital now uses transport wheelchairs that can’t be self-propelled—they must be pushed, because the wheels are small and there’s an automatic brake on the push bar that the occupant can’t possibly release. So in addition to the errands I mentioned above, nurses also had to take time to push people like me to the bathroom, wait outside while the patient used the toilet, and then bring them back to where they had been sitting (or lying.) Again, this seems like a job for a porter, a volunteer, or a PSW. Better yet, they could provide the old-style wheelchairs so a patient could go to the bathroom independently if they’re able.

I was at emergency for nineteen hours. It went something like this:

12:00 a.m. — Arrived in ambulance, wheeled into hallway, triage. Transferred to a gurney in the triage hallway.
3:00 a.m. — Taken to x-ray, then transferred to a reclining chair up against the counter at the nurses’ station.
7:00 a.m. — Shift change. Nobody has so much as made eye contact with me since I arrived from x-ray.
8:23 a.m. — A nurse comes around and asks how I’m doing. “I don’t think you want me to answer that,” I say, and start to cry. She gets me some cereal and milk, takes my vitals, and reassures me that I’ll be seen “soon.”
9:00 a.m. — I see a doctor, who says my x-ray looks okay but I need a CT scan, which he’ll order right away.
12:00 p.m. — Still no CT scan. I ask the nurse if they’ve forgotten me; she checks and says, “you’re still on the list.” Great. At least I still have 2000 pages left in the book on my Kobo.
12:04 p.m. — my Kobo battery dies.
2:15 p.m. — Finally, a porter is calling my name. Takes me for a CT scan, returns me to the waiting area.
4:00 p.m. — I see the doctor, a resident. My CT scan looks fine, circulation is good, nothing indicating a ligament tear. She just wants to consult with her supervisor before they let me go.
5:00 p.m. — Haven’t eaten since the morning’s cereal and milk. A nurse brings me a chicken salad sandwich. It’s delicious, and I don’t like chicken salad.
6:30 p.m. — I’m losing it. I ask the nurse to please find out what’s going on. She comes back and says that the resident is paging her supervisor. What was happening up until now, I wonder.
6:45 p.m. — I go back to the nurse (I finally found an old-style wheelchair that I can propel myself) and tell her that unless there’s new information, I’m signing myself out. I can’t wait another four hours to be told that the resident was right. She asks me to wait a minute, since there are papers I need to sign if I’m leaving against medical advice. “So go get the papers,” I say, “because I’m leaving at 7 p.m. no matter what.”
6:50 p.m. — after a furiously whispered conversation behind the desk, the resident comes out and gives me an appointment slip for the fracture clinic on Wednesday. She tells me they’ve decided to splint my knee until then; someone magically appears with a splint and crutches, helps me put the splint on, and wishes me a good weekend. I wheel myself out to the emergency department driveway where Mr. December is waiting to drive me home.

Keepin' it real · whine and cheese

Day 826: Foiled Again.

I was trampolining with E tonight, having a grand old time, when I landed funny. My knee felt like it bent backwards a bit, and I think I heard a pop. I probably yelled when it happened, because I had E standing over me, asking if I was okay; I said the only thing there is to say in these circumstances.

“No. I’m not okay. Get Abba… and an ice pack.”

She’s so great, this kid. She went and got Mr. December and then went to bring me cushions to elevate my leg, an ice pack wrapped in a towel, and Advil. She found two out of three of those items.

I think I had it on ice for about twenty minutes before I got up and hobbled—with Mr. December’s help—back into the house. Now I’m on the comfy couch with my leg elevated. It’s aching, but I’m hoping like crazy that it’s not badly damaged. What are the chances I’ll wake up in the morning feeling mostly okay?

Fibro Flares · whine and cheese

Day 818: Mama Shark (do-do, do-do-do)

We walked a lot in Israel. To the shuk and back, to the park and back, from the train to the Jaffa gate, up and down the steps of the old city, up the hill from the bus stop. It was wonderful, but exhausting; and every day I wondered if I’d be able to do it the next.

