So it’s pretty redundant to even bother rattling on about how messed up our medical system is, however, I had an experience recently that really takes the cake.

I could feel it coming on, and I tried to stave, fight, fend it off with cranberry juice and the most powerful herbs I could get my hands on, but alas, no dice. I woke up with a raging UTI. Urinary Tract Infection. (TMI? If so, then don’t read on.)

I had to go to work, but had to get it sorted, so thought I’d drop by the walk-in clinic at the old “Friendly Pharmacy.” Full. Waiting room was packed. Plan B. I drive to the hospital and check in with the lovely triage nurse (highly unusual that she was in fact lovely, because most of the time they seem to be angry and bitter at the sight of you). “It’s going to be at least a 4 hour wait, maybe you should try another walk-in clinic?” and she goes out of her way to photocopy a list of them for me. Kind soul.

I thought, “Ah, screw it, I’ll manage…ignore it, it will go away…” but my body was not having it and I found myself driving to the new and improved Sherwood Drug Mart. I get there, the waiting room is also jammed, but I resign myself to the wait, take a number and sit down thinking, “Settle in, there’s at least 20 people ahead of you here…You’d better start enjoying the ‘Doodle Bops’ or whatever the hell this kids tv shit is on the tube cuz you’re gonna be a while…”

Much to my surprise, I realize the doorway to the Doctor’s office is practically a revolving one. They call someone in, someone comes out, and it’s moving fast. Each person exits with a ‘script in hand and a clear sense of relief. Anyway, it being PEI, of course I run into an old acquaintance, and we do the whole chits and chats thing, “Oh, what are you up to these days? Where ya workin’? You like it? Good. How was your summer?” Shootin’ the breeze, neither one of us going anywhere near the reason why we’re both waiting here.

I stare at other people reading their books and magazines, watch the 3 year olds play with that toy that’s in EVERY waiting room – the colourful wires attached to a board with little beads you can shuffle back and forth and up and around all the loopdy doops – and finally hear my name. “Cynthia Dennis – number 33.”

So here comes the gross part. The receptionist, guides me to the washroom, hands me a plastic cup, removes the top, writes my name on it, “Cynthia” and instructs me to leave a small sample, and simply set it on the back of the toilet seat, with the top off when I’m finished. “Geez, I guess I could’ve figured out where to leave it, judging by the fact that there are at least 5 or 6 other exposed (top left off) samples arranged on the back of the toilet from your other slew of patients…” I think to myself in disbelief. Then before she ‘leaves me to it’, she takes one of the tester dipstick strips from a box on the shelf and drops it into one of the said bottles of piss. How goddamn disgusting and unprofessional is this whole business anyway?

What if I was some kind of crazy/creepy person (I can comfortably assure you I’m not the latter) and wanted to screw up the samples? I could mix them together, read the other names (and then thought, I hope my old acquaintance in the waiting room doesn’t get to come in here and see “Cynthia” written on my bottle…our relationship is merely a cordial one, and this kind of intimacy would move it to a strange level for sure) or what if I lost my balance, or moved the wrong way and tipped the precariously placed piss pots (ha!) everywhere. So many things are and could go wrong with this whole operation.

Anyway, less than 3 minutes later, the Dr. comes into my waiting room, asks me what’s up, (I’m not at all confident, judging by their ship shoddy system, that’s he’s actually had the results of my dipstick relayed to him) I tell him I have a UTI, he says, “Have you had this before?/What did you take last time?/Did it work?” then writes me a prescription. As appalled as I was at the whole thing, in this case it was exactly what I needed; I know what’s wrong with me, just give me the drugs. But I can’t help thinking about this, and tutt tutting at how utterly ridiculous it is.

Like I said, there are a million things we can nitpick about when it comes to how we care for ourselves and each other, it pains me to even lift a corner on it, but like I also said, this just seems to be a touch over the top. Is this really what we’re doing, folks? We’re all ok with this? At least the pharmacy was just a few steps away. How convenient.