A Visit To The ER
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Gary L. Clark is an author. After a thirty year career he retired to write a novel. He then joined a counselor-in-training program at the local community mental health center and worked three years as a substance abuse counselor. He retired again and has written two more novels. He recently completed the annotation of a self-help book on faith-based self-help. Two published novels (available on Amazon.com) address social justice. Mr. Clark is the Editor of thefiresidepost.com. He lives in St. Joseph, Missouri.

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A Visit To The ER

I cut my finger.  Or perhaps I should say my finger was in the way when the door was closing.  I thought for a moment the finger was broken but it turned out to be only a bone deep cut.  My deductible for an ER visit is seventy-five dollars – what to do?  After a second look at the finger I jumped in my truck and was off to a new adventure.

How can the ER be packed on a Sunday evening (around 5:00 PM).  It was packed but this particular ER in St. Joseph, Missouri, has an admitting clerk and a trauma nurse for a quick triage.  We all looked at the cut, they gave me some gauze bandages and told me to take a seat.  The ER on Sunday in St. Joe is well populated by people who have just had their picture taken at Wal Mart.  I am talking about disheveled folks plucked right out of their normal private Sunday routine and placed on public display with no preparation.  What you see is what you get.

One of the ladies said a horse had stepped on her foot.  That is unusual even for St. Joe. She said she only came to the ER because she is a diabetic and feared complications.  Another lady, quite big in the hips with tight fitting leopard skin dungarees complained of ‘sinuses that won’t let go’.  A man and woman came in with a young girl – maybe three or four years old.  She had some sort of wound on her leg.  Quickly triaged they were told to have a seat.  They must have come from a family reunion for just as they were taking their seat about twenty other family members showed up.  They all hunkered down in the already crowded waiting room.

Most of the patrons had family members with them.  There were six of us by ourselves (Registered Nurse my significant other was in Kansas City for the day).  Being the social creatures that humans are the six of us formed a support group – we are going to meet on Tuesdays at 7:00 PM at the Baptist Church.

After about twenty minutes my name was called and I reported to the Radiology Tech who led me to the xray room.  Emergency Rooms are like that.  You go in for a band-aid and, well, you know – they don’t miss a chance for an additional revenue opportunity.  Just kidding.  I am grateful they were thorough.

Back in the waiting room for another twenty minutes and I was summoned again – this time for measuring my vital signs.  I passed the test. Actually I was surprised that my blood pressure and heart rate were quite low.  I’ll take all the good news I can get.  I was able to give a positive report to my waiting room support group.

Another thirty minutes passed (this was actually a good thing because I figured I must not be hurt too bad or they would have already had me hog tied).  An ER nurse paged me and then escorted me to a trauma room somewhere in the bowels if the hospital – we had made half a dozen turns down hallways and I was lost.

She took my vitals again and gave me a moist gauze for my finger.  I reported on the waiting room support group and she laughed as if I was kidding or something.  Maybe she was having a long day, who knows?

The next lady identified herself as a Nurse Practitioner.  She had a fillet knife and some needles and thread.  She saw the alarm in my face and she just nodded and smiled.  Actually I found her to be quite charming and capable.  She warned me that the shot of fingernumer juice would hurt more than the wound itself.  It did – but not as bad as she made out.

She was sewing up my finger while she talked about her son who just graduated from high school.It was an amazing surreal experience.  This lady was sewing live skin on an old man and she acted as if she was stirring cookie dough.  He casualness spoke to her experience in an ER – while my finger was a big deal to me, for her it was a very minor nuisance.  Six stitches is not a big deal to seasoned medical professionals.

I was voted Patient Of The Day by the ER staff and was sent home with a purple dinosaur stuffed animal. The last time I was in that same ER I was escorted out by Security – but that is another story for another day.


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