The Emergency Room

There are a few places in life people need to wait. Some lines you can avoid, or do without. Some lines you can schedule and return at less busy times.

It’s hard to avoid the waiting room at a hospital. I suppose the rich can pay for better treatment in some cases, but I like to believe we’re all fairly equal in the emergency room.

That’s nor to say people are treated in priority, giving aid to the bleeding or unconscious first, but in the room I find myself in today, we’re all just sitting here watching the time pass by, each dealing with the hours in our own way.

The family with an impatient child is to my right. He either cries, runs around, or screams in joy but he never stays quiet. His parents react as if this is clearly the norm for him. They’ve gotten over the embarrassing stage and the need to apologize. It’s just the way it is.

Another man to my left is asleep. He hasn’t moved much for a while, but I’m confident he’s still alive. Up until recently I thought he was just resting with closed eyes trying to block out everything else. I myself have trued that technique for as long as I could. Recently however he’s transitioned to the new phase of sleep where his chair sprawl has gone more wide. I hope he doesn’t miss his name when they finally call.

Two separate people are playing games with the sound on, although low. The older boy beeps with a schedule that makes me think it’s a match game, but not Candy Crush. I know those tones and tines well. The younger boy is playing some farm game. His phone makes oink oink, cluck cluck barn sounds with irregular frequency.

The mother, daughter duo to my immediate left are discussing how theur life will change if she’s told she can’t eat junk food anymore. She asks her. Mother if she’s ever even tried Kale. Apparently everyone is talking about kale now.

For an emergency room, nobody seems to have any visible emergencies. We all sit together and wait our turn. The names are called out slowly. In the two or more hours I’ve been here, only a few have moved.

I suspect there are different areas for different levels of emergency. I’m in the O Zone waiting area, sponsored by John Vince bulk foods. Clearly a lower priority emergency room waiting area.

Finally, after just over 2 hours, I get to go sit and wait in my own room. I don’t know if it’ll be another hour, or a shirt wait, but it’s certainly less fun to be alone. This place is new… But not like my diction office. There are no gruesome pictures of lungs or intestinal tracts on the walls. It’s just me, a chair and a bed… And a basket of soiled linen next to the chair which might have a slight odour.

I wait.

My visit today is one of the irritating ones both for me and the staff. I’ve got one of these mystery ailments that wasn’t in the text books. That means more tests and guesses. I made the mistake earlier of comparing the doctors diagnosis with my own work with computers.

“I know it’s not the same”, I started, “but I know the frustration of these cases when you have to use experience to figure out what’s wrong. I have similar issues when I am diagnosing computer problems. There is always that case that doesn’t quite match your training.”

It seemed like I may have upset him comparing his years of dedicated schooling about the human body, to my experiences troubleshooting Windows 98 crash issues.

“nobody dies when I get it wrong. ”

I went to far with that one. We didn’t speak again. He sent me here, to the hospital. I don’t have that luxury I thought. If I can’t figure out why you’re getting a blue screen of death, then you keep getting it. If I send you to somebody else, they’ll reformat your machine and start over.

Lucky doctor I thought.

Not really. I would certainly have preferred he knew the answer. Now I sit and wait for hour 3, fully aware that these new eyes may be equally stumped and need to hand me off yet again to another line in another building.

At least I’m away from the screaming baby.

The new face arrived shortly after and proceeded with some of the same basic tests I’d been subjected to twice already, but that was to be expected. I was happy he agreed with me more than the first doctor. I probably didn’t have a stroke.

As a computer service guy, I made it a personal policy of mine, and those I had working for me not to badmouth those who came before. I never trash talked whatever the previous support person dud, whether it be a friend, another IT specialist, or a blue shirt at Best Buy.

It was nice to see this doctor had the same policy although his face told a slightly different story. Almost a discust for whatever doctor had come before having told me I might have a mild stroke.

First if all, he said, if this was a stroke, it would have been a full on stroke, nothing mini. If you can’t move your arm, that’s not mini – – and you certainly would have at least one symptom.

I had full strength in both arms and all my faculties. They asked of I knew my name, and the date and a few other questions. I was hoping they’d ask who the president was, like on TV. I wanted to answer; Donald Trump… Oh no. I have lost my mind.

I didn’t get the chance, especially since this is Canada, but I had to make the joke anyway. It was funny to me, so I said it anyway, but with a laugh to make it clear I wasn’t delusional.

After we established it was probably just a normal shoulder injury, most likely created by sleeping position, weather, and my old shoulder injury, I was walked to the MRI machine for the confirmation.

The nice technician helping me on this portion of my journey was surprised to hear I was looking forward to this procedure. “I don’t hear that very often” she said. I explained that it’s a new story. Lots of people see these things on TV but few get to experience it.

I made a few traditional jokes about metal and the terrors of TV episodes, and emptied my pockets like at the airport.

“Luckily my teeth are all plastic now. They used to contain a lot of metal.”

She reacted professionally with a smile, despite probably having heard most of the same jokes a hundred times before.

Following this, I walked down to the next room and got the x rays. No. Lines or waiting at either of these stations. Then, back to station one for some blood letting and then full circle back to the waiting room.

I’m not sure what comes next. I assume I’m waiting for results to be examined, and then one of the four doctors or nurses, or perhaps a new one will consult with me and send me on my way with some instructions.

Hour 4… I’m not certain why I have to wait just for them to tell me I can leave.

Maybe if I was rich.

Waiting….

One last unneeded test and one more sit in the waiting room, but I’m told it’s all ok. Some physiology therapy and I should heal.

Only 5 hours.

 



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