As I sat cross-legged, eating ice chips on my gurney in the emergency room last night I thought, “Who are these wonderful people that bring me everything I could possibly need during my time of distress?” Well, health professionals obviously but I felt they were a little something more than that. That was right after a nurse and draped a blanket around my shoulders and brought me a slurry of medicine for my unruly stomach. She told me it was a cocktail of Mylanta, Zantac an analgesic and a numbing medicine that would take away some of the pain. She also told me it tasted horrible.
“Mint Julip?”, I said. She laughed and said, “I wish.”
She was right. It was horrible but I felt better after I had finished it.
From my room I could look around the privacy curtain and through the windows to see a large plasma screen hung on the adjacent wall with a spreadsheet displaying on it. I could see my initials after the “Room Four” row and more initials for the other rooms in the ER. There were five other patients in that night. I thought it was remarkable since it was 2 AM, Sunday morning. An hour later there were only two of us on the spreadsheet.
A security guard milled around aimlessly for awhile occasionally looking over his shoulder. The nurses stood around a computer monitor and laughed loudly. Orderlies tried to nap on the over-sized plush chair in the waiting room. I think they were orderlies.
My doctor was a man in his late twenties. His manner was business-like at first. He went through all the possible illicit drugs I could be using during my interview with him. I answered “no” to all of them. He seemed to soften after that was out of the way.
At the end of my three hours in the emergency room he diagnosed me with viral gastro-enteritis. Fancy for the stomach flu. He said we could do more testing but he was quite sure this was it and in the course of a couple days I would feel better. The intense pain I felt was gas built up from using way too much Imodium that I had taken to stop he acute diarrhea I had been suffering from the last couple of days.
He leaned back on the counter and looked up and said, “You know, sometimes you just got to sh- shh- shhh.. it out. Actually, I’m not going to say that. Imodium is more for a car trip. Like, if you need to go somewhere. You should never use it three days in a row.”
Leaving the room, he stopped and patted me on the back and wished me well.
I’m on a diet of light foods for the next couple of days. It’s driving me nuts. I have a queue of leftovers from beautiful meals I could not partake in over the weekend. They wait for me in the refrigerator.
And I’m OK with that. Still though, it’s funny how it all makes me feel strangely exiled from everyone else.