Paul's Heart

Life As A Dad, And A Survivor

A Night In The ER

Earlier this week, I spent an evening at our local hospital Emergency Room with Wendy.  Between the two of us and our health issues, this is just all too frequent of an occurrence.  I believe that not a whole lot of people have a true appreciation or even know what a trauma unit goes through during their shifts, the different dangers they are exposed to, and the various behaviors that they must tolerate.

A bad response to the flu shot or antibiotic she had also just been given, flared up her issue with Fibromyalgia.  She is on meds to manage it, but every so often, she must deal with these flare-ups.  This particular flare-up was so severe, I watched her literally curl up, not just her torse, but her arms, legs, hands, feet, and fingers being crushed by an uncontrollable cramping.

I rushed her to the ER where they began the process of trying to get her body to relax and nothing seemed to work.  After about three hours, they finally found something that would allow her body to relax.  I figured that the hospital would not admit her for this.  I knew that they would not look to treat her for her Fibromyalgia.  The unit would just try to get her symptoms to settle down and send her home.  We have been through this drill before.

There is not alot for a spouse to do while waiting for recovery.  So as I am prone to do, I like to watch, nothing gory mind you.  I am way too squeamish for that, but rather ativity.  My subject tonight, the ER.  I must offer this disclaimer, this was a Tuesday night at 10:00 and I had not seen sleep since Monday morning.  I had to do something to stay awake.

There is a lot of buzz in an Emergency Room, There are all kinds of employees working as a team, not sure of all their roles but we knew our nurse, tech, and doctor.  But there were plenty of other people around too.  In another hour, several would go home, others would come to work in their place so if we needed any kind of comfort, now would be the time to do it.  On-coming shifts usually need some briefing time to gather information of activity in their unit.

There are portable machines being pushed around.  There are technicians walking around with white plastic baskets carrying phlebotomy supplies (these people are blood suckers).  My attention now turns to the other rooms in the unit, or those being wheeled in.

One elderly lady who came in was covered in bleach.  It was eleven o’clock at night and this woman who had to be well over 80 was cleaning.  But she was covered in bleach.  The strength of the chlorine fumes was staggering.  She had fallen and it  had not appeared that she had broken anything, just a decent bump on the noggin.  She had no idea what she was doing there and then became curious why she was getting the bath in bed?  It was really quite sad as the nurses asked the woman all kinds of elementary questions or simple recall questions like, “do you know where you are right now?” or “do you know what year this is?”

Moments later a call comes over the hospital radio.  A patient is coming in via ambulance from an alcohol ovderdose.  This obviously will not be pleasant.  The man is roughly my age, drank an entire bottle of tequila.  To make matters worse, he was skitzophrenic.  He was quiet as they rolled this tall man into the room.  A swarm of personnel followed into the room, I am sure part of it was protocol, the other part curiosity.  All I know is that all the attention that Wendy had been getting is now gone over to those two rooms.  This was going to be a long night.

It was not the elderly patient who was hard of hearing, it was the drunk.  As they started to access the intoxicated giant, he let out this loud groan/grumble as if some sort of warning, followed by several curse words which amounted to “what is happening, please stop, get off me!”  Just then, every person in the ER swarmed on room 21, including our doctor.  None of them would be able to restrain this guy if he got up and charged out of his room.  And then where to?  They gain control of the situation and calm the guy down and disperse.

In comes another elderly person, another fall.  It is 2am on a Wednesday morning.  What the hell are these people doing at this hour to end up here in the ER?  I could see a seizure or perhaps a heart attack, but all of these people were doing something that could have probably been put off until daylight, or in at least one case, not done at all.  I am not being judgemental at all, but the drunk was actually scheduled for surgery just a few hours later.  The doctor advised the patient, it might be best to delay that.

Just then, another call comes in over the hospital radio.  This time it is an alcoholic going through withdrawals.  Arrival five minutes.  And through the doors comes a middle aged man (though because of the alcoholism probably made him look older than he actually was) with his hands behind his back.  Oh wait, his hands were handcuffed.  And he was escorted by a police officer.

And then there was Wendy, who at 2:15am, had finally drifted off to sleep.  But her body had settled down at this point.  Which is good, no electrical current, no overdose,  Let’s go home.

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