Waiting & Cussing

lonely carI hate it when I get tired and irritated and run out of words. When I run out of words, I resort to cussing. Mind you, I’m talking cussing, not swearing. There is a difference. Swearing, in my humble opinion is a higher art form than cussing. Swearing involves creative thought, a unique combination of well put together words to form an expressive and descriptive, yet negative picture. For example:

“Mother of pearl and golden dams, that hurt!”

Cussing on the other hand, it more earthy, immediate and guttural:

“Hell’s bells and g*d dammit, that hurt!”

There are no well thought out variations; no, it’s just a bam! there you are sort of thing. Visceral and heartfelt cussing is brought out when there is no time or filter.  To me, it has it’s place in one’s freedom of expression and I have no shame nor sorrow to say I am verbally proficient, but it is also the bottom rung of word symbolism and yesterday I sank that low in writing. For that, I am embarrassed (especially if my mother reads it).

Let us recreate the scene:

As you may or may not know, I am still having issues with my right foot and ankle. I have seen doctor after doctor to find out why my poor ankle and foot swell to the point of tightness and pain and why my ankle will give me acute shooting agony at odd times. Ultrasound, MRIs, x-rays: all reveal nothing, except the things I do not have. The last orthopedic specialist recommended I be tested for soft tissue diseases and see a vascular specialist. Money doesn’t grow on trees, so why shell out for yet another specialist if I can get some of that done at the local level, you know? That is how I ended up at my general practice doctor’s office.

So there I was at my GP’s. I signed in a cheerful 20 minutes early, thinking in a strangely optimistic way that this would help slide me right into my 4:15pm appointment. Now, that’s not as foolish as it sounds because this was happening at my other appointments for the past few weeks, so I had reason to be hopeful. Well, those hopes were soon to be dashed in a slow, torturous tunnel of time.

I was tired, nervous, and on edge. This ankle thing has been going on for quite some time and it’s costing me a lot in many ways. Chronic pain does something to people and by people, I mean me. I am grumpy, short tempered, and tense. I end up taking a lot of meds to help take the edge off and by that virtue, I end up losing time at work. (Goodness knows, I don’t want to have to go through a urine test at work for this!) I’m also losing valuable good time with my family, especially Yoda, who is growing up and away by the day. I’m distracted, well, you get the picture. I was ready to get the appointment going so I could get my labs done and be on my way.

As I sat working my crossword puzzle and surreptitiously observing the others in the waiting room, I kept hearing name after name being called back, all but mine. I think I knew I was in trouble when a fellow waiting room occupant not only ran out the internal battery of her Kindle, but also the emergency battery and began searching for an outlet. By 4:45, I was ready to bust. The woman behind the counter said, with a verbal pat on the head, that it shouldn’t be too much more time. It is too laugh.
My eyes were bleary from working crosswords, I played through the paltry assortment of games on my phone, and ran out of people to observe because I was the only one left. The religious MUZAK was taking on ominous tones of brainwashing. God’s happy music was starting to sound a bit on the Stepford side. If the reason for my visit was not so important to me, I would have walked a long time ago. It was now 5pm.

At last my name was called to the magic ‘back’, but told that it would still be a wait.  I left home over two hours ago and have been waiting an hour and 15 minutes. Insert internal screaming here.

I entertained myself in the exam room with more magazines, but that didn’t last long. I swiped a couple of tongue depressors and had a wooden sword fight with myself. I took a latex glove and blew it up to make a chicken. I paced a little to stave off the sleep that threatened. I allowed myself to get beyond frustration and what is a modern person to do about that? I posted it to FaceBook.

This is where the written cussing took place. All out in public. Yep, the best place in the world to display a total lack of verbal creativity and show that I really should have joined the Navy that day in the recruiter’s office so long ago. I ended my short little rant with the mother of all four letter combinations. Yes, I dropped the ‘f-bomb’ on public media. Really swift.

You know if you post a photo and comment it on it via mobile, you can’t edit the comment? Found that out a little too late. So there it sat, four little rudely combined members of the alphabet for the world (or at least the twelve people who read my FB page) to see. I think that began to bother more than the continued waiting.

I am not a prude by any means, as I said I am very proficient in verbal cussing, have been since a young age. I used to get in trouble in elementary school (yes, me) for gratuitous usage of foul language. Perhaps that is where my love for words began – trying to find the alternates. Or perhaps it’s where I learned that words have power – to change, to mark, to delineate, to shame or raise up. Next time and I am sure there will be a next time, I will stick with swearing (at least in public). It is much less worrisome, at least to me, but if you perchance do see me slip up and bring out the verbal trash again, please note the dire circumstances said expletives are surrounded by and do not judge too harshly.

