Tin God Syndrome: Caligula Strikes Again
Last night, I simply could not take any more pain. I had to sleep. I haven't sleep more than two or so hours at a time in weeks, and I was at the breaking point. I called the doctor on call, who sent me to the hospital. I took a notebook with me, which ended up being a good idea, as I was there long enough to need a legal change of address.
Anyhoo, here's what I observed during last night's trip to that hell known as the Emergency Room:
I go the the check-in window. I'm standing behind two extremely obese women who are waiting to get visitor's passes to the maternity ward. One is wearing
what can only be described as "fishnet short-shorts." You can clearly see her thong through them. I'm doing my best to look elsewhere. The women chat with the check-in gal endlessly about the new addition to their family, completely oblivious to the fact that there is a woman in pain and walking with a cane standing behind them waiting to check in. Finally, they move on. I pull out my Cheat Sheet, show it to the check-in gal and the ER process begins.
The waiting room is nearly empty, which I take as a good indicator that I might not be here too long before being seen. As far as I can tell, there are only two actual patients in the room with me:
Patient #1 is a white woman in a hospital wheelchair. She is accompanied by her boyfriend, and they are both wearing Dairy Queen uniforms. The woman has an Ace bandage around her arm, but seems to be in high spirits. They are both watching "Roseanne" on the tv and laughing loudly. I wish I could share their good mood, but it feels like my face is being electrocuted.
Patient #2 is a Hispanic male, maybe 18 or 19 years old. I don't know what's wrong with him, but it's clearly not a stomachache: he's eating a Big Mac meal and when he finishes that off, he goes to the vending machine and gets two bags of chips and a Dr. Pepper.
Also in the room is a 20-something, attractive African-American woman
ignoring the signs asking that cell phones be turned off. She receives call after call, and complains in a booming voice about how her boyfriend has food poisoning so now she's had to waste the night in an ER. I turn my hearing aid down when she begins to describe to one of the lucky callers the exact composition and frequency of the boyfriend's vomitting spells. Ewww.
There is a phone provided for the room's use...but that is being commandeered by an African-American woman in her late 50's. Just as the other woman ignored the "no cell phones" signs, this one ignores the "calls must be limited to five minutes" sign next to the phone. She was on the phone when I arrived, and didn't get off for an hour...at which point, she left the hospital. I am not sure if she came in with a patient, or just wanted to avoid using a pay phone. At least she was not discussing bodily fluids.
The triage nurse calls my name. I show her my Cheat Sheet, and she signs me in. I notice that she doesn't ask me what my level my pain is on the pain scale...but I don't want to speak, anyway, so I don't press the issue. It occurs to me (again) that I really must take a sign language refresher course. It would make these trips so much easier and less painful.
About a dozen young, very attractive white people come rushing into the room. The girls all look like they came straight from a shooting of America's Next
Top Model. The guys are all very The OC-ish.
They are all visibly distraught over their friend, "Mandy," who came there by ambulance. For the next hour or so, I hear bits and pieces of what happened to Mandy. Only one girl there apparently witnessed the entire thing, but she left maybe 15 minutes into the Yuppie Squadron's vigil. I hear the words "car," "horrible," "blood" and "shattered" repeatedly. I know I shouldn't be eavesdropping...but I'm in pain and bored stiff. I turn my hearing aid up.
Two guys arrive. Patient #3 has a shaved head and bad, prison-type tattoos all over his legs. His buddy has very long, 80's-era-Metallica hair. They sit in a corner as far from the Yuppie Sqaudron as they can get.
Hot on their heels, Yuppie Mom has arrived. She is frantic to know what has happened to Mandy. There is one girl in the group (whom I am going to call "Social Climber") who has pretty much taken over since the Sqaudron
arrived--despite the fact that next to no one, including Yuppie Mom and Mandy's boyfriend--seems to know who she is.
It is from Social Climber that the Story of Mandy in its entirety is finally told.
