I did something dumb yesterday.
No, let me try this again. I made a decision that didn’t please some of my family, at first, but in hindsight maybe I should have presented it differently.
Does this many any sense? I’m learning, very slowly it seems, that how one communicates is as important as the actually message being communicated.
It all started with a hospital visit.
Let’s backtrack a little. Tuesday was the one day of the week we had open. No one had to be anywhere and we didn’t have any plans. So we decided to head east of the city in late morning and visit the Canadian Automotive Museum.
Everyone likes cars, and this little museum had a great collection of old, restored cars, and an entire second floor dedicated to Canadian cars, some made by manufacturers I’ve never even heard of before (and are obviously out of business today). Fascinating, the history of car making…
So I’m walking along reading the signs, inspecting the cars, and suddenly my right eye feels very itchy.
I’m always itchy. I have eczema on my wrists and a few other spots, which I’ve mostly controlled through diet, and specialized lotions as well as antihistamines taken both orally or as eye drops.
I did not bring eye drops with me. I usually do…but I expected to be mostly indoors so I left the drops at home.
I also left my distance vision glasses at home. I wear contact lenses and have done so since I was 21 years old, and for the most part I’ve never had an issue.
Well the itch in my eye grew worse and worse. The contact lens was moving around, bothering me a bit.
I went into the bathroom and looked in the mirror.
Not only did my eye look red and itchy in one spot, the bottom right area looked yellow and puffy.
I washed my hands and took my contact lens out of my right eye. I kicked myself for not bringing a container and saline solution (but then, I’ve had contacts for 20+ years and I’ve never carried such items before…)
I told the family I needed to go to a drug store and purchase some. Which we did. We not only got the little container and saline solution, we also got antihistamine eye drops and another, thicker kind, that promised to be soothing.
Then I spoke to the pharmacist.
“You should get that checked out”, she said and directed us to the local walk-in clinic.
Five minutes later, and with the anti-itch drops already in my eye, we spoke to a nurse about my situation.
“That’s one nasty scratch you have”, he said.
He told us to go to the hospital ten minutes east of the clinic and have it officially looked at, maybe get antibiotic drops to help heal it.
We drove over. While I was in the car I took out the other contact lens as well, and put my non-prescription sunglasses back on. My eyes were both itchy and red, the right one actually felt scratched every time I moved my eyes, or blinked.
I kept wondering, how did I scratch myself to get such an injury? Only thing I could think of was that some dust spec must have entered my eye at some point, and scratched my eyeball when I had my hands on my eyes.
Itchy eyes are very uncomfortable, but not really painful.
Because my distance vision is now especially blurry and not having contacts or glasses with me, my sweet daughter took my hand and we walked to the triage of the emergency section of the hospital. We waited to see the triage nurse for about 10 minutes, then went through the standard analysis. Registration was required since we had never been in that hospital, so we waited some more, then registered with a clerk who only had about half the brain cells of a normal person, and then we got moved into another waiting room, and we waited some more.
After more than an hour and a half a nurse called me over and told me to read the eye chart.
“I can’t see anything further than about a foot away”, I told her. “I took my contacts out and I don’t have my glasses on hand. I need someone to look at the scratch on my eye.”
“Oh.” She said.
They didn’t look at my eye. They were still doing the preliminary analysis.
She sent me back to the waiting room.
We waited again.
I thought, at least by now, the ball was rolling. My chart was being filled up with info and since I didn’t do the eye test, I was probably marked down as ‘failed’. I mean, I said I can’t see, what else can I say?
We sat some more.
The kids were great even though after the second hour, they were both getting a little bored. My son’s phone had died a week earlier and my daughter played with mine for a bit, and I just sat there and tried not to move my eyes.
The itch reduced quite a bit. Not moving my eyes, keeping the sunglasses on, and just ‘resting’ seemed to help, as did the anti-itch eye drops.
While we waited, there were three people already in the room. Several more came in after us. We all sat and waited.
There was an old People’s magazine in the room and nothing else.
The other patients, each and every one of them, got called in first. Ahead of us. Who had been waiting over two hours now.
No one was bleeding or had any physical symptoms that I could see, but as these things go in an emergency situation, they analyze by urgency.
It appeared that my situation was moved lower and lower on the priority list with each new patient entering the system. I was not an urgent case compared to the other patients.
I looked at the husband. He was reading his phone. I said that I was getting tired of waiting, and he said to be patient.
I took my sunglasses off and asked one of the kids to help me find a bathroom.
“Your eye looks much better”, my son said and left in search of the loo.
“The swelling isn’t as bad now mommy”, my girl said and even my husband checked the progress.
“Do you think we need to keep waiting here?” I asked him. “I’d rather just go to my own doctor later, or tomorrow.”
There was a bit of a tense moment. I think having waited this long, to him, I was already in the system, might as well get it over with.
To me, my situation wasn’t getting worse, I was not in pain, my vision did not reduce or give me any other alerts that things were deteriorating, and frankly, I was sick of sitting in that room.
“Let’s just go”, I told him. “You can call our doctor for me tomorrow and we’ll have it checked out.”
He was not pleased, but didn’t argue.
It was very uncomfortable for me, to be so insecure about a decision I made about my health and feeling like maybe it was the wrong one.
But, I’ve had eye issues for two decades, along with other medical problems, and I think ultimately I’m a pretty good judge of these types of scenarios. Ultimately, if an infection was imminent it would have presented itself with a variety of symptoms, like more swelling, spots on my eyes, headache, blisters or pus, who knows what.
But the opposite was true. My eye was ‘resting’ for over two hours in that stupid waiting room and likely ‘healed’ itself enough to avoid the above scenario.
I assured myself, and my partner, that I still wanted to get checked out, but it could wait till tomorrow at our private clinic. Where wait times were less than 10 minutes every time.
“Fine”, he said. And we finally left.
But all night, and while typing this out today, I struggled with this decision. Was it the right one? What if I had been next, right after we left? Or, what if I had sat there for another two, three hours?
I struggle with my insecurities. When I told him I wanted to leave since it doesn’t look like I’m a very high priority patient, his impatience with me was evident. And on some level, I guess I get it.
I thought about it and thought that if this had happened to a kid of mine, I would not have left, I would have endured.
But, in my own situation, I self-analyzed and made a decision based on years of experience with my own medical situations, not to mention my eye issues. I am no amateur and yes, although one could say that I tend to occasionally under-estimate my health problems (colds, aches and pains) if I deemed it serious enough I do the right thing. Usually.
I’m just not one to run to the doctor for every little thing.
At the time we decided to go to the hospital my eye was quite symptomatic. The scratch caused swelling and tears and I was afraid I would infect it with rubbing or whatever. But after several hours of waiting and nothing happening, the swelling went away and so did most of the itch. I still feel a slight discomfort now, as I blink, but nothing unfamiliar to me.
So was it the right decision to leave the hospital without waiting to be seen?
I guess we’ll never know now.
What do you think? Would you have endured, anticipating another hour or more of waiting? Or would you have left like I did and made an appointment with your own doctor the next day?