I know, I know. The title is baaaaadd!! But it’s true!
Here’s a little recap of my weekend. It started on Friday, when I didn’t have to work. Friday day was pretty uneventful overall. I spent 6 hours doing my tax return, calling the ATO, the ATO having no clue why my eTax wasn’t working, submitting my tax and starting a spreadsheet for this year. Not all that fun, but it needed to get done and the ATO owe me and not vice-versa so that’s good.
I celebrated surviving a day of doing my taxes by going out and buying a pizza for an early dinner and sitting on the beach to eat it.
It was peaceful. We had some nibbles later for “dinner”, I downloaded the new Super Tux Cart and played it for most of the night.
It started getting late – well late for me. It was approaching 11pm. We started to close things up, find pj’s and get ready for bed. I was out the back locking up the yard and telling Vala to get in her bed when she was really distracted by her leash. It was hanging from the ceiling. The leash is a rope one with a metal clip. The metal clip was hooked onto the rim of the outdoor light. I reached up to take it down so Vala would listen to me and go to bed.
A Shocking Weekend
I screamed. I heard my scream rather than felt it or knowingly screamed it. It didn’t sound like me. It wasn’t a long scream but it was intense and at a pitch I’ve never heard before. I was able to recognise that it was me and it didn’t sound like me, all at the same time.
I headed inside and got to the door just as Ben did. Vala ran through my legs and into the house and turned to look at me. It was like she didn’t recognise me. I screamed at her to get outside. She listened. I told Ben to call an ambulance. He called 000 and gave them our address. My heart was racing – either from panic, shock or the shock or from all three. I paced the living room while Ben talked to the 000 operator. They were asking him questions about my condition and I think I managed to answer some that he relayed. I just had to keep walking. Pacing. If I was walking I was breathing and I was ok.
After Ben hung up with 000 I was starting to control my heart rate/panic/shock/shock. I stood for a while but I could hear a siren coming.I know I would be going to hospital so I had the time and concentration to put wallets and medicare cards in a bag. I started to feel strange – a different level of shock maybe – so I perched on the edge of the couch. The siren kept coming and coming. It felt like it was coming for half an hour. Then I saw lights through the front window.
Ben said “They sent a fire truck”.
I was really confused at this point.
Ben went out front to meet the firies and three of them came in and introduced themselves to me. They told me the paramedics were on their way but they would be with me until they arrived. One guy was a fair bit younger than the other two and was carrying bags – he knelt in front of me and was talking to me about what happened and how I felt and if I had any allergies. I can’t really remember much else of what he said but I remember him telling me to stay sitting, which struck me as odd and I wondered if he thought I was going to fall over or something.
The other two firemen were talking to Ben and looking at the offending light switch and the circuit breaker. Nothing had tripped or gone off.
I don’t know how long it took for the ambulance to show up. Everything now feels like it happened to me in 3o minute segments but I think it was a lot faster than that. I’m guessing despite the 000 person knowing I was standing and talking they triaged me fairly highly.
The firemen were done with their checks fairly soon after the ambulance got to the house. The firemen had done whatever safety stuff they needed to do, told us to get the landlord to get an electrician in ASAP and left us with the paramedics. The two paramedics spent a lot of time and attention on me. They were checking my blood pressure, my blood sugar, checking me for burns to my hand and feet, and attaching electrodes all over my chest, shoulders and hips so they could start monitoring my heart.
Again, this felt like everything happened in half hour blocks, but I’m sure it wasn’t. They had some equipment issues and had to disconnect and reconnect me a few times.
They monitored me and did a few tests and generally observed and talked to me. Once they felt they had enough data, they were convinced I had no damage, but me that they generally advised that I be taken to hospital for observation. I agreed. I was feeling ok but more more MORE than happy keep getting checked.
I was getting very cold by this point as I’d had to take my hoodie off so the paramedics had access to me for electrodes. They told me they had blankets in the ambulance. We locked up and walked out to the ambulance. I was strapped into the bed in the back with a paramedic next to me and Ben sat up front in the passenger seat.
I knew which way we went out of our street because of the gutter dip that you have to angle over if you’re in a trailer but from there, I couldn’t tell if we were turning left or right or what. We only live about two k’s from the hospital but again, it felt like it took forever to get there. The paramedic in the back with me was running tests on my heart and monitoring my blood pressure the entire trip. Time was not my strong point.
We got to the hospital and two other ambulances were there. I had to stay on the bed while they wheeled me out of the ambulance and into the emergency department. It was really cold being wheeled the few meters from the ambulance to the doors. Even under a blanket. It looked like we just beat another ambulance in with an old man.
The paramedics wheeled me to the triage nurse where I was admitted at 11.21pm. The paramedics told the nurse I was a bit tachy. Ben gave the clerk my medicare card and answered a few questions, then I was wheeled to hallway close by while they chose a bed for me. It was at this point that I started getting very panicky – I have been to hospital to visit people and with Ben many times, but I’ve never been a patient in hospital myself, let alone ever having been brought to the hospital by ambulance in the middle of the night. The paramedics were still with me and I told them I was getting anxious and they told me to concentrate on deep breaths, which helped.