I was not far off the mark when I described the girls: they are, in fact, models. They were putting on a Fall fashion show, and afterwards, went to a "wrap-up" party. They car-pooled in, and when they were getting ready to leave, it became clear that the girl who drove Social Climber and Mandy, someone named "Robin," had been drinking at the party and shouldn't drive. Robin and her friend "Becca" became angry when Mandy suggested that Social Climber drive instead
(a point she repeats several times; Social Climber is doing her best to make sure everyone knows she's MANDY'S FRIEND and a VERY IMPORTANT PERSON). Apparently, Robin and Becca were angry and jealous that Mandy had gotten "first run" on the catwalk, and were in no mood to hear lip from her about driving. They all got in the car, with Robin and Becca in the front seat and Mandy and Social Climber in the back. The other car of models was still loading up; that car contained the girl witness who left earlier in the night and had yet to load up, and because of that, she saw the entire event.
As I said, the four girls are in the car, when Robin gasps and announces that she has dropped the "folder," which contains their paperwork and without which they will not be paid. She gets out of the car, looks under the car, and then tells everyone the folder has fallen under the vehicle. Robin then gets back in the car and asks Mandy to retrieve it as she is the tallest and therefore has the longest reach. Mandy gets out of the car, crouches down and reaches her hand under the car to search for the folder.
Robin releases the emergency break (they were on an incline)and the car rolls over Mandy's arm.
At this point, Social Climber announces three or four times that it was, in fact, she who called 911 so soon after the incident. It was she who took the keys from Robin so she could not drive away (although just how and when she did this, she never mentioned). And it was she who "tipped off" the police about Robin's drinking (cause you know, cops can never tell when a driver is drunk or not @@). And it was she who called Yuppie Mom and Mandy's boyfriend to tell
them to come to the hospital. And not only was Social Climber at the hospital
for Mandy, by golly, she was gonna stay there for as long as she was needed, no matter what!
Only when Yuppie Mom thanks and praises her enough to appease her giant ego does Social Climber stop bragging about her part in the story. One of the males
in the Sqaudron is actually so bored with Social Climber that he goes across the room and changes the channel from Murphy Brown (which I was watching) to sports (which I wouldn't watch even for a pinch in the ass from James
Spader). He actually tells the room prior to making the switch, "I'm sorry for anyone watching this, but I gotta change the channel!" in the most condescending voice. I AM watching the show, but this guy doesn't care and I can't argue. To make matters worse, he stands and watches it for a few minutes and then wanders away. He's gone for upwards of a half an hour. I would have changed it back, but by that time Dairy Queen boyfriend has became noticebly interested in some football show. Sigh.
The admitting clerk FINALLY calls my name. I go into the little office, sign the financial papers and wait for them to type every last detail of my life into the computer. By the time I get back to the waiting room, it has mostly cleared out. Yuppie Mom, Social Climber, one of Mandy's friends and I are all that is left.
As I am now the last patient in the waiting room, I thought, surely I'll be seen soon?
The Hispanic Big Mac Attack guy has now been seen, examined and discharged. He is leaving the hospital with his discharge papers. I am STILL here, 3 hours later. The pain is getting worse and worse, and I am beginning to panic. I change the channel. Still Murphy Brown.
My name is finally called! Hallelujah! I follow the male nurse down the hall and to my room. I turn on the little tv. Murphy Brown.
The door opens, and if my face had not been so incredibly painful my jaw would have hit the floor. It's CALIGULA.
I immediately ask for another doctor. Caligula looks at me for a moment, and then recognition sets in. He then lets me know that the ER is extremely busy tonight, and if I wanted to see another doctor it would mean two more hours sitting in pain. I give in. I do, however, insist on having a nurse in there with us. He's irritated, but complies. He says nothing to me until the nurse, a sweet lady with a Jennifer Aniston-type hairdo, arrives.
Caligula: Weren't you in here last week?
Me: No, about three weeks ago.
Caligula. Uh huh. Why are you here today, same thing?
Caligula: Is it any better, worse?
