Last summer, Shaun and I went hospital camping. She had surgery, tried not to die, while I comforted her gently: if you die, I will KILL you.
This Sunday, we went Emergency Room Camping.
Holding Shaun’s good hand while she was on the gurney, I said, “Next year, how about Yosemite? Or the ocean? Something less…fluorescent. No one looks good in hospital lighting.” Bad vacation pics.
Shaun had a horse accident, without the horse.
I get this. Done it myself several times.
Horse accidents, especially those in which the rider hits the dirt, are distinctive: there’s usually some airborne time, along with the physics of velocity combining with gravity, just before the earth tilts, and the ground suddenly veers sideways, slamming into your body.
I heard the thud, a crack, a cry, and I RAN.
I saw the twisted neck, the thumb pointing the wrong way, the smashed face, and went instantly into horse accident mode. Luckily, her neck was fine, just twisted funny. I knew the thumb was grim: either badly dislocated or badly broken. It was a face down landing, with nothing to break her fall (if we don’t count the thumb). She was pretzeled into a scary crime-scene type outline.
Like every other horse person on the planet, I knew she had about 15-20 minutes of shock to buffer the pain, before it really started to hurt. The hospital was 30 minutes away: the last 10 minutes are up a nice windy road, the asphalt pocked with sink holes from the rain.
I might have used a swear word. Or ten.
She’s hurting badly by the time we ease into the parking lot. I hunt for the Emergency entrance.
What hospital puts a kazilllion speed bumps in front of the ER??
Luckily, the ER was full of coughing people. The receptionist took one look at Shaun’s hand, and hustled her to the front of the check in line. The magic words, “she hit her head”, got a nurse and wheelchair before the paperwork was finished .
I’m telling you, it was a horse accident.
I did learn something from last summer: sweetly saying “I’m going to kill you if you die” doesn’t instill a positive, healing, attitude in the injured person.
I look around for humor. I have this theory: No matter how bad or scary something is, there is usually something funny in the situation.
Trauma rooms are downright depressing, with all the groaning, crying, blood, and drunken swearing. The police, once they finished holding down a crazy guy until the sedative took effect, brought Shaun some ice chips because the nurses were busy.
Police bringing ice chips is just…sweet. Not funny. Shaun’s accident. Not funny. Horse accident without the horse, in the house, when you don’t even like horses: funny later.
The ER doc gives Shaun a complicated explanation of why he’s painfully injecting a numbing agent around the nerves in her thumb to get a better idea of where to look.
“Why is he doing that?” Shaun whispered, in major pain, “that’s where it hurts the most!”
(I’m her personal doctor slash medical translator. I don’t know why.)
“He needs to block feeling in certain parts of your thumb and hand”, I say in a normal voice, “If anything still hurts after that, he knows for sure there’s a problem and can find the exact location. He doesn’t want to jerk on your thumb if your hand has a break or fracture that didn’t show on the x-ray. It might make it worse, and it would hurt more than the shots.”
The doctor looks at me. Later, outside, he asks me if I’m a doctor. No. Nurse? No. Vet? No. He looks mystified. I sigh.
“Horses”, I say.
He looks at me blankly, clearly not understanding how nerve blocking and horses go together.
“Uh, that was the best explanation to a patient I’ve ever heard. Mind if I use it?”
He puts a hand on my shoulder, squeezes. “Great bedside manner, you should have gone to medical school.”
After three hours or so, he put Shaun’s thumb back in place. REALLY not funny. A tech casted her arm. We were waiting for the EKG and CAT scan results. Doc thought he detected whacked out heart rythym. Wanted to make sure she didn’t fall from heart attack. (Of course she didn’t, because, well…I would KILL her.)
I settled for maybe humorous.
I told her Shaun was now a full-fledged member of the Hit the Dirt Club. She found this mildly amusing, knowing I was telling her it was a horse accident. However, taking narcotics into consideration, she might have chuckled at the ceiling.
Shaun’s arm, (our sofa pillow, provided to ER at no cost):
The grooms among you will recognize the hospital is seriously cutting back on supplies. The rolled cotton bandage is held shut with…Scotch Tape. It lasted all of 5 seconds. I mean, really? An admin with an office stapler would have done a better job. A horse person? Shaun wouldn’t be able to get it OFF for months.
“Did they just use Scotch Tape on my bandage?”, Shaun asks me, when the tape popped up, and the bandage began to unravel.
“There’s VetWrap in my car”, I say. “Can you hold it closed until we get home?”
“I guess I’ll have to.”
We sit quietly. I’m holding her good hand, trying not to cramp the IV, and stay in her line of vision, so she doesn’t have to fight the cervical collar (whiplash) to see me. I absently look at the wall opposite. I stare blankly at it for a full five minutes before I get what I’m seeing, and grab my cell phone.
We are here:
And directly opposite is the hospital calendar, in the triage of the ER:
Whoa. They REALLY want to keep their jobs. They are seriously grateful for their jobs. What was the hospital THINKING?!?
It’s a Disaster Of The Month Club calendar!
What else could it be? A frail-looking, mostly naked woman, in her underwear, galloping on a giant Friesian without a helmet, (heck, without a bra), barefoot, through a field of high grass. (Have to hide those unsightly gopher holes).
Toss in a low flying helicopter. With speaker system and sirens. Holy crap!
I look at Shaun, and point at the calendar. She gets it. We can’t stop laughing.
I get up to see what July’s disaster is going to be.
At that moment, the doctor pulls back the curtain, and frowns at my hand lifting the calendar page. I’m touching semi-private hospital property. I quickly drop it.
I’m seriously bummed. We left without seeing July’s disaster.
I think we should all try to get ahold of our local hospitals’ calendars, so we know what disasters they hope to schedule, don’t you?