Hospital emergency room, not a place to “hang out”

Last week I escorted a friend to the emergency room. It was my first time in decades and quite an experience. Friend is well and home but I’m still in recovery. I may need intensive therapy. And margaritas.

I’ve been watching Gray’s Anatomy and other medical shows (Dr. Kildare, Ben Casey, ER, Chicago Hope, Chicago Med, MASH and a gazillion others) for decades so I consider myself “knowledgeable” about stuff. Ok, maybe not “knowledgeable” but I sort of understand something. TV shows taught me that:

  • Friends or family of the sick person always act stupid. They want to be in the thick of things when what is really needed is medical personnel.
  • Things go quickly. Within an hour, someone on the verge of death either dies or is cured. Or goes into remission. Or has a spinoff TV program.
  • Medical terms are bandied about. Stat!
  • There is a lot of sex in supply rooms.

This is what I learned:

  • I did not act stupid. I was worried and upset but the focus was on the patient, not on calming me down. I was yelling vitals at anyone who listened including the janitor but in a sort of calm voice. At no time did I yell “Code Blue.” Nope, that wasn’t me.
  • There is no such thing as normal time in a hospital. A test that was going to be done in a “few minutes” took 6 hours. Responding to “I have to go to the bathroom” took an hour. “Now” may be in 15 minutes. It was so confusing.
  • Medical terms are elastic. The admitting person (resident? intern? nurse? techie? janitor?) kept us apprised of tests, test results and possibilities but nothing concrete. He said that my friend will be “hanging out for a bit.” “Hanging out” is a fun term like when you hang out at a bar or park. Alcohol is usually involved. That isn’t the same as hospital “hanging out” which is incredibly boring.
  • On my trips to the bathroom I checked every supply room for sex. Nada!

Other stuff I learned:

    • My brain is like a sieve. Every medical person introduced themselves. At the end of the experience I only remembered one nurse.
    • Most of the nurses were male and most of the doctors were female. Somehow that surprised me on both counts.
    • Inmates…ummm…patients are hooked up to machines that beep at a decibel level much louder than a rock band concert at full throttle. I learned how to turn it off but it reset itself every 3 to 5 minutes and continued to annoy. The sound echoed in the tiny enclosure.
    • Not that I would expect luxury but I have closets bigger than the ER room. The room that the patient was admitted to wasn’t bigger and there was another person squeezed in it. (Two sets of beeping equipment!) Also, beeping in the room is pointless. It needs to beep at the nurses’ station which was located well away from the room.
    • Food…ah hospital food. Admittance was at 3 p.m. There wasn’t any food until 11 p.m. and that wasn’t for me. The patient food was not at all tempting. I went home with an empty belly.

I hope I don’t have to do this again but that is unlikely. In the course of a lifetime, everyone is destined to visit the ER either as a patient or family. If anyone suggests “hanging out,” I’d decline the offer.

95 thoughts on “Hospital emergency room, not a place to “hang out”

  1. My daughter is an emergency room nurse, and has always laughed uproariously at the television medical dramas. All of them! She tries to remind people that the long waiting period is often due to activity that isn’t apparent to those in the waiting room. Incoming emergencies through the “back doors,” as in ambulance, bumps anyone not considered critical. I do hope your friend is doing well!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Friend is good. Despite the whining, we got an ER cubicle right away. Some patients were on cots in hallways and their visitor had to stand the whole time. It’s just not a place you want to go. Bless your daughter. For all the “boring” cases there are the really bad ones. We had some kids get badly burned in a house fire. Bless anyone who helped them. Hard to see. (They all died but two lingered for a few days.)

