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Life in the fast lane

Rhona Canoy

SO… Spending several hours lying in bed in the hospital emergency room is never a pleasant experience. It forces one to come to terms with one’s mortality, or be enveloped in a fear cocoon because life is not in our control. But then again, if you ever want to see the cycle of life in fast motion, that’s the place to be.

First of all, the decision to hurry to a hospital emergency room is because there is an emergency. I hauled my ass there because, well, my overthinking brain could no longer come up with any reasonable self-diagnosis to make sense of my physical discomfort. And therein lies the rub. Emergency room doctors don’t like me because I have enough medical stock knowledge to engage them in a discussion about my symptoms. And they probably wish they could just sedate me to shut me up.

While waiting for the battery of tests that Doc and I agreed I needed, I was left with two choices. One was to anxiously wait for those results while imagining the worst case scenarios (and the possibility of hospital admission which I hate), or distracting myself by watching the hustle and bustle in the very overcrowded ER. I’m sure, if you follow my print meanderings, you know I chose the latter. There is a sense of kinship in an ER because everyone who is there came for the same general reason that we all need medical attention. Which is frightening in the sense that it’s always a life-or-death situation. It is some sort of medical purgatory where one fears the worst and prays for the best in the truest sense.

Since they ran out of beds, I was made to sit in a wheelchair until one was freed up. Which gave me the best vantage point to take in everything that was happening in front of me. Babies and very young children are always the ones that catch your sympathy first because they don’t have the capacity to verbalize what they are feeling, forcing the doctor to poke and prod them, depending on parents’ descriptions of what’s wrong. The needles and other instruments don’t help to ease their fears. One child was sadly rushed off to surgery, but another was given a shot and some prescriptions and happily discharged.

Nearby was a family grieving the passing of husband and father. The forty-plus year old man was brought in because of a stroke but died while waiting for clearance to be brought to the ICU. This kind of grief is shared by all in the ER, along with the fervent prayer that something similar not happen to us. It is also accompanied with the thought that that could be us, whether the deceased or the mourners.

And there were the three sisters. One of them came in for her first chemotheraphy treatment, supported by her siblings. Cancer is probably the worst kind of walking-death diagnosis one can get. We always remember those who surrendered to the disease more than the ones who survived. Their tears were brought on by the discussion about whether they should tell their widowed father about her diagnosis. As a parent, I wished that they would have chosen to be truthful about it, but for reasons which I’m sure they believed were justifiable, they swore to keep the knowledge of the cancer a shared secret amongst themselves.

And the lady in labor, who didn’t have time to wait to be brought to the delivery room. The rush and the sense of urgency was palpable to all of us who waited as eagerly as the expectant young father. We could all hear the instructions being given behind the curtain dividers. Finally, the tiny wail echoing through the ER brought all other patients a sense of joy in spite of all our individual troubles. And gave us reason to clap and cheer.

If you ever want to put your whole life in perspective, go spend some time in an ER, hopefully coming out of it alive and filled with more zest for living.

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About Rhona Canoy

Rhona Canoy
Rhona Canoy is the president and head administrator of International School CDO. Bon vivant, raconteur, epicure, mental voyeur, occasional Yoda. You may address her as "The Intelligent Loquacious Wildly Eccentric Sometimes Inebriated Honest But Sarcastic Essential B*tch."

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