My car is low to the ground and tough to swing in to. I'd forgotten how everything works when you're in that sort of pain, all the strange little things to avoid pain. It wasn't any fun re-learning those lessons. I drove to the ER and checked myself in.
When you're walking like someone is poking a large superheated steel rod into your ass, you tend to attract attention. When you do this on the way to an emergency room, you tend to get these sideways glances, or these horrified looks. I was walking as though my hips held a bomb, gingerly limping to the front desk.
Once through the sign-in procedure they fast tracked me to the first bed available. I try not to exaggerate when I talk about pain. They asked me to rate it on a scale of 1 to 10, I told them it was a 9. "A nine would be excruciating," the nurse said. "Well," I said, "I've had a ten once. This is close. I'm shaking, nauseated, and can't really move."
"Let's say it's a ten," he told me after I tried to follow him to the room. I was locked up, gasping. Stupid back.
The ER was hopping. The guy in the room next to me had been thrown from his horse. "Got-damn thing just up and got-damn threw me, then stepped on my got-damned ingrown toenail." He was more concerned about his toenail than the rest of it, which ended up being a separated shoulder, a broken wrist, a broken arm, and a broken toe.
The lady on the other side of my room was talking to her dead grandmother. She'd started taking some new parkinsons drug and the cops had found her standing on Parmer Lane in her housecoat talking to a pole. She'd apparently dehydrated in the process.
A life flight helicopter landed while I was there and brought with it a screaming patient, someone who'd been in a major wreck south of the hospital. They had to tranquilize him (I could swear one of the doctors called for dilaudid) and it took a while for his screaming to stop.
By then I was felling pretty goddamn stupid about taking a bed in an ER. I mean, if there were some way for me to see a doc, get the drugs that I knew I needed, and go away I totally would have.
They X-rayed my back right after the helicopter guy quieted to a whimper. The X-ray tech laughed at the ridiculously short gown they'd given me, and got me a larger one. She offered to hold up sheet while I changed out of the smaller one, which was nice of her but, hey, by then she'd seen all there was to see (why do you have to strip down to skivvies for an X-ray anyway?).
X-rays were clean, though my spine was curved to the left just like the old days...the straightest I could get.
Back in the ER bed listening to the various dramas playing out. The tired yet professional and still very personable nurses, the outgoing and happy doctor, and the impatient patients. I lay staring at the fluorescent light waiting to be discharged, trying not to twitch. One of the nurses, after an exceedingly long triage interview of an addled patient, told another nurse "You can always tell when you need to call the psych ward." The other nurse replied in the affirmative, saying "this morning one guy told me his entire history from birth. He was the king of Bavaria, apparently."
Two rooms down, a patient went code. Everyone snapped to it, and they did what they could. They wheeled him to the trauma ward one door down.
Twenty minutes later, I was out the door with my drug scripts and a note telling me not to go to work or class for three days. I was feeling lucky to only be in pain. This pain thing, it can be fixed eventually. I can still breathe. I can still function.
Today is a good day.
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