What did we learn last week, boys and girls? Saturday’s a rugby day … and Sunday is a recovery day. Monday, it turns out, is emergency room day. I got injured and had to leave during the second half of Saturday’s rugby game, as I was unable to jog or lean over without a significant amount of pain. This led someone on the sidelines to comment “You probably broke a rib.”
Given the amount of pain that I continued to feel in my side on Sunday, I thought it would be prudent to either confirm or dispel that expert diagnosis. I'm guessing (and hoping) that it's not broken so that I can finish the season and play in Maggotfest. And no matter what‘s wrong, I need to proceed with the self-medication in any event.
I figured any trip to the ER will take a fair period of time, so i decided to go in the late evening in order to avoid the crowd. Plus, since I was going to a hospital emergency room in Oakland, you knew there would be some good people watching.
One cannot make a multi-hour commitment to visit the ER without some food, but it was getting close to 10:00 p.m. and I didn’t want fast food, so I decided to stop at the grocery store to pick up some dinner, which consisted of beef jerky, a banana and the new Tab power energy drink. I have no idea why I gave in to the nostalgic urge to buy TAB, but based on the taste, I presume that TAB stands for “Truly Awful Beverage.”
I finally arrive around ten o’clock, at which point I observed the following events (and I thought flying was bad):
* 10:00 - The waiting room is packed with people. You would think this was the waiting room with free money or something. I naively estimated this would only take a maximum of two hours. I am sadly mistaken. I’m now hoping that I will get out of there by 1:00, if I'm lucky. And I never am.
* 10:04 - The people watching is great. There’s an older woman talking either French or Hawaiian on the phone with her pants unzipped. The evening is starting out right. A young woman was just brought in on a stretcher and made to sit in a chair until she was admitted. Wow, they don’t play around.
* 10:20 - The waiting room is thick with germs. Twenty minutes in and I can already feel the onset of either tuberculosis or Asian Bird Flu.
*10:30 - Someone is clipping their fucking fingernails. Conversations continue and people act like nothing’s happening. I swear it must be the same person that follows me on planes, BART trains … and she’s finally found me in the ER. I immediately pop on my iPod headphones and crank it up in order to block out the awful sound.
* 10:45 - I am finally registered to be seen by the ER staff. Wow, time flies when you're stuck in Purgatory.
* 10:55 - The woman who arrived on the stretcher is now face down in a bucket and is getting her back rubbed by the French/Hawaiian-speaking woman as she pukes up clear liquid. Guess I'll pass on the beef jerky that I brought to eat. Oh well, at least she's quiet about it (unlike my nail-clipping shadow).
* 11:05 - Another woman just showed up with her own puke pale. Let's see if she can match the pint of bile the other woman just produced. Good luck, honey.
* 11:10 - There seems to be a lot of hugging and praying going on in the ER. It reminds me of a religious holiday like Christmas, but with more coughing and vomiting and less presents.
* 11:13 - The regurgitator just left her seat and walked past me on way to the bathroom. For those of you that wondered what the bucket o' stomach contents smelled like, the answer is "pepperoni pizza and sour milk." For anyone that's grossed out by such discussion, please ignore the prior sentence.
* 11:21 - Oh shit, the vomitor just returned and sat right next to me. Karma is indeed a bitch.
* 11;35 - Yet another woman showed up requiring the assistance of a vomit bucket. It sounds like she's trying to hack up a cat-sized fur ball. Awesome. So now there are 2 people actively vomiting in the ER (the other woman must have quit the challenge). This goes on for at least five solid minutes. What the fuck did these people eat, an ipecac milkshake?
* 11:55 - A homeless person reeking of booze just waltzed in off the street in order to use the ER bathroom. And he seems thrilled to be using it, as opposed to god knows where he normally goes. It's a safe bet that I will soil my own pants before I follow him in there.
* 12:00 - I just reached the 2 hour mark. Sweet Jesus, Paris Hilton could figure out a Rubik's Cube in the time it's taking to get through this place. I can't complain, though, because they just called in some woman who had been waiting for four hours. Good times.
* 12:25 - I cannot bear to read any more of the Star Jones autobiography “My Life as a Beard” that I brought, nor can I listen any more to my iPod. Seriously, how many songs by The Carpenters can a man listen to in one night?
* 12:42 - Uhhh, hello? Is the emergency room still open for business? I think I made a mistake when I neglected to lie and list my pain level at “10” like everyone else that’s being seen before me evidently did. I seriously debate whether I should to start moaning and talking to myself so I can get seen sooner. Quick, where’s one of those handy heave buckets?
* 1:10 am - I finally hit the lottery and am called in. Five minutes later and I'm actually seen by a doctor (holy shit) who orders x-rays and says that I'll be prescribed pain medications, whether or not there’s a fracture. Now we're talking!
* 1:25 - X-rays are completed and I’m eagerly awaiting the doctor's prognosis - codeine or vicodin? Or perhaps it will be percoset? I really should have played up that phantom moaning in the waiting room.
* 1:43 - The verdict is in -- vicodin (“Hello eBay”). Oh, and there are no fractures. I can rest assured now knowing that I am not seriously injured and am, in fact, a pussy.
* 2:05 - Free at last. I’m finally done for the night. Too late to make last call, so I figure I’ll just go home and pass out.
And so it went. All in all, it could have been worse. At least it was only 4 hours and I got some people watching and vicodin out of it. And at least there wasn’t any turbulence.