Monday, November 19, 2012

ER waiting room tips

While I hope none of my dear readers ever get sepsis, chances are good that you'll end up in an emergency room sometime. Getting from the waiting room to a bed in front of a doctor can sometimes be a tediously slow process. During my two months of critical illness, I went to the ER four times and was admitted to the hospital three of those times. It wasn't until my last visit to the ER that I learned the secret to get scene the fastest. Puke on the triage nurse. I promise, it's a fool proof plan.

Here's the scene from INFECTED where I put this plan into action.


                I managed to make it all the way to the ER without puking again. I pulled a blue barf back from the dispenser near the triage desk before saying a word to anyone. It was 1:15 on a Friday night, or technically Saturday morning. The waiting room held a handful of patients who partied a little too hard and did something stupid, but nothing that looked urgent. I hoped that meant I’d get in right away.
                “Can I help you?” The triage nurse called me over.
                “I had surgery on the tenth. It was a complete hysterectomy and a bowel resectioning. I was discharged on Tuesday, the eighteenth. Now I feel really sick, and I keep throwing up.”
                “If you can take a seat right behind this curtain, I’ll come check your vital signs.”
                Warren got back from parking the car about the time the nurse learned my temperature was stable. No knew infection, that was good. “If you’re vomiting up water, you may be dehydrated. Your blood pressure sitting down looked good, but can I take it again with you standing up?”
                I stood up and felt a new rush of nausea as my head spun and my vision blurred. I wanted to grab the table for balance, but I wanted to puke more. I pulled the barf bag towards my mouth. 350 cc’s of water and saltine cracker. I couldn’t see any distinct pills floating in the bag. It had been almost half an hour, I hoped at least some of the medicine had absorbed into my system.
When I started to wretch again, the nurse took the first bag and handed me another. She pressed her hand against my shoulder and ushered me back into my chair. The blood pressure cuff was still doing its thing, I guess knowing my standing blood pressure wasn’t important after all.
I wiped vomit from the corners of my mouth and pulled up my sleeve so the nurse could take half a dozen vials of my blood. While she was at it, she stuck me with an IV and set me up on a saline drip. “Kate, we’ll get you back to see a doctor as soon as there’s a bed available. In the mean time, do you mind waiting on the gurney behind the curtain here?” She brought me over to the section of triage reserved for ambulance patients. Apparently, puking on the nurse is enough to get elevated to actual emergency status.
An ambulance brought in the victim of a bar fight gone bad, a few minutes later. The guy was parked on the gurney next to mine. It looked like he had a skull fracture, and I figured I’d be waiting for a while. But when a room cleared up in the ER, they wheeled me back first.

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