Hunterdad left a long comment about squirming in agony with a back out of whack, looking for the fucking morphine guy, while people using the ER for their primary care got seen before him. As a fellow back cripple: been there, done that. The worst was when I was vacationing in Vegas, I had a total blow out. It was radiating down my leg coupled with an egg sized muscle spasm. When I finally saw the doctor, he treated me like a drug seeker and gave me a scrip for ten 5mg valiums.
"What the fuck? Where's the fucking flexeril and skelaxin, motherfucker? These might as well be PEZ. Am I supposed to smoke them? Do you not see the giant fucking muscle spasm? Look! I'm pushing it around with my fingers. Ahhhhhhhh! Am I putting this on? Ahhhhh! I'm a freak! Ahhhhh! Yes. I'm seeking drugs. Help me, motherfucker! Give me fucking drugs!"
The last five years I lived in Texas, I lived way the fuck out in the country, 59 miles north of Austin. The nearest ER was about 40 miles away from my house (I was ten miles off of the highway) in Temple, Texas. It had a huge, badass research hospital, Scott & White.
My son was having trouble breathing. He was 18 months old. My wife worked in neonatal intensive care as an RN. She took one look at him:
"See how his skin pulls in between his ribs when he breathes? Listen to his chest (whipping out stethoscope). He has a constricted airway. He's muscling for every breath. When he becomes exhausted, his respiration will crash. If he goes to sleep, his respiration might crash. He needs to go to the ER."
She had to go in to Austin to work at her hospital. Our insurance didn't cover that hospital (greatest healthcare system in the world, motherfuckers!) so my son and I had to go to Scott & White in Temple, Texas.
Temple, Texas is where I taught. It's kind of a hellhole. It's got a lot going for it. Don't get me wrong. A lot of good people. But yeah. Just down the street from Waco. Hellhole.
The ER was jam-packed. Since my baby wasn't in obvious distress, we sat there from 7pm until midnight. I tried to explain to the triage nurse what my wife had said. I'm a smart guy. I know my fucking science. I'm no nurse. I sounded fucking retarded:
"See uhh... rib skin... "
It has a hellish five hours.
Every time the door opened, I could hear the helicopter taking off or landing. Presumably dropping off some asshole with a spike through his head every ten minutes.
A high school football player with a badly broken arm, shoulder pads still on, went into shock in the seat next to us:
"No. Really. I'm okay." (there's a second elbow on his right arm between the proper elbow and the wrist).
Ten minutes later:
"Is it cold in here? I sure could use a blanket."
Two minutes later
"Ahhhhhh! Where the fuck am I? What the fuck is wrong with my arm?" (Starts to seize)
All I can think is that's one more motherfucker getting triaged in front of me. He'd hardly even been there an hour.
There's an old man in a wheelchair with an emisis basin in his lap emitting deep, soulfull gouts of vomitus that land, more or less, into the almost overflowing basin. I watch with horrid fasination as the old man, his whole body twisting with the passion of his puking first pisses and then shits his pants. The whole time my slowly asphyxiating son bounces in my lap and pulls at my face. Having the time of his life. Daddy is totally paying attention to him.
There's a man, shot by police, that is handcuffed to a bench on the other side of the double doors that lead into the land of proper treatment. Every time the doors would open he would spew a shreiking rant of profanity at the top of his lungs. The worst part is he was just saying the same thing over and over. I don't even remember what it was, but I recall he had a problem with Mexicans.
At midnight, the ER was more crowded than at any time in the last five hours. My son was still playing. I was running out of diapers. I took him home. I put him into his crib. I sat down next to him, reading a book to keep an eye on him. He fell asleep in minutes. His respiration crashed.
He turned blue.
I woke him up. He made a terrible noise. Weird. Bagpipey, almost. He was breathing. More or less. His color got better. Sort of.
911? There's no ambulance in Salado, Texas. I hear horror stories about how Scott & White ambulances take over an hour to get to Salado. I make a command decision. I stuff him in his car seat and Grand Theft Auto him to the ER. I was going 120 mph (in an Accord, motherfuckers!) the whole way there. I was two wheeling it around corners.
I ran in to the ER and right up to the triage nurse, interrupting her assessment of another patient, holding a blue baby out in front of me that's making bagpipe noises.
Even with our sometimes subpar healthcare system, a blue bagpipe baby will get you seen by a doctor lickety-split. He was on a nebulizer in less than five minutes. He got admitted so I didn't even have to pay for the ER visit. Lucky me.