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Doctors, nurses, and staying healthy

Have A Heart, Not A Fake Heart Attack

, , , , | Healthy | September 25, 2021

We have a non-emergency centre in our city; anyone can walk up and be seen, but after a certain time, it isn’t fully staffed. Then, you have to call them first and they will confirm whether they can see you there or refer you to the nearby emergency centre at the hospital. Or, they just tell you to take it up with your general doctor.

There are no costs or waiting times, and it’s clear on the website and signs are plastered over the centre, yet people still don’t get it.

I call ahead and ask to come in. As I walk the path, a couple is having a conversation in hushed tones.

Woman: “You are not listening; they won’t see you.”

Man: “No, but when we get there, I will pretend to have chest pains. They can’t refuse to see me then!”

Woman: “Oh, good idea.”

I follow them to the door. The man immediately grabs his chest and staggers to a nearby bench, draping himself over it like a Renaissance painting. The woman presses the intercom.

Intercom: “Did you ring ahead?”

Woman: “No, but my husband is having chest pains.”

Intercom: “Is it bad? Is he having any problems breathing, confusion?”

Woman: “Well, yes, a little.”

Intercom: “Okay. I will call an ambulance. Stay there and someone will come out in a second.”

Woman: “No, no no, it’s not really that bad.”

Intercom: “No, is he having issues breathing?”

Woman: “Err, no. But his foot hurts. He dropped something on it earlier.”

Intercom: *Sighs* “If it is only his foot, he needs to call the number and they will assess him.”

Woman: “But his foot really does hurt.”

Intercom: “And if you ring the number, someone will talk it through with him.”

The woman says something quietly.

Intercom: “Call the number like everyone else has. There is a queue of people that need our help and you are stopping us from helping them.”

Woman: “He needs help! We are not leaving this spot.”

Intercom: “Call the number. They will diagnose you; it isn’t urgent so you can do that. If you refuse to move, you will be arrested.”

The woman went back to her husband, who miraculously stopped clutching his chest, and they walked off. He didn’t even have a limp.

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To Be Fair, They’re Very Different Kinds Of Needles

, , , , | Healthy | September 23, 2021

In the early 2000s, while waiting for my doctor’s appointment, I witnessed this incident.

Another patient, a woman in her twenties, came out from the back exam area with a nurse. The patient was wearing a common and trendy outfit of low-rise sweatpants and a crop tank top.

The nurse handed the patient her paperwork.

Nurse: “You need to make a follow-up appointment for [number] weeks. The receptionist can help you if you want to do it now.”

As she grabbed her paperwork, the patient responded:

Patient: “Ugh! Do I have to? I hate needles.”

The patient then walked quickly out of the office. As she did so, I could see that among the small collection of tattoos she had was a trendy one on her tailbone. The nurse looked bemused but unsurprised and returned to the back. I managed to mind my manners and not laugh or giggle.

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It Takes A Village… Minus That Nurse

, , , , , , | Healthy | September 21, 2021

My husband and I had been trying for another baby for a few months when I finally got a positive pregnancy test. I called the OBGYN office and booked my first appointment, expecting it to be like the first appointments for my other two children where we previously lived: a physical exam, listening to the heartbeat on an in-office Doppler machine, addressing any concerns that might be revealed in the exam, and some counseling about healthy habits during pregnancy.

However, the appointment turned out to be just confirming the pregnancy, using the exact same sort of urine test you can buy in dollar stores (which I’d done at home). I wasn’t able to get an appointment to be seen for an exam until several weeks later, too late for any early genetic testing; it’s lucky I wasn’t planning to have those, given my family and personal history.

And for extra fun, when I gave the nurse my urine sample (in a paper towel-wrapped cup), she took it, stared at my two- and four-year-old, sighed, and asked with disdain, “If this comes back positive, are you keeping it?”

The office didn’t offer abortion services. Why would I have come if I were seeking that? If they had to ask about my plans for pregnancy, why do it so bluntly, and with the impression that three is too many kids for someone to have? It set the tone for all the rest of the pregnancy visits, wherein I was treated like a nuisance and a hassle. I was very happy to move in the eighth month of pregnancy and have my third child in a more welcoming environment — one which includes a few childfree-by-choice aunts and uncles who said I could have an extra child or two in their place.

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Her Attitude Is A Real Shot In The Arm

, , , , | Healthy | September 19, 2021

I’m visiting my doctor for a checkup about a week after my booster shot. The nurse is taking my vitals. 

Nurse: “So, how was your shot?”

Me: “A little sore when I lift my arm, but otherwise, nothing, really.”

Nurse: “Most people get knocked out for a day or two.”

Me: “Yeah, I thought I would, but I feel fine.”

Nurse: “You know, when you get sick after a vaccine, that means your body is building immunity. So, if you didn’t feel anything, you probably didn’t get anything.”

Me: “But—”

Nurse: “There are stories about people injecting with water and all kinds of stuff.”

Me: “I don’t—”

Nurse: “You should look into one of those tests to see if it worked.”

Me: “No, I—”

Nurse: “You should! If I got a shot and it didn’t do anything for me, I’d sue!” *Pauses* “Your pulse is high. Are you okay?”

Me: “You gave me my shot.”

The nurse sits in silence for a moment, embarrassed. 

Nurse: “Well… not here, obviously… I mean, people here don’t… I was just… uh… The doctor will be in to see you shortly.”

She left without another word. The doctor came in and assured me that their shots are the real deal and that just because I didn’t feel anything it doesn’t mean I’m not covered.

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Open Mouth, Insert Anesthetized Foot

, , , , , , | Healthy | September 17, 2021

I have suffered two bad ingrown toenails, one on each big toe. The first was handled by my general practitioner with general anesthesia. I didn’t know better at the time, but this was serious overkill. I got the whole hospital gown and recovery room treatment. When my other toe needed the same treatment, I went to a podiatrist. I told him the story of my first toe.

Podiatrist: “Well, that’s a GP for you; they don’t know how to anesthetize a toe. Well, let’s get you all fixed up.”

At that point, he zaps my toe and we wait a bit. He starts to touch my toe with the scalpel.

Me: “Um, I can feel that.”

Podiatrist: “What? That should be completely numb by now.”

Wonderful. It turns out that I’m one of the very few people whose nerve for the tip of their toe grows on the opposite side of the toe. He got me properly numbed, but I still laugh at the irony of him fussing that my previous doctor couldn’t properly numb my toe.

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