Wednesday, September 5, 2012
Photo: Not Dr. Redhead. A redhead from everydayhealth.com
So I'm at the emergency room the other day, never mind when--and, actually, I'd been there two days before that, too, but I needed to go back for more bloodwork--and despite bringing two books with me, I was captivated by the following things:
--Both times I went, two days apart, I got very thin, pretty doctors, a brunette and a redhead. (The redhead was especially pretty, and I'm not usually one for redheads.) And they were outstanding doctors, too, very thorough, very good at listening and explaining, very steadfast and in-charge. I'm not just saying that to sound politically-correct, either. Almost makes me want to get really sick again soon. Almost.
--Medical care has undergone some serious transformations since I was last in an emergency room. The one I went to had the worst reputation, and deservedly so, as someone actually died in the waiting room about six years ago. I'd been there while younger (and poor) and I'd waited five, six, seven hours to get waited on. These two times, no wait. (When I asked how long the wait was, the girl said, "There's no waiting here." I was so surprised, I couldn't stop from blurting, "No wait? Since when?")
--I soon learned that "No waiting" was a relative term. There's no waiting in the waiting room, but you'll wait awhile in the receiving room, behind the curtain thing. But this is still nothing compared to the beard-growing wait it used to be. Obviously, the death in this emergency room made them get volunteers (the second time, there were two older ladies smiling and preening at me the whole time; the smiles were so wide it was sorta weird. I mean, don't they see illness, injuries and blood all the time? What the hell do they have to smile about? Customer service, I know, I know.) that would separate the life-and-death cases from the not-so-much. I'll bet the dying lady from years ago would've been escorted right in--and wheeled upstairs rather fast, as I saw last time.
--I kept nodding at the doctor like a damned fool. She could've asked me if my name was Samantha, and I would've kept nodding. "Would you like to strip now and say 'Woof, woof?'" Nod. Nod.
--The employees are like anyplace else: they whine and complain. I listened for several minutes as some guy whined about how nobody's come to escort me to the x-ray. Turns out, it was around the corner from my pod, maybe fifteen feet away. I finally got there about half an hour later. I felt like shouting, "If someone just wants to point me in the right direction..."
--When I was told to put on the johnny for the x-ray, I asked if I could put it on in the x-ray room, as we didn't know how long I'd be waiting. This turned out to be a very wise move on my part, as they had me wait in the PIT (an acronym I also heard them complaining about; it stands for Patients in Transit) for about an hour, and it was FREEZING there. I couldn't imagine sitting there in a johnny all that time. And who wants to sit in a johnny in a waiting room, while tons of regularly-dressed people are milling about? Odd. The lady who told me to get into it I'd already diagnosed as a bit wacky and frazzled, so I didn't hesitate to pull the Jedi Mind Trick on her about the johnny.
--Also, having spent way too much of my life in hospitals, I knew that they rarely insist on the johnny when in the x-ray room. I was correct here with that, too. When I got in the room, the lady just asked me to take off my shirt. I don't think she even knew I was carrying the johnny amongst my stuff. When she was done, I put my shirt on and asked if she wanted me to leave the johnny there, and she said, "Oh, yeah. Ummm...Sure." And the pretty girl who led me in had a dragon on the back of her thin neck. And she didn't know how to slide the background up and down. I moved it for her a couple of times.
--Then, back to The Pit for awhile.
--While in The Pit again, this one guy kept babbling at me as I was clearly reading. (I thought of Holden Caulfield.) Turns out, he'd somehow gotten something metallic in his index finger, which had swelled to the size of a sausage. Ewwwwwwww!!! He said he'd heard they were getting a hand expert in for him. Then he laughed hysterically at something I said about the show that was on, and then spoke at the show, in bitter, angry, unfunny tones, until he realized I was ignoring him. Finally he laughed at himself and shut up.
