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Stories from the Hospital

Written by Siri Paulson

So I spent two days this week with a loved one in hospital in Montreal, Quebec. That was scary for a while, but the scary part is over now (knock wood) and I'm slowly coming down from all that stress.

What I'm starting to remember now are the little things that happened while I was focused on my own loved one's story.

The way the first-responder firefighters switched into French to debrief the paramedics.

The way the gurney's legs retracted as the bed platform slid into the ambulance.

The first intake guy at the hospital, who also talked with the paramedics in fluent French (while I, despite being non-fluent, tried to eavesdrop and read the medical notes he was making on the computer -- in French)...and then came over to us and said, in a clearly non-francophone accent, "How you doin', mate?" So completely unexpected that it almost made me laugh.

The tiny room where we saw the nurse, which had a second door opening onto a big lab (?) room...where people were joking and gossiping and carrying on just as if I wasn't sitting there next to a hospital patient and trying not to freak out.

The fact that my loved one was the youngest in the waiting room by about 50 years.

And then, in the ward...

The frail old man who kept freaking out and moaning and wailing about cigarettes and tottering around asking everyone if they had one. (They eventually called a Code White on him. Then I had to look up what a Code White was. Apparently codes aren't standard across all hospitals, but at this one, it's for patients who are being aggressive and need to be subdued.)

The rumpled guy who was clearly a regular. The nurses called him familiarly by name and asked what he'd had to drink and how much and whether he'd taken drugs this time....

The nurses who constantly joked around and rolled their eyes at each other and were still completely professional with the patients. Except for the regular, that is.

The trio of med students who came by with a supervisor to practice asking questions (with permission). Now that was a fascinating fly-on-the-wall least until they started getting really technical.

And finally, an odd sequence as I tried to find my way back into the ward after stepping out:


Me: *wanders through a set of doors that happen to be open* *looks around wildly, knowing the ward is just to my left but not seeing how to get there*

Random medical dude: Yes?

Me: *explains that I'm looking for the emergency ward*

Medical dude: Back that way. *gestures in the opposite direction*

Me: That doesn't sound right, but... *wanders around confusedly for a while, finally wanders back, waits for a looong 15 minutes, sees security guy, asks him for directions*

Security guy: Right this way. *leads me through the SAME doors*

Me: *sees the same medical dude* Uh...

Medical dude: *explains to security guy that I came this way 15 minutes ago and he didn't give me directions because he didn't have clearance to do so*

Security guy: *commends him, they shake hands and introduce themselves*

Me: ...


I swear I was too flummoxed to be angry. (And too relieved to finally be getting back into the ward.)


...Yeah, I think I might be a writer.



Liv Rancourt
# Liv Rancourt 2014-05-08 17:22
OMG that last one...most US hospitals I know are (rightly) so concerned with customer service that EVERYONE is empowered to help patients and family in every way possible. I love all your observations, but the last one just blows me away...
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Siri Paulson
# Siri Paulson 2014-05-09 20:19
I think it was due to security concerns, not bureaucracy or some such, but still...!

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