ARREST THAT WOMAN!

May 31

emergencyarrow.jpgPicture this:

Yours truly going mano a mano with two armed security guards in the Emergency Room at New York Hospital.

Here’s how it went down:

My husband, who, unlike me, is pretty stoic about pain, was in serious pain. We managed to get to the Emergency Room, and harder still, get admitted inside, where he was put on a gurney in a hallway and pretty much  abandoned. He was writhing and moaning; I was helplessly standing by, hyperventilating.

After watching this for a few minutes, I made my move. I walked over to the first doctor I saw, who was busy on a computer and didn’t take kindly to the interruption. Mind you, I had already made a scene just to get us admitted, but had assumed (silly me) that once we had reached the inner sanctum, Lou would be looked after.

So now I had to deal with an overworked, exhausted doctor who basically told me to wait my turn. Hello? EARTH TO DOCTOR: Does the term “Lioness” mean anything to you? I took a deep breath and explained the situation, staying as calm as I could, considering that I was hysterical.

Unmoved, he told me that my husband’s name wasn’t even up on the computer yet, whereupon I told him precisely what he could do with the computer. I probably added a few other well chosen words, but who remembers. Anyway in what seemed like seconds,  two guards, one short and one tall, rushed in to apprehend me, now to be known as The Mad Woman Of The E.R.  . .  .

And there I was
, all five feet two of the least threatening-looking person these guards had ever seen at New York Hospital, or any place else for that matter.  I guess they didn’t know that you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, but then, I was the one in the publishing business, not them.

They looked me over, then looked around wondering if they had the right person, looked up (and down) at each other, and then back at me. I politely told them what had happened and apologized for my less than ladylike language. The smaller one, who seemed to be in charge, stuttered and stammered, but finally said that they had to escort me out. Pronto.

I wasn’t going anywhere. The guards and I went back and forth for a while, but let’s face it, I had the upper hand: they were still in shock and I was on adrenalin.

When I saw that Lou was indeed being treated (strange, but people were suddenly starting to pay attention to him now), I agreed to leave -on the condition that they would let me back in a half hour. I actually made the shorter one look me in the eye and promise me they would do this. He accepted my terms, because by now he, unlike the doctor, had gotten the memo:
Don’t mess with a lioness.

The story has a happy ending: although Lou was diagnosed with kidney stones (Ouch!) he was treated with painkillers right then, and later had a procedure that successfully ended the episode. Whew.

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Oh, and they let me back in the ER in 33 minutes, but who’s counting, where I saw that things were under control and apologized to the doctor, who more or less shrugged it off. I’m sure he’s heard worse.

So I guess that it’s true what they say: The squeaky wheel does get the oil, even when your squeak is worse than your bite.

But what I did in this case is something you should not try at home. It must be done under medical supervision, in a crowded emergency room (is there any other kind?) and executed with a lot of attitude, New York style.

It also brings new meaning  — and poignancy  — to the phrase:
“I’ve been kicked out of better places than this . . . .”


UPDATE SEPTEMBER 14, 2010
Well, I wasn’t kicked out of the ER this time, but I almost wish I had been.
We waited in a hallway for  11 hours to get my mom checked out, admitted, and into a room after a bad fall which fractured a bone in her neck, an injury that can be quite serious.
She’s being well cared for, and I’m grateful for that.
But I still don’t get why the ER experience has to be so demoralizing. Any thoughts?

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