Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Backwoods Emergency Room

Went to the beach for a week, had a lovely time as always...at least I did. Poor Mike became afflicted with hives of unknown origin. Could be the fish, could be the mildew, could be who knows what. The most significant part of this story is that he woke me up at 6am Thursday morning demanding that I take him to a doctor. On my vacation.
Now, you need to be aware that we were in the Middle. Of. Nowhere. While beautiful and relaxing, coastal Carolina is not known for its medical facilites or its ease of transit. Fortunately, I had noticed a roadside medic the night before on our way home. So off we went, Mike scratching and itching the whole way. We arrived just as the doors were opening, their first patients of the day. Thank goodness we were, because what I saw that morning, I don't think I could've stayed there much longer.
They took Mike back when we got there and I was left in the waiting room to peruse the magazines. Except I didn't have to. I didn't have to even look at the literature because what came through that door was better than any circus event I've ever witnessed.
First came Goiter Neck. Goiter Neck had a golf ball sized lump sticking out the side of her neck. She was apparently troubled by this and held in the entire time she was in the office. She would stare at me as though trying to figure out what I was in for while she fondled her goiter. It was repulsive. Fortunately for me, more entertainment was about to walk through the door.
Apparently it was neck ailment day there in the backwoods emergency room because in walked - well, walked is a strong word, this woman shuffled in sideways to get through the door - a woman who had "taken her a spill yesterday and done sat in the urgent care for five hours and didn't get seen on account of her medicaid referral." She held her head at an almost 90 degree angle to her body and bugged her eyes out at whomever would listen to her when she made a particularly significant point. She took up two chairs and seemed to take a fancy to me. I was about knee deep in a conversation with 'ol Crook Neck when Oxygen Tank walked in. Even Goiter Neck stopped her rubbing when Oxygen Tank walked in. He came with his own hand-held noisy equipment.
We all stared with great interest as he extinguished his cigarette, panted to the receptionist and explain in his post-tracheotomy Darth Vader wheeze that he was having trouble breathing. His machine puffed air in and out of his nostrils through a tube and made clicking noises like it was about to shut off at any moment. That was when I went to the car to get my notebook. There was no need to waste great material like these people.
Upon re-entering the office, it took me a few moments to catch up on the conversation I had missed. Crook Neck and Oxygen Tank were in a heated debate about who should pay for their medical care. It was difficult to take either side, as neither had a particularly convincing argument. I fail to see why I should have to pay more taxes to support Oxygen Tank's nicotine fallout or Crook Neck's lack of employment due to "a hairnet issue." I decided to lean back and take notes instead.
I watched with mild interest as a particularly fetching woman wearing a beach coverup sarong and 6-8 of her own real teeth explained to the receptionist is a rather raspy stage whisper that she needed to talk with someone about some woman's troubles. I carefully squeezed myself into the farthest corner chair and tried to make myself invisible. Lucky for me I had the protection of Oxygen Tank and his trusty equipment. And that's when my personal favorite patient entered.
The patient who made Neck Goiter let go, Crook Neck straighten up, Oxygen Tank breathe deeply, and Gyno Sarong at last cross her legs. That patient walked through the door with a fishhook in his face. IN HIS FACE. His companion explained quite unnecesarily that they had been fishing and when he went to cast his line, that hook just got caught up in his friend's face and they didn't want to pull it back out on account of the barbs designed to hold it tight to the fish. They thought that might tear his face up.
Because having a fish hook actually in your face won't cause any major problems. It was like a bad car accident I couldn't turn away from. I'm not sure if he could tell that I was staring, since his left eye was squinched up due to the fish hook connecting his eyebrow and cheekbone, but I really didn't care. If I'd had my camera, I promise you I would've taken a picture. Because I had my blog on my mind from the moment I walked in that office.
Turns out they sent Fish Hook on to the emergency room, but it gave the rest of the colorful bunch a little something special to take home with them that day. I don't know what happened to any of those folks, but Mike got fixed up with a good dose of drugs and we were on our merry way. Quickly.
If anyone finds themselves in the Coastal Carolina region in need of a good doctor or some free entertainment, give me a ring.

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