Working title: This is all Wrong.
Alternate title: If you are Female, our North American Cultural System is Designed to Frustrate you but you Probably Don’t Know That yet.
Otherwise titled: Today I had to Park on Furby, Walk to the Hospital and Then Watch the Trump on CNN While Waiting to get my Blood Drawn.
I had to go to clinic today. And in order to do so, it was necessary to park my car some blocks past the hospital, where the parking is not only free, but more importantly - permissible prior to 9 a.m. This, unlike the parking closest to the building, where it is not free and very much not permitted prior to this hour.*
(Unless you park underground. There, as with most things, if you have the proper monies, you can put your car wherever you dang well please, providing that there is space.** But while the convenience of this is tempting, I have learned to look away. Yes, I have learned to look away. Because, well, my family likes to eat. And I’d like to leave a few dollars my child’s educational fund).
So parking is an issue. Which, having not been a patient (in or out) for any length of time, you may be inclined to say ‘so what’? What’s the big deal with needing to find any sort of 9 x 18’ rectangle of asphalt on which to place your vehicle?
Well, aside from the annoyance (of limited spaces) and cost, there seemingly isn’t much of an issue.*** That is, unless you are a patient and unless you have a clinic appointment before the hour of 9 a.m. Or need blood drawn prior to morning meds. Or have an ultrasound scheduled for 7:45. Because it happens. These appointment times happen.
So then yes, it is a problem.
Not being able to locate parking in the early hours of the day means that all 8 a.m. clinic appointments will be unduly stressful (more so than such appointments already are, that is). It will mean the choice of spending too much money to park in the underground lot, begging a friend / neighbour / spouse for a direct drop off, or leaving the vehicle farther than is perhaps safe or convenient to walk at such an hour. It will mean parking on Furby.****
But there is little choice; these clinic times are prearranged.
(Indeed, the patient has little or no say in the timing or date of such appointments. If there be one, this here be the underbelly of the ‘in need of a medical specialist’ world, the dirt not talked about that’s swept into the corners of Medical Specialist Land: the patient him/herself is at the whim and fancy of the Schedulers, those receptionists who work for and are paid by the hospital. For contrary to assumption, these people, these medical receptionists - as lovely as many of them are - do not actually work for the patient. Rather, they work for the institution. They work for the Clinic. And as such, and quite understandably with that in mind - any patient need of particular scheduling will not be a priority; indeed, the doctor’s calendar will always trump the patient’s).
So, for the simple fact and stress (and cost) of trying to get to the hospital building, pre-nine a.m. clinic appointments are evidently problematic.
But then, so are post-9 a.m. ones.
I wish things were better.
You see, after 9 a.m. alternate problems arise: after 9 a.m., when parking gleefully becomes available on William, or Mc Dermot or insert cross street of your choosing here, the hospital’s main outpatient lab subsequently becomes busy.***** As in, extraordinarily busy. As in, if you are able to garner yourself a seat in the waiting area (after having run upstairs and down again to get your ‘golden ticket’ requisition papers, of course), you will be sitting your bum down on that hospital-hard and germ-soaked chair for the next hour. Yes, at least. Indeed, you.will.wait. Oh yes, you will wait.
And during this, whilst you wait, bum in chair and ever hopeful that your number will be the next to be called in for the blood-letting, you will be besotted by the acute and somewhat panicky awareness that every minute of waiting in this seat is costing you parking money. And that as you sit, the dawn of your parking time-limit likewise draws closer: closer! Closer! Closer! The car must be moved soon! The car must be moved soon!
Or more seriously, that every moment spent in this lab is one more minute that you will be late for your actual clinic time.
And lateness, my friends, is not acceptable.******
The fact that the City itself is unwilling or unable to provide accessible and cost-effective parking around the Hospital is not your clinic’s concern.
The fact that the Institution itself is unwilling or unable to provide more lab techs or another functioning lab is likewise not of your medical professional’s concern; they are concerned with kidneys. Or livers. Or whatever other body part is their particular specialty. No, they seemingly do not or cannot care that the System itself is functionally dysfunctional, that it itself may be what is hindering a patient “success”. No, they care that you are late. Again.
