Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Am I just crazy?

by: Joelle Charbonneau

So last night my mother, grandmother and I had an unexpected adventure at the ER.  Okay, my grandmother probably wouldn't refer to that particular trip in such positive terminology, but hey--I'm the one writing this so I get to label the trip to backless gowns and gurneys as I wish.  Right?  Technically, I can't blame my grandmother for her lack of enthusiasm for the journey to the hospital.  She was sick.  So far, it looks like a pesky viral infection was causing her issues.  Here's hoping that she'll be on the mend and avoid any other ambulance trips in the near future.

But while we were waiting for doctors and nurses and admitting staff, CT scans, blood work and all sorts of other tests, I found myself looking at this concerning situation with rose colored glasses.  I mean, needles and vocally unhappy patients (and there were a great number of those when we first arrived) aren't really my cup of tea but WOW was it all interesting.  I couldn't help looking at the people around me and wondering what their stories were.  I also found myself taking note of all the interesting gadgets in the place.  Heck, I've been in ERs before, but this was the first time I saw the cool flat screen monitor that listed every room number and displayed icons next to that room to show the treatment the patient was undergoing.  My personal favorite was the purple spaceship with the word ZOOM! above it.  The teddy bear was also cute, but made my heart ache a little since it was the symbol for a pediatric patient.  There were symbols for blood draws, Fall risks, various types of doctors and a whole lot of other things that made zero sense to me, but helped the staff know exactly what patient needed what when.

I was impressed and desperately wanted to ask dozens of questions.  How was the system developed?  How often is it updated?  Is that the main way the staff communicates in the ER?  How easy would it be for someone to bribe a staff member to update the board with the wrong test in order to learn something incriminating about the patient?

Oops...the writer in me is showing.

The thing is, while the ER adventure wasn't on my agenda tonight and clearly wasn't what I was interested in doing with my time, I found myself engaged by that world and the energy within it.  I couldn't help looking at it with fascination and instead of being irritated at the SLOW passage of time (and really--time does seem to pass at a turtle's pace in that place) I chose to look for the interesting things happening in those hours.

Which makes me wonder...am I just nuts for thinking that way or are other people wired the way I am? When stuck in a less than desirable situation do you look for the interesting and quirky in the adventure?  Do you think about what makes the place you're in tick and wonder at the personal stories of the real life characters that surround you?  If so, what's the last place you remember doing unexpected research or finding yourself entertained when you probably should have been tearing out your hair?  And if not - feel free to tell me I'm crazy.  Trust me, I won't be offended!


  1. No, you're not crazy. Most situations offer some kind of information if we just pay attention. My own experience with hospitalizations this year has been to marvel and smile at how technology has improved an experience which isn't, in the long run, very pleasant.

  2. When I'm in a hospital setting, I'm always listening to what is going around and yes, I do wonder why a person is in the hospital.


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