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When is the best time to go to the Emergency Room?

The best time is never. Following never, the best time at Skaggs Hospital in Branson is not 12:30 a.m. on a Tuesday. The only benefit was there wasn’t one tourist on the road to slow us down.

I thought please be empty when I opened the door into the waiting room. I was greeted with one Deliverance-style hillbilly family, two howling children and three screaming babies, one of whom was a forty year-old man. I almost cured myself.

I assessed my other sick mates on the way to the reception desk. A cute young lady in a black dress was hopping to and fro on one foot wincing. Her ankle wasn’t swollen but it was black and blue. It didn't look good and apparently there'd be no crutches for her before a five-hundred dollar x-ray was taken. Besides the vociferous ones, there were two babies sleeping peacefully in their car seats. Their teenage mothers chatted contentedly. Either their babies weren’t very sick or their idea of happiness was spending the night in the emergency room.

A man in a Carhartt jacket reclined on a row of classic plastic hospital chairs linked with fake chrome. It was ninety degrees when we walked in the hospital. It was possible he had a horrible fever. It was possible he was drunk. What wasn't possible was that he was experiencing the same state of consciousness as the rest of us.

The receptionist asked why I was there. I gave her my diagnosis. (They love that.) She gave me a clear container and sent me to the bathroom for a urine sample. The bathroom didn’t have a pass through. I had to walk through the waiting room with my sample. I tried to be discreet by hiding it between my stomach and purse.

When I got back to the receptionist’s desk, she held out her hand. I handed her the sample. She paused,  took it and held it up like she’d never seen the color red in her life.

I felt too crappy to muster some righteous indignation and trudged back to my seat by RJ. “Watch this,” I said.

“What?” RJ asked.

“Wait for it..."

Not ten seconds later my name was called and I trudged to triage. My vitals were recorded and the nurse asked what was wrong with me. Really? I contemplated asking her if I could have a triage nurse without vision problems but decided against it.

I was sent back to the waiting room but not for long. The color red was my magic ticket. I was bumped ahead of everybody who was in the waiting room when I arrived. I wasn’t sure if I should be grateful or scared.

My doctor was nice except he lectured me about the dangers of underlying medical conditions and waiting to come in (I had minor symptoms for 2 days before they turned on me.) He capped off a fine evening when he said “especially for someone your age.” I can see how a fifty-one year old could seem quite elderly to a twelve-year old.

Our ER nurse told us it had been a wild night. RJ said he could tell just from the waiting room. They laughed and she agreed when he said he knew where to find the people Winter’s Bone was based on. I tried not to smile and was successful—it's a piece of cake in an emergency room.

6 Comment count
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Love your take on the ER

Having been there countless times myself with elderly parents, sick friends, and my own triple ankle fracture, I appreciate your ability to look around and capture the details for your story - even when you were seeing red!

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How wonderful to hear from someone new (to me) in Red Room. I appreciate your comments. ER rooms are surreal mini-worlds, especially in the middle of the night.

A triple fracture? Must of been some hardware involved in putting your ankle back together again. The girl with the injured ankle was in the cubicle across from me in the ER. They finally gave her some crutches...after they put on her cast.

I also appreciate your journey to Ground Zero shortly after 9/11 to profile women rescue workers. The Women at Ground Zero will be added to my reading list.


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What is wrong with you? I am

What is wrong with you? I am not the nurse. I mean it. In a non-intrusive way. Not asking, just hoping the red is an alert and now you know and it's time to get better.

We have our own versions of ER and like you I make light of the happenings around. A little humour goes a long way, does it not? And how I related to the hiding of the urine sample and what followed.

And I hope you have a wild night, Jules - the nice kind.


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Humor is a great coping mechanism and fortunately things can turn funny quickly for me in trying times.

As for what's wrong with me...let us count the ways?

As for what's actually wrong...it's a kidney infection and possibly was kidney stones. I'm waiting for some test results. I feel pretty iffy and icky. Had to change antibiotics already because the first one made me sick. Hooray, a waste of thirty dollars.

My wild night will be watching actors have a pretend wild night on Netflix.

Thanks for checking in on me.


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Oh dear!

Get well soon. How about that? You are even funny when you are sick. That is something to brag about.

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Thank you for your well wishes. I suppose I'm funny in a sick way presently although I'm not feeling braggish about much except it's a gift to have friends like you who read and comment.