Thursday, July 2, 2009

Long night

Had a night last night that started off fun then turned grueling. Our friend who works in a NY museum (one of my favorite museums) got us in after hours. We were able to avoid crowds while taking our time at the exhibits. And she is an expert at a lot of what we were looking at, so we had a private tour guide as well. It was wild to just be in there in the center of the quiet, empty halls.

Unfortunately, about an hour into this, Rad got a call from his mom’s home health aide that she wasn’t responding. Her eyes were open and she was apparently awake, but not speaking. She had a stroke two-and-a-half years ago, has diabetes, and has had other health issues more recently. This is her third trip to the hospital in six months. Her aide called for an ambulance while we rushed back to Queens. By the time we got to the hospital, the ER staff had already raised her sugar levels back up and she was alert and responsive.

What a scene. The ER was mobbed. People were lying or sitting on gurneys all over. Rad’s mom was at the end of a row of four gurneys right next to each other, no space at all in between. Other patients were lined up in the corridors. One guy was holding an ice pack to his nose; blood was rushing out. I happened to look in that direction, see this, then had to quickly look away.

Then came the incident with the drunk/stoned/crazy girl. She seemed to be in trouble for something. They were requesting a urine sample but wouldn’t give her privacy; she had to piss in front of a witness. We whispered to each other about what might have happened: Had she been in a drunk-driving accident? She was very angry and also looked as if she’d been crying; her eyes were quite red.

But we left the intake room and didn’t see her for a while. Because the staff needed some room, we went back to waiting room and ... waited. About two hours passed. Our recent experience with emergency rooms lately has been that it won't be a two or three hour wait. Expect five, six, or seven hours, if you're lucky. The night of our accident last year I think I was in the emergency room close to 16 hours before I got admitted.

I’d made the unfortunate fashion choice yesterday morning of a flippy little black skirt, with bare legs and sandals. It had been appropriate earlier. But now I was freezing, even with a sweater, and I tend to feel colder the more tired I get. Around midnight, I finally said to Rad that I needed to go home, change into something warmer, feed cats and come back. He stayed to see if they needed to tell him anything about his mom.

As I was heading to the car I saw the crazy girl again. She was outside with some EMTs and/or nurses. I couldn’t tell what was going on, but all of a sudden someone said, “There she goes!” She walked briskly past me. She was wearing heels and a dress; I guess she’d been out at some party or club earlier. I saw a nurse in scrubs following her, in no apparent rush ... maybe the nurse wasn’t allowed to touch her because that was security’s job. I went to the edge of the parking lot and watched the drama, or at least tried to.

The girl took off through the lot and then cut back toward the building and headed around the far corner. The nurse, who wasn’t moving very fast, was behind her. Finally a security guy came out and headed toward the parking lot. I can’t explain WHY I felt it necessary to get involved, but I said, “If you’re looking for that girl, she went THAT way,” and I pointed in that direction. It wasn’t my business. She could have been completely innocent ... but probably not.

They were all out of my view at that point, so I got into the car to drive home. Around the corner of building I saw a little circle of uniforms. I guess they'd caught her. Ms. Curious wishes she could have found out what the whole story was ...

I drove home, exhausted. I should not have been driving, being that tired, but I went and took care of the cats, changed, grabbed an extra jacket, then drove back. Mother-in-law was okayed for admittance two hours later; we finally went home and grabbed a few hours sleep. Neither of us was in a position to call in sick. I don't have any immediate deadlines and I actually would have called in sick, had it not been the day before the long holiday weekened. It always looks suspicious when you call in on those days.

We think MIL will be okay, at least for now. She should be getting out later today.


Meow said...

ER visits can be long, scary and frustrating. Glad your MIL is better. I hate those phone calls - somebody's sick and you just hope you make it in time. Happy Long Weekend! Meow

SueNY said...

I'm so sorry to hear about your mother in law, Sandy. I hope she's doing better soon. Those ER visits are hell. Every winter for the past 4 years or so I have made at least one 12 hour plus trip to the ER with my favorite Aunt who is in her 80's and has no children. Last year my Dad decided to get in on the mix as well. One came home and three weeks later the other went in. If nothing else I've gotten pretty good at reading the heart/blood pressure/oxygen machine.

Ms. Cassandra (Sandy) Park said...

I don't understand how the waiting got so out of control.

My MIL should be home tomorrow. We both still need serious sleep.

LauraT said...

Wow. Your ER experience sounds almost like a 3rd world kind of thing. I've never experienced anything like that in my limited ER runs with either myself or my mom. Then again, they've been in local community hospitals in fairly quiet neighborhoods.