Where Your Narrator Visits the Emergency Room

After the past several weeks of posts, you’d think I had done something stupid and self-destructive, and I was going to the ER to have my wrists sewn back up or my stomach pumped. Not true; not even close. This visit to the ER was because–drum roll please–my left ankle and calf were swollen.

My mom is a Registered Nurse, and since my left ankle and calf were swollen–and ONLY my left ankle and calf–she was worried it could be a deep vein thrombosis. This is a blood clot deep in your veins (duh), and if it gets loose, it can move to your lungs or heart or brainz (sic) and do some real damage. Like kill you.

My thought was this: my left lower leg is swollen because I’m coming off of 1800 mg a day of Lithium which causes edema. She was ready to take me to the ER Sunday night. I refused. I finally acquiesced, and agreed to visit an urgent care facility first thing this morning (It’s still Monday, amazingly).Ā  So the Urgent Care doctor told me my calf and ankle were swollen, and I should go to the ER to have an ultrasound, just to make sure I didn’t have a deep vein thrombosis.

Oh, for fuck sake.

So I came home, passed this information along to my parents, and whisked into the roomy back seat of my father’s Honda Odyssey.

We got to the ER, and I filled out a few forms (thankfully, the ER and the Urgent Care place were related, so my info was in the computer).Ā  Then it was time to wait. And wait. And wait.

I should mention this: when I discovered I was being whisked off to the ER, I came back to my room. There’s a white paper bag, like from a bakery. Inside it are several pill bottles. I took my regular new mood-stabilizer (which makes me feel drunk), plus three mg of Xanax. My goal was to be as stoned as possible, while still able to fill out forms.

I loathe the emergency room. Last time I went to the emergency room, I had an emergency: I had Fournier’s Gangrene. I knew it, and I told the intake nurse, “I’m septic. I’m about 12 hours from dead.” She got me right in. šŸ™‚
This time? It had to be an hour and a half before I heard my name called. I got up, only to have an aide come over and affix my shiny armband, with my name, date of birth, and a bar-code. Yay. Nothingness continued on. I converted to Hinduism while I sat there. THERE WAS NOTHING ELSE TO DO.

Perhaps my two favorite things about the Emergency Room are these:Ā  crying babies, and people with some sort of bubonic plague. I don’t mind people who have cut off their hands with chainsaws–they need to be there. But crying babies and really sick people? Can we get them the hell away from me??

I was just being pissy. Everyone there thought they should have been called back before the rest of us. I was a low priority. Finally, I got called back. This guy wheeled me up to somewhere on the fourth floor. This very cute young nurse’s aide named Kelcie (a favorite name of mine) told me to remove my pants, and cover up with a blanket. This other lady came in, and squirted goo on my leg, then got with the scanning. She actually said, “Oh, for God’s sake. There’s no clot anywhere in here.” I couldn’t tell if she was angry that I’d been referred to her leg scanning department, or if she was angry on my behalf that I’d endured the 934 day wait (or so it felt). I was able to reapply my shorts, and somebody wheeled me to my room. This is where the Doctor–who looked like one of the demons in “Hush”–came and made his 45 second diagnosis.

Dr. Emergency Guy (right) and Billing Director (left)

Last time I went to an ER, I ended up having EMERGENCY surgery six hours after admission, and I was in the hospital 35 days. I KNEW I needed the ER. This time? I knew I DIDN’T need the ER.

But, better safe than sorry, right? I had my ultrasound, and by damn, there’s no DVT. The doctor, when he finally came in, said, “well, you don’t have any DVT. Doesn’t look infected. I’ll give you some Lasix. Keep it elevated. Any questionsgood the nurse will be by with your paperwork.” The nurse brought me two Lasix and a cup of water. I swear, I’ve whizzed every ten minutes since.

I hate the Emergency Room with the heat of a nova.

In a sense, I’m glad I went, just to reassure myself (and my worried mom) that I did not have a DVT or something else horrible in my leg. It was swollen as a result of the Lithium I was on till 3 days ago. I knew this. Sometimes you just know things, and I knew there was nothing wrong with my leg.

Emergency rooms are living hells when they’re busy. You have dozens of people, each of whom is convinced he/she or his/her kid/wailing infant is the most important person there. You have triage nurses who try to get the sickest people back there first. That makes sense. I wasn’t horribly sick, so I waited. As stoned as I was on my psych meds, it wasn’t too bad–I was able to rest my head against the wall. And ultimately, I got good news.

And now, I’m in my quiet place, with lots of calmy pills and pretty, nice-smelling candles.

I do so love my quiet place

Praise Ganesha.


