So I spent Memorial Day in the emergency department, as you do. Well maybe not as YOU do. You probably make good choices. I make bad choices, which is how I end up there.
I ended up there lying on my back, staring at the ceiling and blinking while a nice man pointed a variety of sharp objects at my eye because, well, I don’t know why.
Somehow I managed to give myself a corneal abrasion. That sounds innocuous. Just a little scratch perhaps? No. It is Satan’s Eyeball of Fire. It is bad. I have no idea how I did that to myself, but do it to myself I did. At the beginning of the day my eye stung a little. By day’s end I was in possession of an ER bill as yet to be determined, antibiotics and Vicodin for the pain.
I have never felt like such a sissy in my life.
I lay there trying to figure out if I would ever be able to see out of my right eye again or if I was going to have to bravely insist depth perception was overrated and pirate patches were “in.”
When asked what I could possibly have done to my eye, my answers ranged from spraying myself in the face with surface cleaner to dropping my contact in a sink and popping it back into my eye without a thorough rinse. For all I know my eye had a fluoride burn from toothpaste residue. Never mind the pain, my whites have never been so white!
All kidding aside, this led the incredulous doctor to state the obvious “ma’am I have no idea why you aren’t blind.” I take this to mean from this day forward I need to be more careful of my eyes. Again, normal people get this. I have to pay someone the equivalent of $400 per hour to get that message across.
Meanwhile, despite the searing pain it became very apparent that I was low (wo)man on the totem pole as far as ER staff was concerned. The wait was interminable and when I finally got a doctor all to my very own self, he ran out of the room no less than four times — once in the middle of examining my eye — all because someone else needed him more.
I have never felt more grateful in my life.
As I awaited the doctor’s return I couldn’t help but hear my ER mates arrival. Most came in on gurney’s wheeled by jovial ambulance crews. Often the nurses could be heard taking vitals and information. It’s such a tight space and so many of those nice folks are rather hard of hearing. I heard dates of birth like “1925” and “1922” and thought “good for you!”
Then I heard one give his information, including military service, and in the following murmurs something about health that was lost to the din. I’m not an eavesdropper, so short of a cup to the wall I couldn’t have caught the rest, but I heard enough to know he had served in World War II and was now explaining to a nurse in 2014 what residual impact that might have on him still.
As I lay there with my First World problem (“You’ll poke your eye out kid!”) I couldn’t help but want to thank him for his service. I didn’t. It would make a better story if I did, but something about incessant vomiting and blood loss made me think he wasn’t up for visitors. Especially not the scary one-eyed, zero-depth perception types.
I figure that as painful as my predicament, the person you never want to be is top billing in the emergency department. I want the nurses to smile and say “it will be a while yet.” I want to be the one that is “probably going to make it” and the grateful recipient of “it’s a long way from your heart sweetheart.”
If you are having a hissy fit over poor service in the ER, then by goodness, consider yourself blessed. I want to be the person the doctor leaves in a heartbeat — not the one where they are still trying to locate one.
You want to appreciate relatively good health? Spend some time with people who don’t have it — and have probably sacrificed much of it for the greater good.
I can see clearly now that we (I) owe a debt of gratitude to the brave men and women who serve our great nation, and the brave men and women who serve in medical facilities every day and night of the year so morons like me can try to poke my eye out on a holiday weekend with impunity.
I don’t deserve you but I certainly do appreciate you.
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