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Urgent, urgent … emergency

There are some people in this world you just don’t want to be around in an emergency situation.I am one of those people.This hit home early the other morning when I got a frantic and practically unintelligible call from my editor.All I could really understand were the words, “urgent, urgent … emergency …””Ummm, Foreigner … 1981!” I guessed, thinking we were playing some kind of music trivia game.As it turns out, it involved one of my co-workers who had become violently ill while my editor was on deadline to get the paper out.”She’s got intense pain in her back and abdomen and is throwing up,” my editor said quickly. “Can you take her to the hospital?”I’m deathly afraid of hospitals and bodily fluids but of course, I agreed to go.We sped to the emergency room, my co-worker moaning and holding her stomach all the way while I prayed she wouldn’t puke in my truck.When we entered the reception area, we were informed by the nice lady at the desk that there were three people ahead of us.I looked around and observed two men and a woman, all calmly sitting in chairs drinking coffee and reading the newspaper none looking like they were in dire pain.My co-worker, on the other hand, was writhing on the floor with her head buried into the seat of a chair, making ungodly groaning noises.It seemed to me that on TV shows like “ER”, the ailing patient is always put on a gurney and rushed down the halls surrounded by at least six doctors holding on to the rails, screaming “CODE BLUE!”This, apparently, does not happen in real life …”This is more like a freakin’ Baskin-Robbins where you pick a number and wait until they call it out to take your ice cream order!” I hissed to my sick friend as the minutes ticked by.”I think I’m going to throw up,” she replied softly, but loud enough for the nice front desk lady to hear.She was handed a little pink bucket.Thankfully, one of the men ahead of us took stock of the situation and the fact that my friend wasn’t doing so well and offered to let her go before him.”Good Lord, does a person have to bleed all over the carpet before someone will see you?” I said, after thanking him profusely.At last, a nurse or at least I think it was a nurse since everyone in the building from the medical personnel to the janitor seemed to be wearing the same “scrubs” outfit took her back to the examining room.She was then sent back out to the reception desk where she was required to answer questions and fill out forms.I watched as my co-worker, with her head buried in her arm, drew a straight line for her signature on the papers without even reading them.It could have been a Pepsi vs. Coca-Cola survey for all she knew …And then back into the examining room she went. When asked if I wanted to come along, I politely declined because I knew if I saw her throw up, so would I.I sat in the waiting room for a few minutes, nervously wondering if someone was going to come in with a bloody gunshot wound to the head or a severed arm …So instead, I went outside for some fresh air as it was a beautiful spring morning. Or it was until a pretty little bird flew into the glass window and lay there on the ground dying before my eyes …I thought about bringing it into the emergency room, but then decided that would be mean.In the end, it turned out my co-worker had a case of kidney stones, which as I understand it is essentially the same principal as giving birth in that you try to get a much bigger thing to pass through a much smaller thing.After an hour, a nurse or perhaps it was the janitor called me into my friend’s room.”I’m sorry, I wasn’t more supportive,” I apologized to her. “I’m not very good in emergency situations.”She smiled with understanding.The moral of the story is … I’m grateful there are people who can respond and take charge in emergency situations. Just don’t call me.Heidi Rice is a staff reporter for the Post Independent. Her column runs every Friday. Visit her Web site at http://www.heidirice.com.


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