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  2. ERs are something of a time warp. Nothing moves. Not the place for spending time. “Hanging out” Had to laugh. All I can think of is those insane episodes of medical shows towards the end of their life span when thing got totally goofy…so helicopters were crashing in and patients had huge spikes sticking out of them. And then there’s all the residents lounging around chatting about life or sex in the stock rooms.
    Real ERs tend to be dull, cold, and beeping by comparison ( and they are terribly small these days – sometime the patient is just siting in a chair by a computer while they bandage him/her up. But one thing for sure – no real food!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I had to laugh. I remember the dying days of a TV program. A patient has a weird dream and all the doctors dress up and do a song and dance segment (part of the dream you know). Then there is every possible catastrophe that could ever happen, happens at that one hospital. Shooters, spikes, exes showing up. Geez.

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  3. Because your friend is well and recovering this is a very funny post. Sad and funny and unfortunately true. Yes, we are all visitors there at some point in our lives and you are spot on about everything. I hate being near a hospital and ER’s are very near the top of the list.

    Liked by 1 person

    • There’s also a strange smell. It’s not exactly bad but it’s not home. Back in the old days people would be in the hospital for a week after surgery. Now a friend had open heart surgery and was home after 5 days. Most surgery is done outpatient or just over night. Maybe that’s how the rooms got so small. No need to be comfy.

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  4. The one time I had to go to an emergency room, Charley and I sat for hours thinking up other names for it, such as, “I’ll get to you when I damn well feel like it place” or “Die and go to top of the list room”.
    You get the idea…

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    • I avoid it if I can. I had a really bad reaction to a whole lot of wasp stings but was fortunate enough to be treated at one of our walk in centers. Going in by ambulance may help somewhat although if they don’t think it’s critical you’re at the bottom of the list. My husband was lucky in that he was put into a room. There were a few in the ER that were on cots in hallways.

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      • They thought I had Eastern Equine Encephalitis (very, serious) and they still didn’t get to me for hours. Then, they put me in a room, then they forgot I was placed in the room and had to bring a tech back after midnight to do the scans! I had Lyme Disease and Erlichiosis when all was said and done. And I lived to tell about it. I’ll take a Walk-in Center any day.I hope you haven’t had any more bad experiences with wasps.And it is always best to call an ambulance , although no guarantee. 😷

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        • Definitely no guarantees. Had a friend who went by ambulance from the doc’s office. The doc called the ER and still no fast service. I guess they didn’t pass the critical triage. Hope you’re better. Lyme Disease can be serious. Last time I had a tick bite, I had the tick and they tested it. No disease. Yay.

          Liked by 1 person

          • Because it had not been diagnosed for many years, I now have Chronic Lyme.(diagnosed during that hospital visit mentioned.) I’m on and off antibiotics and try to keep it in abeyance. It’s always good to be cautious when you are bitten. We have our yard and the surrounding woods sprayed regularly for ticks. And we don’t let the cats outside, although Roxie is constantly trying to escape and sometimes succeeds.

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            • Our old cat Jake (now deceased) went outdoors and brought in his tick friends. It wasn’t unusual to see them walking across the floor. (Yes, he had monthly tick stuff put on him but they still hitch a ride.) I can’t spray the yard because we have a pond with frogs who go into the ground cover to eat bugs. I had to do a round of antibiotics for Lyme many years ago. That stuff made me sick so I try to try to catch and keep the tick to avoid antibiotics. Since Jake is gone, the only time I’m at risk is when I do yard work in the back. I try to be careful but I still see a couple each year. Last year one attached inside my ear fold. That was creepy. It’s a good thing I didn’t know it was a tick until I was in the doctor’s office at which point I freaked out.

              Liked by 1 person

              • Years ago, our old cats used to bring them in all the time. ZuZu and Roxie don’t get to go out – fisher cats, fox, coyotes come from the Wild Life Refuge across the street. They do get to go to the Gazebo and safely sit with us and watch nature around them. You are being smart about this situation. Lyme is a disease in which doctors must be better educated. Hopefully, I’ll find some time to advocate for this in DC, too.

