I came home from a long day at work exhausted, looking forward to jammies and a good book. I had also been anxious to check on Dan, as he had been acting strangely at lunch, complaining of a severe malaise, dizziness, headache…not good for someone three days post-surgery.
He was still not himself, sitting on the couch and complaining of the same symptoms, but much worse. I made dinner for us and he said it tasted awful (not the unfortunate usual reaction to my cooking- he said everything tasted bad to him). We checked his temperature….100.9. Not good. I suggested that we head down the hill to the UAB Highlands ER, which, thankfully for the Gaineys, is only five blocks straight down the hill from our house.
Any ER can be a scary and stressful place, but those in the city can be over the top. Our Friday evening visit was no exception- it was like a Thriller video…a Thriller video complete with screaming babies. Dan hobbled in on a crutch, checked in, and we sat down to wait. And wait. And wait. People of all shapes and sizes, from all walks of life came in as we waited; literally from priests to prostitutes. Seeing the priest both scared and comforted me as I watched my husband seem to fade in front of my eyes. Hurry UP, people!
After almost an hour and a half, we went into Triage, where they peppered Dan with questions and gave him an EKG, then sending us back to the waiting room. The room was even more full, and the sounds of the loud television on some inane gameshow mixed with loud cell phone rings and screaming children was incredibly jarring to our already frazzled nerves.
Another half hour passed, and they called Dan in for another EKG, and then again a bit later for lab tests. While they are asking Dan the litany of questions, they got to, “Do you take any illegal drugs?“, to which my husband points at me and says, “Ask her- she’s the musician. They ALL do drugs.” I- who do not do drugs- was mortified, but thankfully the tech seemed to get that my husband was joking. I was just grateful I didn’t end up being led out in handcuffs. They just don’t work with my Mary Poppins outfit.
Finally, they took us back to a room in a section of the ER we had never seen before. No curtained-off room in the midst of all the chaos of Friday night at the ER for us; oh, no- we rated a large room with a door and a television. I’m sure it was because of all of our ER frequent flyer miles.
The nurse came in smacking gum, asking Dan to spill his guts yet again about his symptoms. He had begun to elaborate some after repeating the details so many times in his fevered state, and I did my best to chorale him into sticking to the facts. I could tell he had begun to feel a little better, as he started joking with the nurse and asking me how I was enjoying date night. I suggested that next time maybe we could go to a nice restaurant instead.
The handsome young doctor came in, and after Dan told him that I was a Professor of Music at UAB, he excitedly shared with me that he played cello and asked me what my instrument was. I told him that I am a clarinetist, and that I’m playing the Brahms Trio (with piano and cello) on my faculty recital next month, which made him even more excited. Dr. McDreamy checked his calendar on the spot and swears he’s coming to hear me play. I told him that I was honored, and that I’d play even better if he could get my husband healthy so that we could go home and go to bed. It was way past my bedtime at this point.
They took blood three more times, and I swear Dan began to look like he was auditioning for a role in Twilight. Thankfully, he seemed to improve with each passing minute. The doctor decided that it was probably some post-surgery bacteria that had caused him to have flulike symptoms, and his body fought it off. Thank God! I was never happier than to see the nurse finally walk in with the blue discharge papers around midnight. We got out of there as fast as my husband could hobble. Our bed never felt so good.
We’ve talked about retiring to Mexico when the time comes, however, I told Dan that there’s no way we can move to Mexico (pointing to his knee and all of his bandages), and alluding to our many visits to the ER and hospital.
Dan replied, “Mexico?! We can’t even move across town!”
It looks like the Gainey Wing of UAB Highlands ER will be in business for a good long time.
**Mr. MacKenzie is my husband’s home repair alter ego. 🙂