“YOU PICKED ORANGE” Chapter Nine by SSK

Contrary to the popular TV show “E.R.”, the emergency department of a hospital is not a place that the public may just stroll into and out of like a McDonald's.

Even if they aren't in cities with serious gang problems, ED's are tightly controlled; they have to be (and yet, the ED at the hospital  where I worked in downtown LA didn't get tightly controlled until AFTER the gang bangers came in and shot the crap out of it because one of their homies had  been gunned down by a rival gang. The fact that the ED staff were trying to save their homie didn't seem to have occurred to them, but then I've rarely met a smart gang banger. Anyway, that's when they put up the two inch thick plexi-glas and security guards who were hired for size not smarts to keep the bangers on THAT side of Wilshire, and the people who were trying to save bangers on THIS side of Wilshire).

Where was I? Oh, right: why E.R.'s are tightly controlled. Well, all areas of most hospitals are controlled because they don't want  the staff to be rushing pell mell to an emergency and go bouncing off a drunk who strolled in to ask what time it was, or Mr. Magoo to fall over a wheelchair and sue them for every penny he could get.

I've been in ER's, ED's, L&D's, Post Op Surgical wards, Operating rooms, seen more C/sections than I have money in the bank, just about every place a hospital has places, I've been in those places.

But I had never been on this side. The side where I was looking at my loved one, my only one, the dearest heart of mine, lying on a gurney, screaming his lungs out: in other words, a patient family member.

I didn't like it.

Mike and the rest of the crew worked like a machine that had been lovingly oiled and burnished to a high sheen while they packaged Kimit up and got him ready for his trip upstairs to the ICU.

I don't remember one single second of that trip.

We were just suddenly there. In the ICU. I was on his left side, once again having been shunted out of the way. Behind me was an enormous window, and a window seat, so I sat.

The nurses descended on him, hanging new bags of potions and elixirs and magicks into the IV's that were already in his veins, and Lord love a duck, they poked even more holes for even more IV's; one of those was for a little device that gave a precise measurement of his blood pressure. There were beepers and boopers and “pa-ding”ers but the only machine I saw was the one monitoring his BP: the machine said his blood pressure was 240/190.

240/190? Suddenly I could not feel my legs. Or my arms. Or my butt or shoulders, and the bees were back in my head. 240/190?? How the hell did we let that happen?? (For those who don't know, 120/80 is considered “normal”; but for him to be more than twice of these numbers?

So, so, so, fucking so not good. And we'd been there a while already. 240/190.


The bees had become somewhat neutralizing; my fear was trying like a fat lady in a greased girdle to pop up and out into my head again, but the bees were doing their damnedest to kept the fat lady at bay.

I heard only the bees and the “Bink!” sound from the DynaMap (blood pressure machine) that announced  his BP had been checked again (remember, this machine was  attached, via an IV needle,  to an actual vein in his actual body) and I waited, every single solitary  9 minutes and 48 seconds for that “Bink!” noise to tell me his BP was being calibrated again, and precisely 12 seconds later the BP would show up.

240/190. It was like that all shpadoinkling day (and yes, that's a word I picked up watching “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” series, one of the most remarkable television shows in TV history, and no, I am not making that up; ask Oxford: they had a three day seminar on the show ten years ago so pttthhhbbbt).

240/190. “Bink!” “Bink!” “Bink!”

All shpadoinkling day. Noon: “Bink!” 240/190. 3 p.m.: “Bink!” 240/190. 6 p.m.: “Bink!” 240/190,  and a bunch of “Bink!”'s in between.

Then, at 6:09:48... “Bink!” 180/150.

I wanted to dance the Hora and puke at the same time. 180/150 was still not a healthy BP number, but it was a shitload better than all the “Bink!”'s that had come before. And it forced a memory into my head, from that morning, that terrible awful morning: I remembered when all of the EMT's and firemen were crammed into the tiny bathroom with my  husband, I heard someone taking off a blood pressure cuff; you know the sound: Velcro ripping apart. And then a man's voice said, “Okay, we have to stop fucking around and get this guy to the ER, I can't even get a reading on him.” A woman's voice asked, “Why not?”

“The pressure reader doesn't go that high.”

I was learning to like 180/150. It still wasn't great, it wasn't even good, but it was very goddam much better than “Doesn't go that high.”

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