Be aware at the ER

By Matt Campbell
September 16, 2004

Cecelia Francisco

I recently paid a visit to Bryn Mawr Hospital Emergency Ward where I was treated for back spasms. My mother was at school to visit me, so she was able to drive me to the hospital, as I was unable to get out of bed by myself.

I’m not quite sure how the back pain came about but its probably because of the mattress provided by Cabrini, which unless you have a special construction of egg crates and bed pads you won’t get a good nights sleep.

I was greeted as I came through the sliding doors by a friendly lady who asked me the standard emergency questions such as name, age, address, phone number and finally my reason for coming. I answered the questions and took a seat to wait for the first available nurse.

As I waited a young woman came through the doors. I looked with interest trying to figure out her ailment. She had no limp; she wasn’t cradling any of her limbs to suggest a broken bone. Then, as she approached the lady at the entrance I saw her right eye was swollen so badly that not only could she not see out of it but also I couldn’t make out where her forehead ended and her eye socket started.

As nice as the lady was working the front desk, she simply wasn’t the observant type as she asked what seemed to be the problem with the young woman. That gave me a good laugh. Then the secretary realized the young woman had an eye injury of some sort, but to top it off she had the mind to ask her which eye it was.

I’m thankful no one came in with a serious injury.

The nurse saw me not too long thereafter and she took my blood pressure and asked me more standard questions. I made my way to the back to my own room where I was given a gown and told to undress down to my undies. The woman actually used the word undies. I had to say excuse me thinking I heard her wrong, but sure enough she repeated and said I could keep my undies on. It might just be me but I didn’t know the phrase boxers or briefs now included undies.

The doctor saw me and asked me if I was sure that the pain was coming from my back and not my stomach. I said, “yes of course, why?” Apparently I had put the gown on backwards and managed to tie it in such a fashion that it covered everything but my nipples and crotch. He left and I adjusted the gown in embarrassment. When he returned he did a series of karate chops on my back asking, “does this hurt” with each blow to my lower back. He finally stopped and sent me to get x-rays down the hall.

I laid down on the x-ray table in my gown and undies as the x-ray technician came and adjusted the overhead piece. Lying on my back she came out with a lead apron to cover my private parts. She then walked off behind some metal doors and maybe into a back room. “Take a breath and hold it,” a voice said over some intercom. I laid in prayer as I thought about how she is in some protected room far enough away to necessitate an intercom, while I am only given an apron the size of my palm.

My look of terror wasn’t comforted when she came out and simply said, “all done.”

I was given some painkillers and told to rest for a week or two and sent on my way. I’m not sure whether to be happy with my treatment or to be mortally petrified, but I just felt the need to inform everyone to be on their guard at the ER.

Posted to the web by Ryan Norris

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Matt Campbell

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