The E.R. 1/10/14

So, there should be rules when you are thinking of going to a local emergency room for treatment.  If you are able to: eat, drink, chat, text, laugh, talk, or even smile…you should be forced to make an appointment with your regular MD and stay home.

Today was my last day of a five-morning meditation/yoga workshop Divine Awakenings…I don’t know how anything can be divine at 5:40 am with a 4:40am wake-up call.  But, that is how it goes and the practice of meditating, doing postures and a group discussion was really cool.

I got home drenched in sweat as usual and went to the fridge to start making my morning protein shake and looking forward to my class on how to use my new Microsoft Surface.  I see a note from Lonnie: Your mom is in the ER. Call me.  Shit. Shit. Shit. Shit!

He got a call from her about 630am and she wanted to go to the ER. She was short of breath. He, God bless him, went over and with the help of the night guy at the building they loaded her into Lonnie’s 91 pickup and off they went.

You ask, why not call 911 and get an ambulance?  Because they are too expensive. See, she has a habit of going to the ER. She likes it there and will tell you as much. It is fun for her…kinda like going to the movies with an IV.  And if you are not admitted…the ambulance bill after insurance can be anywhere from $200 to $1,000.  And since she doesn’t have any money…oh well too much info.

I get up there ASAP at 7:45am and they are both gone. Mom in the x-ray department and Lonnie heading home for coffee.  She comes back out and we wait. My yoga clothes are still pretty wet under my sweatshirt and it is uncomfortably damp on the vinyl chairs. I put on a hospital provided face mask and my glasses get foggy.  It takes me about 20 minutes to figure out it is upside down and the metal part can be used to shape around my nose to help with the fog.

My mom is in heaven. She is getting attention and I am trapped next to her. I am in hell. She is chatting like we are having Starbucks and is telling me about her neighbors, what wine is available at the grocery store, and other such nonsense.  She keeps asking me about what’s new in my life and when I respond she interrupts with another story about her.  Not that I don’t want her to be happy…but she is only happy when she is in the ER.

Last time I visited her in her apartment, a few days ago, she was insulting to my nephew and I and told us to leave. OK… don’t have to tell us twice.

I try to distract myself from the chaos of the place. The floors are filthy…I guess they really don’t have time to clean being open and deluged 24/7.  There are large puddles of unidentifiable liquids dotting the tile, used hastily discarded facemasks float around with other pieces of tissue. Genuinely gross.

It is so busy, at one point they ran out of wheelchairs.

There are two large TV screens with competing television networks on Good Morning America and The Today Show. Both are in their last stretch for something important to say in the last hour. The din of the anchors is more than obnoxious.  Cooking demos…is anyone else tired of Emeril yet?? Models telling people how to be thin.  OMG!

More triage for mom and they want to put her in a bed…however there are none available. So, out we go back into the fray which is growing larger, louder and sicker by the moment. However, there are still those that seemed to have come in for a just a urine test??? Lots of yellow plastic bottles being bandied about.

I am feeling sorry for myself and really hating where I am, then a woman who looks too old to be pregnant, but has a huge belly in the right place takes up chair right next to me. Holy shit the stench is overwhelming. I cannot describe it…not dirty…just really bodily bad. The nurse admonishes her for sitting there and she should be in line.  No relief…the end of the line is right behind me. So, now I appreciate the time I could breath without feeling like hurling myself. The faux-PG woman finally leaves the ER by way of a dented Chevy. The nurse told me she had a liver disease that caused her girth and offending odor. “She is a regular.” the nurse sighs.

OK, now it is getting serious. The View just started on TV. I hate that show. It is stupid. It is a waste of time and brain power. Just to cement my opinion they bring on Kris Jenner and a very dated photo of OJ Simpson which appears to be peering over her shoulder. I cannot hear what they are saying…Thank God… I turn away from the broadcast. My head is pounding.

With every cough, sniffle, wheeze, and barf sound I curl up tighter and tighter in a ball to avoid contact. My mom’s attempt at more small talk is really pissing me off.  “I really should be admitted first…they know me here. I come all the time.” she explains.  I have to lean toward her wheelchair when a woman comes in with a large dirty stuffed bunny. It is probably why she is here sick…since she is biting on its poly filled ears.  The thing is gross and she is really working it over. My dog never devoured a toy like that. She is quickly whisked away by someone in a white coat…”Psych” mother stage whispers to me eyeing the woman as she is lead through a side door.  I might just be losing it myself and need that door soon. It least my clothes are dry now.  I gave up on the mask hours ago so my glasses are clear.

The staff of what seems to be hundreds of faces with identical ID cards dance through the crowds and call out names. The huge doors…behind where in the bed for my mom lies…opens and closes a thousand times…all without her name being called. Each time the RN or orderly comes out it is a new hope only dashed with an unfamiliar name or the wrong Barbara.  “There are three Barbaras here this morning.” my mom announces with a big smile.

A car pulls up out front and a guy all clad in hospital blue scrubs with purple gloves is caring a huge clear plastic box marked Bio Hazard.  I can see baggies of organs in there.  Fuck…doesn’t this place have a back door. I know they do, because patients are coming in from the back just as fast as they are in the front. By now, it is so crowded you would have thought the place was selling the new Apple IPod…but from the look of the clientele….none could afford one.

“I am hungry and have to pee.” my mom announces.  “Too bad.” I snarl back staring inches above the heads of the weirdos sitting across from me. “You are in the ER maze now…you put yourself here and here is where you will stay.”  This is a place that normal people should not have to face. Only people that are trained and experienced in these types of matters should endure this pandemonium.

It is high noon. the doors open…”Jones.” the nurse calls out my heart sinks a bit lower than my downward dog of hours ago. 10 minutes later a tiny woman who is nearly whispering “Preece” on the other side of the room.  I barely hear it…but I do.  “Here!”  I shout as I jump up nearly spilling my purse onto the tainted tile.  She doesn’t have a room…but a gurney in the hall.  We will take it.  The wheeled mattress is behind the huge doors, the doors of my freedom.

I help get her settled and let the hospital do their do. She was admitted for the night. She is now the one with a Divine Awaking tomorrow morning.  Not me.