Wednesday, July 23, 2008

ER, the reality

Today I had planned on—and particularly looked forward to—devoting Under the Stinkwood to reviewing my friend R's monologue debut, but, alas, fate had another plan, and I spent the day in the NYU emergency room with Other, who was struck in the middle of last night with a kidney stone. Although we got home late this afternoon, there was no way I could leave him to attend R's event, since he has yet to pass the stone and has been puking when he drinks the water he was told would help break it up and move it out. (Turns out the ER feels its mission is not to treat ailments but merely to take away the pain.) So I will review ER instead of R. 

ER, the reality, is actually quite similar to ER, the famous television show: dreamy attending doctors, winsome nurses, overeager interns, swashbuckling EMTs, double doors bursting open every few minutes to set in play a new drama—or bit of comic relief. The only thing missing was the fucking. That probably happens too, but I didn't see it myself.

The cases were quite colorful and, I'm grateful to say, not especially gory. Other's first "roommate" (patients were consigned in pairs to curtained chambers more like cramped dressing rooms than actual rooms) was an Asian gent whose face was entirely covered with brown splotches, which made me a bit squeamish since I naturally worried that they might be the (contagious) reason for his ER stay, but it turned out he was in a diabetic collapse, made difficult to treat since he didn't speak English and resisted injections and food. It was looking pretty dim till—simultaneously and independently—his two sons and an interpreter arrived in a noisy eruption of Chinglish.

Then we were moved to a room with a boy whose chest was hooked up to electrodes. We watched the monitor blink landscapes of his pulse and heart rate (or are those the same thing?). The doctor took his father aside and said sotto voce, "There's nothing wrong with his heart. I recommend you take him to a psychiatrist or a psychologist," and gave him some referrals. A few minutes later, the doctor returned to discharge the boy and asked the father if he had made arrangements to see a "specialist." The father said, "Yes, I'm taking him to a cardiologist on Long Island." 

Next door to us—or, rather, on the other side of the curtain—I heard a doctor say, "How old are you? 101! Wow, 101! Let's get those pants off and take a look." 

And there was more, but it has been a long day, and I worry it could be a long night, since Other still hasn't passed the damn boulder ...

1 comment:

Robin Amos Kahn said...

Wow! I hope he feels better soon. What is it with these kidney stones? I have to do some research. Love your description of the ER. When I was taking my mother out on LI there were no dreamy doctors.

R totally understood that you couldn't come, but really missed you.
It went well! I had the time of my life.

I hope he feels better soon.