GC got a sliver in his foot from the hardwood floor. He said it felt like a long, skinny sliver. There wasn’t much to see, but he was limping and wincing. Later, when we were getting ready for bed, we saw that his foot was swollen.
I insisted we go to the hospital because he’s diabetic and you should never ignore a foot problem if you’re diabetic. (My friend Jeremy was diabetic and he ignored a foot problem and the next thing we knew, they had to cut off his foot. And then, to make matters worse, he died.)
Anyway. We arrived at the Civic Hospital Emergency Room at 9:45 p.m. There weren’t many people there, so we were optimistic it wouldn’t take long. Little did we know that this was just the outer waiting room.
While we waited, a young woman who didn’t appear to be a patient circulated among the patients, asking for change. A man emerged from somewhere within the hospital, looking for a cigarette. He wore work boots, a bomber jacket, and a hospital gown which was wide open at the back. Nothing else. We all looked at his ghastly white bum as he wandered among us. He stopped to watch TV right in front of a pretty young woman who was talking on the phone. She turned sideways in her chair and shielded her eyes with her hand so his buttocks wouldn’t be quite so directly in her face.
Shortly after that, GC’s name was called, along with four other names, and we were admitted to the inner waiting room, which was both smaller and fuller than the outer waiting room. Half an hour later we were escorted to the Procedure Room, which was an examining room with a stretcher for GC and an uncomfortable chair for me. This turned out to be the real waiting room.
The thing about emergency rooms is after awhile you start wondering if you really need to be there, if your medical problem is worthy of all these hours and all the germs you’re exposing yourself to. After all, nobody is treating your emergency like it’s an emergency. But usually by the time you start questioning it, you’ve already invested a great deal of time, so you stay.
We read to each other and played games on our iPads and took pictures of everything in the room. At 3:30 in the morning I wandered out to see what was happening. There were all kinds of little rooms with mostly miserable-looking people in them. GC and I were having the most fun of anybody there.
I found the admin desk and asked how much longer it would be. The nurse smiled brightly and said there was only one person ahead of GC. And, she added, there were doctors on duty now, which suggested there hadn’t been doctors on duty earlier.
“I’m not going to lie to you,” he said. “This is going to hurt a lot. But whatever you do, try not to kick, because I might end up sticking myself with the needle.”
He wasn’t lying, it did hurt a lot. GC’s back arched in pain, and he gritted his teeth and grimaced, but he didn’t kick. The doctor dug around in his foot with a knife and tweezers and there was quite a bit of blood, and then he announced that he couldn’t find anything. He said maybe it slid in and right back out. They bandaged the foot and told us to go home and watch for signs of infection.
By this time it was 4:30 in the morning. Almost seven hours of waiting and all we got was a big hole in GC’s foot and a night out. We know how to have fun!