Connor has always been an ENT (ear nose and throat) child. If there is an infection doing the rounds, he will get it, and it will be something that either means his sinuses are blocked or his ears are infected.
Either way it is excruciating pain. Usually if not treated effectively he risks bursting an ear drum and this may lead to the loss of hearing or part there of. We are old hands at this.
On Sunday morning Connor looked a bit off colour, and not as exuberant as he usually is.
On Monday morning he looked less than ideal. I was under the impression there was a mathematics exam, so bundled him off to school though I knew he was not feeling great. I said he should call me as soon as he is done/not feeling well and I will collect him. I did not want him to miss the exam (I am so in the acceptance for grade 8 school zone right now).
Mistake # 1 : The exam had been postponed.
Mistake # 2 : Connor started throwing up pretty much as I left the school.
By 09h10 I was back fetching a very sick and feverish child. No doubt I was being discussed in the staff room with reference to my questionable parenting to bring my son to school in that state.
We saw a GP at about 15h30. He needed an anti-biotic and pain relief. No amount of fairy dust and happy thoughts were going to get rid of the pus. We just needed to kick it anti-biotic style.
The evening went as evenings went in terms of dinner, homework, bathing and the usual chaos that ensues.
Connor got more and more uncomfortable as the evening wore on. He started crying that his ear was really sore at about 19h00 and by 21h00, after more painkillers, he rates his pain 10/10. The only option left was to toddle along to the nearest Medi Clinic.
At no point do I wish to suggest I am not thankful we pay a small fortune to have the luxury of medical aid.
I also do not wish for a moment to show a lack of appreciation for what probably is a top class hospital right on our doorstep.
But after more than an hour in the waiting room, with a sobbing child, and really nothing to do but sit there with a look of angst on my face, I started to wonder about our service provider Medi Clinic. And whether some where in their service model things have gone badly wrong.
Or maybe whether I am expecting too much in terms of timeous medical care, and should just get my “wait and be patient” on.
We arrived, had to fill in a mountain of paperwork. Though every member of my family has been to this exact hospital for everything from birth to allergic reactions, but for some reason they did not have access to our updated records.
No one assessed how much pain Connor was in, and whether they could assist him. Clearly he was not missing a limb and bleeding to death, so we filled in paperwork grabbed a chair and waited our turn like good little patients.
I did start to get all sorts of delusions of entitlement. I was paying for a service, and it starts to feel like you are at Elsies River Day Hospital (which I am sure is a wonderful place, and I have not been there …..) and really I was not really getting a service. I was waiting in a queue.
After an hour a sister did come and do observations. Connor is still crying in pain. She cheerfully told us to head back to the waiting room, wait for the doctor and that she was now going home. Yes, lucky you!!
Connor had eventually cried himself to sleep. An eleven year old boy crying in a public area until he is so exhausted he falls asleep. You must realise that is a special kind of crying.
We eventually saw a doctor after yet more waiting.
The problem is that every doctor I see looks 12, and in some way either a clone for Doogie Howser, or the boy who got left home alone at Christmas time.
The 12 year old doctor told me what I knew and that was that Connor had an ear infection. What really!? I might have had less of a sense of humour than I normally would have had.
The doctor said that he could not give Connor anything for the pain.
A hospital with full access to a myriad of medication. One of which must be connected or loosely related to morphine. Access to a drip and a needles cannot give a boy pain killers ….. I started to doubt why exactly I had spent more than 2 – 3 hours waiting for this pearl of wisdom (granted I was now tired, irritated and cold – the air conditioner was set on “freeze your snot to ice”
The doctor wrote a script for some gargle stuff, some nose drops, and after I started to insist, he wrote a script for ear drops that had a Novocaine base. I figured anything to relieve some of the pain in Connor’s ears would be a good idea, at worst I would put it in a tot glass and sip on it.
Because we were already not having enough fun, we had to drive to another location to fill the script, as the hospital pharmacist was not open.
Fortunately we have access to a 24 hour pharmacy. I bought a lice comb while I was there (another one) and a bag of Easter Eggs (first one) – I figured the night was such a disaster I might as well just breath in a bag of easter eggs, and check my hair for lice, I mean it is practically a party.
I walked away from the experience thinking that my thoughts and prayers go out to anyone who has to deal with a public/government hospital. Here I was sitting in a private hospital, and feeling angry because we were not being seen timeously and my demands were not being met.
How hopeless must you feel in the public health sector?