Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Visiting an ER - do you make it harder on yourself?

It's not easy for millions of people across North America who don't have family doctors. They don't have someone to turn to when they have the aches and pains that should be checked but aren't emergencies. Unfortunately, their only choice is then to visit an emergency room when things get really tough.

But, after many years as a nurse and many years as someone who has needed to use the emergency room for my children and for me, I've seen many, many instances of people abusing the system - going to an emergency for something that just isn't remotely close to being an emergency; perhaps not even needing a doctor.

In the early 90s, I worked for a brief while in a small rural hospital. I was the nursing supervisor and the only nurse in the emergency room. Luckily for me, during my short stay, there wasn't anything life threatening, but I did get visitors. One, I will never forget. It was a man, likely in his 30s or 40s, who came in around 3 a.m. When I asked what the problem was, he told me that he was there because he couldn't sleep.

Not being sure I heard correctly, I probed to be sure that was what he meant. Finally, I asked him incredulously something along the lines of, "let me get this straight. You can't sleep. Because you can't sleep, you want me to wake up our doctor??" His response, I still remember, was: "Well, I have a cold too."

I don't recall if he went home or waited until a more decent hour, but I know I didn't wake the doctor for him. Sadly though, he wasn't alone in that type of doctor's visit. I have spent many hours in the emergency room of our Children's hospital and there were often children there who obviously didn't need to be there. If you eavesdropped, you would even hear the parents saying that among themselves. And these were the parents who were furious because they had to wait hours to be seen.

I never liked waiting a few hours - something that didn't happen often - but I figured if I had to wait that long, then my child's problem wasn't life threatening. Because, when my children did have serious issues, we didn't have to wait long at all.

So, do you make ER waits harder for yourself by going when you really shouldn't?

Today at Help My Hurt:

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Monday, September 29, 2008

Paul Newman and lung cancer

As much as many people are mourning the death of legendary actor Paul Newman, 83 years is a good run. Of course, if we're healthy and still able to enjoy life, we would like to live longer, but it seems that Mr. Newman packed a lot of living in his life and he touched many lives.

From his unforgettable acting and good looks to his gracious and generous donations to various causes and the fact that he remained married to the same woman for 50 years, gives him an aura of being one of a kind. I'd like to think that he's not one of a kind, that there are many others like him, but he does seem to be one of a select few.

Sadly, he died from lung cancer. He's from a generation that promoted smoking as glamorous, as something that everyone did. If you can't imagine that time, watch an episode of Mad Men - a drama about advertising men in the 1960s - and you'll see how pervasive smoking was. The news stories report that Mr. Newman fought a lengthy battle with cancer. But because he was a private man, most people didn't know that.

Lung cancer is often thought of as a fast moving disease. But there are many people who live with lung cancer for many years. Depending on the type, it can move slowly and it can be treated, kept at bay for a while.

Because some the symptoms of lung cancer can seem like many other illnesses, it can be a while until it's actually diagnosed. Here are the most common symptoms:

  • A cough that doesn't go away and gets worse over time
  • Feeling short of breath, difficulty catching your breath
  • Wheezing (high pitched sound in your lungs)
  • Losing your voice (hoarseness)
  • Frequent bouts of pneumonia and bronchitis
  • Not hungry, losing weight without trying
  • Feeling tired
  • Chest pain that doesn't go away
  • Coughing up blood
Rest in peace Mr. Newman. Thank you for sharing your talent and your generosity with the world.

Today at Help My Hurt:

Help for painful vaginitis
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Today at Womb Within:

Should pregnant women be included in clinical trials?
Voluntary sterilization of poor women proposed by Louisiana legislator
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Sex And Aging: Women In For A Surprise?
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