A visit to the ER

Dec. 01, 2013 @ 01:52 PM

I went to the emergency room the other week. I also went to the emergency room the other week.

That’s right, I went to the emergency room twice in the past couple of weeks. It’s becoming a habit, although, to be honest, I’d prefer crocheting.
Actually, the first time I went to the emergency room it was for my wife. The second time was for me. After all these years of marriage, I am still very competitive.
In both cases, we went to the emergency room for what we perceived to be an emergency but which turned out only to be something much worse — getting older. It appears to be incurable.
We left the emergency room generally feeling fine except for the acute pain of the bill, which included names of doctors we hadn’t seen, medicines we didn’t know we took, tests we don’t remember having and a lifetime subscription to Time magazine that we can’t recall ordering.
Also, we did not get the buy-one-visit, get-one-visit-free discount.
But we did learn a lot about how the emergency room operates, although we did not, in fact, see any operations. Next time, we’ll buy tickets when they first go on sale, as long as we can get good seats.
So if you, too, are planning to get away from all the shopping over the holiday period and head on over to the emergency room, here are the things you should know.
• Don’t still be in your pajamas when you go to the emergency room because the likelihood is that you will stay in your pajamas for a long time, and if your pajamas are anything like my pajamas, you will have to do a lot of explaining why a person your age still has Lady and the Tramp pajamas.
• Get your story straight. You will have to repeat your story of why you are in the emergency room every time someone in medical attire comes over to you, so you want to make sure you are telling the same story each time and not confusing the pain in your arm with the time you stuck a fork in your knee. 
• Because they are polite, the medical people all will ask, “How are you?” The appropriate response is not “fine,” because if you were fine, would you really choose to be in the emergency room when you could be home eating mint chocolate chip ice cream?
• When emergency room personnel tell you that the test results will be back soon, make sure you understand that “soon” really means “not soon.” In fact, the whole idea of time is different in the emergency room. New doctors, nurses and technicians will come and go while you are still there, and then they will come back again after having gone home for the holidays, seen their families and renewed their driver’s licenses.
• Meanwhile, you will still be there, along with Lady and the Tramp.
Neil Offen can be reached at theneiloffencolumn@yahoo.com.