What Happens in Emergency . . .

In case any of you are authors thinking of writing a scene in which your protagonist has need to go to Emergency, here are some possible scenes for you to include.

1. Emergency is the medical version of Rock-Scissors-Paper – no matter how serious you think your injury/illness is, someone else’s injury/illness will always trump yours. If you have a cut finger, someone else has a broken arm. If you have a raging fever, someone else is in anaphylatic shock.

2. The first thing you do when you walk into the waiting room is count the number of people already there. Bad move! You now have an idea of how long you will have to wait. (Hint: not any time soon.)

3. Waiting is the medical version of Snakes and Ladders. Each time someone is called in from the waiting room, you go up one rung closer to being called into the Inner Sanctum. Each time someone comes in on a stretcher, you slide down farther away from being called into the Inner Sanctum.

4. The only questions you hear from other waiting patients are: 1) “How long have you been waiting?” (A: You don’t want to know), and 2) “What are you in here for?” (A: Again, you don’t want to know.)

5. There is always at least one baby screaming.

6. You hear a nurse ask, “Where is the Thing-a-ma-bob to take a tiny battery out of a nose?” and you wonder if that is why the baby is screaming. Q: Why would a baby stuff a battery up its nose? A: Because!

7. There is always at least one person coughing. Loudly. Persistently. In these COVID times, that’s the last thing you want to hear.

8. There is always at least one toddler who refuses to sit still, who squirms and whines, whose nose is running, and whose parent doesn’t seem to notice.

9. There is always one patient – usually male – who gets fed up with waiting and starts yelling and screaming at the nurses, as if it’s their fault an accident victim just rolled in on a stretcher, putting said person well back on the “to be seen” list. Eventually, the nurses call Security who escorts the person out, still yelling and screaming. One of the few high points of your wait.

10. If you remembered to grab your cell phone/tablet, good for you. You can now read email, update your Facebook status, take a selfie, play games, maybe even read that book you downloaded five months ago. Be advised, your battery will die at least an hour before you are seen.

11. If you didn’t remember your cell phone, well, sorry, but you are in for a long boring wait. Thanks to COVID, there are no trashy magazines. No People or Us, no Chatelaine or Woman’s Weekly, no 10-year-old National Geographics, no Motor Trend. No trade magazine promoting the latest in medical equipment (“They used that on me?!”). No holistic medicine magazine touting the latest apple cider vinegar-based cure-all for everything from hangnails to heart attacks.

12. As if a lack of trashy magazines isn’t bad enough, if you are (un)lucky enough to be in a waiting room provided with TV, you have my deepest sympathies. Waiting room TVs have only two offerings: 1) the in-house medical channel promoting a myriad of healthy ways to live longer interspersed with videos of smiling, earnest practitioners counseling equally earnest, smiling patients, or 2) the children’s channel with live-action programs so inane they make the cartoons seem intellectual.

13. At least one stretchered patient will be accompanied by several of your city’s finest, leaving everyone to wonder, “Is he a gang member?”, “Was he shot?”, “Was he knifed?”, “Is he hand-cuffed to the stretcher?” Another high point of your wait.

14. Blood goes everywhere! It seeps into every nook and cranny, every crevice and pore. It’s impossible to get rid of. The much-advertised glue named for our largest primate relative should stick so well. No wonder criminals use industrial strength solvents to remove blood traces. No wonder CSI types find blood even when there is none visible to the naked eye. No wonder archaeologists find blood on millennia-old stone tools.

15. When you do finally get taken into the Inner Sanctum, you discover it is a mad house back there. Total Bedlam. Doctors, nurses and orderlies scurry back and forth. Monitors beep. Patients moan and cry. Stretchers, some occupied, line the hall way. Yet, the doctor or nurse who attends you is pleasant and patient, laughs at your self-deprecating jokes about the stupid thing you did that ended you up in Emergency, and takes the greatest care of you in spite of the bedlam.

Don’t ask!

And then it’s over. You’re finally released. You walk out into the cool night, take your first breath of fresh air in several hours, and promise yourself you will never, ever do such a stupid thing again. Then you go home and swallow a fist full of pain killers.

Not that I would ever do such a stupid thing!

#EmergencyRoomVisits #EmergencyTriage #Humour #Accidents #WaitingGame #MargaretGHanna