Back Around the House II: My first big-city ER


We were at Children’s Medical Center in Cincinnati more than six years ago, when I suddenly developed severe chest pain.

They sent me to their emergency area, and the doctors there decided I was probably having a heart attack and ordered an ambulance to take me to University Hospital, which was just across the street.

Meanwhile the pain was all gone. They still insisted I must be checked at University Hospital.

I wanted to walk over, but they said no. It was a good thing, because when my ambulance arrived they really needed it to save a child’s life.

By then I was feeling good, but they made me wait for another ambulance.

Finally my ride arrived at 5 p.m. during the height of rush hour traffic. They loaded me into the ambulance, and the lady EMT climbed in with me. Bill got in front with the other EMT who hit the siren and we were off.

The lady and I began to chat as we started up a steep hill. “Hey,” I asked, “is that back door locked?”

My imagination was in gear again, and I could just see myself belted onto that stretcher flying back down the hill through curb-to-curb traffic.

She assured me the door was locked, and then we started exchanging stories. Next thing we knew the guy was opening the back door asking, “What are her vitals?”

“Shut the door,” the lady ordered and she took my vitals.

They sent Bill to admissions and wheeled me into the ER. They spoke briefly to a young doctor, and they were gone.

The doctor came over to me and said, “Hello do you know why you are here? “ Funny he should ask because I had figured out what caused the chest pain earlier. “Yes,” I informed him confidently, “sour cream potato chips.”

“Uh-huh,” he said professionally as he turned to an aide and said, “Put her right by the nurses’ desk and keep an eye on her.”

I never got a chance to explain I had eaten a small bag of those potato chips for breakfast earlier because nothing else in the vending machine looked good.

They watched me warily as I experienced my first big city ER. It was a real education.

By the time my husband and our son caught up with me again. I had lots of stories to tell. “It’s just like it is on TV,” I told them. “The only thing I haven’t seen is a nurse straddling a patient on a gurney giving CPR.”

Our son looked at me and said, “I think they have you marked for the patient in that scene.”

That was a sobering thought.

“No kidding Mom. The crash cart is right outside your curtain.

I settled down then as a parade of various medical personnel performed a whole bank of tests on me.

The worst one was the gal who tried to draw blood. She poked me over and over and never got enough blood for a test.

They sent an intern in to tell me they wanted me to join a special cardiac experimental project with them. I would stay overnight at the hospital, and they would draw blood every three hours.

I said NO so loud he jumped. Then the Resident came in, and again I refused. Three doctors later, I pointed to the tray with numerous needles, cotton balls, and empty vials, and then to my arms which were beginning to bruise, and stated, There is no way she’s going to stick me even one more time.”

This doctor viewed the evidence, tore up the paper he wanted me to sign, and said, “I don’t blame you. I wouldn’t do it either.”

But, I wasn’t on my home yet. There was still the earlier pain to explain.

Next time.

AUTHOR’S NOTE: This column was first published in the Greenville Advocate August 14, 2002.

By Kathleen Floyd

Back Around the House II

Kathleen Floyd is a volunteer citizen columnist, who serves The Daily Advocate readers weekly with her column Back Around the House II. She can be reached at [email protected]. Viewpoints expressed in the article are the work of the author. The Daily Advocate does not endorse these viewpoints or the independent activities of the author.

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