Chitchat and the occasional in-depth analysis about fiber, knitting, spinning, crochet, cooking, feminism, self-image, and a modicum of personal blathering.

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Tuesday, February 05, 2008

ER is nothing like you see on television.

Pulling up to the emergency room of the largest and supposedly best hospital in the area should engender a sense of comfort and hope in most sick or broken people. Unfortunately, that was not the case for me. The ride from Forbes to UPMC was mostly uneventful except for my feet dangling off the stretcher. Once the guys got me there, though, it was a slightly different story. Apparently some of the stretchers don't go with some of the vans, and the wheels on the stretcher got hung up on the bumper of the van, nearly dumping me out into the road. One attendant literally screamed for help from anyone passing by and a security guard came over to lend a hand, but I was terrified out of my wits and considering what came later, it's a damn good thing they didn't dump me.

They got me inside without further ado and left me in the hands of UPMC's emergency room. First I was wheeled to a room with four other beds in it. It smelled very strongly of poo. They moved me almost immediately to a non-poo smelling room where NFL network was showing on a television in the corner. I notified the nurse, without much hope, that I needed to use a toilet. She helpfully offered a bedpan but I declined, citing the need to attend to my feminine hygiene product. I bravely waited, hoping that before long I'd be able to avail myself of a normal, porcelain flush toilet. (Little did I know that almost three weeks later, such a luxury would still be unknown to me.) All my statistics and contact info were again taken and then, a flurry of activity led to my being moved to the hall near the poo room. There were a great number of alarms and beeping noises and loudspeaker announcements calling for immediate help and weeping relatives being led away by concerned looking staff. I think someone actually died in the poo room during that time frame. I still hadn't been given anything for pain and it was starting to get ahead of me.

I was sent for x-rays. In the x-ray room, I was contorted 100 different ways to get every possible angle on my legs, hips, back, and so on. They wanted to make sure nothing else was broken, I imagine. It hurt more and more every minute, and hurt more and more each time they made me move or turn or twist. I nearly vomited from the pain but imagining the pain of vomiting added to the fact that I already had to pee proved a very effective deterrent. I was taken back to the poo room, now ominously missing one occupant, but mercifully also missing the smell of poo. Directly across from me was a despondent looking young man with a basin and an expression of angst unseen since the late 90s. He periodically threw up into the basin, moaning. Next to me, thankfully beyond a curtain, was what sounded like an older woman begging someone named Tommy to "make it stop, I want to go home, please make the hurting stop" over and over again.

Around that time, Bob arrived. I was glad to see him but he looked worse than me. One of the greatest things about our relationship is how much we are attuned to each other, but it made it difficult for either of us to comfort the other much. We were both very worried, and with reason. I was sent for a CAT scan next, just of the left leg, the one with the fracture. I was getting really tired of moving from the ER bed to various apparatus. Back to the poo room and a nurse kindly gave me a cup of ice chips to suck on. The vomiting young man was still there, but seemed to be doing less vomiting. The Tommy calling lady was gone. An unreasonably young doctor came in to talk to me. The more he talked, the more worried I became. My fracture was bad, very bad. Plates and pins bad. I would be down for the count for some time, three months at a minimum. My need for a bathroom was still there but I was beginning to understand that I wasn't going to see one for a while, there would be no chance of any weight put on the bad leg. I was being admitted to the hospital and would likely be operated on first thing in the morning. Until then, they'd put my leg in a temporary cast. Another improbably young doctor joined the first and in a haze of pain and plaster and heat, my leg was immobilized. And finally, finally I was given pain medication.

It was a wait for a room, so I told Bob to go home and take care of the dogs and I'd let him know what was going on as soon as I knew. Surgery at first opportunity in the morning was all that was known for sure. Some hours went by, in a dilaudid-induced fog, in great pain, and in unknown and unrealized swelling in my damaged leg. Finally, around 2AM, a room became available and I was taken to 10G.

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