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Morning on the deck. looking at our open bedroom window.

I took this picture from our deck around 7:30 this morning. It was quiet and peaceful, just me and the birds and a stalking cat. I scared the cat away. May it never return.

***

Yesterday evening, sometime between 5:30 and 6 a friend, part of Cindy’s expanded family, called Cindy to say that she thought she had broken her arm. She had gone to her daughter’s volleyball practice and since she had been a star volleyball player in high school, she was helping her daughter warm up. Well, she was not as agile and her footwork wasn’t quite as good as when she had been in high school. To make a longish story shorter, she fell backwards and injured her arm. She called Cindy to ask her to come and pick her up to take her to Urgent Care. Cindy was, at the time, cooking dinner for guests and asked me to pick our friend up. So I did.

I drove to the high school where I found our friend in her car in the parking lot. She asked me to drive her car since she had her toddler son in his car seat. I agreed and we set out to Urgent Care. When we got there we unloaded the toddler, assembled his stroller, put him in it and went inside. She was told that it would be at least 1 1/2 hours before she could see a doctor (let’s take the urgent out of Urgent Care) and they did not have the facilities to cast her arm if that was needed. So we went back to the parking lot where we put the toddler back in his car seat, disassembled the stroller, and loaded it into the car. We set off for the emergency room of one of our local hospitals. But first we stopped at our house and left the toddler with Cindy and our dinner guests.

When we arrived at the emergency room I noticed that they had a large sign on the wall that said “Emergency Room Welcome Center.” I think the Welcome Center part was supposed to take some of the sting out of the Emergency part. There didn’t appear to be many people waiting, so we were encouraged to think that the wait would not be too long.

Sitting beside us was a woman in a wheelchair accompanied by her husband and three adult daughters. Before long another four members of her family arrived. Our little part of the waiting area was getting crowded.

Did I say our wait wouldn’t be long? We sat there, chatting, for about an hour before our friend was taken into an examining room. I decide to stay in the waiting room. No sooner had our friend disappeared behind a door than one of the daughters marched to the desk and asked why our friend had been taken before her mother. The woman at the desk explained that while the mother may have checked in first, they took patients in order of severity of the injury. The daughter scowled and went back to her chair. One of her sisters asked what the counter person had said. The first sister said that she didn’t know. What?

About another hour passed and the woman in the wheelchair was still sitting and waiting. At that point another of the sisters marched to the desk and asked why her mother hadn’t been seen by a doctor yet, after all they had been waiting for two hours. The counter attendant looked at her computer screen and said, “No, you have been here one hour and forty-five minutes and we see people based on the severity of their…” never making eye contact with the daughter. The daughter said, “HOW CAN YOU…” And at that point her father said, “Come over here and sit down!” never looking up from his smart phone.

She grumbled but meekly returned to her chair. Then she started talking to her sisters, loud enough for all of the people in the waiting area to hear, “How can they tell if one injury is worse than another?” One of her sisters who was dressed in pink opined that her sister was just upset due to pregnancy hormones.

Then the pink sister started talking about her upcoming wedding. I tried to tune her out. It was difficult since she was standing directly in front of me. By the way, I had offered her my seat, but she had turned down my offer. At one point I heard her telling her family that she got nervous when she thought about sex and started twirling her hair. At that point I looked at her and thought she looked as if she had been around the block at least a few times, but that’s just between you and me.

Finally they called the mother’s name and told her she could take two people back with her. Pink sister took control of the wheelchair but her father stood up, put away his smart phone, and told pink sister to sit down. He was taking his wife back by himself. And he did. At that point, five of the seven remaining family members left to eat dinner.

I waited around another half hour and finally approached the counter attendant and said that my friend had gone back around an hour ago and… At that point the attendant looked at her computer screen and said, “No, it has only been forty-five minutes…” I broke in said that I just wanted an update on her condition. The woman never regained eye contact with me but said that I could go back and see my friend.

So I did. I got there in time to see her wheeled away for X-rays. When she returned she had a cloth on her forehead because she had passed out from pain when they were moving her arm around for the X-rays. We were sure that there was at least one break.

After a while a nurse came in and confirmed our speculation. It was a broken radius near her elbow. They gave her some pain meds, waited a bit and then started splinting her arm. After that they put her arm in a sling and sent us on our way. That was around 10:15 p.m.

I have to say that for an Emergency Room, nobody who worked there seemed to treat anything as an emergency. There was no hustle, no bustle, no sense of urgency. Maybe they need to rename that part of the hospital.

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