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While I would love to leave a follow-up comment after each reader's comment, it can't happen. There are over 2,000 participants! So I will visit your sites instead and think really good thoughts, okay?
Susan Kane

Thursday, January 26, 2012

The Other Side of the Curtain


You wake up the morning, thinking of the plans for the day.  It is a day off from work, and a full ten hours of daylight lie before you.  Movies?  Walk in the park with someone?  Visit friends or relatives?  Go out for lunch?

But, no.  Something else wakes up with you, and you end up in the emergency room.  The ER is packed with people elbow to elbow, jockeying for a spare chair.  It is a holiday and all the doctors’ offices are closed.  Everyone in a city of 130,000 is lined up to get help for something.

I was there, oh yes, I was there.  A migraine had emptied me out and left me a dried up worm of a person in agonizing pain.

During eight of those ten daylight hours, an appreciation for the plights of men swept over me.


When a gurney surrounded by curtains became available, I finally was allowed to lie down. In the bright cubicle with my eyes covered, my super hearing kicked in, and unwillingly, I became part of the drama* taking place on either side of me.

Off to my right, an elderly man with the beginnings of Alzheimer’s talked with his granddaughter, who had brought him in.  The rumble of his voice and the tender response from the young woman rolled through my quiet pain-filled space.  Love was there, and the grandpa would go home soon.

But to my left.  Man. 

On the other side of the curtain a young man (early twenties, maybe) had come in with chest pains.  Thinking it was the remnant of bronchitis from weeks ago, the man/boy talked with the doctor.  His answers to standard questions rang an alarm in my own chest.  Drugs?  Uh, not for a couple of weeks, only ‘coke and some weed.  Drinking binge?  Uh, only a few beers.
 
His answers were always followed by a silence

Each question was asked in different ways.  Tests were run, more questions asked.  Then the man/boy was left alone.  No friends or family brought him in; no one sat holding his hand.

Doctors came in, one after another, to talk with him.  Each time the questions were the same, but the answers came closer and closer to the truth.

Ultimately, the cardiologist came in; he had the results of a Cardio-Ultrasound, which he showed to the man/boy. 
Enlarged heart.  Stroke level blood pressure.  Tell me again…drugs…?

The truth came out in almost inaudible whispers.  The next words from the doctor were that this man/boy was being admitted to cardiac care unit, and then if there was any family to be called. 

His gurney with all its attached IVs and monitors were wheeled away with the young man/boy in stunned silence.

The ‘mom’ in me wanted to go with him, hold his hand, pray with/for him.  The first two I couldn’t do, but prayer was what I could manage. 

Then I was released after getting a ton of drugs that would kill the monster migraine and restore me.

The other side of the curtain—you never know what you will learn at the end of the day.

...and the curtains come down....

24 comments:

  1. You were witness to his pain and fear and quite possibly the only one who really cared. I'm sure your prayers on his behalf were heard. Sometimes we are sent to a place for a reason.

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    1. I believe that, too. I still wonder about and pray for that child/man.

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  2. True, we can all make plans but sometimes life gets in the way. Still a germy hospital with only curtains to protect me I avoid whenever possible.

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    1. Who knows what he thought he would be doing with the rest of his life? I wonder what he thinks now? Yes, the curtains are hardly useful in that way...

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  3. The good thing is that he was honest with the doctors so they could treat him properly.

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    1. It was interesting the steps that finally brought him to being honest. I am just relieved that he opened up and admitted.

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  4. Dear Susan,
    This poignant story brought forth tears for that man child. So much pain in the world. So much loneliness and aloneness. So much human tragedy. And in the midst of a relentless migraine you listened. That in itself is a prayer for the young man.

    Peace.

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    1. Listening to the many people in the ER room was a heart-wrenching experience. So much pain, you are right.

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  5. Strange the places we learn about ourselves and the people who teach us these lessons.

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    1. So very true--one never knows what will be a lesson learned from a simple trip to the ER.

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  6. My Goodness that young man has alot of problems. I would have felt the same...wanting to go with him. amazing how when these kids party they have all the friends in the world , but the momnent there is a problem...the friends are all gone. Great post as always.
    Blessings, Joanne

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    1. I agree--where are those friends?? He drove himself to the hospital, with chest pains. Wake up call, I hope, to the buddies.

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  7. That poor young man. I am so grateful that the hospital kept probing and did not take him at face value and send him home. A crowded ER is the perfect place for hurried mistakes.
    Thank you for caring. Sometimes it is all we can do. It doesn't feel like enough, but I don't believe it ever goes amiss.

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    1. You are right--the fact that we do care about this faceless young man means that we will help someone, given the chance.

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  8. Oh my word. Definitely not the most fun thing to hear. I feel really sorry for the man/boy, but like you said, we can only pray for him.

    I hope you're feeling better now. I had a friend who got vicious migraines, and it sometimes took him days to recover.

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    1. I hope your friend is getting help for the migraines. I see a neurologist who has been honest about what I can expect, and helpful.

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  9. I've been there and know what you're talking about. Some of my least favorite experiences have been in emergency rooms. Like you I get caught up in the dramas around me, but I'm more that anxious to leave once I'm there.


    Lee
    Wrote By Rote

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    1. Anxiety--yes, I sure had that in buckets. But, I was stuck there for an indeterminate amount of time, and used it to observe and pray.

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  10. I'm so amazed that you can focus through your pain to realize, absorb, analyze what is happening.

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    1. I had my eyes covered, so my other senses kicked into overload. In pain, yes, but seeking to have a diversion.

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  11. Euch - you poor thing. I have had a migraine today - until about 2 hours ago I was in bed with a towel over my eyes - amazing what you picked up and what is all around us to be noticed.
    Hope you're feeling better
    Lx

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    1. Migraines are part of life, just like others have m/s, or fibromyalgia, or other unseen pain that takes us out of the game. I hope your migraines are manageable!

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  12. Poor man/boy. I hope he ends up okay.

    Sorry about the migraine. I suffer chronic migraines, so I feel your pain. Truly.

    Stories are around us everywhere.

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    1. Little bits of stories that can be looked at and then lived--yes, stories around us everywhere.
      I hope you get help for your chronic migraines!

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