Putting Life Into Perspective: Illness and Waiting Rooms

What a week. I’ve been battling some ugly virus, or food poisoning, or something-itis … And I really went down for the count. I hate being sick.

Of course, part of the problem with being sick is that the house starts falling apart, too. My hubby and kids are actually very helpful most of the time (compared to other stories I hear), but, even so, when Mom’s sick, that means laundry doesn’t get done for a few days, breakfast and lunch don’t get planned, dishes pile up, floors don’t get swept, bathrooms start to look grimy, sinks look gross. … I’m sure you know the drill. … So, on top of being sick, you end up scowling at the cobwebs and kicking laundry around with your bathroom slippers. It’s all bad. …

And then there was a trip to urgent care in the midst of all this. If there ever is a humbling experience, it’s going to urgent care or the ER. I’ve been to both several times, and I must say I never leave without feeling grateful for my own family and health. You sit there and watch people rush in barely-breathing toddlers, auto-accident victims, grandparents who look frail on the gurney. I’ve seen people come in with severed fingers (one I remember specifically kept wailing, “But I have to go on vacation!”) or blood pouring down arms or faces. The other night a young boy (about 12) was wheeled by on a gurney and he looked frighteningly pale. For some reason, he had his shirt off. And he looked all ribs. They put him in one of those glass rooms where he could be observed, and he had the strangest look on his face – not really afraid, almost serene. Something about it made it seem like he’d done this many times. It was all so heart-breaking.

Anyway, any time I leave an experience like that I just feel … grateful. I may be sick. And my laundry may be piling up. But things get put into perspective when you see how much other people suffer. …

How about you? Have you ever had a humbling experience in an urgent care or ER waiting room? How do you keep illnesses in perspective?

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0 thoughts on “Putting Life Into Perspective: Illness and Waiting Rooms

  1. Before we were married my hub came down with appendicitis. Not having insurance, we took him to the VA hospital in Long Beach. They waited about 4 hours before seeing him, and then because it’s a teaching hospital they had students lined up to do a rectal on him. No joke. He told them they could forget it! Long story, but they sent him home only to have me turn around and bring him back within an hour. When we got to the ER they wanted us to take some sort of survey. I’m like “are you NUTS?” and Dave immediately pukes bile. That got their attention. They actually kept him overnight and operated noon the following day. Unfortunately, his appendix seeped and he got peritonitis. It was an ugly 10 days post op. All that to say – we laugh now, but at the time it was incredibly stressful. I’ve been at the ER with asthmatic kids and broken arms and thank God that’s been it.

    Sorry to hear you were so ill Laurie. Glad you’re on the mend!

  2. Thanks for the kind wishes, Jeanne! Wow that experience in the VA hospital sounds like it could definitely give you new perspective. (And yes, the ER with kids is a rite of passage, isn’t it? We’ve done the broken limb thing twice in urgent cares. …) Seeing all the other people is so eye-opening. It makes me think, gosh, this stuff goes on EVERY DAY – all this pain and suffering and illness. So then it makes me want to skip around the parking lot as soon as I feel better. : ) Glad your husband mended well!

  3. I’ve been thinking a lot lately about our health and how we take care of ourselves. I too am greatful that we have been relatively healthy and major trauma free.
    I have been thinking of growing old gracefully and there are at least a couple of items I could give up to help me ease into middle age without too many doctors visits for medications and poor health.
    Done and done!

  4. One night my daughter had extreme pain in her stomach and everyone thought it was appendicitis. The ER was not pleasant but I felt really sorry for the wonderful male nurse who held my daughter’s hand while they took blood…his fingers turned white and bloodless and I thought for sure his fingers were broken~! They admitted her and I spent a total of 36 hours with her in the hospital and eventually checked her out AMA (against medical advice) because no studies were done, no doctor showed up, nothing but a huge hospital bill in my future. We still don’t know what was wrong.

    Hospitals at night are interesting and noisy…now wonder they make dramas and comedies about them. Nurses discuss EVERYTHING out loud and with seemingly built in broadcasting abilities. Wow, did I really need to know the consistency of that man’s BM? Or listen to the guy across the hall get pain meds that he yelled, “My head is going to explode. Oh my god. OM MY GOD. MY HEAD IS FALLING OFF.” We were across the hall cracking up because my daughter got the exact same meds and she said it wasn’t that bad~! Yes, it definitely gives you a new perspective to visit an emergency room.

  5. Kat – what ended up being wrong? And let me guess – it was Rancho Springs, right?

  6. Hi Laurie,
    Sorry you’re not feeling well. I just sent you an email. When you get a chance, would you please take a look and let me know whether or not you’re interested. I highly recommended you for an assignment.

  7. Chris — Yes, definitely! We take all that stuff more seriously as we get older, huh? We’ll do it!

    Kat — Oh my gosh, what an experience! And you nailed it right on the head — I kept thinking “No wonder they never run out of material for those television shows!” It was crazy in there, and was each time I’ve ever been. And you’re SO RIGHT about the nurses! I walked out with a huge amount of respect (more respect) for the drs and nurses who do that every night. Holy cow. Glad your daughter ended up being okay!

  8. Jeanne – Actually it was Inland and we are still not sure what it was but she is fine. Rancho Springs was another night of fun and drama with my other daughter. (She had broken a finger in cheerleading.) A Marine was in the waiting room with an incredibly banged up leg, I mean blood and yuck everywhere. He was trying not to show his pain but every once in a while it would be too much. What was ironic was he had just gotten home from Iraq and managed to get hurt in California on the I-15 freeway. A truly scary moment came when a mom came running in with her baby in her arms. They take one look at the baby and they rush her back to the docs. The baby was so pale and flaccid, it was horrifying.

    Mizwrite, you are so right. I was grateful it was nothing serious with either one of my daughters and it tends to put other parts of your life in perspective, too. Emergency room nurses were the best in both places though~!

  9. Kat — Gosh, all your ER experiences sound so right-on. And obviously, you’re just like me that you’re just sitting there taking it all in. … I was thinking, gosh, if writers ever need material for a book, they should just come sit in an ER one night. Stories galore!

    And you’re right about the nurses — they were the best! It was clear who was the “head nurse” during my experience, and she was surprisingly young but SO in charge! Talk about cool under pressure. …

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