Country ER

20 May

Roland pulls up into the disabled bay- country hospitals are often so quiet, a blessing. I will myself to get to my feet and out of the car. I stumble up the ramp and Roland supports me to make sure I don’t fall. I am folded over the vomit bag, waiting for the next flip. He gets the door open for me and picks up the phone- this is the way you enter the ER in a country hospital. “Adult female, not doing so well.”

I sit down on the chair nearby to rest, but I only have to get up again a minute later when the door is opened. The lady tries to hurry me as I struggle to stand but I ignore her; I will get there in my own time. I finally get through the door and am told to lay on the bed. They start asking questions that I cannot answer, the pain is too great and I’m trying not to vomit. Roland starts by listing my medical conditions, allergies, and ends up doing all of the talking for me. Suddenly, I cannot hold it in anymore. My insides heave and I bring the bag over my mouth just in time. An orderly steps in with a fresh bag, I whisper a request for a tissue to wipe my mouth. Roland ends up finding a box for me and placing it near my head- he knows he needs to stay out of the way.


The doctor commands me to lie on my back. I am worried about how I will vomit into the bag from my back but I must obey her- She is my saviour, I am her warrior; ready to jump as soon as she demands it. She pulls up my soaked shirt and surveys my bloated stomach quickly before she starts prodding and poking. “Tell me where it hurts,” she says briskly. I shake my head as she begins on the right hand side of my abdomen, once, twice, three times. “No appendicitis,” she barks to the nurse closest, who is making notes. I am thinking, “Of course not, I would have mentioned it if the pain was any different.”

She then starts on the left side, at the top. I shake my head. She moves down and pushes, and I almost scream from the pain. My whole body thrusts into the air against her arms. “Bowel,” she says. The nurse makes a note, and she tries the next spot; its tender that’s for sure, but not agonising. Then she tests the previous spot again- I bite back a scream and will my body to be still on this table they call a bed. My body shudders and a small cry emerges from the back of my throat.

I turn my head to the right and violently wretch into the plastic bag, trying to clear the back of my throat from the dinner I ate 6 hours ago, completely undigested. The orderly makes an attempt to wipe my mouth as he replaces the bag with a fresh one, with no vomit smell, just new, clean plastic.


Now that she has established for herself that my condition is the same as it has been every time I’ve been admitted to this hospital, she can get to work- after all, in the past, their plan of attack had been quite successful. I must continue to lie on my back, but all my instincts tell me to curl up in a ball on my side. She straightens my arm as the needle cart is brought over and sets about finding the vein and cleaning the site. I am in too much pain, the words are a blur, but I understand that she is struggling to find the vein. Roland explains that my veins are traumatised from cannulisation, and she tsks to herself. I am not paying attention to her, but the next time I go to vomit she tells me off for not staying perfectly still. I wonder how that would be possible, without choking on the vomit, as she snaps my arm back into place and studies the skin before carefully inserting the needle and plastic. I don’t even feel it. After a little while she names it a success, and sets about securing the site so that I won’t accidentally pull it out.

Now I am finally allowed to lie on my side, this I know. I am relieved, and relief comes with another round of vomit. She tells me to roll over onto my side, I already have. It is much easier to clear the vomit from my mouth from my side. She ponders injection sites, and decides this time it will be my lower back. “Little pinch,” she says, and I feel nothing. I continue to wretch, the same orderly kindly continues to wipe my lips and change the bag. She lines up the next one, “Little pinch.” I feel nothing. She lines up the third injection as a huge swell of nausea overcomes me. I begin to vomit as she sticks in the needle, she forgot to warn me this time. I feel it. She swears at me for moving as I choke out chunks of food and bile into a bag I cannot even hold myself. Can’t she understand that I am trying not to vomit on the bed, in my hair?

Roland is wondering if he can leave now- its around 1am, and he went to sleep hours ago. I had tried to settle the pain and suffer through it on my own but it had continuously worsened until I got desperate enough to wake him. I tell him I am scared, please don’t leave me. “What’s there to be scared about?” The nurse grunts. A lone tear slides across the cheek that is pressed against the pillow, and only the orderly sees it. Roland stays.

Everything begins to blur but I am so exhausted that I don’t even realise. The setting has changed, I’m in a new room, Roland is gone and they are asking me if I can climb onto the ward bed. I do a slow groggy mix between a crawl and a shuffle, and then I am on the bed. Its much wider, much softer. I am so grateful to realise that the pain has seriously lessened, and that I don’t need to throw up right in that moment. My body begins to shiver from the cold, I cannot stop it. A nurse orders some fresh pyjamas for me, and very quickly the other nurse returns with a deep pink winter nightgown. The orderly is turning up the heat in the room for me as I am the only patient in the ward, but respectfully turns and leaves the immediate area when the two nurses begin to strip my clothes.

They gently pull the sleeves over my arms, over my IV. I do not even feel ashamed to be seen naked anymore. My skin is sticky from the sweat, and I am so cold, but the wet shirt is finally off. The nurse on my left asks, “Are you wearing knickers under your pyjama pants?” I want to laugh, but settle for nodding my head. Off come the pants. The dress is straightened around my limp body, and they pull the sheet and thin blanket over me.

The shivering turns into violent shaking, the nurse on my left leaves and returns with two heated blankets from the machine. She places one just under my chin while she sets about tucking in the other, and through the foggy haze of my mind, my whole body craves the warmth. Weak arms try to pull up to the blanket, and my chin drops further to let my cheek and neck rest against the material. The nurse smiles at me, “I thought you might like that.”

My shuddering slows and turns to shivering, which slowly becomes stillness.


I am warm. I am safe. I am not in agony. I am grateful.


2 Responses to “Country ER”

  1. Angeltots May 29, 2012 at 5:44 am #

    *hugs* Will this ever go away and you be better?

    • 100 Steps May 29, 2012 at 6:23 am #

      Its not likely, but we can always hope!

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