A Few years ago I wrote an open letter to Surrey Memorial Hospital.
I had a broken wisdom tooth that was so badly infected I ended up in ER in the middle of the night hallucinating with pain. At one point I was left screaming outside by a garbage can until another patient told a nurse to smarten up and help me.
Over the last several weeks I have been working with my doctor to combat severe Anemia.
For a normal person Anemia is a small issue that requires eating food with high levels of iron and the occasional iron pill.
For me my hemoglobin levels are so low that even the slightest amount of stress could cause a heart attack and kill me.
On Monday my Doctor requested that I immidiatly go to Surrey Memorial Hospital’s Emergency department because he was afraid for my health and safety. While his heart was in the right place it’s taken me a two full days to digest what happened.
I called my best friend and for an hour we talked about why I didn’t want to go – I couldn’t figure out why I was so afraid. I couldn’t figure out why I was unable to stop crying.
It wasn’t until I left there that I was able to figure it out. I was crying I was in fear, I was terrified because I know just how shitty the service is at SMH and I knew that when I walked through the door they would probably cause more damage than they would prevent.
Prior to going to the ER I was asked to come see my doctor. He explained that while I could wait to get my results from the regular blood clinic he very much wanted me to go to ER to expedite the procedure. You see he very much wants me to have a blood transfusion. So I agreed to go with the caveat that my doctor write the SMH ER a letter explaining my situation.
When I got there the entire place was full. There was literally not a single open spot.
There was an Indo-Canadian man sitting in a chair refusing medical treatment and lets face it who could have blamed him? He was surrounded by nurses and security personal trying to force him see a doctor – even though he said repeatedly that he would not go with them until his brother in law showed up.
For a man who obviously did not speak very good English I could understand his fear, and while I wanted to comfort him I had my own fears about what my future doctor might say about my impending blood transfusion.
I had a wonderful nurse who made sure I got into CATZ quickly and was very understanding about my need for calm and a stress free enviroment.
I sat and waited and watched as a nurse came out and started calling in patients. I asked if I could go get some food because I hadn’t eaten in nearly two days and I was hungry, tired and completely stressed out. The head nurse said yes but made me promise to come right back because she was trying to get me through quickly – which was lovely of her.
When I returned the front waiting room was empty, a nurse was calling out names. I spoke politely when I told her “There is no one in the room but me.” She asked my name and when I told her she nodded and continued calling out names, to which I replied…”There is literally no one in this room except for you and I.”
When I walked into CATZ where I would have blood taken and wait to see a doctor the entire waiting room was again full.
I explained to the nurse taking blood that due to my anemia and the fact that when blood is taken I quite truly do -not- stop bleeding I need to lay down he politely understood and asked me if I could wait until a bed was free. I said that was fine.
About twenty minutes later I walked up to the glass encased desk (and believe me when I say I totally understand why they keep their staff behind glass after the day I had there.) and tried to explain that because they were so busy I was willing to sit up for the blood test.
“I’m just a clerk” she said putting her hand up. I rolled my eyes and tried to explain. “I usually need to lay down during my blood test…” She rolled her eyes and sneered at me “It’s not a laying down test..” I took a breath and realized I was already stressed and tried to explain but she kept interrupting me which only made me stress out harder.
Quietly probably muttering the word bitch under my mouth- I admit – I walked back to the main desk to explain to a nurse, but at this point I began to realize I couldn’t breath.
Tears were streaming out of my face as I leaned on the counter and tried to explain to the very nice nurse that I would do whatever it took to get my blood test done so I could find out if I needed the blood transfusion but the words wouldn’t come. It was one of the scariest moments of my life.
I couldn’t breath I was crying – I couldn’t see I couldn’t stand up. After a good five minutes I got the words out and she promised to let the blood nurse know.
The next thing I remember is turning around to the door only to see the wall rushing at me. My eyes rolled back into my head, I dropped my wallet, my phone and the paperwork from my doctor, and before I could stop myself I was on the floor.