--Another guy waited with me for awhile, but didn't say much. But when I waited for my discharge papers at the end (which was quite a wait both times, though the stuff was the same), he talked up a storm. He babbled about how he was sorry that he was called in front of me for the x-ray, even though I'd been waiting there much longer (the thin-necked dragon girl apologized, too; if she hadn't mentioned it, I wouldn't have noticed, as I was feverish, and reading, and otherwise distracted), and about how he was sorry about how much he mentioned that the cops had busted his fingers (he wore a large, bulky half-arm cast that covered most of his hand, but for two fingers, which jutted out like confused, recently-hatched birds), but that he kept mentioning it because he wanted it in the paperwork, so that when he went to the courtroom, it'd be in the paperwork, and how he respected the older, professional cops, but that the younger cops these days are too violent, and how he tries to stop drinking, but...I really wanted to ask him what he'd gotten arrested for, but I simply didn't want to engage him more than he was engaging himself. Just didn't want to get involved. But it's nice to see that even violent, drunken offenders who fight with cops have the decency to apologize for cutting you in the x-ray line.
--When the red-headed doctor called me into her office to explain the diagnosis, I felt special. I mean, everyone else got talked to in The Pit, or in their curtained cell. I got brought to her office! And it was about the size of a shoebox. When she smiled at me, which was often, I was happy. Can I get a prescription for that instead?
--$100 co-pay EACH time. Apparently the drastic transformation in health care isn't cheap.
--And another thing I noticed: lots of "providers," lots of "assistants," and lots of "volunteers." Is there a doctor in the house? I mean, besides Dr. Redhead, of course.
--As I was paying, a woman came out, strapped to a huge, tall, thick-metal, yellow rolling bed, which looked like the bed version of the thing Sigourney Weaver strapped herself into at the end of Aliens. The woman in that bed was grunting and groaning like a zombie with appendicitis, and her eyes were rolling back into her head. The five or six people pushing her in that thing all looked worried and shocked.
--Upon seeing this, I said to the woman behind the counter, "She must've just gotten her co-pay bill, too." I received no response to this at all, not even a GFY smile or an eye-roll. But I thought it was pretty funny. The timing was perfect, too, I assure you. But her job is hard, and I'm sure she sees a lot of scary things.
--I made it a point to notice: every male employee (and quite a few of the male patients) went out of their way to talk to Dr. Redhead. The pretty girl with the thin neck and dragon tattoo just gave these guys a little smile as she walked by, never once stopping to talk to any of them, though they were clearly trying to engage her in conversation. You could tell that she very much enjoyed doing this. She sort of sashayed when she walked. One guy in green scrubs practically invited himself into Dr. Redhead's kitchen. He was the fifth one to ask her where she'd been lately, hadn't seen her around. (She'd been to a Boston hospital and two other Rhode Island ones.) When she took me into her office, I felt like asking her where she'd been, hadn't seen her around lately.
--A special shout-out to one of my doctors, who undoubtedly has better things to do than read this, but I'll post it anyway. This kind man, whom I've known literally all my life, gave me a follow-up call tonight. From his office. Just past 7 p.m. Now that's good health care.
--Total time at the emergency room ER on the second day: Three hours. That's really good. I got received; I spoke to two doctors (the follow-up guy was a mystery this time and last time); I got listened to; I got treated with respect and intelligence (though I got the impression once that Dr. Redhead was lightly mocking me, but this was, of course, perfectly fine, as she smiled a few times, and laughed, and I don't even want to imagine what stupid expression I had on my face); I got lots of bloodwork done; I talked to a weirdo and a criminal, and I saw a woman have a psychotic break; I saw two very pretty women; I got apologized to by a cop-beating guy with multi-colored hair; I got off a couple of good one-liners, of which only one was laughed at, by the annoying guy with the sausage-swollen finger; I got lots of blog material; I got a cheap scrip that's working fine, without the nasty after-effects of the previous one (Don't go there.); and I essentially got my groove back. What else can you ask for?
--Woof, woof. Nod. Nod.