Sunday, August 26, 2007

ER. Fine.

"I think they're leaving the car there." I noted of the large blue vehicle that had parked right in the way of the ER driveway. "So you could just pull around."

"There's no room." Friend said, having coped admirably with my constant chatter then oppressive silence after I sighed and said that I couldn't walk (though I could hop) and if she thought a trip to the hospital was in order, I would go. She waited until the valet waved her around and I scowled.

"I told you there was room." I muttered. "If you'd have just pulled around like I said, it would have been fine. But no. Nobody ever listens to what I say."

"Um." I said later, having been placed on a cart/wheelchair device that Friend had to push into the door and past security. "I appear to be in the doorway. Friend! The doors are closing on me! You need to move me!" I batted at the glass doors as they clunked at my chair a few times.

She said something about positioning me so they'd close on my head but moved me forward. "This thing is like a lawnmower." She commented as I waved my hand regally to where a woman waited to take my information so that I could be moved in that direction. "If you don't push these things down, you can't go anywhere." We jerked to an abrupt stop and I steadied myself on the desk to my side, wishing my shoe didn't feel quite so tight.

I altered my tone completely when I addressed the woman at the desk. "Hello." I said sweetly. "I hurt my ankle. I think it's fine, but she" I motioned behind me to an ever-patient Friend, "said I should come. But I think it's fine."

"Left or right?" The woman asked.

"Right." I answered, then thanked her when Friend moved me toward the waiting room. The ride was less than smooth. She apparently kept trying to push with her left knee which was recently dislocated. We're kind of falling apart down here.

We were soon greeted by the triage nurse, who told Friend she could come along or wait in the chairs.

"She's coming." I said, glancing over my shoulder in momentary panic. I didn't want to be alone.

She followed along and I relaxed and turned into obedient and lovely Katie while the nurse asked questions. She filled in forms and praised the ice pack I wore. She clucked over the injury and backed up when Friend mentioned I actually fell yesterday and wouldn't come.

"Oh." I said, frowning. "Yes. That's true."

The lovely triage nurse moved me toward the exam rooms after selecting the proper one on her computer. I looked around, curious but tense, and smiled at Donna, who was to be my nurse.

"Bless your heart." She said as I stepped out of the chair and onto the soft cart/bed covered in a sheet and with a single pillow. "Can I get you girls anything to drink?"

I asked for water and Friend - having had no coffee since waking at 10 - had a Coke. Donna returned quickly with both, removed my sock and shook her head over the swelling. "You were right to ice it." She said. "The doctors have been very quick today so someone will be in soon. Can I get you anything for the pain?"

I again mentioned it was only a 2 on a scale of 1-10 and said I'd be fine. She nodded kindly and told me to let her know if I needed her. I thanked her and she left. A woman arrived almost immediately to see if I would complete a survey for her research. I nodded and confided that I did research there too, thinking it was odd to be treated at my own institution but I was rather impressed so far. She didn't make it through the consent form before a faculty member entered.

She left us alone while he looked, prodding gently up to my knee, checking muscles and asking if there was pain.

"No." I answered. "No. Not there either. No."

"Good." He decided, then touched around the swelling.

"It's not hurting." I told him because it wasn't. The pressure he used wasn't causing discomfort and I appreciated his care. He decided he wanted x-rays of the ankle and foot since the swelling was so extensive and I nodded.

Survey woman came and went again. As soon as she left, an intern entered and asked the same questions I'd answered several times already. He listened to me breathe and looked at the ankle.

"I won't manipulate it." He said, but continued to stare.

"It didn't hurt when the doctor touched it." I said, not bothered by the attention. It did look ugly - dark purple bruises on the inside, swelling that had puffed both medially and laterally. "You can prod at it if you'd like."

He nodded and started to push, checking the same muscles the doctor had tried, but pressing too hard. I frowned, and jumped as he started to hurt the ankle with what I decided was excessive pressure. I was saved, however, by the kind x-ray tech who brought the machine to me.

Friend went to stand in the hall while I had to flex my foot while the tech moved the box and took the pictures. We did three ankle and 3 of the foot and he was very gentle. I thanked him and he went away, leaving Friend to return. We talked for a few minutes and I dug some papers out of the bag that contained my laptop, power cord, a file of journal articles, a book, a memory stick so I could send Friend to print my book if I got bored, some Advil, and ice pack, my broken phone, lipgloss, pens and pencils, checkbook and wallet. I came prepared, but things were moving surprisingly quickly.

I had just started to type an idea from an article into the discussion section when Intern returned.

"I didn't get to finish examining it." He explained and I nodded.

"OK, it's hurting when you press that hard." I told him. He left soon enough and we began the wait that I had expected all along. Intern checked in to say that nothing was broken, but they were waiting for the official opinion when Radiology read the films. I nodded. He came back again to ask if I wanted a full leg brace and crutches or a boot. I chose the latter.

"Could I have picked neither?" I asked Friend when he left. She didn't think that was one of the options. "It's not going to help. I still won't be able to walk." I pouted.

