I do not like emergency rooms. I am grateful for the important service they perform, but I do not like spending time in emergency rooms.
Yesterday my son the bachelor called to say a friend was taking him to the local urgent care facility. He had been eating a hotdog and it had gotten stuck in his esophagus. Could I meet him there so his friend could leave? I am his mother, so of course I went. He was miserable. The esophagus was completely blocked and nothing could go down and nothing would come up. The local ER tried to fix it with medicine. No luck. We needed to go to the county hospital ER. He would probably need an endoscopy. His condition was very uncomfortable and needed to be fixed soon, but it was not life threatening, so we waited. We were in the waiting room for a couple of hours. I like watching people and there were certainly a lot of people to watch. Most of them just sat staring into space waiting. I lost count of the number of ambulances that came and went. Two helicopters landed with trauma victims. One car pulled up with a gunshot victim. There was a lot of blood. That patient came with lots of police and upset family and friends. We finally got into the ER itself. My son was placed on a gurney in the hall. Other patients filled all the rooms and lined the halls. Paramedics came with more patients on stretchers. I stood by the wall just watching. I felt invisible. Doctors, nurses and all sorts of other staff hurried by us with out even a glance. It was a wild scene. After about an hour one the nurses did stop and tell us that the attending had been called and they were going to try administering more of the medicine that had not worked in the local ER. If that didn’t work they would have to do an endoscopy. I was then sent back to the waiting room to join the silent, staring group of waiting people. I finally was allowed back to check on my son’s progress. He was still on a gurney in the hall, but all the other hallway patients had gone somewhere else. He had received two more doses of medicine. The nurse gave him a third dose while I was there. This time it worked. The esophagus loosened its grip and the food moved on into the stomach. Hallelujah! He drank a glass of water without effort. The attending said he still had to do the endoscopy to find out why this had happened, but we could do that tomorrow in the surgical center. We came home after eight very long hours in the ER.
Today I took my son to have the endoscopy. The waiting room was clean and quiet. I was the only one there. The procedure was completed. There were no serious findings. He has GERD. It will be treated with medicine and diet. He will be fine.