Wednesday, 10 March 2010

My day on the set of ER

Reading the 170 pages for class tomorrow. Working on my research paper. Reorganizing my sock drawer. All things I would have rather done today than spend eleven hours in the ER.

At about 3am last night, I woke up in excruciating pain. It was in my shoulder and my side, radiating up and down, and it came with a creepy numbness in my arm. After trying to walk it off (I thought it might be muscular) and scaring the pants off Student Patrol in the process, they called the duty don who decided I needed to go to the hospital.

When we arrived at triage, I explained what was going on, best I could, between the short gasps of breath I had to take to avoid making the pain even worse. Apparently my symptoms seemed serious enough that I was bumped up the list and was in a room in no time. Well, in a room, ready to wait.

Luckily, the duty don on call was my good friend Chris. He stayed with me a long time, dozing on the chair next to me and waiting for doctors and test results. He was a bit of a mess come morning and I finally convinced him to go home around 9:30am. I stayed until 2pm. Since I left in such a hurry, I had no books, no music, nothing. As soon as the intense pain subsided some, I was very, very bored.

A chest x-ray, blood tests, and a VQ lung scan later, I have learned two things:

1. It seemed like I might be having a pulmonary embolism, but the tests ruled all that out. My lungs are working well - hurray! However, my side still hurts quite a bit. The doctor says my chest wall is being irritated by something, and it will go away... eventually. At least I can breathe now, unlike at 3am.

2. Hospitals are more like ER than I would have thought. I was witness to a whole lot of gossiping - as if I wasn't even in the room! Students can be adorable - my radiology student did the scans wrong and had to start over. Adorably. Everyone is as buddy buddy as it seems. They hugged all the time and called one another "buddy" and "babe". Also like on ER, this extends to the paramedics who were always hanging out in the hallway with patients on stretchers.

The ER I was in is the trauma centre for the province, so they get all the excitement. I didn't witness much - but they do hide the trauma rooms better than on ER. I walked past the ambulance bay at one point, and it led into this oppressively somber hallway. I don't even know why, it just made me shiver. They do helpfully cover the windows of these trauma rooms in order to avoid the clingy family situation from ER.

Main difference: They called it "Emerge" not "ER".

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