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.