Car trouble, waiting and the Veg Fest

I awoke on Saturday morning excited to begin the day. The Central Florida Veg Fest was taking place and since I am a new vegetarian, this was something I was really looking forward to. The event would have food from all of the local vegetarian-friendly restaurants, animal activists, environmentalists, veg speakers, and more.

So, I left the house a little later than I had originally planned, but since the event was going on all day, the time I arrived that morning wasn’t really of consequence. Everything was going well, that is until I got on the interstate. My car then began to make an awful clicking noise on the right side. I knew that this noise must have something to do with the problem my car experienced on Thursday evening, the problem my brother had thought was solved. This noise made it obvious that the problem had only hidden itself the day before and was making a reappearance. I pulled off at the first off-ramp that I could and hit the button to call On*Star. It looked like my Saturn would be going into the dealership to be looked at after all.

The representative from On*Star and I spoke as I drove carefully down the road trying to find a safe place to pull over and await the tow truck. Spotting a high school, I decided to pull into the parking lot even though I wasn’t so contented with the area I was now in. It wasn’t the safest part of town and all I could hope for was that the tow truck would be able to arrive fairly quickly. Once my parked location was relayed to roadside assistance, I disconnected the call with On*Star and waited for the call that would inform me of the estimated ETA of the tow. A couple of minutes later, my cell phone went off and the automated voice informed me that it would be an hour and a half before I could expect a tow truck to get to my location. An hour and a half. I had already expressed my concern with my current location to the On*Star rep stating that I wasn’t really comfortable waiting there for very long, so hearing that my wait would be that long disturbed me.

Hoping to get the gears turning at the Saturn dealership while I dealt with my extremely long wait, I dialed the phone number to where my car would be heading for service. Upon speaking with the service adviser, she informed me that if I didn’t arrive by noon, there would be no way of getting a loaner rental vehicle. This would render me completely car less. Not good at all. I got out of the car and walked over to the side where I had heard the noise as I spoke with the adviser, and didn’t really see anything obviously wrong (a la a flat). Seeing nothing, I inquired about possible problems and what they could do if I drove the car in an attempt to make it to the dealer rather than await the tow. Of course, they couldn’t advise me that driving the car would be okay, but that if it was the CV joint (which is what my brother thought it was) that if it totally went, it would feel similar to loosing power steering. Having had experienced that loss last year, I felt that I could possibly carefully drive the vehicle.

Carefully, I started the trek toward the Saturn dealership. They were about 25 minutes from where I currently was, so I crossed my fingers that the car would get me there safely without further incident. As I drove, I came to realize that the car was a rough and bumpy ride and attempting to exceed 30 mph was not the best idea, as the car became very noisy and even more bumpy. I became increasingly more scared as I drove down the road, and decided that I could no longer attempt to drive this car any longer. So, I pulled over into a hotel parking lot and parked. I was now about 10 minutes from Saturn, but my fear of breaking down or causing further damage to my car overruled and I was done. Made a call to Saturn and spoke to the adviser informing her of my current address, stating that I was not only too fearful to continue the drive, but that I had to have a rental car to drive, there was no way I could be without wheels. Thankfully, I was in luck seeing as how I was near the airport, she made a call and was able to arrange a rental at the airport car rental company for after noon, since it was already quarter to twelve. I thanked her and then made another call to On*Star to update them about my new whereabouts.

Now, the waiting would begin! Having already experienced a lot of waiting at the e.r. earlier in the week, another period of waiting for something thrilled me. Alas, there wasn’t much I could do, and I told myself that at least I was in a safer location now and had a rental lined up, so things were looking upward. And, that I could still make the Veg Fest since it lasted until 6pm. That would at least bring some fun to the day in the end. I locked up my car and headed into the hotel since I wasn’t going to wait in the heat of the parking lot. Once inside, I told the desk employee that my car was in their lot (they had signs about parking there) and that I was awaiting a tow truck.

Fast-forward to over an hour later and lots of pacing around the hotel lobby and the outside of said hotel, I was still waiting. Finally, a ray of sunshine in the form of a black tow truck! The guy took my information and the car was off to Saturn. And me, well, I was off to the airport to get my loaner car so I could try to enjoy the rest of my day off. It was now over three hours from the time my car began making that clicking noise and I was slowly but surely getting my day back on track.

Upon getting to the airport, I walked down to where the rental car company’s desk was. Guess what I saw? Yup, another line! Waiting and I were serious best pals this week. On top of that, I now had a killer headache. I was sure it was from not only the stress of everything, but from a lack of eating. So, the noise of the airport combined with my throbbing head made the twenty plus minute wait for the rental so much fun. Even after checking in with the desk agent, the journey to get the car wasn’t over, oh no. I then had to take the elevator down one more level and then take two escalators to reach the parking garage where my vehicle would be. As I reached the top of the escalator and turned the corner, I saw cars and rental company employees! And yes, my car was just feet from me. Two minutes later, I was pulling the little Kia out of the airport garage and heading back on the road.

Less than a half hour later, I was at my original destination, the Veg Fest. I told myself to let the stress go and have a good time. And, I did. The event was awesome, I spoke with a lot of nice people about being a vegetarian, animal rights, organics and eventually converting to being a vegan. I also enjoyed some amazing veggie/vegan food. When I first arrived, I approached the Z-Cafe, this is a vegetarian cafe that is located in the Orlando library. From them, I got a very tasty strawberry smoothie. Then later, I was able to try one of Pizza Fusion’s vegan chocolate brownie’s which is heaven in the form of a baked good. To top it all off, I did have some protein in the form of Dandelion Communitea Cafe’s delicious veggie chili with blue corn chips and iced green tea. It was such a fun event and it really made my day go from bad to great.