Every morning I woke up with heavy limbs and an ache in my legs, but I got up and kept moving, and the if the ache didn’t improve, it didn’t get any worse, either.

“I feel like a shark,” I told Mr. December. “As long as I don’t stop to rest, I can keep on going without triggering a fibro flare. I wonder how long I can do this for before it catches up with me?”

I got my answer this morning: I can do it for a month plus three days before it catches up to me. I tried to keep moving, but after some yoga stretches and a bike ride I had to admit that my shark theory didn’t hold water.

Now I’m curled up on the couch, binge-watching Outlander. I don’t know how long this flare will last, but Netflix says there are five seasons of this show, so at least I’ll have hours of distraction at the ready.

bikes planes and automobiles · Travelogue · whine and cheese

Day 807: Against the Clock

We left Mitzpe Ramon on Wednesday, after a swim and a stop at the makolet for sandwich components. The drive was pretty easy if you don’t count the two wrong turns I took (Dad, I totally understand why Israeli road signs frustrated you.) And then we approached Jerusalem on Road 1. What a mess.

Jerusalem isn’t like Toronto or New York. The streets don’t all run straight; there’s no predictable grid that I can discern; some streets change their names every five blocks. It’s pretty hard to understand the instructions from Waze or Google Maps, because sometimes when they say “turn right onto Ploni Almoni Street” what they really mean is that the avenue you’re currently on will veer to the right and change its name to Ploni Almoni, and you need to stay on the road rather than turning right onto some other street.

We needed to return the rental car before the office closed at five. It was four twenty when we approached the city and got stuck in gridlock. Between the time pressure, the traffic, all the honking, and the confusing navigation, I was feeling very stressed. I think at one point I might have been driving in a buses-only lane—I’m not sure.

We pulled up at the gas station so we could return the car with a full tank, as promised. Mr. December hopped out, looked at the pump, and said, “I don’t see any diesel here.” He went inside to ask the clerk as I impatiently watched the time ticking away. He returned, having learned that the diesel fuel is called “solar.” We were immediately thwarted again: the pumps were pre-pay only, and they wouldn’t accept foreign credit cards. Mr. December had to go back inside and pay.

“Come on, come on, come on…” I chanted under my breath. It was 4:48. Mr. December came back to the car and started pumping the gas… but the gas wasn’t pumping. We pressed the button for assistance and I practiced some deep breathing while we waited. The guy showed up, did something to the pump, and left. Finally, Mr. December was able to fill up the tank.

“Okay,” he said at last. “That’s 300 shekels of gas. I hope that did it, because that’s the amount we pre-authorized on our card.” Naturally, it wasn’t enough—the gauge was only up to ¾ of a tank. He went back inside, authorized another 200 shekels, and pumped gas again. It was 4:56. We had four minutes to get the car back. Mr. December jumped into the passenger seat and I peeled out of the gas station.

The rental return place was only a hundred metres away—down a one-way (the wrong way) street. Frustrated, I turned right on King David and signalled for a left on Hess… but there was gridlock because of a tour bus that blocked the entire lane as its passengers slowly climbed aboard.

“Come ON!” I gritted out. “I have to return this thing!” The clock said 4:57. The driver of a car that was blocking my turn took a look at my face and started backing up. The lady behind him backed up to make more room. I shouted a grateful “THANK YOU!” out the window and sped towards the parking garage. The clock read 4:58.

At 4:59 we pulled up in front of the rental office. “We made it! Go team!” I crowed as Mr. December and I high-fived each other. We had beat the clock.

That’s not even the end of the happy ending: when we got home we found our missing B2 tourist visas, sent them to the car rental company and the hotel, and got our 17% VAT back.

Travelogue · whine and cheese

Day 779: It Figures

This afternoon we went to get the COVID PCR tests we’ll need for our flight to Israel. While we were there, I received a message on a WhatsApp group that sends out Israel-related COVID news. Apparently the Israeli government has just announced that as of May 10 (the day of our flight) foreigners will be allowed to present Antigen tests instead of PCR.

