Sunday, September 9, 2018

Emergency Room Visit

I'm fine...but I did go the emergency room late Saturday night. The short story is I had an extremely sore throat that was cutting off my airways that turned out to be strep. It started Friday evening with a mild sore throat. All day Saturday it got worse and worse. It got to the point where it was both extremely painful and extremely difficult to swallow. I was gritting my teeth every time. This, however, still isn't enough to warrant a trip to the ER. The real problem is when I went to take a nap Saturday. The moment I fell asleep my airways relaxed and closed and I woke up gasping. I thought maybe it was a sinus thing (turns out, definitely not) so I went and bought some (generic) Sudafed. That evening I tried to sleep again. This time in a recliner chair so I was propped up a bit. Plenty of time had passed if the Sudafed was going to do anything. I had the same problem, the moment I fell asleep my airway closed and I woke up gasping. This was the point it became untenable and went to the ER. I drove a very unhappy Adam home first and went in. Seeing as I had a non-life-threatening problem on a Saturday night I was braced for a long visit.

There were, blessedly, only two people in front of me. The throat culture (also blessedly and unfathomably) only took 20 minutes to run. They gave me a single shot for the strep throat. Which is pretty cool in and of itself that they can cure strep with a single, if not quite painful, shot. It still hurts today. They also gave me a couple pills for the swelling. I told the doctor my airway was being cut off but I couldn't help but notice when he referenced it he said it felt like my airway was being cut off. The second time he said felt I pressed him on it. It turns out the sensation I was feeling as I fell asleep probably wasn't actually cutting off my airways. It felt like what it feels like when I fall asleep on my back and I snore terribly. It did occur to me before I went in that that snoring sensation may not actually cut off my airway. But when I snore all night I wake up with a sore throat and a swollen uvula. So if I'm starting out the sleep session with a sore throat and some very swollen tonsils (did I mention the super swollen tonsils?) then what sort of state am I going to wake up in? It wasn't quite as bad as cutting off my airways but still untenable* enough for an ER trip. The nurse said the pills would reduce swelling for 24 hours. He also said the shot would cure the strep in 24 to 48 hours. That math was not missed by me. So I asked specifically to make sure the swelling would be reduced until the strep was cured enough not to swell up again. He laughed and assured me it would.

Here's the best part of this story, I've been saving it for last. When I was waiting in the lobby for the strep swab test results somebody come to get me. She said something along the lines of we'd like to put you in room 8 with an I'm-sorry-about-this look on her face. I said I'm sure room 8 is fine, I'm not picky. She said it's a little weird, there's only a bed in the middle of the floor and nothing else. No chairs, nothing. But the doc only has to go over the test results, give me some meds, and I should be in and out. I said I'm sure it's fine and I love the sound of in and out. As we went to room 8 another person asked where she was going with me? Like, we're full, where you going? She said room 8, the look on the other lady's face was fascinating. A look saying, wow, really? And she didn't say another word, oddly so. Upon arriving in room 8 I thought about taking pictures. In retrospect I really wish I had. I didn't wan't anybody to see me taking pictures so I didn't. Let me describe room 8. It was basically the psych ward of ER exam rooms. Imagine a padded room, without the pads. Imagine a jail cell without the weird toilet sink combo unit**. There was in fact only a bed in the room, right in the middle of the floor, high enough to sit on comfortably. This bed was not easily moved, possibly impossible to move, I didn't try. Made of solid wood. There was a very prison-esque mattress in that it was vinyl covered foam. Although I must say, decidedly thicker than a prison mattress**. There was a fairly standard pillow and sheet. Other than that there was utterly nothing else in the room. Including door handles on the inside of the two doors. Let me repeat, the doors had no handles on the inside. It was like the hospital was saying, "It's not quite enough to lock you in here, we must remove the handles so you're clear there's no hope of escape." While I was in there the door was propped open. As a couple funny asides, when the nurse gave me the shot it was in my rear so he wanted to shut the door but propped it open first. Before doing so he said to someone outside that if he's not back out in five minutes to come get him. Also, the administrative lady that talked with me about billing accidentally knocked the door as she left and it started to close. You've never seen someone jump up as fast as I did to catch that door. You'd think I just got another shot in my ass. And finally, I'm ending with the best part of this room, the wooden bed had a strip of molding going down the middle of both sides horizontally. There were 3 inch slots every foot or so. Perfect if you wanted to strap someone down.

The next time you visit the ER you might tell them you're fine with room 8. You'll look like you have inside knowledge and it should trigger an excellent expression. Of course, it's unlikely you'll ever go to the ER for anything quite as trivial as strep throat so you might actually need a medial device or two in your room.

Man o man, I wish I had taken some surreptitious*** snapshots. And wow has this turned into the longest email about a minor ER visit. That room 8 was just so cool. We should totally make an escape room and call it room 8. That's such a good idea. People would ask why we called it room 8 and we could say it was based on an actual room at the hospital. And once in a blue moon a medical person would come through and ask how I know about room 8 and I can look them right in the eye and say with a ominous voice, "Because I've been there."


*Great word, I can use it twice.
**Yes I'm embarrassed but just a little bit proud that I know this.
***Great word and an alliteration

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