Monday, May 16, 2005


I promised you a tale of woe, and a tale of woe you shall have, even though at the moment I feel so blunt-headed and relaxed that everything seems more or less hunky dory.

For about the last week I've had a niggling pain in the right side of my neck and my shoulder. It seemed to be getting slowly worse, until Friday, when it started to get worse with a haste normally reserved for Formula One racing drivers. Since I was sore and it was raining, I decided to take the Golf to work rather than the scooter.

As the day wore on the pain grew worse and worse. I eventually gave up being macho and left work early at around 2.15pm. As I drove down Mounts Bay Road I thought, "Hang in there, Blandy. At this time of day the commute should only be about twenty minutes. Endure it for that long and we can dumpster dive through our drug tin at home and find something to ease the pain."

But when I got to the freeway on-ramp, there was a policeman directing traffic away. Apparently a water main had burst somewhere under the Mill Street exit and the whole south-bound freeway was blocked. I had to turn into the city, along with all the other cars who had been planning to get on the freeway, and we ground to a virtual halt.

Eventually I could see that there was an extra holdup - a bus had broken down in one of the lanes, restricting the flow from three lanes to two. That was okay; we were barely crawling, but at least we were moving.


Had I not been in quite significant pain, I might have felt a bit of sympathy for her. She was only 17, driving a Nissan Pulsar that should have been consigned to the scrapheap years ago, and suffering from a complete meltdown of everything she knew about driving in emergencies. A couple of other drivers, who unlike me obviously didn't feel like something was stabbing at their neck with a rusty scalpel, helped to push her car to the side of the road. One of them also had to steer, as the girl's motor vehicle aptitude had shrivelled to that of panicked squirrel, and without assistance she kept trying to steer her dead car into the nearest tree.

Eventually we got going, my twenty minute commute having stretched out to an hour. When I got home and applied some completely impotent drugs, I phoned a friend whose wife sometimes gets similar pains, and he advised me in no uncertain terms to see a doctor or, failing that, an Emergency Department.

Breaking the habit of a lifetime, I actually decide to take steps before the pain got so bad that I ended up curled into a ball on the floor whimpering piteously. I called my friend JC and asked him to take me down to Fremantle Hospital Emergency Department.

Maybe it's just because the rest of the city was gridlocked by the closure of the freeway, but the Emergency Department was comparatively quiet. There was just me, a toddler suffering from a severe asthma attack, and a jittery woman who thought that everyone was out to get her. I progressed quite quickly through the ED's byzantine admissions system.

6.15pm : Interview with triage nurse. No drugs offered.

6.35pm: Interview with clerk. No drugs offered.

6.45pm: Shown into ED ward. No drugs offered.

6.55pm: Interview with Registered Nurse. No drugs offered.

7.10pm: Examination by ED Registrar, mostly involving the following dialogue:

Dr: Does it hurt when I press here?

Me: No.

Dr: Here?

Me: No.

Dr: What about here?

Me: Argh! Yes! Ow ow ow!

Dr: What? Here?

Me: OW!!! Yes, stop that!

Dr: What about here? (moves fingers approximately half a millimetre to the right)


Dr: And here?

Me: [unspellable noise of extreme agony]

Dr: It looks like a simple case of torticollis. I'll prescribe some drugs to help reduce the inflammation and settle the muscle.

And off he goes. Meanwhile, the three year old with the asthma attack is in the next treatment bay, reacting well to the ventalin treatment he's been given. At any given point in time there seems to be at least one nurse and one doctor in there with him. He is given icecream and a colouring book. Meanwhile I'm sitting on an inadequately supportive chair in the next bay, wracked with the sort of pain that threatens to black me out if I move wrong, staring at the same patch of linoleum for the last half an hour because any movement of my head invites the musculoskeletal equivalent of a personal visit from Torquemada. Where's my frikkin' icecream, I want to know? Where's my colouring book? I was a cute little toddler too, you know, albeit thirty years ago! I have photos to prove it! Either give me some amusement or shoot botox into my damn neck!

In due course the Registrar came back with sweet, sweet drugs, and after a rather piteous plea the nurse brought me a cup of coffee. After a twenty minute wait to see that the drugs were having an effect (they were, although very slowly), I was discharged and took JC to McDonald's for dinner to thank him for giving me a lift.

With each passing day the drugs seem to be working better, such that I feel almost normal. One of them is Naproxen, which is an anti-inflammatory, while the other is Diazepam, more commonly known as Valium. Besides fixing my neck, I'm sleeping better than I've slept in years, although I tend to sleep though my alarm, and when I do wake up I tend to shamble about like a recently exhumed Keith Richards.


Blogger phaedrus said...

I once had to go to the emergency room because I'd been stung my a bumblebee and the campus paramedic flipped out because she thought it was infected. (My ankle was literally the size of a grapefruit at this point.)

We get to the hospital and a brief wait I'm given Claritin. No big deal. But when my brother, who had driven, offhandedly asks the doctor about an odd rash on his chest the doc tells him: "Oh, that's shingles." As in the highly contagious old-person's disease. "Oh." My brother says, not thinking much of it. It wasn't that bad.

We were back at the hospital two nights later.

11:23 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home