Sunday, June 11, 2017

Appalachia vs.Appalachia at the ER

Appalachia vs. Appalachia at the ER 
(c) 2017 Trinny Sigler

I found myself in search of a quick emergency room in eastern Tennessee which was mission impossible  because all they do down there is moonshine and zipline, and that's a bad combination. I wish I could say I had been engaging in both, but at mid-forties, I don't need either to mess up my back. I was tucked in bed by 10 and woke up in the eighth ring of hell for no reason.
My buddy told me choices for a hospital that, to my pain-warped brain sounded like "Wellmart" or "Hell's Path." I don't need no discount chain ER, and I thought I was already halfway down hell's path at least, so I picked the later. While I'm waiting for the phlebotomist to come in, I can  hear her talking in the hallway.
"I had to punch in late. I locked my keys in the car."
"Well how'd you get here?" another one called.
"I had to call  my mommy."
Hear that? A girl who couldn't find her way to work without Mommy's help is about to play with needles in my tiny, rolling, spider, muppet veins. Then she walked in, and she's new. I know when they are new in the same way a horse knows the rider is spooked, in the same way a baby knows when someone has never held a baby before. She's nervous. I'm scared.
Veins and blood are the reason I'm a writer and not a nurse. I could have a thriving career making fifty an hour over time if it weren't for blood. Instead I hide in the attic and make shit up and hope you like it. I look away as she takes my arm and ties it up. She pokes with her finger. She takes a deep breath.
"Little pinch."
She stirs and stirs and stirs.
"Hmmm," she says.
I say "What?"
Another nurse comes over, "What'sa matter? Cain't you find it?"
"I cain't get it to thread."
"Oh well, try again."
"Oh no! That's a mess!"
"We can clean that up. Try again. That'un will probably bleed again."
"Ok...well...I cain't get it again."
And I'm thinking: Now half my state shoots up heroin, and any one of those shaking addicts up any holler can find a vein daily and multiple times. What's the issue here?
"Well!" The second nurse says, "You done blew that'un out. Try the other one."
I grasp her hand, "You got one more try in that other arm, and then I'm gonna puke, punch, or pass out. I don't know which. Your move."
"I'll try the hand, hon. Honey, your lil ole hands are I's co."
My mind flips through every file I've got working, and I know I've heard this somewhere before. Where? Where? Where? I's? Co? I know what this means. I got it! I heard this when I was a breakfast waitress at Cracker Barrel in Fayetteville North Carolina  in 1997.
"Ice cold!" I yell out loud with all the pride Helen Keller must have felt when she figured out water. "Yes! My hands are ice cold."
And now that the code has been cracked, I finally understand what the waitress at the barbeque shack meant last night when she asked me if I wanted "co-saw". And then the thought occurred to me that this is all Paula Deen's fault. I'm a little afraid of Pennywise from It, the nurse from Misery, and Paula Deen. If you think about it, they all have the same smile. That smile that says: Extremely friendly or psycho, I could go either way. And her damn cookin' is so good that I think she has to be in dutch with the devil. Anyway I think I ate so much for lunch that my stomach blew out my backbone.
They finally get the blood drawn, and the IV in. Another one comes in, "What brings you here today?"
"My side hurts, and my back is having spasms."
"Hmm..." she looks at the others with that look that says: These West Virginia pillbillies are coming down here now trying to get opiods. I've read about them. Saw them even on the CNN." You know that look. We've all gotten it in the ER.
Finally after about two days, the doctor comes in. He says my muscles are pulled and I have an ovarian cyst and to follow up with my doctor, and then he leaves. The nurse comes back.
"Okay, hon! You are free to leave. Here's your script."
I stammer, "But it's Easter Sunday, and I'm just like I was when I got here. I have to drive 300 miles in a Jeep Wrangler today with a busted back. Can I get a dose of pain meds?"
She gives me that look again. "Lemme ask! Doc may be at lunch now so you'll prolly have to wait."
She comes back and shoots something in my IV. "Well now  you'll have to wait on a med check."
"How long is that?"
"Fifteen minutes."
"Jesus, girl. I've been here, sitting at a 90 degree angle on this gurney for about two days. Fifteen more minutes won't hurt."

I finally get out of there and leave Hell's Path behind me. I get back to good old West-by-God and go the next day to follow up with my doctor. She takes one look at my blowed-out vein and gives the nurse a look that says: Umm hmm...all these hillbillies are on heroin. You know that look. We always get it at the ER.