I go to the ER sort of a lot. I used to work with this woman, Rosalba, who also went to the ER a lot -- she said she once went two times in one week, one particularly bad week in which she had abdominal pain on Tuesday and fell and broke her tail bone on Friday. We were both so embarrassed for ourselves (but kind to each other) at being that type of person. It was surprising to me that she'd ever feel embarrassed by anything. She was so charming it was probably a pleasure to take her blood pressure.
I have a good friend who also goes a lot, as the method of being admitted to the hospital for her condition. I just finished reading a biography about Edie Sedgewick, who actually seemed to like Emergency Rooms, hospitals and damaging procedures performed on her under the guise of masculine professional help. I think Sedgewick was into it for the pills, but also, maybe, the comfort of knowing you're being watched over, even if it's only by strangers.
When I used to work with Rosalba, I was in my early twenties. I'm a bit mysterious but not near as charming, and whenever I went to the ER I was always suspected of having caused my ailments myself, through drugs or alcohol, which was aggravating in one sense, to be judged off the bat like that, but it was also sort of flattering that they'd assume that about me, because I've always thought of drugs and alcohol as being glamorous, despite knowing from experience that they aren't at all -- but even though I know a lot about them being consumed when one is home all alone and lonely just watching TV and waiting to get sleepy enough for bedtime -- I can't help but associate drunkenness and highness with having fun out with friends, being enjoyed and enjoying the night.
Sometimes after an ER visit, or hospital stay, I'm able to write a good poem or story about it, but there are a lot of very strange things I've seen in ER's that I have never committed to paper because I'm too lazy to try to get all the absurd details just right.
The last two times I went to the ER (a few months ago and last night) I didn't even to try to collect details to use later. I just closed my eyes and imagined myself flying, instead of sitting there in the waiting room in pain but assuming I'm unlikely to die with so many people around me. That time, the waiting room was mostly full of rich-looking people all playing on their phones. No exaggeration -- every adult in there was on their cell phone even when they were sitting right next to the people they came with. I keep trying not to judge people but that night, i wanted to punch every last idiot in their stupid faces.
Last night my main ER waiting room experience concerns a 22 year old boy who was sound asleep in his seat. he looked rather beautiful, skeletal and gay and vulnerable, especially asleep the way he was, so I sat next to him and read his name on his wristband, so I could wake him up when the nurse called his name for intake. i don't mean for this to sound like a selfless deed -- I just enjoy doing things that normal people are afraid of, and there were normal-looking people sitting close to him, exchanging mocking looks about him. I also saw on his wristband that he was born in 1993, and it always amazes me that any young adult can be so young, like how Nirvana is considered Classic Rock now and the music they used to play on the oldies stations when I was a kid, like "Big Girls Don't Cry" and The Supremes songs, are so old now they seem to have disappeared. He did sleep through the nurse calling his name, like I thought he might, so I tried to wake him up, politely at first, but then I got frustrated with him and I was shaking him and telling him "Hey, wake up, get up, you're going to miss your turn. Get it together." it was so uncharacteristic of me to be shaking some sense into someone like that, because I'm usually the one who needs to have the senses shaken into me. Later on, though, when he was back in the waiting room and I was still there, and I was still compelled to watch over him as he fell back into his deep sleep, I had to remind myself that I was there to watch over myself, to find out why I had a bunch of spontaneous bruises developing all over my arms and legs. That kid was just a stranger, and while lots of good people think that it's good to help strangers, I've been experimenting with the concept that maybe it's not. Or in any event, I've narrowed down the groups of strangers that I want to help; it's pretty much that classic disaster maxim, women and children first. When a nurse called his name again, this time because a bed was ready for him, I wasn't sitting next to him anymore but I went to him and shook him roughly awake like last time, telling him "Get up! What if they skip you? Just get up and go over there." He tried to wake up and was pleading with me, "Okay, okay, I'm sorry, I'll get up, I'll do it." Then he started to half-cry and said "This is too much for me. I can't do it." I felt so intent on shaking some sense into him, I wanted to know what was wrong with him so I could reason him out of it, so I asked him if he was on drugs, because that seemed to be his problem, and I knew I could reason him out of a drug panic. He suddenly seemed very alert as he yelled in my face, "I'm not on drugs." I realized then that whatever his problem, and how ever much I outweighed him, he was to some degree a potential threat to me. I hoped the night wasn't as bad as it felt and that maybe there was someone there watching me, ready to shake me back to life if needed.