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  5. Oh wow! I do hope your friend is feeling a LOT better by now. Mom spent way too much time in a hospital with daddy once upon a time – it was over 12 weeks. She said that she had enough fill of that time to last her a LIFETIME so we agree with you – hospitals are *nothing* like television. I mean heck, if they were all of the doctors would be like Dr McDreamy and mom never saw any of those. Did you? Snorts with piggy laughter. XOXO – Bacon
    Oh and if hospitals were like television – within an hour all of the patients are feeling so much better and are being discharged – oinks

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  6. Thanks for bringing a smile about a place that tends to make me frown. I was just at the hospital with my elderly mom, who broke her hip and had surgery. I was one of those patients who found a nurse every 15 minutes, introducing myself sweetly and then saying, “My mom’s in pain, can’t you give her anything?” “My mom’s hungry – please, at least some saltine crackers?!” “My mom needs to go to the bathroom – which she told you 15 minutes ago. Please help. NOW!” The nurses were so nice to me, and believe it or not, we got more pain med, a packet of crackers, and the toilet situation was addressed.
    On the other side, I remember when my boyfriend at the time (college) burned his hand badly and I rushed to the ER, where they were treating the burn. I got one look at it and fainted dead away. When I woke, all the hospital personnel were attending to me, and my boyfriend was all by his lonesome, lying on a stretcher with a pained expression on his face. I’ll never forget that – brings a laugh every time. 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

    • When my Mom was alive she always had a hospital trip at least twice a year. I got to know the ins and outs of a hospital and so did my Mom. On one trip just after noon she wanted to stop to eat because she knew she missed the lunch time. Made me laugh.

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  7. Oooooh! There is nothing so intimidating as the other world of the ER! Being able to find the funny side is a definite talent Kate and you are so blessed. Here’s hoping your friend is o.k. and that you are now fully recovered from a harrowing experience. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  8. This sounds like quite an experience. The one time I accompanied someone to the ER…a woman who got hit by a car on Madison Avenue I didn’t even know, I was truly amazed at one, how dirty it was…and how people were neglected in small ways. I remember a lady, the gown they gave her, covered in blood, lying on a gurney. I went to a nurse and asked if they could change it. She said, yes…but then disappeared, I finally went on my own, got another, and helped this poor woman change. No one said anything.

    I applaud you for helping your friend.

    Yes, let’s drink to that.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. We have two hospitals in our area. One if you turn right at the end of our road and one if you turn left. The difference in the ERs is dramatic. I took Dad to one to the right, he was having chest pains and difficulty breathing. They left him sit in the waiting room for ten minutes, then took him back to a room where a doctor listened to his heart then left. A while later a technician came in and took blood. They left us alone for forty-five more minutes before someone came in and hooked him up to machines and decided that he was having problems with his heart. I was so happy when they sent him upstairs and an excellent nursing staff jumped into action.
    I took a friend to the hospital on the left. She was having the same symptoms. She was in a bed, her clothes were in a bag, she was hooked up to machines, and they were drawing blood all within five minutes of entering the emergency room. During that time, the staff was also getting all of her information from me. She was out of that room ten minutes later and on her way to have a heart cath which saved her life.
    Needless to say, from now on when we need the emergency room we will turn left.

    Liked by 2 people

    • We have 3 in our area. There used to be a “for profit” one and that had the best ER for everything but heart issues. The one I went to has great equipment and docs and the ER staff were quick to check the serious conditions. It was a quirky incident that so far no one has any idea what the cause was. I have had friends with really bad cuts that sat for 6 hours and that’s not all that unusual.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. No sex in the hospital?! I don’t believe it. (My Dr. Sis says she believes it.)

    When I was younger, I went to the ER quite a bit. Dog bite, hand through a glass window, appendectomy, concussion, and cat bites. Now I just drive my husband when he inevitably slices himself up in the kitchen. I bring books, because you’re right, it can take hours.

    Liked by 2 people

  11. ER’s are really fun places aren’t they. I truly enjoyed your description. I had to go a couple weeks ago from horrible abdominal pains from the flu. The beeping in that tiny room mixed with other beeps from rooms was horrible. As I was coming out from under some pain meds the beeping made me think of McDonald’s during a rush hour, but I couldn’t smell any fries.

