Journey Through Illness

March 4, 2014

Emergency Rooms

Filed under: Aha's, Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , , , — FrancesC @ 5:45 am

Saturday, I went to the Emergency Room.  (Apparently there is this thing called, “Urgent Care” that you can visit instead of the emergency room, which is supposed to be a somewhat nicer experience and less crowded.  How did I not know this?!  Good to know for future reference.)

I had a sinus infection that got outta hand, and one side of my face puffed up.  My one eye was completely red and painful when I woke up.  Shit, this is not how the weekend was supposed to go.  Before the age of 37, the only time I had gone to the hospital was when I was 9 and had a similar thing happen.  I ended up having to have my sinuses drained.  I swore I would try to wait it out and not go anywhere, because my emergency room co-pay is crazy given the amount I pay for health insurance.  But, by lunch time, I had had enough, and I worried I wouldn’t be able to tolerate the pain until Monday morning.  I tried calling my doctor first, and was told, “If you feel you need to go to the emergency room, go to the emergency room”.  Thanks.  I just wanted it acknowledged that I made an attempt to do something at a “lower level of care”.

Here’s the thing.  I haven’t been to that emergency room since my last heart event in 2010.  (Thank God.) I soon realized that this was sort of like “exposure” therapy in that I was re-visiting the scene where I had been escorted there via ambulance on several occasions during my “heart attack years”.   I noted the difference between going there this time vs. those.  This time I drove myself, parked in the garage, and walked in without assistance – a much better sign that this was going to be something that could be fixed.  At first, I didn’t want to have to deal with any “heavy duty” emotions from the past.

I wanted to just go back home, but the pain reminded me that I have to see this thing through.  I started remembering my past more intense trips to the emergency room; I did a lot of breathwork as I remembered each time I arrived via ambulance.  One time, I was being removed from the ambulance by two female EMT’s.  My husband had arrived just behind us, and they said to me, “You didn’t tell us, your husband was “drop dead” gorgeous!  The irony that I was (um) having a heart attack and didn’t give them a “heads up” that an attractive man was going to be on the scene… hello?!  Get your head in the game, bitches, I don’t want to “drop dead” while you’re flirting.  That was classic.  Then there was the time when I was given a lot of morphine and was having a conversation with the attendant about the difference between midgets and dwarfs; because I suppose I just thought he needed to know.  Ah, the embarrassing babbling that occurs sometimes.

The wait was excruciating, but I was grateful to be upright, conscious, and have my own transportation.  I soon realized that being made to wait was actually a good thing, as it just meant, you can wait.  There was the wait to get the paperwork to fill out, the wait to be seen by the person verifying your insurance, the wait to get to a waiting room inside the emergency room, the wait after finally being escorted to the small exam room, the wait for the CT scan that was ordered after the brief exam, the wait in the hall outside the CT scanning room, the wait in the waiting area after the scan, the wait to see the attending physician, then finally…the prescriptions and the eye drops.  That was it.  In my head, I had assumed that every trip there ended with being admitted, waiting to have surgery, some life threatening situation, etc.. I was “geared up” for a bigger “to-do”.

And yet, I was completely relieved when it sank in.  That I wasn’t critically ill anymore.  I’m not sick.  I’m a pretty healthy (sans pink eye, sinus infection) middle aged woman.  Those days are behind me, now.  I made it through.  It was just an infection that will get better and clear up.  That’s it.

God I was grateful to get home, and get comfortable.  I don’t need to go back there.  I really felt the shift.  The shift from being a patient to being recovered;  sick to healthy.   I only see the cardiologist once every 6 months now.  Soon, it will be just once a year.

I looked over at my husband who had picked us up Chinese food on his way home.  He ended up meeting me there about half way through the waiting.  Yes, he is not a stranger to hospitals either.  There we were, just the two of us, enjoying our dinner, at home, watching tv, with our kitty.   I smiled at him, and laughed to myself as I went into the kitchen to cut my hospital bracelet off into the trash.


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