Since I visited a peaceful and isolated place last week I decided to do the opposite this week and go where I knew there’d be a lot of activity. Mardi Gras promised extra activity at this already busy venue.
Write Anywhere #27: Emergency Room
Midnight at the emergency room on Mardi Gras is another world. The writing challenge I gave myself was trying to capture the energy of the scene. I knew it was going to be interesting as I walked from the parking lot and watched a drunken man do a somersault down a step, bounce up without blinking an eye and pour himself into a friend’s car that had pulled up.
Inside, I walked into a mass of barely controlled chaos. There was only a few empty chairs and I maneuvered to a spot between two televisions, where most of about a dozen kids camped in front of the Disney Channel, although no one could hear the broadcasts for all the chatter, loudspeaker announcements, crying babies, coughing and the occasional snore. The odor combination of vomit, alcohol, coffee and that undefined ‘medical’ smell hovered over the whole room.
People were gathered in groups. Some seemed like a family reunion, joking and laughing together, but most wore the strain of a long wait on their faces. On one side of the waiting area a sliding door led to the ‘real’ emergencies and the other side took those who would be seen for issues traditionally seen in primary care clinics. When the clinic door opened everyone would turn with hopeful faces listening for their name to be called. The winner would jump up quickly while the rest sighed in resignation. Families were seen en masse.
When the door slid open on the emergency side it was usually for a staff member running in or out, and most people looked the other way. A toddler threw up, and a custodian came to the rescue with his rolling trash can. One small group of tipsy revelers ooh-ed and ah-ed over the I.V. inserted in their friend’s hand. I hoped they had a safe ride home.
I was very impressed with the staff, who stayed professional and cheerful in spite of the never-ending line of clientele. I wondered how they prepared themselves mentally when they knew it was going to be an especially busy time. I remembered some of my past emergency room visits, either with a child or myself, and I said a prayer for everyone as I slipped back out unnoticed.
Where did you write this week?