Because the Locals Rarely Use the ER and Tourist Season is Over

I thought I had merely scraped my finger across the blade.  It didn’t even look sharp.  But it hurt and I immediately put my finger under running water as it bled.  The water made it even more painful.  It wasn’t a scrape — or a simple cut.  No.  A chunk of skin had been removed and what I saw was not the same color as the outer layer of surrounding skin.

After five minutes, I went grabbing for paper towels to wrap it and apply pressure.  Surely it would clot.  A band-aid would not be sufficient, but I knew I had gauze and tape.  A search and destroy mission ensued looking for the supplies.  They weren’t in the first aid drawer.  Nor underneath the sink.  Nor in the linen closet.

It was back to the kitchen for clean paper towels and ice (to dull the pain), trying not to drip blood all over the house.  Then back to the bathroom where I found my supplies in the other drawer — the ‘overflow’ drawer.  Back to the kitchen to administer bandages (trying to contain the bloody crime scene to one room).

Rinsed the bloody digit again before new bandages in which more comedy ensued trying to open bandages and cut tape with one hand while dripping blood over the counters, down the stove (apparently) and on the floor.

The blood was not stopping, not clotting.  A tourniquet was needed, but I knew I would not be able to tie a knot with one hand and I didn’t have a tourniquet anyway.  I didn’t think fast enough that a rubber band would have sufficed, but then I probably would have wound up with blood on the walls and cabinets.

And I would never get the blood out of the wood cabinets.  As it was I had already bloodied an entire roll of paper towels trying to tear one off and finally removing the roll from the stand — one-handed.  After an hour of bandages, ice, pressure on the wound, it was time to consider an ER visit.

My kitchen looked like a crime scene.

I really didn’t want to call 911 since it was only a finger and upon hearing that, they probably wouldn’t have raced to my house.  And then I’d have no way to get home.  I considered having a neighbor drive me, but I felt that it was impolite to bleed all over someone else’s car.

Fortunately I was already wearing layers and shoes, so I wrapped new layers of gauze, ice and paper towels and drove one-handed.  It’s only about a mile and half along local streets, a half mile ‘as the crow flies’.

In hindsight, driving one-handed was not ideal since I couldn’t keep pressure on the wound and so I was bleeding faster than when I was in my kitchen.  By the time I was turning into the ER parking lot, my entire wrapped hand was bright red and beginning to drip.

The comedy resumed.

The ER glass doors clearly stated “No emergency walk-ins”.

A brand spanking new wing and ‘state of the art’ ER had just been added last year.  I knew there was a walk-in area. I just had to find the door.  The next set of doors should have let me in.  They were locked, the desk area dark.  There was an employees entrance, but it required a key code.  Meanwhile I was leaving a blood trail trying to get in the hospital.

There is a standalone urgent care center in town — but on the opposite side of town.  I’d never make it there.

So, back to the car, then drove — slowly and foregoing the seatbelt this time — around to the front of the hospital, parked and walked in the main entrance, my hand elevated and dripping like a faucet not fully turned off.

The receptionist freaked and nearly fell backward out of her chair, when she saw a bloody wrapped hand.  It’s a hospital.  She should expect to see blood.  “I can’t stop the bleeding. How do I get to the ER?”  She pointed down the hall behind her.

Down the hall to the end, then to the right to the end of that hall, then left down another hall which left me without any more signs pointing the way and no sign of ER personnel.  I stopped momentarily not knowing quite where to go.

Someone wearing an employee badge was coming down the hall.  “I need some assistance here.”  He just went wide around me, but a security guard sauntering down the hallway noticed the puddle of blood next to me, grabbed me around the shoulders and guided me to triage — which was down the hall, to the right, then the left again.  The ER doc, finding another puddle yelled out for a bucket.

In all, I gave everyone working in the ER a good laugh, especially having left a blood trail through the entire hospital (which paled in comparison to my house), and had I waited any longer would not have been able to drive myself due to blood loss.

It was just a finger.  Had it been a leg, I never would have made it.

An hour later, I had a professionally wrapped mummy hand which provided additional comedy for the next week since it was my dominant hand that was injured.  Three days later I received a letter “Thank you for choosing us as your emergency provider.  Here’s your bill.”

The new ER has a lovely fireplace in the waiting area.  It was on that day.  Did I mention we were having a nor’easter that day?

Now if only they kept the emergency walk-in doors open it would be $22 million well spent.

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