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post #357
bio: stu

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Scenes From the E.R.: 2011 Edition
In honor of the three year anniversary of my heart surgery, I went back to the E.R. last night.

The heart palpitation issues that I wrote about the other night wound up coming back with a vengeance. Initially, I thought it was just that the episode of Friday Night Lights was just really exciting--it was! They played football!--but then the episode ended and my heart didn't calm down. I laid down to try to calm down, and my heart started just fucking pounding and I started to panic, so we called the ambulance, and I was back to the E.R.

Being in the E.R. is all about waiting--waiting for someone to come up and fix you, waiting for whatever is wrong with you to freak out and rise up and put you down, or waiting for your problems to just fix themselves. Over the roughly six hours that I was in the E.R., there was about 20 minutes that was actually spent getting blood drawn, getting an EKG, or talking to doctors. It's very frustrating.

One thing every visit to the E.R. requires is someone old in the E.R., in one of the side rooms, completely flipping out. In this case, it was an old man just down the row from me who kept yelling, "Pleeeeeeeeeease," 'Get out get out get out get out get out," and, eventually, "Let me out." Judging from the shouting, he was not in the E.R. for any problems with his lungs.

My E.R. roommate was an old Russian man lying in bed with his wife next to him, who just really really needed to have a bowel movement. He would leave the room every once in awhile, catheter running out of his robe, bag of urine in his hand, and would go to the bathroom to try again. He'd return fifteen minutes later more uncomfortable and frustrated than ever.

I got an EKG pretty quickly--an EKG is done from a little cart that basically has a custom-built laptop running what looks like MS-DOS--the device has a half-dozen cables that they attach to disposable electrodes which they place on both arms, legs, and, of course, various places on your chest, all to diagnose problems with your heart and your heartbeat. I got them all the time when I was hospitalized before with my heart infection. The one thing that has changed between then and now is that the portable EKG stand has another metal arm attached to it, which has an iPad bolted to it. You can tell it's an iPad even from the backside of the stand because the metal stand has a single hole cut into it to show the Apple logo. As far as I can tell, the iPad has no functional use other than to comfort the patient that a real computer company has a hand in their treatment and diagnosis.

Regardless of the iPad, they were unable to find anything wrong with me and my heart palpitations. Since I no longer smoke, don't ever do cocaine, only drink moderate amounts of caffeine and alcohol (really, moderate amounts of alcohol--oh, how the mighty have fallen), and don't particularly feel stressed about anything in particular, there was nothing to indicate why I might be having heart issues or potential panic attacks. The resident who checked me out said, comfortingly, that these heart palpitations might be extremely uncomfortable and disconcerting, but I should be okay--they won't kill me, and they won't turn into a heart attack or anything like that--despite how they feel--and so as long as I can avoid injuring myself during the dizzy spells, I should be okay. And then he released me to catch a cab back home at 4:30am.

My cabbie was disgruntled at being forced to drive from Park Slope to Greenpoint at 5am, and so he drove down the BQE like he was handling the trench of the Death Star in an X-Wing with Darth Vader on his tail. My heart went aflutter; I have no idea how much of it was a palpitation and how much of it was fear.

But before being released--well, let me just quote my notes from last night, to get a real flavor of what it's like in the E.R.
So, this just happened. My roommate just had an enema. They kindly just pulled the curtain so I didn't have to see it. Hey, did you know that curtains are almost completely ineffective at blocking the sound of a man grunting as he painfully expels shit from his stoppered-up bowels into a bedpan? In fact, I'd say that they let a full 98% of the sound of painful shitting through. Fingers in your ears, however, turn out to be marginally effective. Let's say they reduce the sound waves of agonized-yet-vaguely-ecstatic groans of a man receiving an enema by roughly 70%.

And that's the E.R.

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