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Now I'm Being Serious (Ain't I Always?)
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We spent 4 mind- and ass-numbing hours at the Veterans Administration emergency triage zoo last night/this morning, for a 5 minute admission to the presence of a doctor (note the stethoscope and the bright-colored badge). After being ushered into the Presence, the veteran in my family was informed that he didn't know his penis from his anus and was told to go home and let the medicine he was already taking work its miracle. OK. About what I expected.

But a couple of things occurred to me during the 4-hour ordeal of sitting in the World's Most Uncomfortable Chair, listening to a monologue from a man suffering from verbal diarrhea. Sitting at the far end of the room, he talked nonstop for 3 1/2 hours and not once did he make any sense, though he used beautiful phrasing and had a gorgeous voice which carried beautifully to the far corners of the room. Then he and his silent friend moved all the way across the room to sit 3 chairs away from me (my veteran had left the room to use the bathroom) and started to sing/hum/serenade.

Hasn't happened in a long time--unwanted attentions from unwanted pursuers. As the only female in the waiting room, what did I expect? A cavernous room with gazillion chairs and I am surrounded by 6 or so old soldiers in various states of decrepitude, all trying to make eye contact or start a conversation or whatever passes for it.

I got up and moved and braved the disappointed faces. Sudden silence ensued. No hilarity.

The triage nurse came out to see what was going on, bless her heart. I asked her why it was so busy in the emergency room on a Saturday night, the first evening of a 3-day weekend, a major holiday in the U.S. Don't people ever have a crisis Tuesday morning at 10 a.m.? She smiled and said she didn't know why, but weekend nights were sure to be busier than Tuesday mornings.

I wonder if it's the body's unconscious panic at the thought of being away from medical care for 3 whole days. Or maybe the loneliness of a holiday without friends or family? But most of the veterans there were brought by someone they obviously knew well and when they were admitted to the emergency room, the family waited in a little anteroom with a loud television and equally uncomfortable chairs.

If anyone has an insight into this conundrum, I'd be interested to read it. Why do people have medical crises at night and on weekends related to chronic illnesses? Accidents and societal violence I understand. But why do congestive heart failure and gout flare up Friday night after dinner? There was, however, one man who looked like he was there just to have a place to sleep for the night.

The triage office closed down at midnight and I noticed not one new case come in after midnight. These guys know the office hours by heart.

I'm going to stumble into bed for a few hours' sleep before the call comes for me to deliver medicines, make up the bed with fresh sheets, etc. G'night y'all.

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