Friday, August 2, 2013

tip top health tips

Rule 1
Never, ever let your private health insurance lapse. You may well find yourself homeless as a result of the high cost involved, but at least you’ll get a free bed [eventually] if you need one.

Rule 2
If you must get sick, do so during business hours.

Rule 3
Avoid Emergency Departments on Saturday nights.

Rule 4
If you ignore rules 2 and 3 above, adopt the aggressive and abusive behaviour of someone suffering a drug and alcohol induced psychosis. You will be strapped down onto a bed quicker than you can say “Sectioned”.
[Don’t worry – you live in Australia, not England. It is rare for anyone to be sectioned here, whether they need it or want it or not.]

Rule 5
Network. Go to the opening of every envelope or fridge possible, and build medical connections.

Rule 6
When you feel dangerously ill, try to get an ambulance. If you do manage to get an ambulance, do your darndest to convince ambos you need urgent medical care. If you go to hospital by ambulance this can save up to 8 hours in the ED waiting room. Sure, you’ll be stuck in an ambulance for four hours waiting for a bed, but at least you will be bedded down and cared for while you wait.

[One shifty person I know was recently gasping for air and looking deathly pale. The ambos arrived and quickly administered oxygen. She never stopped talking the whole time they waited for the oxygen to help – sneaky or what? Still looked like crap when it was time for them to make a decision!]

Rule 7
Don’t get old. If you are both sick and old all of your answers to medical questions will be dismissed as the whining of someone with an irritating personality.

Rule 8
Once you have been triaged into an ED bed, as you wait, and wait, and then wait some more for someone to actually attend to you, do not try to work out the rank, name or serial number of any hospital staff. Doctors, Div 1 Nurses, Div 2 Nurses and PCAs wear a mixed assortment of scrubs and uniforms that make no sense at all.

Rule 9
If you are a nurse yourself, don’t make the mistake of asking the crabby woman playing with a pc if she is a nurse. She will assume your name is Jan and let you know in no uncertain terms that she is not happy.

Rule 10
While waiting to be seen by a doctor, do not watch Nurse Ratshit. If you do you will notice that she can seal a full sharps container, go fetch an empty container, fiddle with a pc, rearrange desk furniture, remove used kidney dishes and other paraphernalia, take patients to the toilet, open and close curtains, put rubbish in a pedal bin by lifting the lid with her hands, fetch steps for patients to climb in and out of bed, pick her nose and more but not sanitize or wash her hands once.

Rule 11
Try not to laugh nervously [or with delight] when the young man with piercings in the next bed finally gets sick of being ignored. He will stand up and assertively tell Nurse Ratshit in a Wesley College accent that he arrived 6 hours ago, was told to go to a GP, gave the GP $85 only to be told by said GP to go to the ED at the nearest hospital where he was dumped in the “malingerers’ ward”, and has since been ignored for 5 hours. He won’t raise his voice or use one rude word – except ‘shit”, and then only once – but when he says he is checking himself out and going home Nurse Ratshit will seize on this decision as proof there is nothing wrong with him.

Rule 12
While waiting in the malingerers’ ward, use your contacts [see Rule 5] to organise your own private hospital bed as early as possible, and have a chat with the specialist under whose care you propose to be admitted to the private hospital.

Rule 13
Grovel to Nurse Ratshit whose nose you so innocently got up earlier [before she picked it] and pray a doctor will see you before midnight. After midnight a doctor will be reluctant to call your nominated specialist [see rule 12] to see if said specialist will really accept you as a private hospital patient.

Rule 14
Treat any suggestions you will be sent for imaging by ED staff with suspicion [i.e. stifle the urge to treat the suggestion with derision]. Should a trip to an imaging section actually happen, pray you will be returned to the malingerers’ ward before midnight [see rule 13 above].

Rule 15
If a doctor finally agrees to refer you to the care of the rule 12 specialist, ask him/her to cancel the patient transport he has just arranged – you could die before it arrives. Hitch a ride with a friend/partner or crawl, if necessary, to your nominated private hospital. If you can’t crawl, run.

On arrival in the safe haven of a private hospital, let the rule 12 specialist examine you, listen to you, and send you for imaging him/herself, because the public hospital will rarely have any results from their own imaging.

Please God you will be given a bed further from the car park than any other bed in the whole hospital. God knows, your partner probably needs the exercise.

