Sunday, January 10, 2010

Thoughts from an Emergency Room

To say my weekend didn’t quite turn out the way I planned would be an understatement. The plans involved getting my hair done, seeing a matinee or two and keeping a normal sleep schedule to help my body recover from the holiday laziness that had taken over. Instead the weekend involved an emergency room visit, a cancelled hair appt. and once again going to bed at the crack of dawn and getting up at the crack of 1pm.

The hospital visit was for my mom (long story short, she’s ok), and started with a phone message when we got home from dinner Friday night. Now, of all the nights to decide to drink a pitcher of margaritas at dinner, this was maybe not the best one. But it happened nevertheless, so I spent half the night hoping I didn’t look drunk, and wondering if I reeked of tequila. The other half of the night I spent sit-sleeping in the most uncomfortable chair I’ve ever felt…uncomfortable enough that I’m pretty sure my bum is bruised right now.

But one important thing I discovered…and which I wish to write about tonight…is the tremendous nursing staff we have at the London Health Sciences Centre emergency department. In an evening that saw countless intoxicated individuals (no, I’m not counting myself among them), physical violence, code blues, needy patients and grumpy doctors, the nurses of the ER were nothing but patient, polite, caring and damn good at their jobs. My mom’s nurse, Rob, was the picture of compassion as he slowly and carefully explained everything that was happening, and that would be happening throughout the night. He was friendly and kind when we arrived at 7pm and he was still going strong when we left at 3:30am. He made my mom feel like she was the most important person in that ER, and at a time when emotions and fears are running high, that’s a comforting feeling indeed.

I am always fascinated by the ER and the folks who come through it. It’s a great place for people watching if you don’t mind the germs that you can feel spreading around as you sit there. The heavy presence of police and security is both frightening and reassuring, although they seemed to take a long time to respond to a nurse's yell of “I need help here!”, as an unconscious, intoxicated patient decided to wake up and start biting her as she was testing his vitals. Scary stuff.

There were a couple of older folks there without any family with them…including my mom’s neighbour who was quite ill, yet whose son decided he’d just “call in later” to see how she was. Now there may be more to the story…maybe he couldn’t get to the hospital, or maybe he was ill himself, but all I know is that even though this was probably my 500th time to the hospital with my mom throughout the years, I couldn’t imagine not going in person to make sure she was ok.

The guy on the other side of her didn’t have family visiting either. His wife decided not to, which was maybe a little more understandable considering he was de-toxing after drinking pure ethyl alcohol and passing out. When he was sober, he was a perfectly polite and quiet individual, but the 3 security guards at the foot of his bed when we arrived suggested to me that this maybe wasn’t the case before we got there. Either way, I found myself hoping that even though he answered ‘no’ to the doctor’s offer of getting him some help, he would change his mind before he passes out one day and doesn’t wake up. I don’t know the guy, and I never will…but as one human to another, I still care.

So at 3:30am when it was finally time to come home, I thought about what adventures the nursing staff still had ahead of them. How many more police cruisers and ambulances would come in with people in true crisis? How many more times would the drunk guy wake up and try to break free of his restraints? How many more code blues would be called, causing doctors and nurses to run from the room to help?

I had once thought of being a nurse when I was younger - mostly before I realized that A) I hate blood and B) I suck at math and science – but I wonder now if I would have the patience and more importantly the stamina to get through even one ER shift. Thanks to my inability to hold a needle without shaking, I guess I’ll never know.

In order to feel like we did something this weekend, we went to see It’s Complicated at the theatre…funny movie…I recommend it. And now, it’s Sunday night and I’m wondering where this weekend went. I promised myself that today would be book writing day and it was for a short time…but I’m having trouble getting re-engaged since my 2 month break from writing. I’m sure that will turn around, but for now it’s frustrating to have the time and quiet to do it, but not the creative energy. If only my book was on emergency rooms, I could come up with a TON of material right now…oh wait, in a way it is. I think I just thought of a new chapter! Maybe this wasn’t a dud of a weekend after all. Happy New Year - week 2 folks!


  1. Pass on our 'get well' to your mom, hope she's doing okay! -Heather M

  2. Will do, thanks guys. Never a dull moment...