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.