Toronto Mike

Hurry Up And Wait


After a restless night of the most severe back pain I've ever experienced, I decided at 5:00 this morning to visit St. Joseph's Health Centre.  At the very least I figured they could rule out anything serious and prescribe some heavy duty pain killers.  Even in the very early morning, a visit to the hospital is a series of waits.

Wait #1: Triage Nurse - Upon arrival, you've got to check in.  I was third in line which made this wait bearable.  If you show up with something clearly life threatening, you get to move to the front of this line!

Wait #2: Registration - After checking in with the triage nurse, you get to sit down for a while and wait to be called by the registration desk.  This was only a half hour wait, but keep in mind it was really early on a Monday morning.  On the bright side, they had a TV in this room and they were airing live action from the French Open.

Wait #3: Ambulatory - Here you leave your chart and sit down for an hour or two.  Luckily, there's a TV in this area airing CBC Newsworld.  60% of the broadcast was about the terrorist bust this weekend and 35% was about the Stanley Cup final kicking off tonight.  The other 5% was the weather forecast.  This wait is to see a nurse, not an actual doctor.

Wait #4: The Doctor - After being reviewed by a nurse in a little room I was actually sent to a different little room to wait for a doctor.  I'm now in my fifth waiting location and about three hours into my hospital stay.

Wait #5: Blood Work - After finally seeing a doctor I was asked to wait for another nurse who would take my blood.  In the meantime, I'm asked to give a urine sample.

Wait #6: X-Ray - After giving up a couple of bodily fluids it was time for an x-ray.  This wait takes place in the same place as wait #3 which means more news about the terror arrests, more shots of the CN Tower, TSX and Peace Tower and more discussions with police officers, RCMP and Muslim community leaders.

Wait #7: Results - This was supposed to be the last wait.  I was back in front of CBC Newsworld awaiting word from the doctor regarding my urine, blood and x-ray.  From what I could tell, they were looking for something related to my kidneys which could explain the back pain.  The next time my name is called, I'd be done... or so I thought.

Wait #8: Results II - They called my name after wait #7 and told me they needed more blood.  Did they lose the original vial?  Were they double checking because I tested positive for something serious?  Why were they tapping my poor veins for more juice?  I was afraid to ask and just did what I was told like a good Canadian boy.

Wait #7 and #8 took a couple of hours combined but in the end, about five hours after I arrived and eight waits later, I was given a prescription for codeine and told to rest my back for a while and time would heal my wound.  When I decided this morning to visit the hospital, that was really all I was hoping for.  When they test your urine, blood and review your x-rays and find nothing out of the ordinary, that's a good thing.  Sucking back codeine like it's candy reduces the sharp pain to a dull ache and a week without ball won't kill me.

This day had eight waits.

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