A doctor I’d never seen peeked around the curtain of my Emergency Room cubby hole and softly announced I have clots in my lungs.

My entire joyless face broke into an involuntary smile.

“That’s great news,” I said.

The doctor pulled his head back, turtle-like, as if he’d delivered the news to the wrong patient.

“There’s a simple solution, right? No surgery? Just pills?”

“That’s right,” he said.

In the thirty-six hours I’d been in the E.R. I’d learned a few things.

First of all, most hospital employees say “E.D.”, as in emergency department, rather then E.R. I was in the E.R. because I couldn’t catch my breath. A few hours of oxygen fixed that. Nurses and doctors kept saying, “it’s good you came to the “E.D.” Everytime I heard it, I thought of those commercials for little blue pills. On the other hand, when I hear E.R., I think of George Clooney.

Second, a nurse asked me if I wanted to be admitted. Was that my decision? My friend Kristina, who came to rescue me from fear and confusion reminded me that we have to say “I want to be admitted”, to satisfy Medicare. If you hesitate in making that declaration, you’ll be farther down on the waitlist for a bed upstairs. And let’s face it, if you’re seventy-five years old and find yourself in the E.R. with tubes in your nose, you’re going to end up admitted upstairs.

Three: There are no beds, no blankets and no extra pillows. The board you lie on is a padded gurney. The E.R. is a whistle-stop on the way either back home or upstairs. No need for frills.

Four: The E.R .does not have food service. You may find out about the secret stash of turkey sandwiches, graham crackers and apple juice. But no one’s in a hurry to get you food. If you toss it, well, there’s the clean-up. 

Five: The call button for the nurse is like an emotional support dog. It’s a comfort lying next to you, but won’t answer your call for help if you need to drag your tubes and drips to the bathroom down the hall. 

Six: The E.R. has all the equipment for all the tests. It’s designed to get results fast. When someone says, “you can have a CAT scan here or you can have it upstairs”, get it done in the E.R. The upstairs equipment is for the entire hospital and there is a long wait, even for someone with clots in the lungs.

Seven: Watch for clues. When a doctor says we want you to take Eliquis but it’s expensive, that’s your clue to call your friend and find out what online Canadian pharmacy she uses. And yes, buying drugs from Canada is legal.

Eight: There are a lot of doctors, nurses and technicians coming and going using words you’ve rarely heard. Call in a savvy friend like Kristina, to rehash the diagnosis and the prognosis. 

Most important of all: take a breath and let them take care of you.

13 thoughts on “Eight Things I Learned in the E.R.

  1. I’m so glad you’re on the mend and grateful that your friend Kristina was there to be with you through your experience in the ER. You’re one tough lady.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Dear Regan, Maybe you’re looking forward to catching Daniel Craig on Broadway in Macbeth, though I doubt it. I’ve spent time in the ‘E.D.’ not with it, t(hank) goodness. My hospital interpreter is Robin, again thanks. She is still working – SVP of a worldwide marketing firm. Her department sells drug advertising. Latest coup, being one of two contestants to sell Cialis. I’ve been offering unwanted slogans – “Penis envy? Try Cialis”, “Can’t get it up? ditto”, and some alliterative ones – good ones I can’t remember(I’m seventy-six). Just made up this one – “Coital catastrophe?”. Clots sound serious, with some scary causes and potential effects. Robin’s department markets Eliquis – now you know why it costs so much (she gets paid a lot).

    My list of conditions is as “long as your arm” as Robert Burns might have said (Address to a Haggis). Waking up in E.D., e.g. – “Do you know where you are?”, Robin and daughters and docs looking down, “What’s your name?, What day is it? Do you know why you’re here?” Just so you know, things could be worse and probably will be.

    If that’s not bad enough, my hearing has deteriorated to a depressing level. My ‘Live Transcribe’ app comes in handy. I have to give a three minute speech on Saturday on the history, programs, and prospects of our literacy non-profit in Camden(nickvirgiliohaiku.org). Wait, that’s tomorrow, I’d better get on this.

    Thinking about George Clooney sure beats contemplating the state of the republic.

    Love you, Regan Be well

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Regan, you are the only writer I know who could come up with a metaphor comparing a hospital call button with an emotional support dog. Brilliant!

    So relieved to know you are home and feeling better now.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Regan, thanks for sharing. So glad you’re home and on the mend, which we know cause you’re back to writing witty and savvy blogs. Hope those clots have dissolved from whatever expensive meds you imported! (Hate the ED or ER, despite George Clooney…) Fondly, Julie

    >

    Liked by 1 person

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