But that’s not all! Apparently the mandatory PCR tests upon landing in Israel are being discontinued… on May 20. Can someone explain the delay to me? If the government feels they’re not needed, why wait? It’s not like they need to ramp up to stop the testing. Why not just stop the testing effective immediately?

We got our PCR tests done anyhow (all negative,) because we’re flying on the first day of this new rule and didn’t really want to end up having to argue with uninformed officials. Besides, we had already paid for the PCRs. What’s done is done.

I still have to book the PCR tests for when we land, though; and knowing that they’re discontinuing them in ten days is just irritating the heck out of me right now. We have to take the tests when we land, take a taxi to our apartment, and then isolate until we get the results (to a maximum of 24 hours.) It’s a waste of money and time, as far as I can tell… but it takes them ten days to discontinue the program. It figures.

In other news, we received two silicone roll-up piano keyboards today. N tried them out and declared one to be no better than a toy; the other was okay, but he wasn’t sure about it. I need him to tell me by tomorrow so I can add one or both of them to the massive pile of Amazon returns.

I’m sort of packed: I have all my clothes except four items, but I haven’t put together all the toiletries, gear, and medications. Hopefully they’re all still travel-ready from the last trip. We’ll find out tomorrow—it’s already past my bedtime.

Keepin' it real · snarky · well *I* think it's funny... · whine and cheese

Day 770: Limited-Time Offer!

Hey there.

Are you an adult who just wants a break—a day’s peace, alone, with food and drink delivered to your door, and adorable visitors who hug you and then leave immediately?

You might be saying, “Well, yeah, but I can’t afford that kind of break!”

Oh, you can, my friends. And it’s easier than you think! Catch a nasty respiratory virus and watch as your family leaves you alone in your room!

Sure, it’s not all fun and room service. But really, how important is breathing when compared to hours and hours of quiet!?

This existence can be yours. No limit, but I recommend one per household because otherwise you won’t be isolating alone, you know.

All you have to do is pick up the phone, tell me you’re coming over, stand in my room, and breathe deeply. Act now and we’ll throw in four boxes of facial tissues—those should last you two days.

Keepin' it real · whine and cheese

Day 767: Overheard

“Is anybody feeling well here? Hey, guys, listen up! Hands up if you’re feeling perfectly fine!”

“Do I have to do Hebrew? Can’t I just jump on the trampoline and call it school?”

“E didn’t draw that—you did!”
“No, I drew these people over here… and E said they were the wrong kind of people so she erased mine and drew her own.”

“This video about the Persian Empire hasn’t actually said anything about the Persians. I still have no idea who they are. Why are we even watching this?”

“Do I feel warm to you?”
“Maybe. Now, how about me? Do I feel warm?”

“I think we should stop. This really isn’t working today.”

“I’m kind of awake-asleep. You know, like when you’re exhausted and your eyes are closing but you can’t actually fall asleep?”

“I’m happy to make pasta for dinner, but if you guys won’t eat it, just say so right now. It’ll save me so much frustration.”

“Seriously, man. Work with me here. Look alive! You can’t just lie there under a blanket and hope that we won’t ask you to do anything ever again!”

“Is anybody else feeling kind of nauseous?”
“Yeah. I mean, I was. It was… unpleasant.”

…and that’s the kind of day it’s been. See you tomorrow.

The COVID files · Travelogue · whine and cheese

Day 759: Rules

Sometimes, rules make no sense. With COVID measures, “sometimes” gets upgraded to “frequently”. I’ve been researching the COVID-related entry requirements for Israel, and it took me a while to understand what they meant for us. It took me no time at all to be frustrated with the rules, though.

Here’s what I was finally able to piece together:

We have to present a pre-flight negative PCR or Antigen test. But we don’t have to if we have a positive test taken within the last three months. What does three months mean? I wonder. It could be ninety days or three calendar months. And if my test was February 10, is May 10 within three months or after three months? Could they not just give me a number of days?

That last question is relevant because three of us have positive test results from February 10. Our flight departs Toronto on May 10 and lands in Israel on May 11. Do we qualify for the exemption or not?

