Friday, April 30, 2010

The argument for cars

So, back to regularly scheduled programing: life without a car.

The day before yesterday, my daughter, H, arrived, laundry in hand and with a stiff neck and aching shoulder. As a hairdresser, sore muscles and joints are cause for concern. She has to do what she can to ensure these issues don't persist. Let's face it, if she can't lift her arm to blow-dry a client's hair, her career could be in trouble.

I encouraged her to get to a doctor and we left on foot to the nearest walk-in clinic -- no pun intended.

It was a 20-minute hike -- no big deal except that she was in pain. When we arrived at 11:20, there was a sign on the door that said they were backlogged and would not be accepting anyone until after 1:00.


Since H was scheduled for work at 3:00 and that without a car there was no way she could wait the 100 minutes, be examined and catch a bus in time for her shift.

We opted for another medical centre, a 15-minute walk back toward home. As it turned out, this wasn't a walk-in clinic. Neither was the next one we tried at the IWK Health Centre.

In desperation, we travelled back, past  the first clinic we'd tried en route to the emergency room at the QEII complex. The emergency room has been revamped with a better triage and registration area. We were whisked through to an examination room in minutes. It was 12:50.

We were finally smiling. This was going to be a breeze.

A medical student arrived to give a preliminary exam and then returned for more mobility testing.

And then we waited.

And waited.

At about 2:10, a doctor arrived with the student. As he walked into the room, his cell phone began to buzz and he excused himself. More than an hour later, he returned to a couple of pretty angry faces.

"I had a chest," he offered by way of explanation.

And we got that. We were in emergency after all.

But what a difference that bit of knowledge would have made while we were waiting. We would have understood that he hadn't simply strolled off to take a call but was attending to someone in a worse situation than we.

I realize doctors aren't in the business of client service. They are in the business of healing.

Still, how difficult would it be to recognize that patients who are isolated in closed-off rooms without access to information -- or distractions -- are going to be less cranky if they're given a smidgen of info?

In our case, H -- who had taken two muscle relaxants and was valiantly fighting sleep in order to be coherent when the doctor arrived -- could have napped. I could have gone in search of a magazine or crossword puzzle.

In the end, it was sometime after 4:00 by the time we arrived back home. It had been a five-hour excursion.

In addition to this frustration, was my feeling of impotence at not being able to properly care for my family. That we had to spend so much time walking and walking while my ex had the car that I was, in theory, supposed to be able to access whenever needed. In practice, this doesn't work. I'd have had to be able to somehow get it from him while he was at work. And then there is the fact that we're no longer in touch.

I was in a horribly depressed mood by suppertime.

And then I received a message from an acquaintance of my son's. This guy works at a car rental place and offered to give us the "friends and family" plan that will allow us to take a van for my son's move to Toronto at a savings of $1,000! Plus I can drop it off there for $100 rather than the $1,600 that some companies charge allowing me to avoid the two-day solitary drive home no doubt made while bawling my eyes out over my empty nest.

How sweet can you get?

So, thank you for making my day, Jason.

I still want a car.


1 comment:

  1. I'm glad that the day ended well.

    I have a few thoughts. You do know about the Halifax car sharing service, right? You can remain on two feet, and have the service for emergencies. Every car in a car sharing service actually takes 20 cars off the road, so they're a great environmental option.

    The walk-in clinic takes appointments. Don't EVER go there without making an appointment first. And if you have an appointment, you'll usually be in and out in 30 minutes, as happened recently when my mother-in-law visited from Maine.

    I can recommend an osteopath in Halifax to treat your daughter, if you'd like.