After a short while I was wheeled to a bed in the emergency department, where I swapped beds. The paramedics hung around until I had been formally handed over to an RN. Not too long after that the nurse ran another test of my heart, as well as taking my blood pressure.
Then waiting began. The emergency department wasn’t as busy as I thought it might have been (given that it was a Friday night) but it wasn’t quiet, so we didn’t see a lot of our nurse. I had no idea if I was allowed to sleep or not so I concentrated on staying awake.
Every 45 or 60 minutes the nurse came back to test my blood pressure.
The night started getting very long. I was very, very tired.
As happens to me when I am very, very tired, things became funny.
Like this image under my hospital bed:
I’m not great at staying up late at the best of times. And to state the obvious, after being mildly electrocuted at bed time, this was not the best of times. It was hard to stay awake. Ben & I were both very tired and getting inappropriate giggles over conversations we could hear from other patients.
We decided to play hangman to stay awake. Llamas are also funny when you’re really tired.
There’s not really much to say about waiting in hospital. It went slow and it went fast. The last time the nurse came back to test me she said “Oh, you’ve managed to stay awake”. I figured that means that I was allowed to sleep. After she tested my blood pressure again I decided that clearly I was allowed to sleep so I curled up and got the blanket tight around me.
Naturally that’s exactly when the doctor showed up. Good and bad!
I had to explain to the doctor what had happened, which was getting really hard at this point because it was coming up to 3am and I was so fucking tired. I managed to somehow, and the doctor went through reading my heart tests, BPs, checking for burns, eyes, and a whole lot of coordination/reaction tests with my arms that were really difficult when you’re so exhausted.
He told me I was fine and that he would go and recommend my release to the senior doctor. He said he could write me a letter for my GP, which I agreed to as at least there’s something on the record.
None of that took too long and just before 3am we were out the front of the hospital and I called a cab to take us home. It was cold. Because I had my hoodie off when I walked to the ambulance I hadn’t thought to take it with me so I was standing with Ben out the front of our local hospital in thin pants and a singlet with electrodes still glued to me. Thankfully the cab showed up pretty quickly and took us home.
You would think my night would end at 3am with finally sleeping, but it was like a nasty game of “but wait, there’s’ more!“
All the lights were off when we got home. We couldn’t remember if we had turned lights on when we left or not so we went inside and tried the switches. Nope.
We grabbed torches and I noticed there was paper on our screen door. Energex had found out/been notified (by the firemen, maybe, I have no clue how any of this side of things work) of an electrical incident and had turned off our electricity for safety. I should also note – throughout all of this my phone battery was really low and my external charger barely kept it alive all night because THAT needed charging too.
Thankfully we a) have a home phone and b) that said home phone is one of those really old Telstra ones that doesn’t require electricity to run.
I called the number on the Energex sheet and the number wasn’t working. I wanted to cry. I waited a moment and tried it again. Thank the stars, I got straight through to a really helpful guy who said they would send a crew straight out. With my mind firmly on BED at this point, I asked what sort of time frame that meant. He said within a couple of hours. With no power and thin clothes and exhaustion, I was so very cold. I crawled into bed and started playing a game on the iPad to unwind. Ben was up for a little while longer than me, I think he was destressing in his own way. He came to bed and within a few minutes we saw the lights of a truck out the front. Energex had arrived.
We took the electrician out the back to show him the offending light switch. I was explaining to him how the dog leash was hanging up off the rim. He said “I don’t know why you’d do that” and “I wouldn’t touch something that looked like that”. Fucking snarky asshole.
Apart from being electrocuted, that was the only negative experience of the night. I could have kicked him in the nuts I was so fucking beyond exhaustion. Lucky for him I was too tired to do anything other thank blink. His future children may yet exist thanks to how tired I was.
He said he couldn’t do anything until someone else showed up, so I assume he was an apprentice.
The other guy showed up fairly quickly after that and was much older and more professional. I kept trying to go back to bed at this stage and people kept wanting me. It’s a bit of a blur of not knowing who was talking to what or when or why. I was in a long sleeved shirt, a hoodie and sitting with a thick doona wrapped around me and still cold.
Their aim was to turn off the lights but leave us with electricity, which was more than fine with us. We have candles and torches and headlamps. All I wanted was the heater because I was so very tired and so very cold.
I think I fell asleep before the electricians left. It was around 4am by this point and I had no ability left to fight sleep.
I called our real estate the next day and they had an electrician around within about an hour to replace the shocking light.
I sure as hell have my moments of bitching about the public health system but can I say how happy I am that 3 firemen, two paramedics, a nurse and a doctor didn’t bankrupt me? Socialised medicine may have its drawbacks but the only financial cost to me was the cab to get home. And I think that’s bloody amazing.