Regardless of whether or not we need the pre-flight test, we have to be tested upon arrival—and isolate for 24 hours or until our test results come back. What’s the rationale behind allowing people to bypass one test (supposedly because they could still get a residual positive) but making them take another? Does the flight magically change the likelihood of a false positive? I don’t get it.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not opposed to testing; it’s consistency and clarity that I care about.

Speaking of consistency and clarity, I’m finding AirBnB to be trickier than expected. It seems that Israeli hosts don’t use the terms “double bed” and “twin bed” the same way we do in North America. The majority of the time I see double or twin beds listed, for example, the photograph shows two single beds pushed together to form a king. Not always, though: the two-singles-making-a-king arrangement is more common in Jerusalem than in Tel Aviv. In practical terms, this means I have to do some sleuthing to figure out whether an apartment will meet our needs, instead of just skimming the listing like I usually do. No wonder the planning feels like it takes forever.

fame and shame · whine and cheese

Day 750: Disappointment

There’s a feeling of anticipation when a package arrives on our doorstep, especially if that package contains a book. Yesterday I read about a new book titled There are Moms Way Worse than You, and I immediately ordered a handful of copies—one for me and a few to use as gifts for friends with new babies. The package was delivered today, and I eagerly tore into it in front of our friends who had walked over for a visit.

“Okay guys, I think it’s time for a read-aloud for grown-ups!” I showed them the cover with its illustration of a mother giraffe kicking her newborn. Then I turned the page. No illustrations… no rhyming text… and what was this about camping?

It seems that I’ve been sent the wrong book inside the right cover. Five copies, as a matter of fact, all with the same defect. My disappointment can hardly be overstated. It was worse than just getting the wrong book entirely: this book had led me on right through the title page.

“How does that happen?” K just asked while reading over my shoulder.

My guess is that this book is by an independent author using Amazon as their publisher and distributor. The books are probably printed on demand right before they’re shipped. Obviously, Amazon does not have proper quality controls in place. In fact, as I examine the books more closely, the cover lacks the author’s name, and the author’s name on the title page is incorrect. And tonight Amazon claims to have no hard copies of the book—just ebooks—which suggests to me that this wasn’t just a problem with my copies.

Tomorrow the books go back; I’ll order them from Indigo instead. I really want to read this book!

Keepin' it real · whine and cheese

Day 747: Broken? Or just Bruised?

My plantar fasciitis is back again. No worries, I know what to do—ice, tennis ball massage on the sole of the foot, stretching. Maybe some acupuncture. It was actually feeling much better yesterday, which is why I went for a 20-minute walk with Mr. December. Perhaps it was too soon: this morning I could barely stand on that foot.

Except that—oddly—it wasn’t the same pain! Instead of the sharp, pulling pain in my heel, I felt a sharp pain and then an ache on the top outside edge of my foot.

“Oh, for crying out loud,” I grumbled, “what is it now?”

The foot did seem to improve a bit throughout the day, but then the pain returned with a vengeance after I came home from our park meetup (where I mostly sat in a chair, actually.) After dinner I put my legs up in the hammock and put an ice pack on my foot for twenty (or so) minutes; I used the time to google “urgent care with x-ray Toronto.”

Last time someone in our house had a possible fracture, our family doctor’s office told me to go straight to the E.R. because “if the doctor sees you and wants an x-ray, you’ll have to go to a separate x-ray clinic and results don’t come back for a day or so; then you’ll be scheduled in at a fracture clinic for a cast. At the ER they’ll do it all in a matter of hours.”

I’ve experienced enough four-hour waits in emergency rooms to know that I don’t want to go there unless it’s an actual emergency. That’s why I was googling urgent care centres that might be able to do their own x-rays. For the record, I found one in Etobicoke and one downtown, but it wasn’t clear whether they did x-rays after hours (the pediatric urgent care clinic can only do same-day x-rays on Saturdays.) There seems to be a distinct lack of urgent care here.

I’ll wait until tomorrow to see whether it’s still hurting; if it is, I’ll call my doctor’s office and go from there. In the meantime I’m sitting here with a flashlight, trying to ascertain whether that’s a bruise on my right foot, or just a shadow with lofty ambitions.