"The point is that those things make it easier and safer to walk." She said mildly and I blinked, then nodded.

Donna returned with a large boot-like device that she velcro-ed me into. "Is it uncomfortable," I asked, "because it's pushing my foot when it wants to be flatter?"

"Yes." She said sympathetically. "Bless your heart."

"It's cumbersome." I offered as she continued to secure straps. She nodded and clipped the ends of the longest straps. "Thank you." I said when she was done. "You've been wonderful."

"I have my moments." She smiled and moved back out to the hall.

We waited some more and I grew uncomfortable as the brace pushed at my swollen ankle and insisted on a position I was growing to hate.

"It hurts." I told Friend and she nodded.

"You might ask the nurse how to fix that." She suggested. "Or loosen the strap that's too tight."

We finally got discharge paperwork - a little more than 2 hours after we arrived - and Donna told me about the boot, the sports medicine follow up appointment. She gave me 4 Vicodin and a prescription for 800 mg ibuprofen. I also got a note from the doctor in case I wanted to take time off this week, then she escorted me to where I handed over my co-pay. I think I also pay some percentage, but I assume they send that bill.

We moved out to get the car and my ankle is much more stable in the boot. It hurt, but I could walk much easier. I arranged myself in the passenger seat and later made my way down those evil steps to Friend's apartment. I called her a name when she reminded me to actually use the final step and said I was glad she'd offered to go grocery shopping for me and had to face that errand.

She settled me on the couch and her felines (3 of the 4) arrived for pets. She handed me the remote and water to take a pill and I reclined, the three cats arraging themselves atop me and watched SpongeBob while she ran to Krogers. She returned and we moved back to the car, stopping at Krispy Kreme for donuts then moved toward home.

"The Vicodin are making me loopy." I commented. "I'm overwhelmed with this appreciation for you. You're so nice. And wonderful. You took me to the hospital and went grocery shopping and got me donuts. I like you a lot. You're smart and wonderful and very nice."

"OK." She said. "I'm sure I'll get back to being mean soon enough."

"No." I said. "You're not mean! You're good and kind and nice."

"Uh huh." She noted as I continued to compliment her.

"Should we get Arby's or something from home?" I asked as I realized I was still hungry after the glazed donut I had already.

"What do you want?"

"I don't know." I said, feeling immediately confused. So I started to sing the SpongeBob song, but realized I didn't know many of the words. "I think I want Arby's." I finally decided.

"Then we'll drive through." She nodded and I again told her she was the best, most wonderful friend ever.

"You get me Arby's and drive me around and wait with me in the emergency room." I said, filled with love.

"OK." She said again, handing me the food and driving toward my house.

I got home, had lunch, then slept. I still feel a bit funny, but taking off the boot helped the ankle pain a lot. It's now wrapped (courtesy of Friend) and we're going to get a new phone for me in the morning. I took Advil instead of more loopiness-inducing drugs and while I'm uncomfortable (a 3 on a scale of 1-10, 1 being no pain at all and 10 being the worst pain I can imagine.), I'm hanging in.

I was right - it would have healed itself. But the ER was impressive and, while it's going to be expensive, I think, I now know there's no evidence of lasting damage at this time. If I still struggle after the swelling goes down (7-10 days, they think), I'm to see someone else. But, for now, I'm injured but OK.


Psychobunny said...

Thank goodness!

< motherly advice> Now, don't push yourself too hard on that ankle, because if you do, you might just regret it for the rest of your life (in the form of future ankle injuries -- trust a person who stepped into a rabbit hole!). < /motherly advice> :)

Anonymous said...

Friend is a saint.

EthidiumBromide said...

Oh dear, I hope that you are feeling better soon! I'm going on 13 days since I hurt my back and I'm still taking loads of vicodin -- although rather than loopy, I just get sick (I vomited into the cell culture autoclave bag twice last week while in the hood). You are very lucky to have such a good friend!

Locks said...

best wishes for a speedy recovery

post-doc said...

I'll try not to push. I've been a baby so far, so I think the healing should go smoothly. :)

True enough. We tried to decide this morning if it was a lovely compliment to her or a subtle insult to me. :) In all seriousness, she's truly a wonderful friend though.

I had hoped your back was considerably better now - so sorry to hear it's still bothering you and you're reacting badly to pain meds. I feel funny on Vicodin, but not too sick.

Thank you. I hope it is speedy as well.

Estrella said...

Yikes about the ankle! I'm glad it's not broken though ... Was greatly amused by the Vicodin-influenced behavior ... was there any singing involved too?

TitleTroubles said...

Oh, no. No singing at all. She's very nearly memorized all four lines of the SpongeBob theme song, though. And it's only taken her two days of working on it! Would anyone like a recording? It should be blackmail worthy, yes?

She's just noticed that I'm commenting as I type this and is concerned that whatever I write will not make her look good. She also assures me that it will not make her quit singing. I do have earplugs, in addition to a phone and a laptop that both record videos...

Anonymous said...

wow, so glad you are ok though, katie. and i agree, Friend is awesome!

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