“None shall pass…” without some entertainment issues and the latest-greatest cold.

imageI vowed, late last night as I drove home from the hospital, that I would never again go to the ER unless I was being taken in by an EMT on a stretcher or if I had body parts that were hanging off of me in unnatural ways (mine, not other people’s body parts, I would just wipe those ones off and leave a note for the body part gatherers).  Yesterday, I had a shooting pain starting at the upper part of my chest that then shot down my left arm, making it go numb.  I’d had a bit of high blood pressure recently and was a little worried that it might be something a little more serious.  So I went to the after-hours instant care up the street.  After describing my symptoms to the nurse, she said she wouldn’t treat me and that I had to go the ER right away.  All I really wanted her to do was check my blood pressure and she wouldn’t even do that.  So, off I go, without a cell phone, iPod, book or any other source of entertainment to the most boring, the longest, and the most germ infested place in the city, the hospital’s Emergency Room. 


“Is that my body part?  Oh, no that one’s yours.  See ya!”

I signed in, took a seat, and began to seek out some sort of time-passing activity.  I had a notepad on which I started to doodle. After 20 minutes, that got boring.  I found a newspaper, did their Sudoku and part of their crossword puzzle, but then that got repetitious.  It didn’t help that there were two ignorant girls sitting within earshot bragging about how often they were sent to the principal’s office and discussing their rotten boyfriends who left them pregnant, still ignorant, and mostly barefoot.  I had to try very hard to not listen while they each discussed, in detail, their deliveries, all gore included.  Thanks to a tank of tropical fish and a finger in my ear, I was able to think about other topics like socialized health care.  On my other side was an older woman with her 8 year old son who had a concussion, and who she and her daughters were struggling to keep awake.  She took a cautious look around the very full ER waiting room and said in a whispering tone, “I think this is a glimpse into President Obama’s health care plan.”  I said, “Yes, only you’d have made an appointment to wait this long.”  Not to mention, 6 months in advance.  “Oh, please, please, please, let’s not go there, aahhhh!!!!”

After 2 hours in that room, I was finally sent back to my own room, free of other people’s germs, in which I got to sit, bra-less in a gown for another 2 1/2 hours.  In that time I got a chest x-ray, an EKG, and my blood drawn.  Each of those procedures on their own takes about an average of 3 minutes.  As sat reading a 2002 Better Homes and Gardens (read is the wrong word, they’re really just picture books with a billion ads) I thought of ways I might escape.  Could I do it?  By the time I’d finally talked myself into getting my bra back on, the nurse came back into the room with another magazine, Town and Country, which for another 20 minutes staved off my urge to fly the germ coop.   

image In that magazine I found some very un-intrusive tips on managing stress, one of which, after choosing your favorite deity, was to pray or meditate to said deity (pick one of the following:  Buddha, Allah, God, favorite Sci-fi writer, or talk show host.  No, not that bad, but bad enough).  Alas, at about 23:38 (only clock in the room was the one on the blood pressure monitor, which I think was an hour off, so 22:38), military time, a new nurse came in. (the other one’s shift had ended and she had gone home).  The new nurse brought in my instructions.  My heart was fine, my chest was still flat, and my blood was good enough to tempt a vampire. 

image So, after 5 hours of ER recreation, I was sent home with advice to take a Tylenol should the symptoms recur.  The inconclusive conclusion was that I had a pinched nerve in my back.  Had the insta-care lady just taken my blood pressure, assuming it had been fine, I would have driven home, taken off my bra, climbed into my own night gown, watched Kate & Leopold in my own non-paper lined bed, and not caught the cold I believe I brought home from the ER.

Besides my new conviction to avoid the ER, except in the unfortunate event of a severed body part, I learned that it is a great place for “too-much-information” per sexually active high-school girls. It’s a hot spot for meeting the latest and greatest germs.  It’s a great place to advertise the Obama health care plan.  Finally, when all is said and done, the real emergency isn’t the physical pain in the ER but the fact that you are left desperately bored and would let someone cough on you if they’d only run and get one of your favorite Twilight books, you know for pre-movie review purposes. 


Welch Mom said…
I am glad you are alright. I experienced this same thing one day walking into work( I ran into the office) and they said you better go to the dr. My arm had a pain and my chest, it went numb and I felt dizzy. Pinched nerve too! I guess I could of saved you the agony of waiting. Isn't it terrible? You just needed to be there with my mom as she would have had a telenovela going on with her theories about who was there and why.
Natalie said…
Thank heavens for no heart attacks! I'm glad you are okay and I'm so sorry you had to suffer through five hours of boredom and germ infestation. What a pain in the neck! I hope you're arm and chest are feeling better and I'm getting uber excited to see New Moon. :)
Sharae said…
I am glad you are OK! I completely agree with you. Not only is it 5 times the wait of the Instacare, it is also 5 times the amount of money for the co-pay. The more you pay, the worse you get treated!
Melissa said…
Oh, so sorry about your horrible night. I have also vowed never to go the the ER unless one of my children are literally going to die. Last time we went, it was a horrible experience and paying for it afterwards was even worse.
Holli said…
Glad to hear everything is ok -- hope your cold goes away faster then the visit to the ER.
AH! Sooooo not fun!! That's the nice thing about being pregnant...I had to go to the nearby ER because my ob clinic was closed for that particular day...thought I was experiencing a UTI, and man! the minute they see a pregnant person, they ZOOM you right in! I didn't wait AT ALL. The fact that they were acting like I was in labor did make me go completely white (Sean was gone at the time, and I was experiencing back pain...sign of labor) Next time, just stuff your shirt with a pillow and hold your back like all preggo moms do! :)

I'm glad you are doing okay though!! Don't scare me like that, Agent B!
Yeah, the ER tends to be that way. I had a ton of experiences there while pregnant. All I would need was just IV fluids. I would be there at least 5 hours...and on top of that, they'd send their techs in to try and stick an IV in me which always took about 5 tries. The symptoms you were feeling though were legitimate (sp?) and you should have been a priority patient for the nurses/docs. Sorry it took so long! I'm glad you're okay though.
Jayne said…
I hate to admit that I wouldn't mind another trip to the ER for you as long as you write such a hilarious story about it. So funny! (And as long as you had a clean bill of health of course.)

Now that I've passed the 'year 30' mark I feel like my body is wearing out and I actually have to worry about heart attacks and limbs falling off. Okay maybe not that extreme, but I still feel like all of a sudden I feel so much older!
I am terrified of germs and teenagers. You are brave, Ms. Becky. So glad you are o.k.
-Ang said…
Yea, I'm glad you're okay too! My one experience with the ER was an eye opener too, and I came to the same conclusions. I was in the worst pain of my life not realizing I was in labor having a miscarriage (before any children so I was clueless). I waited forever! For heaven's sake people -I have an EMERGENCY -not half a day to kill! I am sooooo with you on socialized medicine! Very scary! The good news is that we should have an in house ER Doc soon enough ;).
Stephanie said…
I'm so glad your okay Becky! With that being said, I'm going to have to be the voice of reason to these ER bashing comments :)
The symptoms you had DID warrent an ER visit so don't feel bad about going. And waiting does suck and is boring. Problem is, people are waiting so long because people treat ER's like primary care doctors instead of coming in only for EMERGENCIES (and emergency type symptoms). Honestly there really is a triage system we follow but sometimes even the most sick but not dying have to wait. Oh how I wish they didn't but you can thank everyone coming in for their cough/cold/ankle sprain/sore throat/med refill/pregnancy test for making the real emergencies wait.
Ok, off my soapbox. Thanks for letting me vent :)

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