Thursday, January 20, 2011

drama in the ER (lyn)

I am supposed to be in Boston today with M to celebrate V’s big surprise birthday luncheon, but I’ve been in bed since Saturday, so I cannot go.  Today is the first day in five that I’ve woken up without a sore throat.  I’m finally ready to stop being sick.

I get a call from Shari around 11 that Zelia is in the Emergency Room at Mt. Sinai.  Apparently she got there last night in excruciating pain from a kidney stone.  Shari arrives around noon and I get there about a half hour later. 

Behind the doors of the ER, it looks like a third world country.  Cots with moaning patients crisscross the large room in every direction.  Apparently there aren’t enough available beds in the hospital, so patients waiting to be admitted are overflowing in the ER.  We are told that no guests are allowed.  Shari tells the guard that we have to go in.  “I’m her sister-in-law (she isn’t) and she needs me to interpret for her as she doesn’t speak any English (she does).”  The guard buys this logic, but then points at me and says, “What about her?  You don’t need two to translate do you?”  Shari and I continue to walk with an arrogance that suggests, “Of course you do.”  The guard gives up. 

You really need an advocate in these situations.  Poor Zelia is in no condition to fight for herself.  But she is lucky; Shari is born for this role.  Shari wins extra favors from Robert, the surly nurse, by totally winning him over with her charm.  She knows exactly what to ask for, when to ask for it, and how to use whatever it is that is being asked for.  She is the person you want in an emergency.  One of the nurses asks me if Shari is a nurse.  She could easily be mistaken for one, despite her non-nurse attire.

By late afternoon, I realize I haven’t eaten all day.  I am glad I’d grabbed a Fiber One Bar before leaving the house.  It is all the nourishment I need.  Hospitals are pretty good appetite-suppressors. 

Around six, Zelia is moved to a room, and soon after, her two kids come by.  She’ll spend the night in the hospital, but should be home tomorrow.  Last night Zelia went to bed feeling fine.  She awakes with extreme stomach pain, and the next 36 hours are spent in a hospital.  This story will end happily, but still, it scares me how quickly life can change.

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