Monday, December 26, 2011

My Stupidity and the Consequential ER Visit: Part Two

I refused to take public transport. I wasn't that delirious. We called in a favor that wasn't really owed and used a friend's car to get us to the hospital. We smeared aloe all over my burns, soaked my softest t-shirt to lay over them and ever-so-carefully pulled my stretchy house skirt over everything. Jesse & Martine watched the kids. Saturday night date, aahhhh yeah. Josh & I totally bonded.

I hobbled up to the reception desk, handed over my passport and a security guard (odd, I thought) escorted me to a triage "room". He kept looking back and giggling at me, I assume because of my absolute pathetic-ness (I'm currently drugged and allowed to invent words) while I staggered down the corridor after him. I ended up hunched over a sandwich bed, my head in my hands, praying while I waited. The longer I went without cool water pouring over my burns, the hotter it got. I was on fire. And I couldn't stop thinking how fortunate we are to have all the things we have: clean, running water, aloe vera, transportation, a hospital nearby. I could have been so much worse off. I wavered between focusing on my own pain and the pain of all those I'd imagined had been through this before without all the same luxuries. As I whispered my prayers, Josh walked up. He was in and out for I don't know how long, advocating for me, I assume.

A young doctor arrived. She asked the standard questions, then wanted to see the damage.
"Take off your clothes," she said. Then she stood there, waiting. 
"Ummm... Can we close the curtain?" I asked, not wanting to further add to the list of those that have seen my HooHa (giving birth was traumatizing enough).
She yanked on the curtain unsuccessfully and then waved us across the hall to another corner. The curtain closed there.

"Okay," she said matter-o-factly, "We're going to drain the blisters, scrub down the skin, clean it and bandage it. Mmmmm-kay?"
Good Lord, I thought. Why did I agree to come here? Did she just use the word scrub?
I went straight into weeny-mode. My body trembled and I kept imagining what the pain would be like when they scrubbed my skin. That same skin that Josh had gently applied aloe to, which made my breath catch in my throat from the agony. I don't even get a baby out of this in the end.
At that point, the comic relief came in. A sheet jockey (the water boy of the hospital) attempted opening the curtain. The doctor shooed him away. Six seconds later, he boldly opened the current--Hello HooHa!--and threw a clean sheet at me. Yes, at me. It landed at my knees. I laughed and Josh, a bit peeved, muttered, "Trying to get another peek, eh?"

Young doctor left. In came a student nurse, even younger. My favorite. He was wearing a bit too much cologne, but it was Saturday night to be fair. He took my blood pressure, my temperature and asked how old I was. Twice. Then he asked why I was there.
"They haven't told you?" I asked, slightly surprised.
He shook his head no.
So I gave up and showed TooMuchCologne my HooHa too. Why not? He looked and left, saying the surgeon would be in soon. I laughed again. A surgeon? That seems like a bit much, does it not?
We waited.

TooMuchCologne came back in and started my IV. Apparently I was being prepped for surgery, still in my date night ensemble we'd carefully chosen earlier. Sweet. Surgeon with awesome mustache popped in, checked out my burns and asked my age. Kids? Yes. Two. Okay.
We waited again. My wet shirt was not so wet anymore, but the fire was more like embers by that point anyway. No biggie.

TooMuchCologne returned with a sweet syringe of liquid relief and pumped it into my IV. I assume it did what it was meant to as my hands and feet tingled slightly. My groin, however, was still uber-sensitive. Note: I should really plan my accidents to injure less tender areas. MustacheSurgeon entered with HotPinkLipStickNurse and his toolkit. Here we go. My thought at that moment: I wish I had my camera. No one is going to believe this. I truly expected them to all start singing and dancing at any moment, Bollywood-style.

MustacheSurgeon flipped the bright lights on, gloved himself and grabbed his scalpel. I told Josh he could leave if he wanted as this probably wouldn't be pretty. He opted to stay, as he always does. I laid my head back, shut my eyes, and began slowly and purposefully breathing. In. Out. In. Out. I felt each slice of each blister. In. Out. In. Out. Subsequent liquid drip down my leg. In. Out. Pat dry. In. Out. PeelScrubScrape it off. In. Out. In. Out.

I opened my eyes and lifted my head when he set his scalpel down.
"This is going to sting, un chin*, a little bit," MustacheSurgeon took some alcohol pads. You can fill in the blanks on this one.

Then, HotPinkLipStickNurse did the one thing she had apparently been brought in to do. Her bright lips pursed, she poured cool, refreshing water all over me. That is nice. Then MustacheSurgeon put magic cream on the open wounds he'd created and carefully laid gauze on my inner thigh, HooHa and waist. Tape. Tape. Tape. You're welcome. Go get antibiotics and pain killers from the pharmacy. My pleasure.

We put it all on the credit card. No insurance. All my American friends are now gasping in horror, I imagine. I must tell you the total bill for spending several hours in a hospital, getting an IV, liquid relief, magic cream and being the recipient of madskill from MustacheSurgeon, TooMuchCologne and HotPinkLipStickNurse: US$60. Sixty. Six-zero. Can you believe it?! We spent slightly more at the pharmacy, but still. We're getting royally screwed in the States. My last ER visit, which was just this last May, I waited in the triage room for two hours and wasn't ever even touched by a doctor, had a $1000 price tag. With our insurance, we paid $150. No drugs. Maybe it was because I was given a gown and got to undress in private.

*Chin is a Dominican word meaning "a little". If you want to say "very little", just say chin chin.

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