This is the story of how (among other things) I was almost beaten by a Security Guard ... at a hospital.
Date: Saturday in early November, 1998
Time: Approx. 4:30 am.
Place: Columbus, OH. ( I was in town for a Toastmasters convention).
After suffering severe symptoms since 7:30 the night before, I was at the hospital seeking medical attention. The Emergency Room was completely empty, so the Triage Nurse invited me to sit down beside her behind the desk.
She had crossed her legs crossed at the knees and kicked her left foot up and down as she entered my data into the hospital's computer system.
"Hey." a dis-embodied voice proclaimed with just a little authority. I craned my neck back and up to see a tall, lanky young man in a Security Guard's uniform standing there. He looked like teenager in a Norman Rockwell painting.
"Hey." I replied.
"How are you?" he inquired. This seemed a little odd since a) I'm sitting at the triage desk of a hospital (that should be a clue that I'm sick in some way) , and b) Ssecurity Guards don't usually engage in small talk while on the job.
I replied politely and rather casually, "Well, aside from the projectile vomiting, explosive diarrhea, cold sweats, feaver, dehydration, suspected kidney malfunction, absolutly no sleep since 6:00am yesterday, and an inability to hold down even simple foods or liquids, I'm doing pretty good. How are you?"
Before the Guard could answer, the Triage Nurse chimed in, "Yeah, Tom. What's up with you?"
"You tell me." The Guard's voice still seemed to be a little loud. It contuned to carry a certain level oj subdued conviction. But I ignored this thinking that it was just my lack of sleep that made everythiing sound louder. "You're the one who set off the panic alarm."
WAIT !! WHAT !!! PANIC ALARM??
Yes, the Nurse had kicked the panic alarm with that dainty left foot mentioned just a few short paragraphs ago.
"Oh, no. That's the third time this month. I'm sorry Tom."
Why was she apologizing to Tom? I'm the one who almost got creamed by a Security Guard ... using a night stick ... at a hospital; adding contusions, abrasions, broken bones, and blurry vision to my list of symptoms.
I was finally admitted to the Emergency Treatment area and put in a small, private room. A very large and slightly dour man entered the room. "Hello, my name is Bruce. I am your Nurse this morning." The two-day beard stubble didn't help his image.
Bruce finished a little paper work and left. A doctor came in. Blood was taken. The usual stuff when you visit a hospital or Doctor's office.
Bruce returned with an IV bag. What a relief considering my state. As he administered the IV, I complained about a slight pressure on my chest and a strange taste in my mouth.
"Everything will be all right in just two minutes" Bruce replied.
I thought, how can everything be all right in just two minutes? How can he be so certain about that? And then I fell asleep.
Moments later (it was really an hour), another Nurse burst into my room. I almost exclaimed, "Happy Birthday!" to her but couldn't figure out why. She was just checking my IV bag.
"This is your third IV bag. We're thinking about giving your a fourth."
"Whatever you guys think is best. I don't ever recall being this sick before." I told her.
Wait, my third IV bag. If it's an IV bag should't it be my fourth one? Can she count using Roman numerals? No ... no ... no ... She must mean an "ivy" bag. Yeah, that mokes more sense. This mattress is very comfortable. ... zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz
Hours later (but it seemed like minutes), a third nurse entered the room. "OK. You're free to go".
She handed me a sheet of paper and continued, "You have gastroenteritis. This sheet of paper describes your illness and what you should do. Keep your diet simple for the next five days until your system settles down. And here are three prescriptions for you." She said all this very fast - or was I listening slowly.
"And, we played a trick on you."
"We gave you morphine. You can't drive for another twelve hours."
Wait a second. "Happy Birthday" ... Hours seem like moments ... "ivy" bag ... comfortable mattress. This all has something to do with something.
It was 10:30am. The Emergency Room was full. An alderly woman lay on a stretcher. Another elderly woman sat next to her (a freind? a sister?). The woman on the stretcher was contorted and stiff. I wanted to do something but wasn't sure if gastroenteritis.was contagious. So I said a prayer and left.
I couldn't drive, but I could call a cab. The one mile ride to the hotel cost twelve dollars. I only had a twenty and the driver coudn't give change. So I said keep it. Did he know I was on morphine?