Hospitals and waiting

Tuesday night post-work, I started to feel incredibly sick and was experiencing horrible pain on my right side. The pain and accompanying nausea, bloating and general “just not feeling well” had me calling my family doctor. The on-call Doc informed me that I should head over to the local e.r. to rule out something acute like appendicitis. So, off I went to the local hospital with my mom in hopes of finding out what was going on.

Once we arrived, I gave my information and the nurse checked my vitals and such, and I was asked about my problem. Then, the waiting began. And, oh how we waited. Thirty minutes turned into an hour, an hour turned into three hours. I didn’t get seen until the next day. It was past midnight by the time my name was called. Now, I realize walking into an e.r. you are going to wait, but three hours seems pretty excessive to me. Not to mention having to wait in uncomfortable chairs and in a freezing waiting room. I felt like a popsicle sitting there watching the Disney Channel (this was the channel the room’s TV was left on). Not a good experience in the least.

You’d think things might improve upon getting brought in to be seen. You’d be wrong. The nurse was friendly, but odd. He had me put on a gown and then complained about how difficult it was going to be to take my blood and put in the IV. Apparently, I now have bad vains. Once he was able to draw my blood and get the IV in, he disappeared into hospital-land, pulling closed the curtain to the “room” I was in.

As I lie there and my mom sat nearby, the both of us very tired, we could hear commotion in the room next door. Apparently, there was a women brought in and Baker Acted. She was cursing at the nurses and staff, telling them about her abusive childhood and life. Part of me felt very bad for her, the woman has some real troubles. She struggled as they tried to get her to give a urine sample. The original nurse with the woman was calm with her, but once a second nurse joined, she wasn’t nearly as friendly or professional. This second nurse was downright rude and disrespectful to the drunk patient. When the Baker Acted woman used some colorful language at this nurse, she verbally fought back at the patient. I’m sorry, but you just don’t do that. Yes, maybe the woman is mean and difficult, but this nurse’s job is to be a caring provider for the patient, not the judgment police. If you can’t handle the patient, walk away and let someone else do it. No call for how this nurse handled herself.

After waiting for what was probably 20 minutes, but felt like another hour, the Doctor finally came in. He asked me some questions and then examined me. My right side was very tender and bothersome to me, so he sent me for an ultrasound. Before I was taken for the test, my nurse returned with some IV solution and an offer of pain meds. Now, I am not one to just take pain meds unless absolutely needed, so I declined them. Pain meds are great when and if you need them, but I believe people take too much of this sort of thing sometimes. Once he started the IV, it began to burn and bother me a great deal. Seeing as how the nurse left my curtained area, my mom went to get him. He didn’t seem the least bit bothered or alarmed by my discomfort. He said, “oh, it’s okay, nothing’s wrong.” Um yeah, because my arm should be burning because of the solution you are giving me. Irregardless, me, the patient was not liking the resulting feeling of this IV and he should have been more responsive to that. Thankfully, the ultrasound tech came at that time to take me for my test and the IV was stopped.

The ultrasound itself was a long process and very uncomfortable for me. What was supposed to have taken thirty minutes took over an hour to complete. Not a fun experience in the least. When I was finally wheeled out of the testing room, my mom was waiting and told me she had to go home as she had to go to work later that day. She went with me to the extended waiting area where I would be able to rest while we awaited my test and blood results and then kissed me goodbye. I really appreciated her being there, always nice to have someone you love nearby when you are sick.

I tried to sleep in this extended waiting room, as I was in a bed thankfully with warm blankets. What ended up happening though, is that I dozed in and out of consciousness all the while listening to the two young nurses (or nursing interns) who were next door chatting about their cell phones, what they were going to do for the weekend and I even heard one playing a video game at some point. Once I did finally completely fall asleep, one of said nurses awakened me for vitals and to tell me I was being discharged. So much for any rest. I was instructed to get dressed, as she was going to take me to the Doctor. I guess he was too busy to come to me.

Anyway once dressed, I was escorted to a little room that was near the e.r. hospitals beds and told I could take a seat, the Doctor would be over in a couple minutes. Yeah, a couple minutes in their time meant a good fifteen or more in real time. I sat there, again freezing my butt off (couldn’t put my jacket on, as I still had the I.V. in my one arm), waiting. It felt like forever since I was of course exhausted. The Doctor appeared, seemingly confused. He looked at me and said, “where’d she go?” Assuming he meant the nurse, I responded that I was just told to sit here and wait. He then scratched his head and peeked back out the door he entered in from and then quickly returned. “Where is Shannon?” I looked at the man puzzled, “uh, that’s me.” The confused look remained on the man’s face. “You’re Shannon?” I looked up at him, seeing as I was huddled in a ball in the chair and nodded. Who did he think I was? He had seen me before, and while I realized he more than likely had seen a number of people that early morning, this was moronic. The Doctor shrugged and mumbled something about seeing a lot of people and that it was busy that night/early morning. He took a seat in front of me and explained that nothing was wrong. They had found nothing wrong with me. Nothing acute anyway. So, I was being sent home with no answers. As quickly as he sat down to tell me the non-information, he was gone. A different nurse then appeared in the room and said she was there to remove my IV and give me my paperwork. She said that I should follow up with my regular doctor.

Now, I realize that the hospital isn’t supposed to work miracles or anything, but I was none too pleased. I had spent three hours waiting, another five hours getting tested and again waiting for them to find no answers for me about my pain. It’s also nice that I paid $100 for all of this nothing. That all said, the moral of my story is that while I am not against hospitals, as they do help people, is that for me, I am going to seriously really think twice or even three times before I go back to the e.r. in the future. Even though I am happy that nothing serious was wrong like appendicitis, I feel that the whole experience was just bad. Next time, I am going to either wait for my regular doctor or go to a walk-in clinic.