Oh, and by the way, I did not get out of the doctor’s office until 6:20pm. Gosh darn it.

Emergency Waiting

“Hurry up and wait.”  Or better yet, “Abandon All Hope Ye Who Enter Here”.  Pick one.  Either will be more than sufficient for the hospital emergency room entrance.

Monday night, our friend and neighbor, Desdemona was having chest pains and difficulty breathing, so asked that Bashert take her to the hospital emergency room.  She has a couple of life-threatening conditions and didn’t want to take any chances.

Bashert, who doesn’t do hospitals if she can help it, but who is a devoted friend, of course put Yoda in the car, picked up Desdemona, her son Jehan and carted them all down to the ER, which is less than five minutes away by personal vehicle and more than thirty by ambulance.

This is where I come in.

Bashert called me at work in that voice that prompts the question, “What’s wrong?”.  She explained the situation and asked that I come pick up the boys so they wouldn’t have to spend the night in the ER.

Now, having known Bashert for some time, I immediately translated the question into, “Please come here and stay with Desdemona because I am going to freak out if I don’t get out of this hospital very soon.”  So, I spoke with my partners and made arrangements to leave work early.

The patient parking lot was overflowing when I arrived, but there was only one car in the physician’s reserved spots. Not a good sign.

The waiting area bore the truth of the parking lot.  Without exaggeration, there had to be about 50 people in various states of jammies and distress.  And even though Bashert and Desdemona had been there for over an hour already, Des still had not registered.

After the change of guard with Bashert, I realized that in my haste to get in the hospital, I had left my study materials and phone charger in the car – parked in the secondary lot away from the building.  I couldn’t leave Desdemona alone, so there I was left to entertain myself with the comings and goings of the inhabitants of the night emergency room.  Well, that and the wholly inappropriate choice of the Travel Channel showing repetitive episodes of Andrew Zimmern’s Bizarre Foods.

I heard conversations about some people’s innards that I really didn’t want to hear.  I saw a gentleman come in with a four inch gash across the side of his brow.  I saw one very experienced ER patient come in with a book, crossword puzzle book, phone, and bag of various snacks.  I couldn’t believe she was eating, I was trying not to breathe the air.  We all sat and waited.

I drank a large cup of coffee at work and it was pressing to come out, but I was determined not to use the bathroom facilities.  People were throwing up in there for goodness sake.

Many people simply gave up after several hours of emergency waiting.  As each person left, there was a small and collective sigh from those who remained; one step closer.  The same was done, but with exasperation when an ambulance was seen to pull up.  Ambulance patients trumped the walk-ins; one step back.

Desdemona started to get more anxious when an elderly couple said they had been waiting for five hours.  I don’t think she realized at that point we had already been there almost as long.

Did you know that they eat raw camel meat in Ethiopia? And that when you are eating an oyster, you are eating its digestive and reproductive systems at the same time? And that in Korea you can eat live octopus?

It was into hour five that we were finally called to the back.  In the exam room, I learned that I could lose weight by eating all I want and get a new body in just six weeks.  Bizarre Foods had been replaced by infommercials, curiously all about weight loss and physical fitness without effort.  I missed the magic bullet.

In hour six, Desdemona was finally examined by not one, but three different nurses and a respiratory therapist.  Each asked the same things, no one wrote anything down.  The little vampire came by and took blood, but left the vials on a tray next to the bed.  I could see that the wheels of efficiency were slick with grease in this operation.

Perky, the student resident ordered a CT scan for Desdemona.  She still hadn’t seen a full doctor.

While we waited for the results we had full view of the ER staff.  Apparently, they have time to make decorating decisions – they were pushing a couch back and forth between rooms – and update their phone apps.  They had time to do pretty much anything but reassure their patients.

Dr. No Chin showed up to cover the results of the CT.  After he sufficiently scared the both of us with talk about blood clots and such, he prescribed an inhaler for Desdemona and left.

After over seven hours of waiting then being busily ignored, Dr. No Chin discharged Desdemona into the cold of the morning, with a diagnosis of unexplained shortness of breath and chest pain. Basically, what she came in with.

Seven hours held hostage to the medical system and sent home with a pat on the head.  I sure hope the guy who came in with the severed finger faired better.