I was tagged with a plastic wristband, then wheeled upstairs to a room. After my children left, I was bored and asked if I could walk around with my dangling bag of saline on a pole. They let me walk the halls, but wouldn’t allow me into the waiting room.
That night as I listened to the chirping of machines, the low rumble of cart wheels, and the clank and swish of mop buckets in the hall, all I could think was, “I need to get out of here.” A man across the hall was hacking so hard it sounded like his lungs were going to come up his throat, and a lady’s moans sliced sharply through the quiet. “I don’t want to catch something from some resistant bug scouting the halls, and I don’t want to walk the halls while the chorus of snores and squeak of nurse shoes were the dominant sounds. Besides they will just tell me to get some sleep, again.”
The next morning before the limp breakfast sausage, dry scrambled eggs, burnt coffee and warm juice, hit the trays, I stopped at the desk on my morning walk to bug the receptionist who was rubbing her eyes and holding a cup of coffee. “Where is the doctor who said he would see me this morning? When do I get the MRI?”
“They’re busy, it might be best if you wait in your room.”
“Well, just to let you know. I’m going home at five. There’s nothing wrong with me and I need to take care of my dog. Please let the doctor know.”
I picked at my cold breakfast, looked out the window at the lazy clouds, paced the halls some more, and asked the nurses hourly, “Where’s the doctor?”
Sarah and my best friend Margaret came to visit before noon, giving temporary relief to the nurses. One nurse who came to check my vitals, had a very kind mannerism which helped put me at ease, so my guard was down when she mentioned, “You might as well get some sleep because the doctor probably won’t be able to see you today, it’s Saturday.”
“But, I’m going home at five because there’s no reason to keep me here. My blood pressure is normal and they’ve already said my x-rays and e.k.g. were fine.
The nurse shrugged and threw her hands in the air, and then turned to my daughter. “Tell your mom she needs to stay.”
“Oh no, I can’t tell my mother what to do.” Before she left, my daughter said to call when I was ready.
The doctor never arrived. I heard the nurses talking to him on the phone about me saying I was going home at five. He told them, “She will have to sign against medical advice papers.”
I said I would sign if they weren’t there by five.
The MRI tech appeared around 3:00pm. He said he was pulled out of an E.R. and told to go to Community to give me the procedure. I still needed to see a neurologist, who supposedly wasn’t available that day. I began to get my things ready to leave. I called my daughter and asked her to come get me.
A few minutes to five, a neurologist arrived, and did a complete exam. I said, “You sure were thorough, have you been doing this a long time?” “No, this is my first time doing this alone. I just finished my residency.”
Finally, I heard the nurse on the phone telling the E.R. doctor that I passed the exam. But he wanted me to stay one more night to get the results from the MRI. I told them it was after five and I was leaving. He gave in. I went home.
They never found out what was wrong.
A few days later I was helping Sarah with a poetry event at Fox Coffee House. Dav walked in as we were setting up.
I walked up to him and said, “Hi, do you still want to go out for pie?”
A few months after we were married, I was in the front yard trimming the hedges. I felt the bushes sway and sounds become muffled. I climbed down and made it into the house. I plopped onto my office chair and began to look up my symptoms. I was sweating and nauseous when Dav walked in.
“Are you okay?” he asked “No, I’m not.” We barely made it to the bathroom. My reflection in the mirror was white as a sheet.
Conclusion: I was once more taken by ambulance, but to a different hospital. Hours later a doctor came in and said I had acute vertigo. I was sent home with a prescription. I finally was diagnosed with Meniere’s Disease by House Clinic in L.A.