Friday, November 18, 2005

Another trip to Emerg

Chest pains. 911. Sirens. Kitchen full of police, firemen, EMS workers in black uniforms, big bags of medical gear on the kitchen floor, iv's in Bob's arm, blood on the floor, wrappers and syringes left in the blood. Bob's face is pale, but his eyes are alert, watching everything going on around him. That's Bob for you, trying to experience everything no matter how bad. Grist for the mill of consciousness. Maybe for the mill of writing. Freefalling, writing without a parachute, going into the unknown, into the next experience, not knowing what will happen at the hospital or what he will write next. Until it happens. Living in the moment.

Eleven hours in Emerg. Blood tests. Doctors hustling from bed to bed. Girl with allergic reaction, pumped full of benadryl, very sleepy. Man having chest pains in the next cubicle. Man two cubicles down, more chest pains.

Three level 1 emergencies come in by ambulance.

It's a bad day, one nurse says to the other. We can't even take breaks, says a third.

A white haired woman in Room 1 cannot be revived. The chaplain comes, stands outside the room. No family is with her. She lies on a gurney, intubated, body covered with a white sheet. Face not covered. Yet.

They rush another woman in, a younger woman with smoke inhalation, throat coated with soot, burns on her chest. She moans and says many words in a strange language. Later she is quiet. Wheeled off to ICU.

The last level 1 is an older man. He is unconscious. Also wheeled off to ICU.

The walls in Emerg are blue and green. Pale colours, meant to soothe. They should be magenta, or fuscia, or purple or canary yellow. Something to lift the spirits. To breathe life into the patients who are losing theirs.

Bob's blue hospital gown has a number printed on the front. All I can think of everytime I look at the number is PRISONER.

I ask Bob if he'd like me to buy him a magazine. But Bob needs nothing. No book, no hobby. He is fascinated by every beep on the monitor, by his latest blood pressure reading, by the stories unfolding around him. When something interesting is happening that he can't see, I am his emissary. He sends me out to snoop around, come back and tell him what they are doing to the patient in bed 4.

I need to keep busy. Co-pilot stress syndrome. I resolve to bring my laptop next time. And my needlepoint. And a book. And a backrest for the horrid chair that I remember from last time. And the time before. And the time before that. I will pack a little kit bag, like pregnant women do, and keep it in my closet so I will just have to pick it up and go out the door the next time the ambulance comes for Bob.

Bob is in Bed 7. It his first time in Bed 7. Maybe it's a sign. Seven is a lucky number, I tell him. He doesn't hear me, the oxygen makes too much noise. And the monitor is beeping again.

I sit on the horrid chair and contemplate. Emerg... is that like emerging? Feels more like freefalling. Or maybe a bit of both.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I, too, have spent a lot of time in emerg in the past while - but my experience has been different. I try to advocate on Sam's behalf to the nurses - we all know the doctor will give her morphine when he sees her, but the rules state we've got to wait - it is excruciating - time ticks into hours - I become the "bad guy" in the ER, I see it in their eyes, their body language, the nurses avoiding me, even openly angry with me because I ask once again when Sam'll see a doctor, when she'll get pain killers- meanwhile, the kid is writhing in pain. Six hours we've waited on occasion. Once on Mother's Day - a horrifying and exhausting experience.