A TRIP TO THE EMERGENCY ROOM

I feel my life is an adventure and choose to see the brighter side of life, even when it’s difficult and very challenging. My optimism perks me up, most of the time. And it’s been a bumpy road so far this year. I didn’t plan it that way (of course!), but we all hit the snags which make us stronger and more resilient. I would get a new hip in January and be striding forward easily in  at least 6 weeks–I thought. Nasty complications delayed that process. I was finally beginning to earnestly pursue my mobility, Last Thursday, however, I was starting to see flashing lights and feeling unsteady and dizzy. No pain and even though I had had similar symptoms in the past, this time I was more worried. I might have let the matter rest since I knew it would probably disappear, but I had a house guest (Marla, an old friend from Wheelus High in Tripoli in ’58). Since I was also having trouble forming words or even getting them vocal, she was worried and wanted to call my daughter Heidi to step in, especially since Marla was leaving that morning.

Heidi and I arrived at the Emergency Center at Kaiser Panorama City before 9 a.m. to be checked in, weighed, BP taken, etc. Since I wasn’t exhibiting any dire symptoms, I wasn’t rushed anywhere. Not long after I was wheeled into one of the small rooms off the corridors of the Emergency area. The hallways were cluttered, depending on the action, with portable computers on wheels and all the other machines needed to diagnose and treat incoming cases. Each room also had a small TV on an wall extension and a single window that brought in natural light. I got on the wheeled gurney in the room and was told I could keep on my long pants and shoes on but needed to replace shirt and bra with a back-tied hospital gown. Then I was set up with a blood pressure cuff on left arm and a connection to a stunt to monitor my blood on the right. At least I could lower and raise the gurney when I wanted a change of position. I couldn’t see the monitor behind me on the left very well but it occasionally beeped its presence. It was comfortable and the temperature was cold enough for Heidi’s taste. I needed three extra blankets!

We did a lot of talking in the next 8 hours in-between being wheeled to a CAT Scan, and later in the afternoon, for definitive proof of the admitting doctor and neurologist that it hadn’t been a stroke, provided by an MRI and its jackhammer sounds! We thought we were being released right before noon and planned a nice lunch. We were stuck since MRI machines aren’t ready at short notice. Hunger set in and since lunch was over, they scrounged me a tuna sandwich (as far from gourmet as you can get!) with apple juice, and Heidi found a machine with something better.

What relieved the boredom were the Emergency staff and some of the drama surrounding me. The nurses, male and female were friendly and entertaining and I reached out to them with humorous comments and compliments. Our first encounter was a Latin nurse with a big mustache and bald head. He proudly boasted of his Mexican heritage and when he discovered my birthday was January 1 couldn’t wait to tell me all about his grandmother who had the same birthday and died not long ago at age 105. During the time of Pancho Villa, his mother and her family dug holes to hide from Pancho Villa’s attempts to take over Mexico and even the US. She went on to have nine children.

Across the hall from me another drama unfolded as nurses and staff rolled in a enormously  heavy older woman in a wheelchair who was moaning and screaming in pain. They tried for a long time to lift her onto a gurney but couldn’t. They finally rolled her into the hall and assembled 8 men to transfer her. Then they tried to find the proper pain medication for her many complications (heart disease and diabetes) while she didn’t hesitate making any pain sounds she could. I tend to be a silent sufferer but admired her ability to help herself any way she could. She had family support–husband and grandchildren–at least. I could see a great deal of the drama since my sliding glass door was open and the curtain back. The sound echoed so nothing was completely private.

It was an interesting day, to say the least, but I was delighted that I was healthy and was sent home with advice to take one baby aspirin a day.

Heidi took a selfie of the two of us in the Emergency Room. She has a wry look on her face as she waits patiently.

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