Being unwell in the time of a pandemic

It’s a rather interesting situation to get unwell in a pandemic, and you have to go to a hospital for medical assistance for something other than being a victim of the virus.

First of all, what we found was that before you could gain access to the hospital’s emergency department, you were quizzed on the potential for having the virus.  Displaying any symptoms will get you tested.

This gives those going into the hospital a sense of relief that there will be very little chance of contracting it in the waiting room.

Second of all, the waiting room, for the first time I’ve been there, was just about empty.  I’ve been coming to this hospital for many, many, years and not once had there been less than 20 people, and quite often, a lot more.  Any hour of the day or night.

This meant we had a better chance of seeing a doctor quickly.

Or perhaps not.

When we arrived there was about 6 or 7 ahead of us.  A half-hour later, there’s now about 20 and a line forming at reception.  There’s a steady increase in the numbers in the waiting room.

After about an hour we are called in.

It’s a preliminary interview where the symptoms are discussed, and the doctor attempts to match a malady to the symptoms.  There doesn’t seem to be anything to indicate what she has is life-threatening, but…

After a cursory listen to what’s going on in the chest region, the doctor decided on a blood test, an x-ray and an ECG.  She thought she heard an anomaly in the heartbeat but wasn’t quite sure what it was.

Blood taken, we are moved to one of the beds in Emergency to have her heart monitored, and this takes about ten to fifteen minutes.  Then it’s back to the waiting area

Another half-hour before she is taken away for the X-ray.  That takes another fifteen minutes.  From there it’s a waiting game.

What is evident today as distinct from other times I have been in the Emergency department is firstly the lack of people, movement, and noise.  The is, if anything, a surreal silence, and total lack of what might be previously described as controlled panic.

There’s a sense of purpose all around.  There were four of us waiting.  Usually, it was overflowing.  I get the impression unless there was an essential reason to be at the hospital, you were quickly dealt with and moved on.

Only one of the five or six beds has a waiting patient, whereas other times they would be full of family members spilling out into the passageways.

There was no one.  The one that had a patient and one visitor was moved on very quickly.

It seemed like they were on a war footing and you can feel it.  Another week I suspect it is going to be a pandemonium of a different sort, and I hope I don’t get to see it or be part of It

Another hour and the doctor has all the results.  Nothing.  She cannot definitively show what is wrong other than it was not life-threatening.  If it’s still prevalent in five days, a GP was the first point of call.

From there, our visit was over.

There were still a lot of people in the waiting room, but in the several hours we were inside the inner sanctum, there were no new admissions.

Again on the way out we passed the Covid-19 testing station, and all was calm.  The only change was the person on the other side desk.

I’m sure what I was witnessing was the calm before the storm.

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