Me: It's worse. I can't sleep. I'm exhausted.
Caligula: Well, what do you want me to do?
Me: (thinking, I don't know, be a doctor?) I spoke with my doctor. She told me to come in and per my pain management contract, get a shot.
Caligula: (sneering) Of what?
Me: (thinking, of Kahlua? What the fuck do you think?) Morphine and Phenergan.
Caligula: (rolls eyes) Those aren't for sleeping, you know.
Me: (thinking, what an idiot) I can't sleep because of the pain.
Caligula: Right. Did you get your haircut?
(I had my mowhak re-shaved the other day)
Caligula: (sneers) Let's get you examined. (reaches for gloves and the dreaded tongue depresser, his preferred instrument for torture).
Me: (showing him the note from the dentist) My dentist has said, no oral exams.
Caligula: (angry) Why?
Me: (beginning to wonder if Caligula CAN read, as he never seems to notice the plainly obvious on anything written I've ever given him) It will exacerbate my pain and the infection. I am on penicilin for it now.
Caligula: That's not true.
Me: What is not true?
Caligula: It won't exacerbate the infection.
Me: Well, that's what she ordered.
Caligula: Well, it's not true.
Me: It won't exacerbate the infection, you are absolutely positive?
Caligula: I'm positive.
Me: But it WILL exacerbate the pain.
Caligula: I HAVE to look in there. (Once again, Caligula doctors never think much of pain; it's a complete non-issue for them).
Me: How many years were you in dental school?
Caligula: (looks pissed) That's not the point. Open wide.
Me: I will open as wide as I can.
Caligula: OPEN WIDE.
Me: (in a very firm tone) That's as much as I will do.
Caligula begins his exam. The nurse comes and takes my hand. Caligula does not do a "full" version of his horror show act today, and I am positive it is only because of her presence. The exam takes only two or three minutes. He doesn't shake my head this time. I am relieved.
Caligula: Well, I'm ordering you a shot. ONE SHOT.
Me: (confused) I only need one shot. Look at my file. I have never asked for more.
Caligula: (looks at me in disbelief). Well, just ONE shot. Nurse?
They leave the room. The pain is unbelievably worse. I hate this guy.
A nurse (not the nice one from the exam) comes in with my shot. She tells me she'll be back in fifteen minutes to see how I'm doing.
No nurse. The shot is beginning to kick in, and I am nearly weeping with relief.
The nurse finally arrives with discharge papers. She never asks me how I'm feeling. She rushes in, and tries to rush back out. I stop her, and ask if I can speak with the doctor before leaving. She tells me it's not likely, can she pass along a message.
"Sure. You can tell him that I'm not drug-seeking. I don't enjoy coming here. It's not how I wanted to spend my evening. It's dehumanizing to have to beg for pain relief. And his unnecessary exams just make both my pain and my humiliation more acute.
You can tell him that for me."
The nurse takes a moment to pick her jaw up off the floor, and asks me if I need a copy of the patient rights statement and the number for the hospital administrator. I say yes, please. She gives me them, and leaves.
On my way out, I notice several members of the Yuppie Squadron entering a room near the exit doors. I peer inside (yes, I'm nosy) and see a beautiful young girl with her shoulder and arm in a cast. She looks so very sad. This, clearly, is Mandy. Yuppie Mom is there, talking on her cell phone (does NO ONE notice
the "no cell phones" signs?). Social Climber is nowhere to be seen.
She sees me looking at her, and I smile and say, "So...you're Miss Popularity! You'd better get well soon, dear. There's a lot of people pulling for you." Mandy smiles.
I finally make it home. I'm asleep for about two hours before the pain comes back.
Thank you, Doctor Numbnuts.
I've called the administrator, who gave me the number for the patient representative, who is supposed to call me back on Monday to discuss my two encounters with Caligula. I can tell you this---I'm through with him. I don't care how much longer I would have to wait to see another doctor---I will NEVER be "treated" by this asshole again.