As I was wondering how to force myself to sleep at 2.30 am as my body clock is still way out of whack from the unspeakable misery that is my throat, my fiancÃ©e Tanya had an anaphylactic reaction to something. After she tried all three methods of control, including an auto-injecting adrenaline monster needle, I had to zoom her to hospital. Although I am still suffering the full effects of laryngitis, extremely tired, and out in 7C weather wearing just shorts and t-shirt and with nothing to read. But I’d do it all again.
Our nearest hospital is Werribee Mercy hospital, about 5 km and around 5 or so minutes in the car. The hospital had nurses, but no doctors as they all called in sick, so emergency was shut down. Tanya’s breathing wasn’t improving. Although the nurses on duty tried to make things better, it looked as if the MICA dudes would have to intubate her whilst on the way to the next nearest hospital, some 15 km away.
The care Tanya received from all concerned was great (except of course, the Werribee Mercy, where due to stupid laws prohibiting qualified nurses from prescribing anything, Tanya couldn’t be given anything until the MICA dudes arrived, even though this meant she might have choked to death). The nurses at the Mercy were clearly worried and got us out of there as quickly as they could. They shouldn’t have needed to. I feel sorry for them, as it’s not their fault Tanya’s recovery was made so much worse by unnecessarily and potentially fatal delays in treatment. It is pure and utter luck that Tanya survived this period – there were no drugs available for treatment (see the bit about no doctors!), and adrenaline to keep your heart going only helps if you can breathe.
I rang her parents as I left Werribee Mercy, and they came as soon as they could, arriving at Western General shortly after I was allowed in to keep Tanya company.
After getting to Western General at Footscray an hour after the attack had occurred at our place, Tanya received treatment, but was left on a trolley under bright neon lights all night – there literally is no other option at Western General. It’s a bit ancient, run down, crowded and primitive there. However, for the poor western suburbs, there is basically nowhere else.
The triage area didn’t let Tanya’s parents in to see her until nearly 40 minutes after we arrived. I could see that Tanya was immensely relieved to see her folks, as I know I was. Tanya’s parents and I took turns staying with her in the very crowded and busy emergency department.
However, at 6.30 am it was obvious I needed my drugs for my throat. So I had to go, even though I didn’t want to. I was extremely tired and so I drove very carefully. I got home at 7 am, showered, ate breakfast, and rang Tanya’s parents to check up on her condition. Luckily, Tanya had been moved to a recovery ward and was resting, so I took the opportunity to take some sleep.
I woke at 11 am with the sorest throat I’ve had in the course of my horrible illness, had a huge painful coughing fit and spent the next hour or so gagging in the bathroom. I wanted to go back to Tanya, but I knew I couldn’t do it. Luckily (for me!), Tanya rang and told me that a reporter will be speaking to her, and most likely appear on the news that night. I hadn’t realized a political football had been set in motion by *someone*, but it certainly wasn’t us.
Tanya made the news: she was interviewed by Channel 9 for their main evening bulletin, and Channel 10 reported a slightly inaccurate version – she was never intubated. The Age also covered it here (“Furore over casualty closure”). Our phone was red hot for a while after the 6 pm news.
However, it would have been nice to have doctors in an area where there’s upwards of 30,000 families relying upon their hospital. I just hope that this leads to changes that allow us to assume that our nearest hospital is safe to attend in an emergency. I know that the western suburbs seem like the wasteland to our medical fraternity, but it’s unacceptable to leave us all at risk just so they can live in Toorak or South Yarra. Now this thing is a political football, it should be sorted. But having worked in the health care industry for a while in the past, I am terribly cynical and know it will not be fixed. Our horrible episode will just be forgotten in a day or two, and nothing will change.