I couldn’t – My vision was black but I could hear both security guards and nurses rush to my side. None of them tried to help me up but instead they kept telling me to stand up and get into the wheel chair. I still could not breath. I sat up slowly and stuck my head between my legs fully aware that I was in the midst of a full blown panic attack.
For someone who is at high risk of a heart attack this is not a good thing.
“Stand up and get into the wheel chair, we’ll get you in to see a doctor.” I rolled my eyes impatiently and said quietly. “I apologize for this but fuck off, I am in the middle of a panic attack so if it’s alright with you I am going to catch my breath and I’ll get up when I can.”
It took me another five minutes or so before I was able to pull myself up and into the wheelchair. I want to add a thank you to the very kind and patient security guard who’s name I did not get – who not only picked up my things and wheeled me back into CATZ but got me some water and sat by my side to make sure I was okay.
After my blood test I passed out in a very uncomfortable chair (by the way millions spent on a new wing and you guys have the WORST chairs on the planet for people who already don’t feel good and are now forced to sit in ugly ass chairs that are not at all even slightly comfortable? Thanks for that.)
About half an hour later and a phone call to my mom crying because this was the last place I wanted to be – I was perfectly fine until I decided to go to the emergency room and I quietly walked up to the glass counter this time speaking to a nurse who called up my file and was listening politely.
I asked quietly how long it might be until my results came back so I could find out if I needed a transfusion or not. “You have to go to records if you want your file.” This was the same clerk who pushed me into a panic attack thirty minutes before. I looked up at her and I admit asked her why the hell she was talking. “No I don’t.” They explained (still being totally full) that it was going to be awhile.
I decided then and there that I was going to go home. If I needed a blood transfusion than someone somewhere running the test on my hemoglobin would have told me already.
I was not going to spend another ten seconds in that place.
Several weeks ago I took my mom to ER in the middle of the night where I had the distinct displeasure of hearing a nurse say “I hate this place, it makes me sick to be here I can’t wait to be out of her.”
Let me be clear. Your clerk is a fucking idiot. She should have no contact with patients what so ever. Ever.
I will say that the day nurse staff was completely wonderful – until they realized I was having a panic attack and instead of offering any helpful advice began demanding that I immidiatly stand up and climb into a wheel chair.
I admit that I understand how busy the ER was on Monday – every single seat was entirely full. I tried my best to make the nurses job easier I tried my best to be relaxed and patient but I can honestly swear the only possible way I will pass through the doors of Surrey Memorial Hospital ever again is if I have a bullet in my head.
You will have to force me kicking and screaming or completely sedated before I will ever again walk through the doors of SMH again.
I was perfectly fine until I allowed myself to be convinced to go to the hospital for a blood test I could have had at a regular blood clinic.
I will so long as I live never again go to SMH for medical treatment. I will kill myself first.
When you enter an ER because your doctor is worried about you having a heart attack at thirty three and the clerk stresses you out to the point where you nearly have a heart attack – a clerk mind you who didn’t even bother to look at the letter you tried to hand her from the doctor who made it clear to warn about sever stress it’s time to draw the line.
I thought long and hard about all of this I haven’t even explained to anyone other than my mom what exactly happened because in truth I was so utterly fucking traumatized.
It took me 2 days to write this down – I thought about maybe making a video, I thought about looking into the camera to say this to the world – but the idea is just too damned scary.
It took me one hour and thirty minutes to explain all of this to my mother because every time I tried I started to cry and scream. I am now officially on bed rest, which means my search for a new job is cancelled – thanks for that SMH.
You’ve made me even sicker than I was three days ago. Awesome. Fuck you.
Enjoy your 160,000$ a year you all make while I sit here trying to figure out how I’m going to pay my most basic bills because I am so stressed out that I can’t fucking get a job because I might have a heart attack.
I need to stop writing this now because I can feel my heart racing.
Have a nice day.