I figure there’s no better place to keel over than in a hospital emergency room. To test that hypothesis (sort of), I went to the ER last weekend with my sister, who was feeling the effects of food poisoning.
As the docs and nurses took care of her, I stood or sat around taking up space for a few hours. And then my trips down the hall to the lavatory began.
My spidey sense told me this wasn’t going to end well, since my sister and I had eaten at several of the same places during her weekend visit from out of state.
After trip No. 5 down the hall, I began to feel queasy as I sat in a chair in the draped-off area near my sister’s bed. I tried to walk to the nurses’ station to let them know I was feeling sick, but I knew I wasn’t going to make it. So I got on my knees and started to crawl.
As that awful woozy feeling enveloped my entire head, I reached out and grabbed the leg of a nurse, who probably didn’t need that kind of adrenaline rush. I think I said something, but then everything went dark.
The next thing I remember was waking up flat on my back and seeing about eight or 10 faces staring down at me.
For a few moments, I had no clue where I was or what had just happened. Was this an audition for “The Walking Dead”? But as people started talking to me, I began to get a grip. I had passed out from severe dehydration due to . . . well, let’s just say it was too many trips down the hall.
At some point I realized I had an IV in one arm and electrodes stuck to various spots on my chest. Then I noticed that my T-shirts were having an off-of-body experience next to me on the bed. The shirts were now air-conditioned, with jagged cuts up the front and down one sleeve.
My sister and I were very impressed by the dedication and professionalism of everyone who took care of us, not just in the ER but after we were admitted and had our fluids topped off. A day or two later, we were back on our feet.
As unpleasant as the experience was, it made me appreciate how fortunate we are to have access to that kind of care. I’m also not surprised by the high cost of health care, given the number of people who took care of us and the sophisticated equipment we benefited from.
Our system is not perfect by any means, and far too beholden to insurance companies, but in this instance it worked pretty well.
Full disclosure: we were treated in the Emergency Department of Upstate University Hospital in Syracuse, NY. The hospital is part of Upstate Medical University, where I have worked for the past six years.