02 September 2010

Hippocratic Orkos

I know one location where people have to be and every single person does not want to be there.  There are hacking coughs, snotty children running amok, and wheezing seniors.

Yes, the dreaded Emergency Waiting Room.  I suspect it is modeled after Purgatory.

As I have spent the past few weeks visiting recovering relatives and attending to my own health, I can't help but notice the SAME patrons are always in the ER ward:

Bored-With-It-All Check-In Technician (aka receptionist)
This person hates the job and rather be checking Facebook then signing you in.  Everything you ask is wrong, you don't know what you are doing, you are an infant and this person will very reluctantly change your soiled diaper.  Why don't you have your insurance card ready?  You don't have insurance, you say?  Watch this person take ten minutes to track down the 'appropriate paperwork.'  The cool plastic bracelets they provide are usually arranged on your wrist to catch the most hair possible in the adhesive side.  Those envelope openers are looking pretty inviting to this person's carotid artery right now.

Triage Terror
This worker is all about QUANTITY over QUALITY.  If it weren't for that pesky HIPAA law, there would be three to four sick patients in the triage room at once.  I personally can't stand how they stuff a thermometer in my mouth (without buying me dinner first), squeeze my arms to bits with an electronic sphygmomanometer, jamming a pulse oximeter on my index finger and then expect me to explain in minute detail why I am in this hellhole in the first place.  A few scribbled notes later, and I'm probably put down for a lobotomy.  Next!

Decrepit Senior
Seriously, imagine Fawkes the phoenix moments before his cyclic death in front of Harry Potter.  That's what this patient looks and acts like, ready to keel over at any second.  Their death rattle reverberates off every surface, and each ragged breath seems to be the last (it never is, NEVER).  Usually in a wheelchair, the expert levels have their own motorized ones.  I just want take the threadbare blanket draped over their knees and smother them until they stop squirming.  Population control, right?

Ghetto Mobile Girl
You know the one: whether she is country hick, Alaskan native, or straight up out of the projects. She can't stand being alone waiting to be seen for another blood sample (read: STD) or needs an exam to garter more 'pills' for her 'condition.' Therefore, doesn't turn her ringer off (LIKE A CONSIDERATE PERSON) and has the most annoying ring and message tones (I do not want to hear a tinny rendition of 'Blame It On the Alcohol' while I am waiting to be seen for an illness every thirty seconds, put that shit on vibrate). Has loud conversations with her 'baby' and threatens to shoot him if he ever forgets her racial background again. Plays guessing games and throws out sordid details of the bedroom life for everyone to hear. Also drops F*bombs for good effect. For the love of Raptor Jesus, leave your phone at home (not in a car, since you probably had to walk or take a cab here).

Frequent Flier
This one knows the right phrases to use and which hospital on the circuit hasn't been visited in awhile.  Their bag clinks with empties.  Yes, I'm talking pill poppers.  Seems to be a bit twitchy and eyes the exits, planning an escape route in case social services comes to call.  Jumps into your conversation when you explain various aches and pains, and has a vocabulary existing entirely of words ending in -adone, -ine, -anil, -amine, and -azine.

Black Plague Incubus
This one could either be a child or adult.  Somehow seems to spreading the Ebola virus and irritable bowel syndrome systematically.  Possibly leaking fluids from every orifice and don't know products like handkerchiefs or facial tissue exist.  They lean over you to grab a well-worn magazine (don't they know those mags are INFESTED with sick people germs?)(they probably don't care)(they probably put the germs there in the first place) or rub their runny noses on your pant legs.  The cough emanating from this soul is enough to shake dust from the air circulation vents, and the sneezes are like micro-hurricanes sweeping into your lungs.

Granola Mac Couple
He's wearing Tivas, she probably drives a Subaru made out of recycled plastic bags.  Smells strongly of patchouli.  They both have their iPhones out with one earbud in and are probably researching new causes to join on Facebook.  Neither looks up or even at each other.  Sighs loudly as their name isn't called to see the doctor, because there are wild animals in the zoo that need to be set free soon.

Perky P.A.
The one with all the power, can command the attention of the room.  A pin drop could be heard as soon as the P.A. walks into the area with an important looking clipboard.  So damn cheerful their optimism could probably summon unicorns.  Bated breath from every person, hoping their name is called.  The winner and name holder of the chart quickly bounds up, elated to escape the hell behind.  This person probably is Raptor Jesus.


I'm only joking about smothering senior citizens (OR AM I?) but spending two hours in a waiting room with your mother and your aunt is pretty amusing after awhile.  My foot had really been bothering my lately, to the point where I haven't ran in a week and a half.  It was noticeably swollen compared to the other ankle.  I also pinpointed that it started hurting over a month ago and decided that loading myself with Advil every four hours was just a band-aid solution for a bullet hole.

The Physician's assistant who saw me was mid-thirties guy who wanted the life history of my right foot.  I told him it was pretty much that same as the rest of my body, except for the brief sabbatical into drug use and subsequent NA meetings / rehab after appearing all over the tabloids as RIGHT SWIFT FOOT GONE WILD!  LEFT SWIFT 'GROWS BUNIONS OVER HEARTACHE'.  It felt awkward to have another dude basically massaging my foot, even though I wasn't paying this time and it actually hurt (that's what she said).

The PA ordered an X-ray, which was stellar.  They have this motorized table one lays on, which had an outline for the target scanning and looked like a huge whiteboard with a pillow.  The radiologist also wanted to know what had happened, so I saved myself the trouble and wrote down the link to Right Foot's leaked sex tape site.  (Side note: what is the deal with every hospital worker wanting to know what you are doing there, morbid curiosity?)  He told me to take off my zip hoodie, remove my flip flops, and make myself comfortable.  It was like I was at a strip club!

Best part of the X-ray?  I expected to use the heavy lead vests one is usually provided.  Not so with this one.  He plopped a flat rectangle shaped covering over my crotch.  That's what I'm talkin' about!  Save the meat and potatoes from radiation, who gives a crap about your internal organs?

Long story short, there are no fractures but I have torn some medial ligaments.  By trying to power through and ignoring my foot injury by running two or more miles every day, I actually ended up hurting myself worse.  Ligaments never heal the same again, due the low blood flow.  He told me I had to be on bedrest for three to four weeks.  WEEKS!  Fatville, here I come.  On the upside, I was prescribed some luxurious lifesavers that rhyme with dir-co-set and I have this new sexy foot adornment.

I am gonna get so much tail with this new apparatus.


  1. You, me and that sexy shoe will hit the streets and if it doesn't get you laid I'm the worst wingwoman on the planet. Girls love a guy who is damaged.

    Bonus, you'll be blogging like crazy. Good for me.

  2. Poor thing...but it's true. ER's suck. I spend far more time there than I need to with my students. Luckily we haven't had a trip there yet, but we're only 5 days into the semester. 9 visits since I started working here in June.

  3. @Denise: It's a deal!

    @Casey: Thank you, I really enjoying writing it.

    @Geo: I totally forgot that you practically live there, do you see these people too?

  4. I've never had to go to the ER, but you sound just like Scrubs! I keep reminding him that he's not seeing these people at their best since 1. nobody likes being sick and 2. nobody likes hospitals. I try to remind him to have a little more patience/sympathy (except for the pill poppers. They're just chancers).