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  12. Oh this had me shaking my head in agreement! I have visited ER’S far too often and yup would rather hang out at just about anywhere!
    Glad your friend is OK, and hope you can stay away from ER’s for awhile.
    The only ER I want to see is the show 🙂 We have all the seasons on DVD. Loved that show.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. I have had a ton of ER visits with my husband. I usually bring a book/my iPad, my charging cord, coloring books, crocheting, some snack bars. I worked in the medical profession all my life so I know what questions to ask and fortunately, now most rooms have white boards on which they write the names of the doctors and nurses who are attending. Most of the time they administer pain meds which puts my husband to sleep so…I consider it a vacation because I have no responsibilities at that point 🙂

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  14. Try waiting in the ER to see a doc for a 5-day migraine and sitting next to a ‘Chatty Cathy’ the entire time. No other seats available, the waiting room full for my six-hour wait and this nitwit won’t shut her trap. I almost kissed the nurse when my name was finally called! Chatty Cathy was probably searching for her next victim!

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    • I can’t imagine being sick and waiting there. It was bad enough not being sick and waiting. Our local ER has horrendous stories of 6 hour waits for a bleeding wound (considered non life threatening). There were several small kids in the waiting room. They were not happy and they were sick.

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  15. ERs are a learning experiences. The last time I was in one my husband had sprained his ankle while mowing the yard. We waited for hours to see a doc. My butt is still sore from sitting on the uncomfortable guest chair. But, getting to a point that you’ll appreciate, there was a therapy dog in the ER who made the rounds, allowing us to pet and chat with him. That made the experience better.

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    • That would have been wonderful but alas…no animals of any sort. My friend went in by ambulance with an unknown event so he was seen quickly but there was still a lot of waiting around after the initial tests.

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  16. Hadn’t occurred to me before, but you’re quite right: every time I’ve had to go to an ER, somebody or other tells me to “hang out” while I wait for next steps. Huh.

    Margaritas would be a definite improvement in the atmosphere. I’d even accept a margarita machine that BEEPED…

    Liked by 1 person

  17. ERs are not a lot of fun but I have to say I have had mostly good experiences there… as in I was taken in quickly and taken care of very well. First time 2005 which resulted in a cardiac stent on a July 4th weekend and just last August for a kidney stone. We spent Sunday in the ER with CH’s Mom who had fallen. She is doing well but is going to have a long recuperation with her back. We spent a whole day in the ER with his Mom in November when she had an allergic reaction to blood pressure meds… scary. So nice of you to stay with your friend. I am a firm believer of not leaving anyBODY you love or care about alone because the Patient can’t remember a dang thing that they tell you and you need someBODY to help remember all that goes on and answer questions. The End! And I have never seen anything of interest in the supply closet!

    Liked by 1 person

    • The patient always needs an advocate. I was the one who demanded the bathroom run. I had trouble remembering things (like doctor names). I can’t imagine being truly sick and remembering anything at all. The truly important things were timely. The less important, not so much.

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  18. When my dad retired, he became hooked on General Hospital, where the doctors and nurses seemed to always be drinking at the restaurant across the street. He made it very clear that if were ever to go into the hospital it could not be near a facility with a bar.

    Liked by 2 people

  19. it’s surprising to see the difference between tv and reality… and while they push some buttons in tv and can see our whole body in 3d on a big screen, the dogtors here still use wooden sticks to look in your mouth :O) my wildest visit was a couple of years ago… I cut off a part of my thumb and went to er… there was not one soul, so I thought they maybe are busy with rescuing lives or something like that. I parked my butt in the waiting room and waited silent and patiently for 90 minutes… then I saw a nurse… I sad hello? and she nearly jumped on the ceiling with shock… she excused and said they all sit outside to get some sun and she hasn’t seen me entering the building….what a glorious country we are where nothing happened that sunday, eggs-cept my halved thumb :o) I had two dogtors who tried to glue the removed piece back and who wasted two packs of glue what my stingy insurance refused to pay…

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