ER Observations

This is a post to thank the nurses, doctors, and NYPD of Elmhurst hospital and beyond.

I unexpectedly found myself in the ER of Elmhurst NY yesterday. I have had a cough for going on 5 months now. This week I decided that perhaps my positive attitude of “it will take care of itself” should take a back seat. I went to the clinic and upon finding out that my chest was hurting and that I had first developed a cough when I was in Israel, they decided to send me to the ER. I am currently working for myself, and in the States that means your non insurance or lack of good insurance will land you firmly in room B.

I spent the next 12.5 hours with the B crowd of the city hospital of Elmhurst in Queens. It was an extremely overpopulated room. Rows of rolling beds formed lines across the floor. I was in the back row with a full view. It was an interesting day with nothing to do but observe.

When I first arrived there was a man on the stretcher in front of me that seemed to be under the influence of something strong. He repeatedly tried to slowly and clumsily work himself to a sitting position on the end of the bed and try to stand. The police and nurses nearby tried to have him lay down again and then as soon as they turned he stood up for one second and crashed to the ground on his first step. Three men heaved his deadweight body onto the stretcher and had to link his wrists to the bed so that he could not get up again.

On one side of the curtain to my right there was a man that seemed to be going through heroin withdraw. He was making gagging noises repeatedly until he finally and wholeheartedly released his stomach onto the shared curtain. I shared my small open space with a Chinese girl in her 20’s. She and her husband looked quite mortified at the happenings of room B. I smiled at her and joked about the chaos. Just then a lady screamed on the other side of the curtain next to my new friends, causing them to jump. A lot of patients screamed in room B.

After some time a very young man was wheeled in through the jigsaw of beds to find some empty space. He was half naked, sitting up and laughing at things no one else could see. His nurse stood next to him and spoke in a good mannered way. She chided him that he was too young to take ‘these drugs of his.” He said he didn’t like her in a very far off haze. She told him she liked him and stroked the hair out of his eyes. She was kind to him. This is the same nurse that saw me on my phone and offered her own phone charger to me without my even asking. She was calm in the midst of chaos.

I saw an officer come in and ask a man how he was by name. He had a conversation with the man that appeared to be homeless. The policeman had met him before and encouraged him that he needed to stop drinking like that. There was a comradery between the two.

As they wheeled my bed to the CT room I saw another cop talking with a man that was handcuffed to his bed. I saw a lot happen in those 12 plus hours. And one thing I realized out of my day in room B was that the nurses, policeman, EMT workers, and staff…they don’t have it easy. But you can see that they want to be there. On the front lines of the war zone called the streets of NYC. They were the people that repaired the soldiers. Even the soldiers that neglected to notice that they were in a war.

These servicemen joked and smiled and had concerned conversations with people that most would cross streets to avoid. The downtrodden and dirty. I am thankful to have witnessed their strength. And I want to personally thank them for taking the time to see those that others don’t.

#imfine #nothing serious

Written By

New Yorker, photographer, blogger, and life time dreamer.