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A Day at Hospital Transit Centre

Posted Aug 23 2008 3:06pm

The Neurologist appointment was at 12:00 pm on Wednesday. I was once again glad that my GP had organised the Ambulance Transport for me.

For about a week, I had been working on my will power to go out to the Post Office, to the Chemist, and to the Supermarket. Every day, I failed and I kept being in denial that I was really in bad state. I could hardly leave my bed, couldn’t even walk to the letterbox, or didn’t have enough energy to shower myself…

Anyway, I forced myself to have shower on Tuesday night. I couldn’t sleep the night, but consciously rested by closing eyes in the dark.

Wednesday morning, I didn’t have energy to have even a quick shower before get dressed. While I was waiting for the Ambulance, I started feeling nauseous. I thought it was the sign that I’d already pushed myself beyond my limitation at the moment…

When the Ambulance arrived, I requested to go on the stretcher. By the time I arrive at the Hospital Transit Centre, I was feeling even worse. Muscles lost strength and Parathesia in arms and thighs. I searched my bag for paper bag trying to breathe into it to see if it makes any difference.

E, one of the Transit Centre staff came and checked my oxygen level, blood pressure and temperature. My oxygen level was okay, so I didn’t need to breathe into the paper bag. My face was burning up, so she applied a wet paper towel on my face. She asked me what happened. But didn’t really know what was wrong with me. My responses to the hospital staff were very slow and I couldn’t answer most of the questions properly.

They stapled a slip saying “under observation” to my appointment confirmation letter. They informed my arrival to the Out Patient Department and asked them if they could fast forward the appointment time. I didn’t know why they were doing this for me, but I just went with the flow. I was too weak and hardly able to speak.

I brought a spacer and asthma reliever with me since the asthma had been bad. As I didn’t have strength in my arms, E fired the puff for me. I was confused because I didn’t think I was that sick.

Now I think back, I could see that the payback had developed into flare up for a while. And some mystery virus was starting to get stronger inside of my system. But I cannot say anything for sure.

Since I was so ill at that moment, a Transit Centre staff took me to the Out Patient Department on the portable hospital bed I was resting in. It created a little upset at the reception area. I wish I could be invisible. They couldn’t push the hospital bed into the consultation room. Since my muscles still didn’t regained strength yet, the Transit Centre staff and the Neurologist had to lift my legs to the floor and support me to walk and sit in the office chair. Every people in the waiting room were staring at my every move with curiosity. I was just looking down at the floor to avoid falling and to avoid those curious eyes.

The consultation with the Neurologist was posted in the previous entry.

After the consultation, I waited for the staff in the waiting room. I rested my head on my walking stick and kept my head down as people were still staring at me. Since she was told not to bring the bed, the staff came with a wheelchair to bring me back to the Transit Centre.

They gave me lunch and tea. I rested for a while before I could eat a little bit. After I rested little more, I ate a little bit again. With the weakness and trouble swallowing, it took me ages to finish it.

Beds in the Transit Centre were very busy that day. Most of the patients were older and frail people and accompanied by caring family. I was the only person who was young(ish) and without attendant.

Since it was my third time to use Ambulance Transport and Transit Centre, I recognise a few Ambulance Officers. They also recognise me. Every time they bring a new patient and pick other up, we exchanged smiles and little waves. There is one officer who is much more enthusiastic than the rest giving me big and happy smile.

One of the staff came to me and asked if I could go home in a car sitting. With the condition I was in that day, I had to say no. Then she told me that they were having trouble organising my transport back home and I needed to wait for a quite long time. Before I could say a word, she told me not to worry and they would take me home eventually. She made me another tea. I didn’t mind waiting. As long as I’m in the bed, it doesn’t make any difference if I was at home or at the Centre.

The staff who took me to the Out Patient finished her shift for the day. Before she left, she noticed me and was surprised that I was still there. She gave me kind words and wishes for me.

