An insight view – My night in an overcrowded emergency room

My first allergic reaction to nuts occurred when I was a baby, so I don’t remember what happened. All I know is what my parents have told me about it.

However, last month I had an allergic reaction I will never forget, which resulted in an eye-opening experience in the overcrowded Beaumont Hospital.

I was in a restaurant I often dine in, eating the same meal I always eat. A burger, chips and a milkshake had never caused me any difficulty before.

The first thing I felt was the wheeziness, a symptom I experience from time to time, so I didn’t pay much attention to it. It wasn’t until I returned to my apartment that I noticed everything else.

A rash was forming all over my neck, chest, arms, back and mouth. My neck started to swell and my throat felt tight. I was getting incredibly warm, my head felt blocked and I could hear my heart pounding. After a brief phone call with my mother, I grabbed my EpiPen and went to the doctor with my friend.

We hopped in a taxi and the driver advised us to go to D Doc, as he believed I would be seen to sooner there. So after a phone call and some fast driving, we arrived and I was seen by the doctor almost immediately.

He gave me an antihistamine injection and some steroids, and reassured me that the symptoms would subside within an hour. However, I still had to go to Beaumont Hospital, where the adventure continued.

The atmosphere in the Emergency Department could only be described as grim. Not only were there people on trolleys, but many, including myself, spent the night on an armchair.

There were doctors and nurses rushing around, and they were all very helpful and attentive, in spite of the dozens of people who needed their attention. As my symptoms had pretty much subsided, I spent most of the night watching the goings-on around me because I wasn’t going to get much sleep on that chair.

In front of me was an elderly woman on an armchair, who was restless all night. She passed the time by complaining and repeatedly saying that she would be calling Joe Duffy the next day.

To my left was a woman lying on a trolley. When she wasn’t awake and coughing ferociously, she was asleep and snoring even more ferociously.

Behind me was a patient who was whimpering and wailing all night. From the noise she was making, she seemed to be in unbearable pain.

A nurse came to check on me twice during the night and the doctor came once to give me more medication. Luckily, I had no relapses so I was released early the next morning. I have never been so relieved to get out of anywhere.

I’ve often heard stories of overcrowded and underfunded emergency departments, but this experience made me realise how serious this issue is. Action must be taken to improve the situation because people’s lives depend on the efficiency of our hospitals.

Aoibheann Diver

Image credit:Cyril Byrne

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