con’t from Now I Will Go Home And Cry
I was on my own now.
In the Twilight Zone.
The hospital hallway.
Surrounded by other patients each on their own stretcher with nurses, Doctors and paramedics constantly bustling by us.
The bright yellow lighting made it look like we were living in a Polaroid photo from the 1970’s.
All the triage caves were full. The stretchers were lined up all around the glass box that held the nurse’s station. One after the other. Head to toe. Like casualties of war. Each of us with our own story of suffering, pain and fear.
The casualties of life.
My prime spot made it impossible to sleep however it did provide a front row seat to the evening’s “events”.
The first hour or so I spent listening to everyone else’s problems. It was impossible not to. Even with my earplugs I couldn’t drown out the suffering.
So many people were too upset to respond to the myriad of questions being thrown at them in triage. They couldn’t concentrate, or didn’t understand. Some didn’t speak English. Each of them was sick, worried and stressed about getting the proper care.
After listening to all these different people unable to respond to simple questions it was a refreshing surprise when the guy right across the hall arrived.
He was precise.
He really seemed to have his act together. Every question was answered with ease. He knew the last time he had leukemia. The dates, the Dr. that treated him. The hospital. The duration of the time spent in hospital. It was a relief for a change. Someone finally knew what they were talking about.
Then the conversation went on a bit longer.
He had been a school teacher.
Then he was homeless for 13 years.
The commanders on the radio told him where to go to sleep at night and who to trust. Otherwise no one was trustworthy.
He became agitated.
The radio people controlled everything. They were also known as the Police. Everyone was out to get him. It was a huge conspiracy.
No one could be trusted. The nurse hadn’t been vetted by the radio people.
He worked himself into a panic and decided to run. He took his backpack and literally ran barefoot out of the hospital. As if a bunch of men in white coats were chasing him.
The most sane patient in the ER turned out to be a lunatic.
Things are not quite what they seem in the ER.
Then there was the mumbling old man in the corner cave triage room. He must have been at least 80, maybe closer to 90 something. Mumbling incoherently, calling out for help for hours on end. When a nurse finally did go to take blood I understood he had been waiting for over 12 hours in that state, being ignored, trying to see a Dr.
It was awful.
This mumbling old man was no fool though.
He devised a plan.
He was going to get treated faster.
There was a way.
He decided to sh*t everywhere on his stretcher.
The stench was strong enough to overpower the smells of vomit, stale piss, old bleach, sweat, fear and death that filled the ER. This smell buried everything else.
At that moment I thought you could never pay me enough to be a nurse.
The mumbling old man was transferred to a room…upstairs. A real room. With 4 walls and a ceiling and lights that can be dimmed. Maybe it wasn’t a private room, but I figured it had to be better than where he came from.
His plan worked.
After that episode I figured, it couldn’t possibly get any worse. It’ll be smooth sailing the rest of the night. I got out my book and tried to read. By that time it was after midnight.
I decided to stop taking the Dilaudid in an effort to quell the nausea and only took the Naproxen and some extra Tylenol. I needed off this roller coaster of pain and nausea.
The Dilaudid it made it impossible to read. The words were blurry, bouncing off the page. I tried to concentrate. If I couldn’t read I would just have to lay here with my exploding stomach pain and nausea and listen to everyone suffering all night long.
Only 4 hours had passed since Robert left.
Four hours!? How is that possible?
I still had another 10 to go before I’d see him again.
The countdown continued…
At 1 am four police officers show up with a twenty something guy on a stretcher. He has what looks to be a cage and bars on top of him to restrain him.
He is crying.
I can’t tell if it’s because he is in pain or not. They put him in the cave right across from me. He looks like he might have been in a fight. He is red and swollen. Maybe it’s just from the crying.
Maybe he is just high.
At first the guy is very apologetic, ” I won’t do it again officer! Really! Don’t call my parents! Please please please! Don’t, don’t, don’t!”
Then after a couple of minutes, for some reason he does a 180 degree turn and starts in on the offensive.
“Why did you search my bag officer? You didn’t have the right to search my baaaag! Where is the warrant to search my bag officer?”
And then full on heart stopping screaming.
At the top of his lungs, as loudly as physically possible,
“You don’t have the right officers! I’m gonna go to the TV station! You can’t do this to me!” and then swearing. Lots and lots of swearing.
This is all so loud that I want to put my hands over my ears. I still have my earplugs in. Good-for-nothing earplugs.
I don’t put my hands over my ears.
That is too obvious.
I’ve had my book in front of me the whole time trying to read the same sentence for over an hour now. This wasn’t going to beat me. I was going to read that book and take myself away from this hell. I would make it happen.
It didn’t happen.
The cops are trying to calm the kid down, “Don’t worry, it’s okay, keep it together, you’re going to be fine, just breathe, calm down.”
This goes on for at least 30 minutes. Maybe longer.
The screaming doesn’t stop or pause, it just keeps going.
The kid becomes more and more agitated and starts to provoke some of the officers. Everyone’s nerves are frayed. It has escalated too far. The piercing screaming has been going on for over an hour now, maybe longer.
The air seemed thicker, buzzing.
It felt hard to breathe.
Something was going to snap.
A scuffle and then one police officer hits the kid right up side the head across the face, up against the bars around his head. The kid has a bloody nose.
Now he is screaming louder. I don’t know how, my voice would have quit ages ago.
“Police brutality! Police brutality! Thanks for hitting me in the face officer Randal! Thanks for hitting me in the face officer Randal! Look!!! My nose is bleeding! Thanks officer Randal! You saw that! You saw that! See what he did to me??? Look! Thanks officer Randal! Thanks officer Randal!”
As there are curtains on either side of the triage unit it was like I was watching a You Tube video at a theatre.
Just a bit of violence, to add to the evening.
The kid kept screaming and lashing out. I thought he would eventually wear himself out, but nope, he did that for a good two hours before they were able to find an isolation room at the end of the hall to put him in.
I could still hear him though. He was unbelievably loud. He kept screaming well into the morning.
Was it police brutality? Probably.
Did I think he deserved it? Undoubtedly.
The officers left.
The roar dulled.
I tried to focus on the remaining 7 hours before I would see Robert again. I will make it through this night.
I have to keep it together.
It’ll get better Suzanne…it’ll get better.
Continued here…“Hospital Night Terrors”