Monday, September 24, 2007

ER Musings

The woman darted across the parking lot in front of me as I carried Little A toward the emergency department entrance. The baby was flushed and whimpering softly from her as-yet undiagnosed double ear infection. I was walking fairly fast, worried about what might be wrong, wishing we were at home so we could have gone to the pediatrician's office instead of the ER. But the lady still managed to beat us through the sliding doors. She rushed up to the sign-in window. I thought she must be in a tizzy of anxious fear about someone who lay in a bed beyond the check-in area.

But no, not quite.

Woman: "I need someone to look at my shoulder. I was putting on a sweatshirt this morning and hurt it. It hurts when I move."

ER Gatekeeper: "What is your level of pain, 1 being not too bad and 10 being the worst?"

Woman: "Hmmm. I guess ... eight?"

Now, I realize that I'm not an unbiased observer. Since tweaked-shoulder lady obviously rushed to get in front of us so she could be at the front of the line, I admit to being automatically ticked off at her. When you have a sick baby, you might begrudgingly let someone cut in front if they are missing an arm and several quarts of blood, but that's where your magnanimous spirit ends. Your mother instincts make your lips curl over your eye teeth, and you have to fight the urge to hiss "My baby FIRST!" at everyone else in the room.

Still. Am I wrong for wondering how someone experiencing level-8 pain could win a speed-walking race to the front door with me a moment before?

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