Little later of the day, I realised that the situation was not “having trouble organising the transport back”, but they couldn’t organise a transport at all. One lady was going home that afternoon, but she had to go back to the hospital ward and stay for another night because there was no Ambulance available.

The most friendly Ambulance Officer walked into the Centre the third time for the afternoon. He was very surprised that I was still there. He came to my bed side, held my hands gently, and started asking what was going on. E came from her desk, and spoke her frustration to him. She’s been calling the Office over and over, and just couldn’t organise my transportation back home.

The friendly officer smiled gently and told me without asking his partner, “Don’t worry. I will come back and take you home.” Before he goes with the next patient, he came to my bed side again and squeezed my hand with smile.

I don’t really know how the system works. But it seems that each Ambulance Officer has discretion to transport a patient other than the ones allocated by their office. Since I had no idea how dire the situation was, I wasn’t upset or stressed out at all. But it seemed the Centre staff and Ambulance Officer assumed I would be. I could tell E was more relieved by the friendly officer’s offer than me. I was just consciously resting with my sunglasses on and eyes closed, and didn’t care about anything.

I knew from the TV news that Ambulance Officers were over worked and its union was requesting fair work condition to the government. I had imagined that Ambulance Officers would be unhappy. But every officer was caring and some are very friendly. They seem to take pride in their job. This is another occupation that what they do is not just a job.

I was given a nice dinner while waiting for the Ambulance.

The Ambulance arrived, and I slowly started preparing to lie on the stretcher. There was one more patient waiting to go home. He was not happy that he still could not go home. E whispered to the friendly officer that she wasn’t able to find a transport for him yet. The friendly officer and his partner looked at each other for a while. Then he told the grumpy patient that he would come back and take him home. I was quite impressed by him. Just taking extra two patients would be at least 2 hours of over-time.

I thanked E and other Centre staff for taking care of me. They wished me all the best.

When they pushed my stretcher out from the Centre, it was almost dusk. I heard bunch of lorikeets chirping on the nearby tree. Many people working at the hospital were coming out from the building to go home.

The Ambulance Officers avoided the motor way and took different route to my home. The scenery I had from the window was just amazing. There was wide cascading orange and dark blue sky highlighted black silhouette of trees on the horizon. Street lights and car headlights were just starting to turn on and they added mysterious atmosphere to the picture. I had to gasp with the admiration of the beautiful scene. I wish I had my camera to take photos or video tape the scene.

The friendly officer made sure that I was comfortable and asked if I was okay during the ride. I realised that they were not familiar with my suburb and they struggled a little bit to find the street in the dark. In a mean time, I got to enjoy different street view, buildings and parks from the window.

Looking at the dark house, the friendly officer asked if someone was home to help me. I told him that I live by myself with two dogs, and I would be okay to walk to the door by myself. He lifted me a little to help me get off from the stretcher. It was almost like a cuddle.

I thanked the friendly officer and his partner. It was very dark and I couldn’t see his kind eyes anymore. He tried to squeeze my hand to say good bye, but he missed it in the dark. I waved him good bye, but I wasn’t sure if he could see me.

My neighbour friends saw me arrived in the Ambulance. We exchange emails now since telephone is not a good communication tool for me. I had explained to them not to worry about me when they see the Ambulance in front of my house. K was still sad because she thought this would give me another payback and sufferings. J joked that I should have arrived in Porsche instead of the back of Ambulance. I assured K that I was looked after so well and it wasn’t a struggle at all. And I responded to J’s joke that it was even better than Porsche. I felt I was treated like a princess in a Rolls Royce. At least, K liked the story of mystery ambulance officer who held my hands and cuddled me. Ha, Ha. I’m sure he would have done the same even if I’m a 90 year old lady… It was his compassion comes with his job.

The welcome home by my dogs were more than enthusiastic. They were running up and down, rolling around and expressed their joy in every possible way. They needed extra kisses and cuddles and more kisses from me. It took them for a while to calm down. I was out for nearly 8 hours.

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