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Monday, May 30, 2011

Chronicles of NYC Trip - My Trip to the ER

One of the things I learned from my kidney broo-ha-ha ordeal was not to get seriously ill on a saturday or a sunday, as long as you could help it.  Not being a local New Yorker made it twice as bad, because there were absolutely no doctors around during the weekend. 

Which was how I ended up at the ER at St. Luke-Roosevelt hospital on a Saturday evening.  Either that or wait it out and hope I'd still be alive by Monday.  Well, it certainly did not feel like I was gonna make it to the next hour, so waiting til Monday was out of the question.  Turned out that Saturday evenings at the ER happened to be the time when interesting patients came calling.

Approximately 2 hours into my stay at the ER (which consisted mostly of waiting, a CT scan, some morphine shots, and more waiting), I was lying awake on my gurney with my eyes closed, when suddenly there was a commotion outside of my little cubicle.  Out of nowhere, a nurse shoved another gurney into what little space there was next to me, and told a young female to lie down on it.

The said female, who looked like she's in her twenties, was none too happy with the situation.  She looked disheveled, highly disoriented, and increasingly agitated and panicky.  What followed was nothing short of drama...

Girl (half-shouting): "Somebody, please help me!  I'm dying!  Oh my God, why aren't anybody paying attention? I'm gonna die!  Please don't let me die!!! <slight pause> Shit, I can't feel my leg!  It's so swollen, look, how could you guys not see it?!?  It's filled with water!!! <she pointed to her left leg>  Shit, I think I have trouble breathing... and my fingers...  oh my God, they're so numb!  Oh shit, shit, shit, I'm SOoo gonna die!!!  Somebody, please look at my leg!!! <short pause>  My heart!  It's beating too quickly, it's wrong!  Can you please check my heart?  Am I going to die???"

Repeat the above 10 times.

While this girl was rambling at the speed of at least 15 words per second, I was working up a panic attack of my own, what with her rambling on and on about dying.  It was pretty obvious to the rest of us there that there was absolutely nothing wrong with her--her left leg was not swollen, her heart was not beating erratically (as indicated by the beeping heart monitor), her movements were not impeded (as shown by how often she jumped in and out of her gurney), and she was definitely not dying.

In fact, if someone was dying, it was me, not her. 

15 minutes into hearing her endless ramblings, I was irritated, annoyed, and just wanted her to shut the toot up.  Unfortunately, her whole “oh my God I’m so gonna die” babble was working magic on my already scared-shitless mind.  Before long, I too felt like I was gonna die.  That, and a terrible urge to slap the bejeesus out of her. I started crying too; her negativity was too much on my slugging morale.

As the drama unfolded, I learned this much (all courtesy of her ramblings): that the girl took about ten Adderalls too many because she had a “bad day.”  She thought she was being evicted from her apartment, so she spent the whole day packing, only to learn later that she was not being evicted (no shit).  She then had to unpack everything, then worried about an upcoming court order (not clear why), and somehow make it to work on time that night.  To make herself feel better, she was snacking on Adderalls throughout the entire time. 

Girl also came in accompanied by a male friend who, judging from his expression, wanted to bolt out of there any second now.  He waited outside the curtain that separated our little cubicle from the others.  Every 2 minutes, Girl would call out to him and said, “You don’t have to wait for me, but wait, oh my God, I’m SO gonna die.” No wonder the guy looked so confused.

Girl then started rummaging through her handbag looking for her blackberry, dropping her keys and some other weird-looking things on the floor.  She then started calling her “best-friend” (who picked up her phone calls after what seemed to be her 9th calls) and relayed her whole situation.  Again, our close proximity meant I had to listen to her phone conversation.  Surprise!  Turned out Girl’s best-friend just took 2 Ambien, was struggling to stay awake as she speaks, but promised to Girl that once Girl's released from the ER she could come over to her apartment, which was only two blocks away.  “Just come on over.  I’ll leave the key with the concierge, just in case I pass out.   Just let yourself in, okay?  Don't worry, my parents are not home.  They're in Brazil at the moment.”

Girl agreed, saying that it was a great idea, because she was too afraid to go home to her own place (again, not clear why).  Oh but wait, she just remembered that no one's there to feed her dog, and that she hated her roommate because she was “evil reincarnate.”  She also whined about how her male friend would most likely tell others about her "situation," especially to his pal, who Girl said was a jerk yet seemed to be overly preoccupied with.  Then just like that, all worries forgotten, Girl then giggled to best-friend that she had the “juiciest” gossip to tell.

At which point I was swearing quietly, "What the Eff???"  As if it wasn’t bad enough that I was lying there, in excruciating pain, sobbing because by then I was pretty convinced I was the one who was gonna die, and this was what I had to listen to?!?

But then my mommy instincts started to kick in too.  What had the world come into? I mean, there was clearly a few missing points here.   Where were her parents?  Why called her “best-friend” instead of her parents or any close relatives?  What kind of life had this girl been living, so much so that she didn’t have anyone to call, other than some shady best-friend and a male companion who looked like he wanted outta there at the first possible moment.  

What if it were my daughter who was in that situation??  It would break my heart to imagine her stranded alone in a hospital ER somewhere, without me having any knowledge whatsoever about her condition.  Alone, with no one around to help her out.  What kind of a relationship did she have with her parents, that she would rather resort to calling random friends other than her own family?

And what’s up with all these potentially dangerous meds being consumed so freely???  Seriously, Adderall and Ambien?  Those were not the kind of meds you want to mess around with.  How disturbing it was to see how easily things could turn ugly when those meds were being consumed so carelessly.  

And what’s scary was that I'm sure this girl was just one of many.  A quick once-over on the other occupants of the entire 33 cubicles in the ER seemed to confirm my concern.  There were at least three drunk patients, one of them swearing all kinds of profanities on top of his lungs.  There were patients who were high on something,  roaming aimlessly around the ER looking lost and so lonely that they would strike out a conversation with just about anybody who crossed their paths. 

My ER visit lasted 7 hours.  By the time I was cleared to go home, I was still in so much pain (little did I know, though, that it was only the beginning of my endless trips to several doctors and hospitals) but boy, was I glad to be out of that ER bunker.  I had my mother and my nephews waiting for me to take me home, and I appreciated that very much, especially after my experience with Girl earlier.  She was still there when I left, asleep and alone.  I found myself worrying about her, wondering if she would be okay.  

The next day, my husband and daughter came to the city to join me and my mother.  I couldn't be happier to have my family with me.  Yes, I was still in so much pain, but I have my loved ones to fluff my pillows for me, brought me nourishment while I lay helpless in bed, and arranged all my doctor appointments for me.  

I found myself wondering what happened to Girl.  I hope she got the care that she needed.  And I pray that somehow she would find her way back home...

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