By Monte Lazarus
It appears that there are two primary ways to be admitted to a hospital’s emergency room, whether for or against your own desires. The first, easiest, and probably most expensive, is by ambulance. This may be the result of a sudden, serious physical problem, an accident, or even an assault by someone’s angry spouse. The latter is documented each day in the police beat section of local newspapers. The second means is much slower. That is by being foolish enough to drive yourself, or by having a spouse, friend or enemy take you in.
If you arrive by ambulance you can expect to be placed on a cot (bed?) in a cubicle in the E.R. There you will be poked and prodded, asked many questions, visited by many people in white jackets, including a few with stethoscopes.
The real fun is when you just drop in unannounced. That’s when registration is tougher than getting into an Ivy League School. You, if you’re able to respond coherently, or you and your accomplice go into the waiting room. There, in the presence of other sad cases, you sit or lie impatiently counting clicks of the inaccurate clock. It clearly shows the time moving much too rapidly. Finally, the moment arrives. A nice lady calls your name, and the interrogation begins. You (or your companion) are asked to answer about 14 pages of important questions. They need your name, address, date of birth, social security number, telephone number, e-mail address, mother’s maiden name, dog’s middle name (back to the end of the line if you do not have a dog or equivalent pet), emergency contact, medical history (including for men the date of your last pregnancy), name and address of doctor(s), favorite professional football team and a few less important questions.
If you pass the exam you get a similar cot (bed?) to the ambulance patient who has been lying in his, her or its similar bed (cot?) for about five hours. Sometimes, as happened to me in SanFrancisco and Collier County, you are in a cubicle next to a junkie and/or non-recovering alcoholic. There is no entertainment value in that…although in San Francisco I was the subject of much attention, sweet treatment and apparent adoration of every E.R. nurse. No, it wasn’t my personality and certainly not my good looks; it was because out of 15 E.R. patients I was the only one not on drugs. I have witnesses.
In truth, Collier County hospitals dealt with me very well. The serious looking doctors seemed to know their stuff; the nurses were good at sticking all sorts of things into my arms; and the transporters moved my gurney as well as any NASCAR driver. In a reasonable amount of time they move you to a real room and the medical care intensifies.
Then, there’s the food. That’s another complete story.