This, despite arriving early. Despite trying, despite doing all that is possible as a patient to succeed. But despite doing it all, it is still not enough:
It can seem like a game, in many ways – one in which the patient is unfortunately not apt to win. And while I like to think that it is unintentional, this system of operations - the way things are - is and was put in place by those with power. Those ironically most likely without the need of such services themselves.
For indeed the privilege of the healthy is that they are not ill.
So while there may be some sympathy, and a few white-coated head nods in agreement, these professionals - those with the ability to push for overt change to the system of operations itself – often bear scant understanding of what it is to be ill. To be in need of the hospital and its services, frustratingly flawed or not.
Mostly they do not see the problem; they do not need to see the problem.
And so it is here, while I am bum-seated in yet another one of these germ-infested hospital chairs today, (with too much time on my hands and CNN blaring the latest Trump-news in the background) that I start thinking about the predicament of being female. Specifically, female in North America, where the continuing system of operations – the way things are, if you will - is still geared in favour of those with a certain appendage between their legs. And how – if you permit me the connection - the difficulty of navigating the medical system today – the things set in place (intentionally or not) could be comparable to the inherent difficulty or disadvantage women face in succeeding in our society as a whole; in being seen and likewise treated as equals.
But now Trump has lost his (former) lawyer, and I just found out that Micheal Cohen will be going to jail after all. Thanks, CNN for the update. And too - it is time for me to stand up, to get my butt out of this too-warm waiting room chair and take action: the lab tech is calling my number. It is indeed time for blood-letting. In this, our slow and messy system.
*Not permitted prior to this hour: I’m looking at you, William Ave. I’m looking at you.
**If you have the proper monies, you can put your car wherever you dang well please: I’m looking at you, Brock Turner, I’m looking at you.
***there seemingly isn’t much of an issue: most of the parking has limits of 2 hours. Occasionally four. This is an issue. While I understand why it must be (as traffic around the area is congested during the morning and then again for the afternoon rush), anyone attending to medical procedures and/or an appointment times that may or may not exceed such limits, such parking restrictions become troublesome.****
****I’m looking at you, ultrasound. You with your cute little gels and warm lights. Yeah, you who say your going to take half an hour but we all know that really means up to two and a visit by the on-call doctor besides. We know your tricks, Ultrasound. We know your tricks.
*****Furby: otherwise a great little street. But not one without its share of problems. And not one that I wish to walk on in the wee hours of the morning.
******the main outpatient lab becomes extraordinarily busy: I’d be amiss if I did not mention that there is indeed another lab. This one is adjacent to the main doors, a little off to the left if facing the Sherbrook entrance. It is small and it is not well-known. I’ve dubbed it ‘the secret lab’, and truthfully, I do not speak of it often, for frankly - I do wish for the other outpatient crowds to know. This lab was mine, you see; my way of circumventing the system of hospital operations (no pun intended).
And it worked well. For awhile.
But now this particular lab - this secret jewel of the lab world, if you will - has decided to close its door at exactly NINE FREAKING ANTE MERIDIM every day. That is correct; 9 a.m.! Right at the busiest time of the morning, they close. They shut the door, put up the sign ‘we are not available’ and leave. THEY LEAVE. Without care, without concern for us, the waiting, the patients. They shut. And that lab tech goes on a systems-mandated break for the next 40 minutes. FORTY MINUTES.
Only to return back when the other (main) lab crowd has already begun to thin out. Only to return back when the other (main) lab crowd has already begun to thin out.
Do you see the problem?
And while I hesitate to say this operational flaw is intentional, it is however, indicative of a stubborn system operating without the patient in mind.
****** And lateness is not acceptable: being written up as “non-compliant to appointments” (re: being consistently late or missing), to keeping these pre-booked appointment times. It - this lateness - therefore becomes a judgment of the patient’s personal character, rather than an assessment of the (biased) system itself.
Amendment: I have just been informed by the Parking Authority that re-metering for an additional 30 minutes is permitted on all metered parking spots. This, of course, is only by PayByPhone, and does not apply to any other payment method. As well, I’d just like to point out that it is impossible to whip out a phone during an ultrasound (from where? Under that hospital gown?), during a doctor visit or God-forbid during labour. It’s just not happening. So while this is an attempt at improving the accessibility of parking near the hospital, it is not enough. It is not enough.