An evening at the emergency room ….

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?

130212_ear infection

Leave a comment


  1. That’s crazy that they don’t want to give him pain meds – ear ache is go-crazy-painful!

    As a child I used to get middle ear infections ALL the time too, antibiotics did not do much for me to be honest. One fine day a doctor taught me how to go about bursting my own ear drum. It was magnificent! i know it’s not really great for the long term health of my ear, but releaving that pressure instantly took all the pain away and my hearing usually retuned within 3 days or so, so i wasn’t really concerned.

    I must have popped my own ear drum at least 20 times! Now I have a permanently perforated ear drum on the right hand side and a slight hearing problem. (They rate it against some mysterious index and if you reach 20 you have a hearing problem, on my right ear I have 16). On the upside it doesn’t deteriorate, and it’s physically impossible for me to get an infection on that side again because my drum is too full of holes to build up pressure.

    In retrospect I probably should have had grommets put in? 😉

    • reluctantmom

       /  March 14, 2013

      Yes, Connor was really in a great deal of pain. Four days later and he is on the mend, but still not quite 100%. Connor has perforated his own ear drum a few times, but the last time it led to a 10% hearing loss … which did not improve, so he had to have an ear drum graft, which was successful.

      I try to ensure that the infection never gets bad enough to burst his ear drum, as his ear drums are already so full of scar tissue, that I am sure that another bad tear, and there will just be too much scar tissue to heal properly.

      Kids and ear infections are just not fun!

  2. Forgot so say this is why from now on I go to Life Hospitals with emergencies, no need to fill out forms if you have been there before, just scan your id and there you go!

    • reluctantmom

       /  March 13, 2013

      I do believe that Medi Clinic is doing something wrong — everything about dealing with them is labourious.
      They really do need a bit of a shake down and to find a better system. I would change hospitals if there was one closer to me. Medi Clinic is the only one within easy access.

  3. I feel your pain, I spent a very lovely 2-3 hours in Medi Clinic’s waiting room while suffering from a severe kidney infection, with a fever so high that I mercifully blacked out at one point…sadly my husband wasn’t as lucky! Go private health care!

  4. Oh I feel your pain !! I spent almost 4 hours with a 3 year old who had a 3 or 4 cm bump on his forehead and blood pouring out his nose. He bumped his head just after 19h00 and we left the hospital just before 23h00, after I had refused to take him to have a facial x-ray (and for those who wish to comdemn my decision, we were back at 08h00 the next morning for that)
    And as my husband was not around I also had a rather bored 5 year old with me – not the most pleasant outing we have had as a family

  5. Carmen

     /  March 12, 2013

    If the medi-clinic you’re referring to is by any chance Panorama, please please complain to them! Their ER is really up to shit these days, and I figure the more people who complain about the new procedures the better the chance of them doing something about it! Waiting two hours to see the doctor seems to be their new normal!

  6. Ai, I do hope he is much better already today. And really, I can nto figure out why one has to wait so long.

  7. julz

     /  March 12, 2013

    They really take their time at that emergency room. Hope Connor feels better. X

  8. veronique

     /  March 12, 2013

    Two weeks ago I had this same experience. My son was “off colour” when I fetched him from school,had a tiny fever, so we gave him some meds and then he was fine. He went to sleep, and after a few hours woke up vommitting, with a HEADACHE!!(Immediately I assume meningitis) and a fever. Check temp, 40.2, so we rush to the medi- clinic, which is a very short drive away(Must be the same medi clinic) Arrive, only to have an hour long wait, without anyone checking his vitals, or even asking me what was wrong with him. Filled in the million forms, and then eventually we got to see a nurse. At that point the fever was down to 39.1(luckily) and she gave him something for it. Another 30 mins passed, before we got to see the doctor(also 12), who, after a very brief examination, spent the next 15 minutes spewing technical jargon.
    We eventually get the script(it is now nearly midnight) but of course, the hospital has no pharmacy, so we go to the 24 hour(again, probably same as yours).

    What deeply concerns me, is that no-one even asked what the problem is. Surely they have some sort of Triage thing, so they can determine the severity of the illness, and allow the worst cases to be seen first? Does a temp of 40.2 C in a 5 year old not merit immediate action?

    My son has stayed over at this hospital on many occasions, and I’ve never been anything but happy with them. Thus, this my first visit to the emergency section, was truly a rude awakening. I am grateful for medical aid, grateful that we can afford to use their facilities, but they need to make a plan with their emergency room!
    And why why why would they not have an open pharmacy?? It’s a HOSPITAL! That’s what they’re there for.

    Anyway, this has just re-opened the issue for me, and I think I’ll mosey on over to

  1. The maze that is the government health system…. |

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: