It may just be me but, have you ever wonder how would you react if you were driving on a highway at about 70 miles per hour, surrounded by cars going as fast if not faster than you and all of the sudden you were stricken by a horrible pain, or a heart attack or something like that? I did but I don’t anymore. You see, a few months ago I experienced something very close. It didn’t take place in a highway but it had all the other elements of such a drama: there was pain, lots of pain, there were cars, lots of cars, and there I was at the center of it all.
“Good morning” I mumbled over and over again as I walked past a row of cubicles to my left and managers’ offices to my right. It wasn’t a particularly cheerful morning greeting but it was one those few people already at work found very funny. You see, I’m not a morning person so waking up early in the morning takes a lot of effort on my part and yet I always get to work very early which means that my greeting feels as if I just woke up. A kind of sleepy greeting which those few colleagues who get to work even earlier than I do would use as an excuse to routinely crack jokes at my expense.
“Good morning! Rough night?”
“No. Not particularly. I actually had a good night sleep. I really wish I was a morning person.” I walked to the very end of the row of cubicles and entered my office. I turned on my computer and walked to the restroom before getting a cup of coffee. My daily ritual got me ready to tackle the challenges of my job. I don’t recall when was the last time my morning didn’t start this way. That is, of course until that Wednesday a couple months ago.
As I was walking towards the restroom I felt a sharp pain. Sort of like a stomach cramp. It was weird as I never get stomachaches but I didn’t think much of it. I went to the bathroom and…nothing. Nothing happened at all. I thought that perhaps I was constipated and that had caused the stomachache. The only thing that I couldn’t explain was why I couldn’t pee either. I wrote the whole thing off and went back to my office. That afternoon it happened again.
“Aaaaahhh! What is this pain all about” I thought while holding my lower torso with both hands. I went back to the restroom but, once again, no luck. Again, I thought that I was experiencing a stomach pain most likely due to me being unusually constipated and didn’t think about it again until that evening at home.
“Aaaahh! Well at least this time was not as sharp as the stomachache I experienced at work” I thought and went to sleep.
The next morning was going to be a long day full of meetings. We were in the last few weeks before the year end Holidays and the year-end closing which meant lots of coordinating needed to take place. As I arrived again I had the stomachache once more but this time I did notice a small crimson ring in the otherwise clean waters of the commode. I had seen that same crimson halo once before. At that time I was diagnosed with hemorrhoids. “Great… it’s back. I need to go see a doctor before this gets worse.” For the next couple of hours everything was fine. Finally, during a colleague’s presentation to my boss of a research project I had already seen a week earlier, a sudden urge to pee got me to excuse myself from the presentation and return to the restroom. This time things were different. I did pee, but it was mixed with blood. “This can’t be good” I thought “I really need to go see an urologist today.” I went back to the conference room where the presentation was taking place and waited till it was over before talking to my boss. ”I have two more meetings today and after that I need to leave to try get an appointment with an urologist. I just peed blood.”
My boss looked at me perplexed and without thinking it twice “Are you mad? Go to see a doctor now! Forget the meetings! They can wait. Go take care of your health now!” I left and went to the hospital campus where my urologist has his private practice.
“Good morning. I need an appointment with Doctor Jonas but I need the appointment for like now.”
“Sorry but you cannot get an appointment today.”
“Ma’am, there is blood in my urine. A significant amount of blood.”
“Sorry but the Doctor cannot see you today. The best I can do is to insert you tomorrow at 10:45am”
I hesitated for a few seconds but seeing that any attempt to get an appointment that day was not going to be successful I agreed to return the following morning. As I was not going to be able to resolve anything by going home, I decided to return to the office instead.
“What are you doing here? Aren’t you supposed to be at the doctor’s office?”
“I cannot get an appointment till tomorrow morning so since I’m not in pain or anything like that I figure I will take care of the things I won’t be able to take care of tomorrow.” During the rest of the afternoon I went to the restroom a couple of times and each time there was less and less traces of blood in my urine.
That afternoon I discovered that most people believe they have great insights when discussing other people’s illnesses. They generally ask you what your symptoms are and based upon your response they will offer a diagnostic of your malady. They are genuinely trying to help you process what you are feeling by letting you know that their wives, husbands, mothers, child, cousins or next door neighbor went through the same thing you are going through and it was _________ (reader, you can fill the blanks with one of the following words or any others you may have heard of whenever you have been less than healthy: good, bad, painful, not a big thing, so bad the guy died, so bad the woman spend weeks at the hospital, a breeze, disastrous and extraordinarily expensive, etc.). “It is a bad infection. I had the same thing once. It’s painful as hell. The good news is that they’ll give you some medicine and you will feel fine after that”, “for sure is an ulcer. Have you ever had one? Boy! You want to take care of it right away or you are going to know what excruciating pain feels like”, “You are passing a stone. Yep! That’s what you are feeling. It’s going to get worse though and the doctors won’t be able to do anything about it. It really is the worse pain ever! My brother just went through that recently. The poor bastard laid on the floor twisted like a pretzel. That is how much pain he experienced. And he is a special forces’ soldier who fought in Kandahar. He is no wimp!” (OK, the last quote I kind of made it up but that is how those conversations felt like after having them all afternoon!)
The next morning I went to see the doctor and I described to him what I was feeling and what I had seen in terms of the amount of blood on my urine. I also mentioned that I was traveling out of state the following Friday and that I was concerned that the pain may start again while I was in Miami.
The doctor kept looking at me, nodding, and taking notes as I spoke. As soon as I finished he looked at my file once more and finally said “Based on what you are telling me you may be experiencing one of two things: you could have a bad infection or you could be passing a kidney stone. I won’t be able to tell you which one until you have a cat scan done.”
Interestingly I discovered that doctors do the exact same thing well-meant individuals do: they pretty much guess based on prior experience. But it’s a guess nonetheless. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not suggesting the doctor didn’t do his job right. In fact he communicated by both verbal and non-verbal language that he really cared and that he wanted to ensure I got relief as soon as possible so that I could go on living the life I had before the cramps started.
“I’m going to have my assistant schedule you for a CAT scan right now. If you leave quickly and get to the medical center in the next 30 minutes they may be able to do your CAT scan by 1pm and I may be able to get your results by 4pm. If everything works as planned, at that point we can decide how to proceed.”
“Excuse me doctor but what exactly do you mean by ‘how to proceed’?”
“If it’s an infection, which I doubt, I will give you a prescription and that will be it. If you are passing a stone there is no way we can let it come out naturally given that you are traveling next week. We’ll need to operate.”
I had heard horror stories about passing stones in terms of the pain it inflicts so I viewed the choice of surgery as the more desirable one.
“In the meantime I’m prescribing you a pain killer and a muscle relaxer you should start taking immediately” He gazed at my file once more and looking at his assistant he said “He is allergic to Codeine. We have to substitute with…”
I left the doctor’s office and went straight to get me the CAT scan. I wasn’t too concerned, after all I felt fine. What could go wrong! I drove to the place and was greeted by a very attractive young woman “Hello Mr. Lindley. Doctor Jonas’ assistant called and made your appointment so your scan will be done shortly. Please fill this form and return it to me when you are done.”
I took the clipboard and I went looking for a seat. I saw one nearby and as soon as I sat down I jumped right back up. I had just felt as if someone had stabbed me in the back. In the lower back to be exact. At first I thought it was a muscle pain due to the stress I had endured the last couple of days but the pain didn’t subside. I walked around the reception area hoping for the pain to stop. I walked and walked under a sharp pain. By then I felt as if the proverbial knife was been twisted over and over again. There were a few people waiting around and I didn’t want to make a scene. I was not going to show pain. That was that! I know it sounds foolish but I have issues: I don’t like making a scene or be viewed by others as someone making a scene. So sue me!
I kept walking carrying the clipboard with me hoping for the pain to stop. After a couple of minutes that felt … longer than a few minutes the pain started to go away. I quickly took the clipboard and filled the form. I wanted to get this over and done before another bout of pain started. I imagined what would happened if the pain started while I was getting the scan. I would be stuck in a cylinder not wider than I am without being able to stand up, move my arms, crawl out, or anything like that. Also, the test would take longer and my doctor wouldn’t be able to diagnose my ailment on that day which would have sucked because then I would have to wait till Monday for anything to get done. I returned the clipboard and a couple of minutes later I was inside the CAT scan equipment. Luckily it went without a hitch. The doctor had insisted on making sure that I got my results from the scan and that I carry them with me when I left the medical center so I had to wait around for about another 10 minutes or so. Finally with the results on hand I walked out to the parking lot in order to go to the pharmacy to fill my pain killer medication. Surely that would ensure I didn’t feel that awful pain again. I pulled out of the parking lot into the main road, a very wide avenue with four lanes and there is where I was when I started my story.
“Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” The pain came right back. I couldn’t stop the car as I risked getting hit by the cars around me. Just imagining what it would feel like if on top of the pain I had at that moment I got hit by a car scared the heck out of me. I couldn’t sit. I wished I could start walking around the car the same way I did at the scan office but that wasn’t feasible. I sat on one buttock and when that didn’t work I sat on the other. That didn’t work either. I leaned forward, sideways, back, nothing seemed to alleviate the knife-twisting pain on my lower back. I passed right in front of the hospital where my doctor has his practice but I figure if I go in they are going to ask me if I had taken the medicine the doctor had prescribed. I figured that once I told them I hadn’t they would tell me that the doctor couldn’t do anything about my pain and that I needed to take the medicine first in order to get any pain relief.
“Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” The dam pain was getting worse so I had to make a decision, “Should I go straight home or should I go to the pharmacy”. I gave it a thought for a few seconds and I concluded that if I went home I wouldn’t have a chance in hell of getting rid of the pain. However the pain was so intense I was afraid I was either going to pass out or hit something or someone on my way to the pharmacy. I considered my options and I passed right in front of my condominium on my way to the pharmacy. I parked and went straight to the drugstore.
“Merry Christmas.” A woman greeted me in front of the store wearing a Christmas hat and ringing a bell right next to the red till that is the iconic symbol of the Salvation Army.
I tried smiling, after all my pain was not a reason for me to be rude to someone who, in my opinion, was performing a very meaningful job “Merry Christmas” I sort of mumbled and entered the Walgreens store, walked past every aisle and went straight to the pharmacy. As soon as I was approached by the clerk I handed over my prescription and asked how long it would take to fill the prescription.
“About 15 minutes”
“I really would appreciate if it could be done faster than that. I am in excruciation pain and I really need to take the pain medication as soon as possible.” I must have looked pretty sick for the guy told me he was going to get it done as soon as possible. I thanked him and grabbed a bottle of cold water from the store’s cooler. I was ready to take the medication as soon as it was ready. The clerk called me to the counter and handed over my medication. I paid and tried clumsily to open the plastic bottle in order to take the medication right there. If child proof packaging is normally a pain for adults to open, you have no idea how much more difficult to open it can be when you are in as much pain as I was. I was desperate and not being able to open the bottle made me even more desperate. I handed the bottle over to the clerk and, just like a child would do when he can’t do something he knows his parents can, I looked at him and ask for help opening it. He quickly open it and I took the medicine, threw it to the back of my mouth and drank half the bottle of water, took the open bottle and dropped it inside the Walgreen’s bag without closing it. I left the store, got back to the car and after repeating a similar experience to the one I had on my way to the store I finally got home.
“AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAGGGGGGGHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH” I yelled once I got in and run upstairs to lay down. As soon as I attempted to lay down I realize that was not going to work, I stood up again and tried staying still, that didn’t work either. I kneel, nope, I went to the bathroom, maybe if I peed or crapped? No way. It didn’t matter what I attempted to do in order to get some pain relieve it didn’t work. “I got to get hold of the doctor” I told myself. “Where is his phone number?” You will be surprised to learn that people who like me are anal about keeping orderly records of all sorts: documents, pictures, music, phone numbers, etc., could on occasion lose something as critical as his doctor’s phone number…right at the most pressing moment. It is true what Murphy said: things will go wrong at the worst possible time. “Where is the dammed phone number!” At that point I was feeling so much pain that the only thing I could do was to walk in circles. It didn’t relief the pain but I felt as if by doing so I was able to redirect the burst of energy, or whatever it is, you feel when you are in excessive pain. I yelled a couple of times but I realized that wasn’t going to solve the problem “where is the phone number! Eddie, you need to focus.” I thought for a short while “The meds. It may be written on the meds packaging” and off I went searching for the bottle. I found it only to realize that the pharmacy information is the only thing written on the package. I was becoming more desperate and the pain was not letting go. I tried to describe the pain to myself as if that was going to help me deal with it. That obviously didn’t work but I can report now that the pain I felt was as if someone had stabbed me in the lower back with a knife that had several blades all of them converging on a central spike and the person stabbing me was driving the blade as deep as he or she was able to while twisting it non-stop. The pain wouldn’t stop. Not for a second. “My computer! That is where I keep my personal contact’s information. The doctor’s phone number has to be there!” I walked as fast as I could and went downstairs looking for my desktop computer. Before I described what happened next I feel I need to provide you with context. I have no problem with computers…but they don’t feel the same about me. Computers have an uncanny ability to find ways to screw with me. I kid you not. You can ask any IT person who has ever worked with me. I provide them with continuous learning opportunities because they invariably have to call software and hardware vendors to find out how to fix the problems I encounter frequently with my technology tools be it laptops, smartphones, even dumbphones! This being the case let me get back to the story at hand. I went into my home office turned on the computer and suddenly a message popped on screen. A message I have seen often but never caused me any anxiety before “Please don’t turn your computer off. You have 157 updates.” If this is maddening when you are trying to retrieve a file on an average day, you have no idea how it feels when you find yourself in the situation I was in. “You’ve got to be kidding meeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!” It was going to take probably longer to update than I could afford to wait. I ran upstairs again and continued to walk in circles trying to figure out what to do. At that point I felt like crying but I managed not to. I don’t subscribe to the notion that man shouldn’t cry. In fact we should and we do. However I’ve come to the realization that whenever I have cried I have weakened, not psychologically but physically. At that point the sheer thought of my knees buckling under me and falling scared me. I could imagine how much more intense the pain in my back would feel. “Millie!” My wife’s doctor and mine shared the same office. “Honey, you need to come home. I’m in excrutiating pain. I can’t find my doctor’s phone number. I need to call him to tell him I can’t withstand the pain anymore and to ask him what I should do next.”
“I’m on my way, but is going to take me about half an hour to get there. Call 911!”
“No, that’s not needed yet. I need you to call your doctor. He shares offices with mine. Hurry up please!!!”
“OK, let me get his phone number and I’ll call you back, I’m already on my way!”
I was finally going to hear from my doctor. Hopefully there were even stronger meds out there than the ones he had prescribed earlier. Minutes felt like forever. Finally my wife called me back.
“I’m sorry! I don’t have my doctor’s phone number on my cell! Call 911!”
I swear by then I began to wonder if I was having a really bad nightmare or if I was a character from the old Three Stooges movies. “Please get back here as soon as you can” I said trying not to sound too desperate. I didn’t want Millie to worry. I knew she was a wreck already and I didn’t want to increase her stress levels any further.
“I’ll be home in just a few minutes!”
I kept walking in circles and began to feel weaker and weaker. I also started to get dizzy. I kept drinking water and every so often I would try peeing but nothing would come out. I continued walking in circles holding to the walls to avoid falling. Finally my wife got home.
“How are you feeling, did you call 911?”
“Please call your doctor’s office and talk to Doctor Jonas. Ask him what can I do to get rid of this pain.” At this point I had no much energy left so I spoke in monotone. Later on Millie confided that when she saw the expression on my face she knew the amount of pain I was under. She told me she had never seen me look like that.
“This is Doctor Jonas’ answer service. He is gone for the weekend.”
“I need you to get hold of Doctor Jonas. My husband went to see him this morning about a pain on his lower back and now he may be passing a kidney stone. I need to talk to him!”
“Can you be more specific? What kind of pain is he having?”
I took the phone away from my wife and explained to the woman what I was going through.
“I will try getting hold of Doctor Jonas.”
That was the extent of her commitment. I thought “this really can’t be happening. I must be having a nightmare and soon I will wake up and the sense of pain will go away. Everything that’s happening today can’t be for real.” I started to lose my balance a little bit while I kept circling my bedroom. My wife kept walking behind me in case I collapsed. After waiting for several minutes and not getting a call back I finally told mi wife. “Call 911.”
Everything that happened next has taught me a valuable lesson: whatever you see on TV shows do not resemble real life…at all. You may wonder what kind of an idiot is this guy? Everyone knows TV shows do not depict reality! Well I knew that. I Just never guessed to what extent.
“Hello, I need an ambulance.”
“What is the emergency?”
“It’s my husband. He is in a lot of pain. He needs an ambulance. He needs to go to the hospital.” My wife said trying to keep as calmed as she could under the circumstances.
“Where is the pain?”
“In his back.”
At that point I took the phone away from her. I figured it would be better if I provided all the information regarding how I felt so that I could shorter the questioning process and get the emergency line operator to start directing the ambulance towards my place. This was the first thing I noticed it was different from TV.
“I have an intense pain on my lower back on my left side.” I said sitting down on my bed for about a second and then I sprang back and kept walking in circles.
“How bad is the pain?”
“Very intense. I may be passing a kidney stone.” And the questions kept coming. I began to wonder what would happened if I was alone and after calling 911 I felt unconscious. Would they continue to ask questions even though there was nobody to answer? Or would they simply hang up because they didn’t get their questions answered? Probably not. They probably still sent the ambulance so why they kept asking me question after question when I was truly close to collapsing. The last thing I wanted to do was to answer questions. Why it wasn’t like the movies? There the actress calls 911 and says something like “Operator! Please send an ambulance to 123 Main Street. Please hurry. My husband is really sick!” and the next thing you see is the ambulance taking the husband actor on a stretcher from his make belief home to the ambulance.
“An ambulance is on its way.”
“Thanks” and I kept walking in circles with my wife walking behind me. About 7 minutes later I heard (no, I didn’t time them, the fire engine people mentioned it to me) the faint sound of a siren.
“The ambulance! Do you want to go downstairs now or should they come upstairs and bring you down on a stretcher?”
I attempted to say that I would walk downstairs but instead I just mumbled something even I had a hard time understanding. I did walk towards the staircase which was a dead giveaway of what I planned on doing so my wife didn’t ask me what I meant. I walked slowly and with as much pain as I had being experiencing all along but with such little physical strength left that my legs kept shaking. With every step I took I had to wait for a few seconds in order to make sure my legs were going to hold up.
I finally made it down together with my wife. “I’m going out to tell the security guard to direct the paramedics to our condo.” Luckily we live a few homes away from the entrance so my wife went out and came right back within a couple of minutes. “They are here already but it’s not an ambulance. It’s a fire engine.”
I remembered having seen many times on TV that paramedics worked out of fire houses and arrived on red colored vehicles reminiscent of fire engines. I figure that was why my wife thought the vehicle that was parking outside my home was a fire engine. I don’t give my wife enough credit.
“Hello, may we come in?”
“Yes please, this is my husband. He is the one in pain.”
I turned around and I saw three people wearing fire fighters pants. You probably know what I mean. Those beige, bulky looking pants made from what looks like very rough material? Two man and a woman. The three looked at each other and walked towards me rather clumsily. I didn’t see the decisiveness I would have expected from firefighters. I got the feeling they had never done this. It really felt as if this was their first house call for my kind of situation. Just to clarify, I am not questioning their firefighting skills. I’m sure they are superb. Their paramedic skills on the other hand needed some work.
“Where is the pain?”
I gather all the strength I had left and answered her question.
“Are you taking any medication?”
I answered the same way as before.
“Are you under the care of any physician who is treating you for this pain you are feeling?”
These were the exact same questions I had already answered when I called 911. Don’t they talk to each other? Where is my stretcher! I wanted to say all these things but it would have meant using up what little energy I had left in me. It wasn’t worth it.
“I need to take your blood pressure” the woman told me.
I nodded. She took my vitals.
“We need to wait for the ambulance. It should be here shortly.”
“What?” I managed to utter. “Why wait? I’m in pain. I don’t understand. Why are you here for?”
“We are really sorry but we cannot do much.” One of the two man started “We have standing instructions to get to where the patient is as soon as possible and then wait for the ambulance to show up.”
I was really mad. I stood up again and started to walk in circles once again “This doesn’t make any sense.”
“We couldn’t agree more.” The second man intervened “We feel helpless getting to your home, watching you feeling this much pain and not being able to help you. This is one of the changes that have taken place since Houston decided to hire a new Fire Chief. The Chief is from Arizona. He knows nothing about Houston. He restructured…”
The fireman kept talking about firefighting and politics as if I really cared. All I cared about at that point was knowing when my ambulance was going to get here. The knife being twisted on my back had precedence over any discussions about politics or the morale at Houston firehouses. Finally I heard another siren. Hopefully this was not the police or a second set of firefighters. I needed meds!
“I hear the ambulance sir. They should be here any minute now. Do you want me to help you meet them outside in order to speed up your transport to the hospital or do you prefer to wait inside your home?”
I stood up and zigzagged through the living room on my way to the door. The firefighter figure out what was my answer to his question so he held my arm and helped me get outside. The ambulance was already parked and a short paramedic was walking towards me.
“Hello sir. How are you feeling?”
“Like crap. My back hurts like nothing I have ever experienced.”
“He may be passing a kidney stone” one of the firefighters volunteered.
“That is an awful pain. I’ve never experienced it myself but I have seen tough guys cry when passing kidney stones.”
I just nodded confirming how awful it was but I couldn’t figure out why he would make such statement. Shouldn’t he tell me that everything was going to be OK? Oh wait, that was probably something I heard a TV paramedic say. Apparently this didn’t happen in the real world.
“Are you taking meds?”
“Yes, he is.” My wife told the paramedic.
“When did he started taking his meds?”
“About 3 hours ago”
“Oh nooooo. That’s nothing. He needs to let the meds go through his system first in order for him to start feeling better. That takes from 6 to 8 hours. You should just stay here at your home and if you don’t feel any improvement in a few hours then you should consider going to the ER.”
Really? Would you have guessed that a paramedic…driving an ambulance…which was directed to your home due to a 911 call will tell you to wait and see if the pain would go away…without even checking your vitals!
“You are taking me to the ER now” I was so pissed to hear this dumb ass make such an un-TV-show statement that my words sounded incredibly strong given the fact that I felt like I was about to pass out.
“But the hospital is going to keep you in their ER waiting area and they won’t do anything until you pass the stone alone”.
“I don’t care. Take me to the ER NOW!”
“OK but I’m telling you it’s going to be a waste of your time”
Since that day I had being asking myself what kind of moron would hire this dumb ass to go to people’s homes to help with emergencies when he has no empathy of any kind and my only guess is that whoever hired this paramedic is either as incompetent as he is or was bamboozled by the paramedic who probably told him or her that he was able to read patients’ vitals simply by looking at them. I cannot come up with a better explanation.
“I don’t care. Take me there now”.
You would think that there is where my story ends. You would think that I was taken to the hospital and somehow magically got better but that would have been too easy. About a minute after I sort of demanded to be taken to the ER I started hearing the music from Three Blind Mice being played in my head. You know, the music that serves as the musical score for The Three Stooges? No, I was not going crazy.
“OK, sit on the stretcher.”
The ambulance driver was a tall, buffed guy who you could tell workout daily. He greeted me with a smile and, in contrast to the paramedic, seemed really eager to assist in any way he could. There was a third member of the team, a young girl who apparently had never even given an aspirin to a patient and seemed to be doing this for the first time. That didn’t bother me too much. Everyone needs to learn and in the case of healthcare workers there is no other way to do this than by working on real life cases. After all there was also a trained paramedic in the ambulance! The driver helped me get on the stretcher and the paramedic began the process of lifting the stretcher and rolling me in. Something I’m pretty sure paramedics and other ambulance personnel do daily. It was at this very moment when the Three Blind Mice tune was at its loudest.
“BANG” all of the sudden I heard the sound of two metallic structures hitting each other and the stretcher stopped dead on its tracks while I felt my upper body jerking forward and the back pain shooting up. All at the same time.
The stretcher’s front wheels hit the ambulance right below the ambulance doors.
“Sorry” I heard the paramedic say but he didn’t sound authentic. I’m not suggesting it was done on purpose but I don’t believe he really meant what he said.
“Aaaaaargh” felt the pain all over again. The incompetence of this paramedic became ever so obvious to me. He did this three times! Finally the ambulance driver took over and he was able to roll in the stretcher without any issues.
I was finally inside the ambulance and on my way to the ER. “It should only be a couple of minutes and I will finally be in Nirvana” I thought. A couple of minutes went by and I was still in the ambulance…and the ambulance wasn’t moving! I peeked through the two windows located on the ambulance’s back doors and I saw about twenty or thirty cars in back of us. All at a standstill. “Why aren’t we moving?” I asked casually as the young, inexperienced paramedic woman was trying to figure out in which finger was she supposed to put the clip that was to keep tabs of some of my vitals. She had already placed the blood pressure equipment on my arm while the hotshot dumb ass paramedic kept teasing her; she was the newbie after all.
“Traffic” was all the paramedic said.
“Why aren’t you using the siren in order for cars to let you get through so that you can get me to the ER quickly?”
“We can’t do that.”
“You can’t do that? Why?” I was tempted to ask why are TV paramedics able to blare the siren and you can’t? But I was just too exhausted to utter anything else.
“It’s against the law. We can only use the siren when it’s a matter of life or death. This protects drivers from getting into accidents with an ambulance.”
I just nodded in disbelief. This was one hell of an eye opener: no ambulance arriving within minutes of dialing 911. No meds, No sense of urgency or empathy by the paramedic, and no siren. In essence I think that if I’m ever in need of an ambulance again I will call one of the networks and request that one of their actors come pick me up. I’m sure they will arrive faster at my home, I will be given something, even if that something was a sugar pill, I will be told that everything was going to be OK, I will be placed in an ambulance without hitting the back of the vehicle, and I’m sure they will give a rats’ ass about a stupid law and will turn on the ambulance siren. All in all I will be much better off…oh, and before I forget. I was billed over one thousand dollars for all of this. It wouldn’t have cost me a dime and I would have gotten to the hospital much faster if I had decided to let my wife drive me there. But then again, I shouldn’t watch TV so much. It made me have higher expectations of the 911 system and ambulance services than I should have.
I wrote this piece on my Microsoft Surface.