Wednesday, May 6, 2009
Spent three hours in the middle of the night last night at a nearby emergency room. Don, who is healthy but who has a history of iffy heart conditions via the male members of his family, experienced almost an hour of on-again, off-again heart racing which kept him awake, so at 1 in the morning, I took him to the ER. It turned out to be a condition called supraventricular tachycardia, or SVT (thank you, Wikipedia) which the doctor said is a nuisance but not dangerous. His heartbeat, which was over 180 when the triage nurse saw him, went down to 105 by the time the doc came by, but they still kept him for a couple of hours for observation.
This was only my second time in an ER, and once I quit worrying about Don, I started noticing how much like and unlike this real ER was compared to TV ERs. At 1 a.m. on a weeknight in a suburban neighborhood, it was very quiet; we were the only people in the clean, spacious waiting room. It took us a little longer than I thought it should to get the triage nurse to attend to Don (who, despite his racing heart, was not having chest pains or shortness of breath), but once we got a room, things happened quickly--two efficient nurses scurried around, hooking him up to an EKG machine and installing an IV in his hand (which they never had to use), and the doc who saw him was pleasant and re-assuring (not to mention the Taye Diggs lookalike who took us to the room in the first place).
There was a TV set with Anderson Cooper talking about some woman who had a face transplant, the latest threats from the Taliban, and his own appearance on Jay Leno, talking about American Idol. I like Anderson well enough, but I realized there are reasons I don't much much TV news anymore (except for Jon Stewart) and when the show started up all over again, we switched to TCM which was showing an early talkie Western from 1929. They discharged Don about 3:30 a.m., and the drive home in the quiet night with the windows open, a fullish moon in the sky, and a little fog beginning to form, was relaxing.
So we didn't see Noah Wyle and didn't see much blood (though I did hear a woman moaning loudly and a "Code Red" announcement), and as visits to ERs go, I guess this one was a good one. Modern medical care is something I take for granted, or even don't think about at all, until it's needed, and I'm surely glad to have it nearby and civilized (Turner Classic in the hospital room? That's civilization!). Now if we can just do something about health care costs (and get more Taye Diggses in scrubs)...