Last week, I thought I was having a stroke. As I am in my thirties, this might seem slightly ridiculous, but hear me out. It started when I was getting out of the shower and realised there was something wrong with my eyes. I could see a sort of zig-zag circular line on the left side of my vision, as if I was looking through a smashed window.
After a few moments I couldn’t see anything properly on the left side at all, and I couldn’t make out the first letters of words, which is when I really started freaking out and thought I was having a stroke. And, as I was home alone, that’s when I called an ambulance.
In retrospect, I am now quite embarrassed about this, but actually the ambulance people told me I did the right thing. They took me to A&E where I was seen by a Triage nurse. She told me that because I was starting to feel okay again, it was probably an oracular migraine. (Check out more of our experiences with migraine – we’ve been through the mill with this condition).
Anyway, she didn’t seem to think I was dying or stroke-afflicted and she left me in A&E to wait to see a doctor. And there I sat. For hours. And hours. And hours. With no food, or even tea, because the Mater’s new A&E department doesn’t have a vending machine.
I know it could have been a lot worse. I didn’t have a serious illness and have to endure days on a trolley. It was a Thursday morning, not, say, Saturday night, which meant it was a relatively quiet time. There was only one shambling drunk (although at one stage someone was taken in in handcuffs, possibly straight from Mountjoy, which is down the road. He looked pretty cocky and much more cheerful than everyone else in the room).
It used to be much worse I know. Everyone I talked to kept saying ”Oh, at least you’re in the NEW A&E” – because apparently the old one was like something out of a war zone. But I’d never experienced an A&E department before, I was on my own and I was scared.
As long as hospitals are under-resourced, something which unfortunately shows no signs of changing in this country, A&E is always going to be an unpleasant place to be – for the staff as well as the patients.
So have you experienced the fun of sitting on a plastic chair in a cold room full of sick and/or scary people for hours on end with no food? Have you been on the staff side and had to deal with the chaos?
Share your tales.