college life

E is for Emergency

When the nurse carted Jimmy back out from whatever examining room, I was anxious to know what the next move was. He had taken a bad tumble on the basketball court, and something was wrong with his knee, but we really didn’t know. Having offered to go along with him and one of our resident advisors, we made the 2 minute drive to Vaden Health Center, where they would hopefully have answers for us.

“You’re going to have to take him to the ER at the Stanford Hospital. We would do the x-rays here, but we have two people booked, and it’ll probably be faster there.” We thanked her as we carted off to the Stanford Hospital on the other side of campus.

When we pulled up to the ER, I was momentarily confused. Had we arrived at a hotel? Is that why there’s a valet service here? Nice uniforms, a booth, and a sign with “$8.00 for valet parking.” I’m actually somewhat surprised that it’s legal, though I’m sure that there are far bigger scams around. Even so, I couldn’t even look the valets in the eye as I walked past. Maybe it’s not their fault, but I know I would feel bad as a driver if I cut off a guy with a totaled car, even if I was only listening to shotgun.

The nurse at Vaden had told us to get the triage nurse when we arrived at the ER. I knew a little something about how the triage works. Enough to mis-understand and incorrectly program an implementation of it twice. But essentially, it’s a line with attention paid to level of need. It’s a priority queue. It also, apparently, happens to be somewhat slow at times.

To get to the triage nurse, however, involved getting through a metal detector (that wasn’t popular with the one-legged Jimmy) and the unfortunate, but necessary, forms. At first, it didn’t seem like it would be so bad. I, at that point, believed that not being able to walk would be high-ish on the triage scale. There was a man playing guitar softly for some peaceful ambiance. They had a copy of the San Francisco Chronicle, with the crossword still clean. And I could see a very full-looking rack of magazines.

First, the music went. I guess it works regular hours, because he moved quickly when it was 5:00. The Chronicle wasn’t interesting, and I stalled on the crossword. I learned that the magazine stand was filled with the discount, back-issue selection of magazines, from what looked like medical journals to the “Smithsonian.” I’m pretty sure the best pick there was a copy of a “Magic Treehouse” book I had probably read 10 years ago.

The wait continued and they had not yet called for “James.” The TV replaced the guitar player, but to satisfy the kids, it was tuned to Nickelodeon. Which apparently shows two hours of “Spongebob Squarepants” in the late afternoon on Mondays. The only thing in that show there was less of than content was humor. I’ve caught onto the dual-layered humor in cartoons that I missed before, but neither level was entertaining. Not quality TV.

The downward path of the ER continued. I thought I was saved when Spongebob was done, but I instead got to watch Jamie Lynn Spears’ show on “The Nick.” That was worse. Granted, the sitcom is supposed to be a show about nothing. Even so, usually it has unity of theme, and even if it wasn’t brilliant, there was some meaningful end to it, whether a moral, or a satire of society, or whatever. About all I can say for that is that Jamie managed to show off the same level of talent associated with the rest of her family.

Well, about 3 1/2 hours after we got into the hospital, Jimmy was finally called, and not so soon afterwards, we were out of there. Thankfully, there was no fracture, only a very bad sprain requiring crutches. I don’t know how thankful any of us were then, however.

But I learned my lesson. At 4:00 AM, I finally slogged through an IHum paper that I had procrastinated on for two weeks and was intending to do that afternoon. And I don’t know if I managed to seem fully conscious during my Chinese oral the next afternoon. I can’t say this is how I wanted to learn my lesson, but I think I did. Next week is never less busy than this week. You never know what ant hill might lie four steps ahead of you.

I’ll jus try to stay ready, because there is no guarantee that the next TV show has to be better than this one.

Part 6 of my story. I promise it’s near an end. Hold out for the ending, please.

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