Saturday, March 2, 2013

Emergency Room

A few people sit scattered about. Waiting to be called back or waiting for their loved one to come out, I don't know. My father gets in line and I take a seat with the rest.

Earlier, Jesse, Riley and I arrived at my dad's house to take him out to lunch for his birthday. But when I walked in the door he calmly explained that he thought he better get checked out. Pain in his chest. Pain in his arm. Nothing too serious, but something he'd had for a few days.

"Mr. Davis?" My dad hands me his coat and turns towards the door. This seems so normal. Like we are at a routine appointment and not at the emergency room. I just happened to have my iPad so I pull it out of my purse and try to read. I have a hard time concentrating on my WWII novel. I surf the web and text my husband who went home with our daughter. "He got called back right away" I write, seeing this as a good sign that they are taking the situation seriously. Hopeful, it doesn't mean more.

There is a hunger in my stomach that makes me think about finding a vending machine or going to the cafeteria, but I don't want to be gone if he comes out or asks for me to come back with him.  The hunger keeps me from being able to concentrate on anything fully. I take a few pulls off of a half filled water bottle of Riley's that's in my purse. It's stale, but I hope it helps with the hunger.

I try to read more, but am easily distracted by the hub bub around me. The waiting room is now more crowded. I wonder why all these people are here. What happened to them? Why are they here?

I wonder how things are going back behind those doors for my dad. Is he waiting? Is he having a test done? Is he starving like me? I am mostly calmed by his ease at which he asked to come here. He didn't seem anxious or in pain. The car drive over was filled with conversation like any other car drive we've had. But then I think that this could be something serious. I am reminded that the day before was his 85th birthday. He's getting older and the reality is that time is shorter moving forward. I have to tighten my face so the tears don't come out. I don't want to think about what is possible.

There is some sort of disturbance. The security guy is here. I am in my own world, but there is some spat between husband and wife. Their baby has a fever. I hear the baby crying when they take her back and I want to run home and hug my kid. Sounds so dramatic, I know. 

Two older gentleman are sitting near me. One is talking incessantly while the other adds a word here and there... Mostly words of recognition. I'd like to have silence, but I am also bolstered by their energy and liveliness. I think they must be my dads age, but when they pull out their cell phones I second guess that. But when they have trouble using them I think they might be close to my dad's age after all.

"Code 99, code 99."  "Code blue, code blue". At first it barely registers since I only hear it coming from someone's walkie talkie, but then I think "could that be for my dad?" I don't even know what it really means to be honest, but I know it's not good. I quickly dismiss it and moments later my dad passes through the automatic doors. He sits and says that we have to wait until about 2:00 when they will likely have the results  from the tests. 40 more minutes. He shares that they took blood, did an x-ray and an EKG.

"Are you hungry?" my dad asks. I say "yes" a little too eagerly and my dad suggests I get us food and hands me his credit card. "It's your birthday dad", but he insists. I try to fight, but he always wins at this. Years ago I actually paid for a meal while he was off in the bathroom and I think he was actually pissed at me. 

I head towards the cafeteria to get a couple sandwiches and a cup of coffee for my dad. I am all too familiar with how to get there. It's not the first time I've been here - always for my dad. When I return to the emergency waiting room my dad is gone. I assume he's been called back already so I wait. And eat.

A woman nearby freaks out about the wait. "I have a head injury!", she exclaims. And then storms back to her seat. The older gentlemen who was the talker has gone home leaving his friend to report in to him. He later complains about the wait to me. The husband where the security guard was involved has disappeared. New faces arrive. 

I eat and wait. Rosanne blares from the TV while strangers talk. The only voices in the room. Just normal talk while they wait. I feel a little silly while I eat, crunching on my carrots. Making noise that doesn't seem to fit into this room. I look up and find head injury woman glaring at me. Ten minutes later she gets up, walks out the door, and gets in a cab. To where? I don't know.

The door opens and opens, but its not him. I wait. And finally they call me back to a small room where he lays on a bed. "They're keeping me overnight. They say something's wrong, but they aren't sure what", my dad shares. We talk about our plans to go to his farm the next day to check in with his new renters. "I can do it for you dad." We come up with a back up plan of who will come pick him up from the hospital while nurses, doctors and phlebotomists come in and out of the room.

We're moved to observation room number 9 - just a few curtains down from number 6 where he recovered from his pacemaker surgery in early May. They want to keep him in the observation area just to be sure. I double check to see if he wants me to stay. "I can go to the farm another time", but I know that it would bring him comfort to know that the farm business is taken care of.

I get a call from my sister in Missouri. She's found out about dad since I posted a picture on Instagram. I totally forgot that her daughter follows me. Ugh - what a way to find out your dad is in the hospital. Fail on my part. My dad isn't all that pleased about this as he doesn't want to worry anyone. There was another time his buddy brought him in to the hospital and then stopped at my house to let me know. My dad was pretty ticked about it, but I warned him that he better always let me know about this stuff.

We hang out and just talk. It's clear that my dad watches too much of the news. Disaster, politics, death... Eventually, I leave. He'll eat, watch TV and hopefully sleep. In the morning they let him go and schedule an appointment later in the week.

Update: My dad's pacemaker was tested and there may be issues with that. They almost let him out that night, but decided to keep him overnight. He went back later in the week to get a special stress test and is waiting those results. He plugs on as usual and we hope that all is well. 

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