I visited my grandmother in the hospital today. Before I left, I considered eating lunch, but I instead decided to get to the hospital earlier rather than later. I had eaten a late breakfast, so I just left without eating.
I'm not sure what it is, but that sterile/purified air that they have in hospital rooms always seems to cause me trouble. It always bothers me. Perhaps I just need more germs in my environment than everyone else. Or maybe it's the germs keeping me strong and healthy!
After I had been in the room for about twenty minutes, I started getting light-headed. After a few more minutes, it started to worsen, and I started getting clammy, too. My aunt got me some ice water and put some ice in paper towel for my forehead. She then went to find a nurse.
The nurse comes in and says, "You look really pale and sweaty. We better get you to the emergency room." (My uncle later commented, "You're always pale, aren't you?")
I raised an eyebrow, and the nurse said, "You'll have to get in the wheelchair and I'll wheel you down there."
Since I was feeling light-headed, I decided to get in the chair so I could at least make it down to the cafeteria. My uncle followed so someone would know where I was. Due to construction, we got in the elevator, went down, and travelled through hallways that were clearly not intended for public use. I'm talking large pipes with shutoff valves and all that jazz.
As we traveled through the hallways, people stopped and looked at me, the man in street clothes being pushed by a nurse. All I really wanted to do was yell out to them, "I'm just a visitor! I don't belong here!!!" I think an outstretched, shaking hand would have perfected the effect.
By this time, I had gotten plenty of air, and I already felt much better. I certainly did not want to pay the $50 ER co-payment to have them check my vitals and possibly give me some juice. I know how the ER works — you don't get much help unless you need a limb sewn back on . . . and even then, you've got a 50/50 chance that it's sewn back on in the right direction.
I told the nurse that I really only needed some juice and something to eat, so the cafeteria seemed like an equally good option. She countered by telling me that it's good to be sure "just in case."
I thought, "Just in case what?!? Just in case you have some strange disease that causes you to black out every 9-12 months? Or just in case we want to be sure and charge you for a CAT scan? Or just in case our ER budget comes up short $300 this quarter?"
After a couple minutes, we arrived at the ER admissions desk. The nurse told them that I had passed out and almost hit my head on the floor to get me quicker service. They took my last and first names and my date of birth.
The ER staff scrawled out a wristband for me and the nurse started to put it on my wrist. I asked, "This won't be billable, will it?"
She asked me, "Why, you don't have insurance?" Since she provided me with a good, solid excuse, I put a concerned look on my face and shook my head. She explained, "It's no problem. This hospital will work with you on payment plans. They do it all the time." Not only was this not the answer I was looking for, it was also a definite confirmation that this would be billable.
Here's the rest of the conversation. Feel free to grab two friends and act it out at home:
ACT TWO, SCENE TWO
Setting: A hallway in a hospital just in front of an ER admissions desk. Sick people with horrible diseases, severed limbs, mild rashes, and axes in foreheads can be seen stage left in the ER waiting room. Me sits in a wheelchair in plain street clothes. Nurse stands behind the wheelchair while Uncle leans against a wall.
Me: I'm quite certain that all I need is some juice and food in the cafeteria, and I should be perfectly fine.
Nurse: I don't know. It's best to make sure you're fine.
Me: Naah, I think all I really need is some juice.
Nurse: I'd feel horrible if you passed out and hit your head on the floor because you left without getting looked at.
Me [to audience]: I'd feel worse if I paid $50 for a cup of juice and a blood pressure reading, both of which I could get at the nearest drug store for a total of $1.25.
Me [to Nurse]: No, I'm quite sure it's the fact that I didn't eat lunch today.
Nurse [to Uncle, well within Me's earshot]: Do you think you could talk to him and convince him?
Uncle shrugs, Nurse looks back at Me]
Me [preemptively]: Thanks anyway, but I'm certain.
At this point, I stood up, and the nurse tells me that if I'm going to the cafeteria, I might as well get back in the chair and have my uncle push me there, since the chair needed to be returned to my grandmother's floor anyway.
The story ends with me purchasing an orange juice and sub at the cafeteria and feeling much better from then on.
Fin. [curtain closes]