Rule 16
If you really do have pneumonia and a collapsed lung, preparing for a week in hospital will require quick – albeit serial – thinking. You will need someone to fetch clean jim-jams, slippers, dressing gown, a pen, reading glasses, a book, a mobile phone so you can ring home and give Aunty yet another list of the things you need, the charger for your mobile phone, a full range of toiletries and hand creams, a supply of plastic shopping bags, and your iPad [with charger] to take advantage of the free wi-fi.

You will also be keen to provide clear instructions regarding everything extra hospitale from poo patrol* to checking the post office box. Request a specific brand of lozenges and a supply of tissues. [Apparently free wi-fi does not affect the private hospital’s bottom line half so severely as the provision of tissues.]
Try to be clear when giving instructions about who to ring and what to say to each of the ringees.

Rule 17
Do not bother to watch any of the free movies available on demand. You will be interrupted at some climactic moment and will never know who dunnit, how dunnit, when dunnit or why.

Rule 18
At some point you will need a visit from two schnauzers. It’s called pet therapy. Use the little air available in two lobes of left lung to sneak out into the cold night air of the car park and sit with them awhile.
It is okay for dogs to sit on their own blanket in a pre-heated car on a cool night. If you don’t believe me just ask them – ask them to get out of the car and go inside any time in any weather and you will get the ‘no thanks I like it here get out of my face’ stare.

Rule 19
Ask all visitors and or staff members to take snaps of you with your iPad while you look as pathetic as you can - mask on face makes a great prop. Discuss the haute couture of your pyjama collection on facebook.
If you plan your visual storyboard well, you will be sent a bouquet of real flowers from real friends in Germany.

Rule 20
Beg, wheedle and cajole with all the kitchen staff you’ve known for yonks until you have half a dozen tiny serves of fruit salad for your visiting partner [each night].

Rule 21
When your specialist tries to re-cannulate you, grimace for the camera and exclaim “Jesus Christ!” in a blasphemously loud voice. Your specialist will be Jewish, and will remind you that while Jesus was Jewish he was not the Messiah and so there is no need to apologise for your outburst.

*the back yard. What, did you think I was Henry Plantagenet's groom of the stool in a previous life?


  1. Rule 10 was as far as I could get - so very true.
    A hospital is no place for a sick person.

  2. Might be better to die first.

  3. Rule 16: old ladies like me, keep a Go Bag with everything
    (crucial items not readily duplicatable, are always in a heap ready to scoop) ready to ... Go.
    I would suggest soft foam earplugs be added to block the noise of bed neighbours visitors. and air freshener.

    1. The older people in my family have always kept Go Bags. Strangely enough TO, who is of my generation, does not have one but seems to be in and out of hospitals more frequently than a Bishop goes into a brothel.

      But the Go Bag is a good idea, and I shall work on it.

  4. We asked for it, we got it. Sadly, this is not entirely inconsistent with experiences interstate, so perhaps I can (actually, I HAVE) extrapolate that this means the public hospital system around the WHOLE COUNTRY is stuffed. Strangely, this hasn't yet trickled down into election-speak from either party. We apparently need half a billion dollars of what the cynical would call 'vote buying spending' WAY more then we need a good health care system. Or an actual health care system. But what would I know??

    1. Red, your comments always provoke such long streams of thought that I don't know where to begin and so say little. Sneaky.

      He who knows not, and knows not that he knows not, is a fool, shun him; He who knows not, and knows that he knows not, is a child, teach him. He who knows, and knows not that he knows, is asleep, wake him. He who knows, and knows that he knows, is wise, follow him.

      What do you know? Hmmm?

    2. OK, my head's spinning ... all I 'know' is that I'm a member of the public BUT no one in politics is speaking to or about me. And I wish I could say so little as eloquently as you can!

    3. Ha ha. Of course no one is speaking to or listening to us! I live in an extremely marginal electorate and still nobody is speaking or listening to me.

  5. This is one of those rare moments that I would like to go back a few years when TOH had a heart attack and the service was excellent. Quick ambulance, bed in emergency straight away etc etc .
    I hope this isn't a real experience that you have had recently.

    1. To be honest Diane, this was my paltry attempt to make an amusing report from a real situation.

      On the Sunday evening in question, the ambos were not ramping, and the ED was relatively empty. The rest of it was mostly true.

      Never, not once has TO ever called for help and not been advantaged by how many medically connected people know her which is good for her but an indictment overall, really.

      [The comment about complaints from oldies being dismissed as unpleasant personalities is a dig at the several institutions where TO's Mum has lived]