January 25, 2004

ER Observations

I'm going to try posting something again. Hopefully, this one won't be eaten.

Early this morning/late last night I had to go to the emergency room. Relax, I was just driving someone else. A little before two o'clock in the morning Andy (friend on floor) came into my room and was watching a show on my roommate's computer. After standing there for a few minutes, his knee started to hurt. He looked at his knee and discovered that something was swelling underneath his skin and causing a strange shaped lump near his knee-cap. After a minute or so discussion, it was decided that I was going to take him down to the hospital to have someone take a look at it. It should be noted that Andy was not in much pain at all. He said it only hurt when he put pressure on it.

So, Mark and Andy climb into my car and we head down there. We arrived at about two o'clock. I dropped them off at the front and then parked. I entered the hospital as a nurse was getting information from Andy. After that was finished, we were sent to the waiting room. It was here that Mark and Andy discovered the fun of typing stuff into a Pocket PC. After some time, a nurse called Andy to a separate room, got some more information from him, and sent him back into the waiting room. After a few more minutes, Andy was called into an examing room while Mark and I waited outside. During all of this, the waiting room television was on AMC and playing a rather stupid movie. Now, I didn't see all of the movie--only the last thirty or so minutes of it--but I saw enough to laugh quietly when I heard a guy tell this other woman he had seen the movie about a dozen times.

After about thirty minutes, the janitor came and mopped the waiting room area we were in for the second time since we had been there. We took this excuse to get up and walk around to move to another television. I found one broadcasting the Winter X-games on ESPN. This was interesting for a while because the tricks those people can do on snowboards and motorcycles are quite impressive. There was also the occasional cringe as someone fell and rammed into something at a high speed. After about twenty or so minutes, we went to look at another television. This one was broadcasting Looney Tunes on the Cartoon Network. This led to a discussion in which Mark and I agreed that Bugs Bunny is really the bad guy in almost all of his cartoons. We also agreed on the futility of guns in a world in which the characters are practically immortal. Bullets don't even pierce the skin, so what's the point of using them? During all of these things we had also been playing solitaire on my Pocket PC. I learned that I am horrible at three-card draw and that Mark kicks ass at it.

We soon realized that Andy had been back there for over an hour and we hadn't been told anything. Mark went and asked what was going on and the nurse let us back to see him. We found that he was sitting in Exam Room 11 all by himself waiting for a doctor to come and see him again. He tells us that the doctor thinks he has bursitis in his knee and has prescribed a knee immobilizer and some pills. Over the course of about 15-20 minutes in the exam room, a nurse comes in a few times and gives Andy something he needs. After the last time, Andy is checked out of the ER and has to give them $50. We leave.

On the way out, we began a discussion about the patients that can be found in an emergency room. Andy said he had heard a little kid crying and felt sorry for him (or her, I don't remember which it was). I think Mark mentioned an unconscious man in a wheelchair we had seen while in the waiting room. I mentioned that working in an ER forces the nurses and doctors to develop a detachment from most emotions where patients are concerned. Because my mother is a nurse in an emergency room and I have visited her there several times, I have seen this first hand. The frequency of visits has also cause me to start to develop this detachment in order to carry on a conversation with my mother or another employee when I do stop by her workplace. Mark commented that he didn't think he would ever be able to do that.

Earlier today, I started to think about this discussion and I discovered a question I can't really answer. Is being able to detach and avoid emotions a good thing? Sometimes it is necessary in order to maintain sanity, but if it is done too often can it have detrimental effects in certain areas of your life? Is it better to be forced to deal with emotions when they arrive or to be able to push them aside and deal with them later? I can see beneficial and detrimental side effects of each action. Is one better than the other?

Posted by Randy at January 25, 2004 04:37 PM