16 Responses to “Where Your Narrator Visits the Emergency Room”

  1. Brown Suga' Says:

    Glad it wasn’t DVT. Of course you knew that, but better safe than sorry, I suppose.
    (Even if you have to endure luciferous waiting rooms.)

  2. When I have to go to the ER (my last two times were for cat bites, talk about really low priority) the first thing I grab is a book. Because I know I’ll be at the ass end of a long line.

    • tomzone Says:

      I had multiple books in my phone (Bless the Kindle app), but I found it more productive to stare off into space with my head leaning against the wall. Also, I have trouble reading or writing with my brainz all messed up. Some things just write themselves. How would YOU get a cat bite??? šŸ˜‰

  3. Ugh. Not much is worse than waiting. In ERs or doc’s offices. It drives me completely up the walls.
    It is good that you got checked out. Also good that you didn’t get driven crazy(er) by the wait.
    Sometimes I want to take a really deep breath and just scream as loud as I can in the waiting room.

    My ER trips last year were with my dad. The first time he had chest pain. WHOOOSH. They got him right in.
    Nothing was wrong with his heart so they sent him home. He came back in six hours later in an ambulance with a fever of 105, shivering so hard he was practically convulsing. Turned out he had an infected gall bladder.

    Second time his arm was swollen. I mean lumps swollen the size of footballs and redness spreading from his elbow up his arm. His family doc told him to go to the ER. He and my mom waited FOUR HOURS before they were even seen. Then some retarded resident looked at his arm, told him that he had bursitis and he could go home. Dad said “I’m not going ANYwhere until you call my doctor and find out why he sent me to the ER.” His doc was livid. Told the ER staff to admit Dad and put him on massive antibiotics. The ortho guys drained his arm. He was hospitalized for four days.

    It was a busy year for Dad.

    • tomzone Says:

      I hate to say this, but–having been on both ends of the equation–it’s almost better to be the patient than the patient’s family. My parents were stuck in the waiting room, while I was riding around, flirting with Nurse Kelcie, and having this woman squirt goo on my naked lower body. In St Pete, you have to pay $300 for that. (rimshot)

      The point is, something was happening to me. They still had to sit there in purgatory.

      Let’s hope this is a better year for Dad S, ER-wise. šŸ˜¦

  4. Well written piece. My favorite line, “I converted to Hinduism while I sat there. THERE WAS NOTHING ELSE TO DO.” I don’t know if you coined that or borrowed but it was good.

    On the flip side: I lost the only person who gave me love as a child, my gram, to a DVT that went to her lungs. She always complained about her legs. We thought it was funny.

    • tomzone Says:

      Sorry about your good person’s DVT. They are nothing to mess with. That’s why I gave in and went to the ER. It’s better narrative to play up that my parents–who combined weigh the same as one of my arms–dragged me there.

      And thank you. The “Converted to Hinduism” line was really mine. šŸ™‚

  5. It’s never a bad thing to know you’re not about to die. ā¤

    • tomzone Says:

      True enough, Lindsey. However, if I had gone to the Aeternal Nothingness, or Heaven, or Purgatory, I would not have to see anymore of these emmeffing campaign ads.

  6. 3mg of Xanax? Damn. That would put me in a coma. Glad you’re still among the living!

    • tomzone Says:

      Jenny, you know how to dress nicely and accessorize. I know how to self-medicate for the ER. The Universe grants us all our useful skills. šŸ˜‰ (Plus, I’m bigger than you, AND if you were in a coma, you’d get seen more quickly)

  7. You pleased your mother by going in, and that’s important. Lord Ganesha would approve heartily.

    You got stoned, met a cute girl and now you have an excuse to pee like a racehorse. Most guys would count that as a pretty good day. šŸ™‚

    • LT? This is why we’re friends. The “half-full” view of this makes it sound so much less horrible.

  8. LOL at Dr. Emergency Guy and Billing Director. That really is how they look when you’re in the ER and sick.

    I loathe ERs, especially on weekends, for the reasons you mention times ten. Everybody thinks their child is dying of the pox or s/he’s is having a heart attack. You also get the drunks who slipped by the side of the pool and broke a limb, the homeless guys who binged on Thunderbird and were found passed on the sidewalk, and chronically angry people who seem to have come in just to scream at the ER staff before security escorts them to a side cubicle where they’re placed at the head of the line, just because the staff wants to get them out of the hospital and into jail. And meanwhile you just want to get checked and get out.

    Glad it was nothing serious! But next time, listen to your gut. My kids will tell you moms worry excessively over booboos and bruises. šŸ˜‰

  9. I’ve escorted people I love to the ER and they never came back out. Unless you count my kid w/his asthma…. do you have asthma?

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