Friday, October 24, 2008

General Hospital

One of the best weekends I’ve had in a while managed to give way to Medical Calamity Week 2009. A fractured skull, an appendectomy, the worst stomach virus I’ve ever beheld, a sawed-off bit of thumb, a marathon E.R. visit, and second- and third-hand reports of stuff that’s far more serious. None of it’s happened to me though. I feel totally fine. All my bits and pieces are in the right place and in working order. But it appears that someone has put the voodoo on my friends, and I’m definitely jumping over cracks and throwing salt over my shoulder until everyone’s back in fighting shape.

The trip to the hospital last night was truly the puke green icing on this turd cake of a week. Just when I thought everyone was home safe, their nausea abating, their bones knitting, their stitches all Halloween festive, I got a call from Jes who was, apparently, dying. In the words of a dude we met in the waiting room last night: Jes lives in the hood hood, not even in the rap hood, so I called a car to take her to Methodist (which is at least familiar even if it’s not the greatest) rather than roll the dice with whatever hospital was closest to her house.

I’m beginning to think that six hours in an emergency room waiting room is a more accurate indicator of one’s personality than the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. Thirty minutes in, there’s this great divide between the patient and the impatient, and then from there the population breaks down into a variety of types: the caretakers, the complainers, the class clowns, the overreactors, the lonelyhearts, and the straight weirdos.

And the drunk. The very, very drunk.

A girl walked in bleeding from the nose and (this coming from a girl who takes her whiskey with a 40) stinking like booze. She was covered in terrible tattoos (light sabers, bible quotes surrounded by Buddhist imagery, a Star Trek emblem) and, after standing around picking blood out of a nostril for a while, she sat down without signing in and began playing with several of the sick, feverish children.

“Don’t worry,” she assured one of their mothers. “I may be drunk, but I’ve got two kids of my own!”

“I fell on my face,” she slurred as a post-script.

Eager to spread her herpes-esque friendship around the germy waiting room, homegirl then decided her time would be better spent hitting on a guy with crutches. Opening line?

“Hey crutches! Yeah, you! Other white person! We should hang out.”

Then she diagnosed his clearly broken foot as “a metatarsal, I definitely think you’ve got a metatarsal.” Turns out she’s a nursing student! I’m going to assume she’s in her first semester, though, and give her a pass on confusing the name of a bone with any kind of actual disorder or condition. When Crutches was called back to a bed, Florence Drunkengale turned her attention to a lone Hasidic grandma with a sprained elbow, and, valiantly, refused to let the English/Yiddish language barrier get in the way. Whenever Bubbie seemed a little confused, Nurse Jager would just repeat her question louder and slower. In Spanish.

(Fun fact: Bubbie actually made the pinky/thumb “drunk” gesture when I caught her eye.)

But anyway, back to my theory here, which is that when placed in a depressing room whose inhabitants have nothing in common besides discomfort, with no prospect of escape in the foreseeable future, you can really tell what someone is like at their core. You either laugh or you whine, you stick it out or you give up, you make friends or you piss everyone off. The emergency room waiting room is such a douchebag sieve it may, in fact, be the site of all of my future first dates. Any boy who could make me laugh for ten hours with nothing but sick children and injured grandmothers as comedy fodder would be one hell of a motherfucking keeper.


Anonymous NomDePlume said...

God I love your fucking writing!

12:59 PM  

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