Monday, November 09, 2009

Our Trip to th ER

Oy! It's been one of those days.

Actually it was a very good, kick-back day. Contrary to the common wisdom predicting rain, it was fairly sunny and warm today. We went to the local apple orchard for a final bag of local apples, took Gertie to the Recreational Area and then came home to grill some lamb steaks.

I think I had my shiraz in hand when Fellow Traveler came limping through the patio door, grilled meat on a plate, gasping, "Red alert! Red alert!" I didn't understand what she meant, but I grabbed the steaks as she hopped to the sofa.

"My toe!" she gasped. "This hurts so much!"

FT, who has had major abdominal surgery and spent over a month in the hospital, is a pretty tough cookie when it comes to pain. But now she was nearly in tears.

"Look at my toe!"

To my shock, when she raised her foot I saw a splinter well over an inch long completely embedded in the underside of her big toe. There was no end protruding from the skin; but there was blood.

Somehow, as she'd been walking to the door with our dinner, her foot hit the patio in such a way that a loose sliver of wood  pushed its way down the length of her big toe, deep under the skin.

"I think I have to go to the doctor now."

First she called the nearest VA hospital for guidance. If you're a fully service connected veteran it's expected that you get your healthcare at a VA facility, but our local VA clinic closes at 5:00 pm. A clueless nurse at the other end of the helpline didn't seem to understand what was going on.

"Well, if your local clinic is closed then you have to come here. There's no doctor on duty right now, but we can call one in."

"Your faciity is an hour away, and I can't drive. We have a local hospital 10 minutes away."

"You can't find someone to drive you here?"

The VA is loathe to give patients a go-ahead to get treated outside the system. But given the alternative of driving 8 miles up the road to our local hospital's urgent care and driving an hour to Saginaw, to have someone remove a splinter from a toe -- it was a ridiculous choice.

The nurse -- who still had no idea even of where the VA's own satellite clinic in our area was located, let alone where we live -- finally gave the go-ahead for FT to go to urgent care.

And so we went.

Our local hospital's ER has the reputation for lackadaisical walk-in care, but for some reason we seemed to hit the place at the right time of the evening, and FT was ushered right in. After an excruciating Novocaine injection, the on-call doctor excised the splinter. It was huge -- bigger than I'd originally estimated. "That is one big piece of wood," he marveled.

Amazingly, we were back at home after only about an hour. FT's appetite had understandably disappeared during this ordeal, but we did finish off our bottle of shiraz. She's now sitting with her bandaged foot propped up, waiting with some trepidation for the numbzit to wear off.

An old Chinese curse wishes, "May you live in interesting times." I think a corrolary curse is, "May you have an interesting day."

4 comments:

Mompriest said...

In my neck of the woods, or um, desert, that splinter would be a cacti needle/thorn/thingy

so sorry, it had to have been very painful. Glad all is better now.

Pastor said...

Ouch! Here's hoping FT heals quickly!

Crimson Rambler said...

ow ow ow...glad you got it "dealt with"!

PS (PSanafter-thought) said...

Since my husband works at a VA Community clinic, I've heard about how the VA avoids, so to speak, paying for care. That is to say, the Health Care "critics" claim that the VA does such a good job with less money. Well yes, and yet...you can't get acute care at the VA community clinics. They don't have the supplies to take care of acute things. And even a number of bad things. For example, even though the Community VA clinic is within walking distance of two other clinics and a hospital, they won't OK most things to go there (and be paid for.) They would have their patients go to the main VA hospital. But lo and behold, that is 250 miles away. Lots of the old people won't go that far for care. ERGO: They do without or they go to a local hospital and Medicare, or whatever, pays for their small portion of the fee.

So you are fortunate either way: The VA OKed the service (let's hope) or the VA hospital is only an hour away.