Wednesday, December 17, 2008

ER Visits Have Always Been for Unfortunate Events

I have had 3 to 4 ER visits in my life. I say 3 to 4 because at least 1 of those was at a clinic type ER, but again - emergency care.

Was I bleeding from the eyes? Did I have a fever of 105? Was it a life or death situation? Was I continually evacuating without sign of relief?


Although - except for the bleeding from the eyes - I feel like all the above has been true at some point and I have weathered through one way or the other to finally get over it and make it to my primary care physician or doctor in the area realizing that the last place in the world I would want to be is an ER when I am in that kind of trauma.

But, for what happens to me, where there is a question of emergency, it is for an unfortunate reason.

My first ER trip I barely remember. I was 9 or 10? I had been playing hide and go seek with my cousins within a camper van - it had a pop up bed on the top. So, I crawled out the pop up bed section window, onto the roof of the van and decided to pop back through the passenger side window. On doing this, my hands slipped off the roof and I woke up on my back in the gravel below, bleeding from around my head and my left shoulder hurt badly. So, being disoriented and scared, I began screaming - the whole family ran out and I was taken to my bedroom to figure out what the heck happened. They cleaned up my head, which was just minor scratches and my dad loaded me into the car and we began the long drive to the hospital (being that we were out in the country at my grandparents' farm). The doctor looked me over, said I may have a concussion and to watch me. And, probably a green line fracture in my collar bone, but as long as I was careful, put my arm in a sling for awhile, I should be fine.

Eventually, this trip had a part two - I was roller skating with my friends and fell, landed on my left arm - shoulder went up past my ear (my friends told me with a "wow that was really cool" following) and off again I went - this time I had to wear a brace like football padding around my shoulders for 6 weeks. Hairline fracture on my collarbone and no recess during my school hours.

My next trip was a very short lived one. Was running a relay race in P.E. (7th grade?), slipped, fell, hit my left arm, got up, kept running, finished the race (1st place kiddos) and then noticed my elbow was swollen to the size of a baseball. My mom came to school, picked me up and off to the ER we went. It was a sprang and I got a sling that had an attached ice pack to it. The next day at school the sling kept leaking so I faked some extreme pain and went home to use this ridiculous contraption correctly. And, watched a lot of TV.

The next trip was in college. I had gotten home late from a theatre project and went to sleep in my contacts. The next morning, I got up and tried to remove my contacts so my eyes could get a couple hours rest before I had to take a facilitator test at a ropes course. My left contact, would not come out. After about 20 minutes of pulling, and extreme pain, I drove myself, 1/2 blind to the emergency clinic. I found out that my contact was not in my eye at all. Must have fallen out while I was asleep and I was trying to pull my Corina out. In doing that, I scratched my Corina and ended up with a bandage over my eye for the day and some drops for later. And, I took my test, one-eyed, having to climb ropes, jump off of logs to grab rings in mid-air and change airline cable out, on a telephone pole, at 20 feet. I passed.

Grad school. I was working for the tech crew and we were doing our down time cleaning. There was a closet that needed to be cleaned out. I was reaching up and taking down paint cans and passing them to someone behind me when the whole shelf gave way and WHAM, paint can to the head. I got a little dizzy, but kept on plugging. My supervisor made me go to the NYU ER to make sure I did not have a concussion. I did not and was later awarded the "Heads!" Award at the year end celebration.

Now, let's skip forward to just a mere few days ago. I was putting a cork back on a wine bottle (sober I might add - I had only had one glass of wine). The cork slipped off the rim of the bottle and WHAM, my wrist went into my wine glass sitting next to it. The glass was shattered into small pieces. So, I go to start picking up the pieces of glass. My roommate (Christopher) comes in and says - wait, how much of that is wine and how much of that is you. I looked down at my hands and there is blood all over them and all over the counter. Whoops. So, we patch me up with some new skin and I go to bed. I wake up about 5am to some extreme pain. Tried to go back to sleep and realized - I needed to drag myself to the ER. Christopher had to work, so I just let him know what I was doing and that I would be OK. And, off I went to my first real NY ER experience.

I went to Interfaith Hospital in Brooklyn, about 20 or so blocks from where I live. Sat in one waiting room for a couple of hours, at one point a nurse cleaned my wound and re-bandaged me. There only seemed to be a few people, so I was breathing a sigh of relief. Then, I was called to the other room, which I came to find out - was the ER.

People were all in beds and a couple of us with minor issues were in some chairs. All my care and looking at was done in the mini-waiting room. My analysis to urine tests, the looking at the cut on my arm, the Tetanus shot. There is no doubt in my mind why people get sick from something completely different than what they went in with. I went and had x-rays to make sure there was no glass and my arm wasn't broken. Then, back to the little waiting room. I tried to read and memorize lines, but it was so hard with so many conversations going on around me. Or screaming and moaning. It was a cacophony of pain and confusion. People with family demanding answers. People so out of it they can barely make coherent sentences. I felt really lucky that I was able to handle my situation by myself.

At one point I excused myself saying that if I didn't get something to eat, I would pass out and then they would have another problem on their hands and grabbed a cereal bar. The main ER doctor came and saw me at about hour 5. He said that I was lucky - barely missed the main artery and that I should get one or two stitches. The other ER doctor that had been helping me took me to the "Fast Track" area and got the kit to administer the stitches.

He came back in and asked if I was allergic to Lanocain. No, I replied. Then he asked if I just wanted the stitches or if I wanted to be numbed first. I said, numbed, of course. I believe I am a tough enough person without being a show off. He then told me that since the area I sliced was so sensitive, the Lanocain shots were going to hurt as bad if not worse. Wait, wait, wait. Can you just knock me out? No. Now another note here. I was just sitting on a bed. There was no place for me to put my arm. I was going to have to hold my arm and hold still while he put a needle and thread through the area. OK doc, numb me. I knew that at least that would take away the pain in my wrist for a bit and be worth it.

He had to do about 5 injections to really get it numb. I had wished now, I had just gotten the stitches. Shown off like a tough girl. Sigh.

He then threaded his needle and I watched as he stitched up my wrist. And, of course, there were still places where I could feel the needle. And, I have to admit, either from lack of food or disgust, I did feel a little faint. But being the person who likes to create special effects for gore, I wanted to watch what this looked like.

I ended up only getting one stitch. I think the doctor was afraid of hurting me more. So, all else fails, I should have a pretty cool scar looking like a tattoo for some secret organization on my arm.

I am now on some really powerful antibiotics, which sucks. And, wrist is still bandaged and the place where they gave me the Tetanus shot is in as much pain as the cut itself. But, all in all, I am fine. And, now have another adventure to tell.

On a side note, I have been a very bad blogger these past few months. I still have about 5 drafts that I do want to share. So, look to 2009 as a few postings of things I should have written in 2008.

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