2012/06/30

Adventures in urgent care

I'm writing this with a bit of difficulty. As you can see from the picture, I have a big-ass bandage on the ring finger of my right hand. I'm a touch typist, so I keep making mistakes with the index and middle fingers of my right hand.

The finger is not broken. Last night, I sliced the tip off it, maybe 3-4 mm across, slightly off to the side. Badly enough that I couldn't stop the bleeding. Never, never, NEVER use a mandoline without the safety device. NEVER! If you want strips of zucchini to grill, slice them manually. Do NOT think you can be careful enough to slide the courgette across the blade without your fingers becoming involved.

After I did my best staunching with four bandages on my finger, Sweetie and I cabbed over to the hospital (she doesn't drive and I was in no condition to do so myself). We arrived around 7 p.m. My timing was good, I guess. I was seen by reception right away, and then by the triage nurse only a few minutes later. Another couple of minutes and I was sitting at a window to finish some paperwork. I got my fashionable hospital bracelet, and then Sweetie and I were off to the minor injuries waiting area.

And then, before too long, I was escorted to curtains for treatment. (Curtains, waiting in chairs, triage...as Sweetie noted, I learned all my hospital jargon from watching ER years go.) The first thing they did was to take off the bandages. Ouch! I lay down holding a gauze on my finger and watches as the gauze slowly soaked through. It wasn't too much longer before a doctor came to look at the damage. He determined that he had to cauterize the wound.

I'd never felt a pain quite like that. I don't know what he was doing, because I didn't (can't) watch, but man, it hurt right through my finger and even into my pinky. I think it's because fingertips have lots of nerves, which is usually a good thing. At one point I let out a rather loud "son of a BITCH!" It was a funny scene in retrospect--him apologizing repeatedly for hurting me, me repeatedly saying it was OK, that I knew he was doing what he had to do, and then me apologizing repeatedly for swearing. The whole thing probably lasted only 20 seconds at most. It just felt longer.

After the cauterization, I wasn't bleeding much at all. A nurse came in to finish the job. She thought she might want to do one more bit of a different kind of cauterization, but the doc decided otherwise. We got my dancing goddess ring off that finger (expandable, happily), and then she proceeded to put on the bandage you see in the picture. The pad on the wound itself has some kind of silicon coating so it's not supposed to stick. I'll find out tomorrow when I'm allowed to take this bandage off and switch to just a regular bandage.

I was fixed up, including a tetanus shot (who ever remembers when they last had one?), and on my way by about 8:15. Everyone I dealt with was friendly and courteous, as well as efficient. I really can't say enough good things about how I was treated.

All of this came about because I presented my CareCard at reception. I will not be receiving a bill for the excellent care I received. I am insured because I pay taxes and a quarterly fee to the provincial government. Just to keep the record straight, hospitals are owned and operated by health authorities under the provincial Ministry of Health. Health care personnel outside hospitals work either for themselves or private clinics, and they bill the province for their services according to an agreed-upon free schedule. I chose my own family doctor. The government is in charge of money, but health care professionals are in change of providing care.

Some Americans are opposed to the Affordable Care Act and are upset that the Supreme Court of the United States just ruled that the act does not violate the constitution. But really, the only thing anyone should be upset about in the US is that the ACA doesn't go nearly far enough. Powerful, self-interested, private insurance companies will still have a huge say about access to care. The inherent inefficiency of such a system is still in place.

In Canada, we don't have socialized medicine. That's a canard. We have a single-payer public system, supplemented by private clinics and some private insurance for non-covered services, rather than a multiple-payer private system. It's far from a perfect system, but it's a very good system. Americans should be so lucky, but aren't yet.

2 comments:

Aerin Caley said...

I love my mandolin, but yes, they are to be used with extreme care. You may know this now, but you can get cut-proof (or maybe just resistant) gloves to wear when using one. Maybe something to look into?

What kind of cauterization did they use? I've had electric (Blue snapping, arcing zaps - around my eyes! Eeek!) but I'm not sure what else is in their arsonal.

Véronique said...

I didn't know about the gloves until I just read -- made of Kevlar, apparently, to be used even with the safety device. I'll have to look into that.

No idea about the cauterization, except I'm pretty sure there were no blue arcs.

I do not want to go through any of this again!