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Yesterday morning, Seth woke up with chest pains he'd had overnight, so we walked to SF General to have that looked at. The ER was almost empty at 9AM. He quickly got through to see a nurse, and was whisked off into the inner chambers of the building to be prodded further. Because I wasn't sure if I was allowed to follow him, I stayed behind in the waiting area. For the next 2 hours, I read, watched elderly and cantankerous drunken people get wheeled in by paramedics, and basically hoped Seth was okay. I was also getting really hungry and thirsty, with no interest in the vending machines at all. We hadn't had breakfast or caffeine that morning, being more concerned about calling Seth's workplace and getting him to hospital.

I knew all the early morning staff I'd seen had paper cups of coffee on hand, and I would've asked where they got them from, except I was afraid to leave the waiting area in case Seth came out, or some news was sent about his status. Slightly after noon, a nurse came out asking for me by name. Seth wanted to see me. She helped card me through this maze of gurney-liked tunnels, to a triage area I later gleaned from gossiping nurses is called "Zone 2". In a small room with about 4 gurneys divided by charming curtains, I finally saw my husband after 2 hours of absolutely no news, stuck with tubes up his nose and wires to his chest. It turns out things looked worse than they really were -- Seth was very bored, but okay. He got oxygen because he told the doctor he had trouble breathing, but there were no heart or lung issues. They were keeping him until he could get X-rayed, which happened an hour later.

The doctor okayed him for home, gave him advice about avoiding beer for a bit. Turned out Seth had acid reflux compounded by a very stressful work week on top of the digestive issues he was diagnosed with last week. We stopped for iced tea and bagel (both of us were still starving) on the way home. Tried not to think too much about the odd drunken elderly persons in the triage area, including a man who protested very loudly that he was not a heroin addict. A perplexing, and tiring, day.


( 7 comments — Leave a comment )
Sep. 25th, 2010 11:33 pm (UTC)
Always go with the patient in the Emergency Room -- they'll tell you when they don't want you. I learned this from having a kid who broke bones: no way was I sending him off by himself. Having a family member there is really good: patients need advocates. Also, very good to have someone not in pain to listen to what the doctors, residents, & nurses are saying and process it.

Scary times: hope you are both feeling better, more settled, less stressed.
Sep. 25th, 2010 11:37 pm (UTC)
that was me
by the way: being an idiot and unintentionally posting anonymously. Silly me.
Sep. 26th, 2010 06:14 pm (UTC)
Re: that was me
No problem! I kind of figured out it was you after the kid part. :) And yeah, I'm still new to the medical systems here. It shouldn't be that different, but I think folks where I come from are more into, "Let the doctors do their jobs without us in the way." But it makes a lot of sense to be there, especially if, as you said, the patient is in a lot of pain.
Sep. 26th, 2010 06:28 pm (UTC)
More thoughts
It's actually better for the ER staff to have family present: they can get decisions on what should happen much faster if there is family there. Also, if it comes down to an "either/or" situation, its really good for the patient who has to make that decision to have someone else there to process it with them. And if the decision is to send the patient home, its reassuring to them to know who is going home with them and to be able to give instructions (if there are any).

Also, being in an ER is tedious: I think my average visit, once admitted into the inner sanctum, is about 5 hours. Boring to be there by yourself. Good to have someone friendly to chat with.
Sep. 27th, 2010 10:06 pm (UTC)
Re: More thoughts
Seth was really bored at the end. He was all hooked up and unable to reach for the book in his coat pocket. I think it helped both of us a lot to be with each other during that time. :)

It also helped when he had to had his X-ray done, as I was able to wait for him and guard his stuff. And yes, there are more details both of us can remember together than if one of us were alone listening to the doctors.
Sep. 28th, 2010 12:05 am (UTC)
Tell that crazy husband of yours that he isn't allowed to malfunction and get all broken and stuff, okay? We have rules about these things.
Sep. 28th, 2010 03:44 pm (UTC)
Sure! :)
( 7 comments — Leave a comment )