Posted by: sayamika, the killer bunny | 2007 April 23

The other side

So today, when I was supposed to be studying, I thought I would take a break and try to see my bank manager. Silly me, this was 4:15, and banks all close at 4:00pm.

Oh, well, I think. I guess I will enjoy the sunshine and nip in and out of the shops on my walk home (oh darn…. did I mention that this time last week it was SNOWING and today it was 26C?). And I am a girl, so yes, I admit it, I tried on a few things.

You know when you are trying on a dress that buttons all the way down but you’re feeling a little lazy so you pull it over your head? (I see all the guys looking perplexed, and the girls are nodding.)

Apparently, I shouldn’t have done that.

My shoulder went *crunch* and then I couldn’t move it anymore. I let out a little squeak, and then I sank to the floor. Any movement was excruciating. I couldn’t take the dress the rest of the way off. I couldn’t stand up. I called out for help, and asked the staff to please call an ambulance. I wished for a classmate, or for anyone who wasn’t faintly green just looking at my ashen face, so I could get them to pull the arm back out.

The ambulance took 45 minutes to arrive. I can’t blame them; this was hardly a priority one sort of call: fat girl puts shoulder out in high street shop, not exactly on par with multiple vehicle collision on highway 10. But it was 45 minutes of sitting in agony, half-dressed, with three very squeamish shop assistants and a chick who was buying jeans, me trying to hold my shoulder motionless and trying not to cry when the muscles went into spasm. Wimp, I know.

When the ambulance did arrive, the technicians were incredibly careful and understanding. They immobilised my arm, got me up off the floor with a minimum of jostling, and got me out of there. They were great.

They brought me to the French side, to a hospital I walk past but never go inside.

After a wait, I was triaged and parked in a hallway. My vitals were okay except my bp was 168/104. Triage nurse, in French: you should get that checked out.

Me: *whimper* Maybe it’s the pain

They called my husband. I settled in to wait, pulling out my study materials optimistically. But the weight of my arm made it impossible to sit without pain. Nobody came and checked on me, even when I was sitting with my eyes closed, tears streaming down my face from the pain. I made no noise. Nobody spoke to me. Nobody offered me any form of pain relief. I think I was invisible.

Trying to find a way to relieve the pain, I shifted my position a few times, always with agonising results. Each time I thought I had found a better position, after a couple of minutes the muscles would go into another spasm. One last time, I shifted.

Another *crunch* and slip and I saw stars.

Miracle. I could move again. It must have slipped back into place.

I sat for a minute, thinking: now what? Wait for the doctor, so I can say, thanks anyway? And how long is that going to take anyhow?

Nah, go home. I explained the situation to the triage nurse, who looked confused. She said, fine, no problem. And on to the next case.

They say it does a physician a world of good to see it from the other side. What I saw of the doctors didn’t impress me much, even knowing where my problem stands on the triage ladder. I wonder what I can do about this in my own little corner of the world.

I imagine there will be a few people telling me that this problem is common enough and I should have seen it coming and things like that, but the first time I dislocated my shoulder, I was whitewater rafting in the Zambezi Gorge. It was reduced by a fellow traveller (who happened to be a physician). I hiked out of the gorge and put my backpack back on. I find it extremely disturbing that I have gone from that to this.

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