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i think it was Richard Pryor who suggested that the hospital is no place to get well. when he said that, he was talking about his rehabilitation efforts after setting himself on fire. all i did was sit in an emergency room for five hours making sure my wife could be seen by someone. clearly it doesn't compare, but i do understand the sentiment he was trying to convey.
it was Thursday afternoon when i got the call at work from Beth. she was still wrestling with her cold. her fever had spiked to 103.5 degrees. it didn't matter how much Tylenol she took: the fever would reduce, then increase again. after an early leave from work to start the Christmas weekend, i stopped by the grocery store to get some apple juice for her and a few other necessities. i got caught in a horrible rainstorm during the walk home. i was soaked to the point of wringing out clothes and pouring rain out of grocery bags. Beth was burning up when i got home. my mom and sister had been keeping tabs on her throughout the day. my sister was quite adamant about getting her to the emergency room. Beth decided she wanted to go since she probably had some sort of infection if her fever kept rising. mom picked us up around 8:30 and we headed to the hospital.
i guess we arrived about 8:45 p.m. mom ran some errands while i waited with Beth. she's without medical insurance right now, but we obviously couldn't let that stop us - she was in bad shape. it's amazing how the receptionist garbles your name through the intercom or speaks too softly so that you couldn't possibly understand them, then they wanna scream it out as if you have the communication problem. in my mind, i lived vicariously through my psychotic twin who had stuck his hands through the glass partition, grabbed her by the throat, and threatened to snap her spine like a candy cane if she didn't get my wife some f**king antibiotics.
10 p.m. and the chills were still in my bones from the rainstorm earlier that evening. i could feel the aches coming on. Beth was with the receptionist for the second time filling out some paperwork. mom came back and asked where Beth was. i pointed in her direction. she asked how i was doing. i said, "the irony is not lost on me." when she asked what i meant by that, i pointed towards the television and said, through clenched teeth...
"I AM WATCHING ER IN AN EMERGENCY ROOM."
on the way in, i was hoping it wouldn't happen. mom tried stifling her laughter, but it was no use. she went home to work on some projects and get some sleep and asked to call us when things were done. i went back to my reading materials, occasionally looking up to see someone in a neck brace, a wheelchair, or with a busted mouth. there was a young woman there with a baby that would cry on cue every 10-15 minutes. each tantrum grew louder and it cut right through Beth's head. as for me, i grew more delusional as the time went by. i hadn't eaten dinner yet and i didn't know when that was going to be. but it was good that i was there. if i hadn't been, Beth would've left. all she wanted was to be able to sleep.
12 midnight and a sea of men and women from the Armed Forces make up Jay Leno's audience. Rob Schneider had come out in Army fatigues, pumping up the troops. i don't know if you've ever sat in an emergency room for four hours on an empty stomach while chills and aches shoot through your body and watch Rob Schneider tell corny jokes to men and women in uniform, but it's not recommended. about 23 minutes later, Beth got called in. she was given some medication shortly thereafter as well as a prescription for antibiotics. slipping in and out of sleep, awakened by the baby or a new admittance to the emergency room, time just sort of ceased to have meaning after a while. it was after one a.m. when we finally left. i had my dinner and crashed. Christmas Eve was spent inside caring for her and doing some chores, pretty much the same for Christmas Day. we got her prescription filled yesterday and it seems to be working. her temperature's almost down to normal, thank goodness.
she brought the vaporizer into the bedroom this morning and turned it into a steam tent. she's probably sleeping right now. i'm sure she's not looking forward to grading papers tomorrow, but perhaps she'll definitely be well enough to do so. she had a final on Thursday that she missed, so she has to take an incomplete in that class. man, she has been through WAY too much in the past year. while she's disappointed that teaching didn't work out, i doubt she'll miss school after it's all said and done. needless to say, we can't do the Christmas family thing this year, but at least we have each other. considering the last few days, that's more than enough for me. our finances are raggedy, our future is unclear, but we've spent more time together in the last few days than we have in the last few months. that's gotta count for something.