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TOP 5 CLUES YOU'RE IN
1. It's the middle of the night. Where else would you be?
If it's the middle of the night and you're not home, and also you're not having a lot of fun and/or you're not in jail, then you're probably in the emergency room.
You might even be there with your husband, who started feeling lousy at 4 in the afternoon but knew better than to go to the ER during daylight hours.
No one does that.
He also doesn't go at 8:30 p.m., when that lousy sensation is upgraded to a "general feeling of unhappiness."
Or at 11:30 p.m., when you urge him to let a doctor examine that sharp pain in his right side.
What he does is wait until 1:30 in the morning before waking his soundly sleeping wife to report that a trip to the ER is, in fact, medically necessary.
This is in accordance with international ER Rule 413.65-17a, which clearly states that legitimate medical emergencies only occur under cover of darkness, generally between the hours of midnight and 5 a.m., and only when denying life-sustaining REM sleep to a loved one is guaranteed.
At any other time of the day, your problem can be solved with an aspirin and/or an Ace bandage. Or bail money.
2. Inappropriate footwear.
Because a true medical emergency happens only when it's dark and you're half asleep, your self-dressing skills are compromised.
This means that moments after arriving in the brightly lit ER at Stafford Medical Center, you will glance down and discover that on your left foot is a shiny black shoe sporting a silver buckle and on your right foot is a ratty brown shoe with a gaping hole in the top, one of a pair you should've thrown out a long time ago but they're so comfortable that sometimes you slip them on to walk the dogs but never in a well-lit area.
And you will marvel at the fact that you were the designated driver for this particular outing.
3. The guy in front
Perhaps it's due to excessive blood loss, but he's actually chuckling as he explains to the pivot nurse how it was just the craziest thing, see, because he was just hanging out with his friends in a convenience store parking lot, you know, and then he tried to leapfrog over a pole, but it turns out that the pole was sharp and the next thing you know, he's gone and impaled his hand right there in the parking lot. Crazy, right?
The pivot nurse, unimpressed, arches an eyebrow as if to say, "If I had a nickel for every time some 20-year-old kid marched in here with a mangled body part wrapped in a plastic grocery bag after impaling himself, I'd have a wing at this hospital named after me."
She nicknames him Laceration Man and directs him to Room 2.
Your husband, now convinced he has appendicitis, is growing more miserable by the second. The pivot nurse notes his symptoms, dubs him Unhappy Guy and directs him to Room 11.
4. Cautionary tales abound.
A few rooms down, the on-call doctor is--probably not for the first time in his career--extracting Bluetooth hardware from the ear canal of a woman who fell asleep wearing her hands-free cell phone gear.
On the bright side, this did not happen in a convenience store parking lot.
By now, your husband has been professionally poked, prodded and scanned, and the official diagnosis is that his appendix has indeed gone rogue.
Laceration Man, still laughing, is discharged while your husband is prepped for surgery.
5. Sadomasochistic waiting-area seating.
These seats are usually reserved only for hospital waiting rooms and airport arrival and departure gates--places where innocent, REM-deprived individuals could be trapped for hours or even days.
Often topped with a flat cushion of mauve, taupe or teal, they're delightfully comfortable for about 31/2 minutes, after which they grow progressively more medieval. The longer you're there the more desperate you are to lie down--but can't because of the ever-present chair arms.
As a result, you stretch out on the waiting room floor while your husband's appendix is removed in a procedure described as laparoscopic. This is a fancy term that means "sucked out through his belly button via a Crazy Straw."
The entire surgery lasts a half hour, less time than it normally takes you to get
The dashing young surgeon who finds you sprawled on the waiting room floor accepts your bumbling excuse about never missing an opportunity to do yoga, reports that your husband is fine and, because he's a professional, says nothing about your mismatched shoes.
Edie Gross: 540/374-5428