The moment I rolled onto my back and sat up, I knew something was not right. This was not the first time I have slipped on ice and fallen in Quebec City, nor was it the first time I had fallen forward – although, I tend to fall backward and twinge my back in the process.
I sat in the middle of the street, outside one of my favourite hotels, as one of their doormen (whom I’ve known for about 6 years now) and an older couple approached to see if I was okay.
Him: Ms MacNaughtan, are you okay?
Me: I’m not sure, I think so? Can you hold my bag while I try to get up? My laptop is inside
Handing him my bag and scarf, I started to move into my knees to stand, then remembered there was probably more ice underfoot and stopped. I’ve tried standing on ice before, only to end up looking like a beached whale as I continually fall while trying to get a good grip under my feet.
While the couple from out of town tried to convince me to take their mittens and let them help me up, I spotted a window ledge across the street. If I could get myself over there, I could prop myself on the ledge, and then stand from there. I got on my knees again, attempted to use both of my hands to crawl, and realized I couldn’t move my right arm without pain shooting through it.
I guess I’ll just have to use my left arm and bum shuffle my way across the street and to the ledge!
When a couple of guys from Musée de la civilisation noticed me shuffling across the street I gave up my stubbornness, got on one knee, and with the help of one of them, I stood up.
Refusing to call for an ambulance (I’m stubborn, remember?), I asked Mathieu to call me a taxi instead. The Hôtel Dieu de Québec hospital was not far away, plus a taxi would be significantly cheaper than an ambulance!
OMG, that ride… with every jostle of the car, stabbing pains would shoot through my arm and shoulder. By the time we reached the hospital I was in tears. I asked the driver to open my wallet for me so I could pay. Sadly, I had forgotten my bank cards, credit card, and health card at home. I had taken them out a day earlier and put them in a small change purse. OMG!!
With the help of the driver, we ventured to my apartment, I dropped off my bag, found my change purse, and drove back to the hospital.
The hours spent sitting on a gurney in the ER hallway were some of the most painful in my life. I told the admitting nurse about my fall, and that I may have dislocated my shoulder.
Him: How do you know it is dislocated?
Me: I can feel that it’s pushed forward, it doesn’t feel right
At 11:22 am, an hour after I arrived, I asked for pain medication and was given a shot of morphine and three Tylenol 3 pills. I imagine that would normally take the pain away, but in my case, it merely dulled the pain. Roughly 90-minutes later my pain levels were back to full force and I sat in the bed silently crying. The pain was excruciating. I felt stabbing pains every time I moved. If I had to rate my pain, it was easily 10+ at that point.
Sitting there alone, I turned to tweeting, and texting friends in an effort to distract myself.
At around 3 pm, I finally saw a doctor. She felt around my shoulder and arm, and asked me questions in English (OMG, I was so happy to learn she could speak some English). A few minutes later another woman approached me, and I was told to grab my jacket, and take the elevator to the second floor for x-rays. To be honest, I was a little baffled by the way I was sent off, but as I was in a French-speaking hospital, and my French is super basic, I gingerly grabbed my jackets with my good arm and made my way upstairs.
Let me tell you, that walk sucked balls!
While the girls in x-ray did not speak a lick of English, and I did not expect them to, they were kind and patient, especially when the pain became too much and I started to quietly sob again. Looking over at them in the booth, I noticed them on the phone, then a request for more x-rays before I was excused and made my way back down to the waiting room.
30-minutes later, the woman who had quickly dismissed me to find the x-ray department on my own was back, and this time she quickly grabbed my jacket and waited for me as I slowly followed her back into the ER.
Within moments I was sitting on a bed, surrounded by four or five nurses, and the doctor. Turns out, my shoulder was indeed dislocated, and everyone who had been walking passed me for the last five hours was now in the room, kindly attending to me.
By some fluke (or was it?), I had worn loose clothing that day, as well as a slightly bigger bra that closed in the front, all of which were relatively easy to remove. While the doctor held up my right arm, we struggled to get everything off from the waist up, and I was then settled into the bed. By then my emotions were out of control and I was apologizing between sobs as the nurses put in an IV and attached EKG leads.
When the doctor explained that they were going to do a procedure to put my shoulder back in place, a wave of panic washed over me. I couldn’t begin to fathom the level of pain I would feel during the procedure. I was so focused on that thought that I barely heard the doctor tell me they were going to give me three rapid hist of fentanyl.
Me: Wait, am I going to be awake?
Her: No, we are giving you fentanyl
Me, sobbing like a baby: You mean you’re going to knock me out??
Me, with more tears streaming down my face: OMG thank you so much!!!
I wish the above was an exaggeration, but I literally sobbed and thanked her for knocking me out.
I remember getting drowsy, then opening my eyes and asking when the procedure was going to be done, only to find out they had already finished. Thank you, Jesus!
I’ve avoided French hospitals and clinics for over three years, but it wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. For the most part, the language barrier was not as big of a problem as I imagined, and the staff was great (except that one lady, but I guess she thought I was just being a big baby and crying for no reason?).
What’s next? I’m in a sling for 3-4 weeks, and I move apartments in less than 1 week.
I love winter, don’t you?!