• Toni O'Connor

Adventures in the ER


First published in The Winchester Star on October 18, 2016.



Adrian went to the Winchester Medical Center Diagnostic Center for an ultrasound on Friday. He intended to go back to his desk. At 5 p.m., he found himself in a wheelchair surrounded by healthcare professionals who told him he wasn’t going anywhere but the ER. There was a blood clot behind the left knee.

The next step was to get him to the ER. He was told he couldn’t stand up at all. Transport was called, who came with the hospital courtesy van. It has no wheelchair lift. Adrian said he could step up onto the bus step, but that was forbidden by said healthcare professionals. It was implied he might have a blowout and send pieces of leg all over the parking lot or some other disaster. (We do, actually, understand the risks.) Apparently, WMC has no vehicle to transport wheelchair patients. We should raise money for this.

The rescue squad was called. To go from the Diagnostic Center to the ER. On the same campus. I could have pushed him in the wheelchair that far.

In the ER you have the standard entry questions and tests. First are vital signs, bloodwork and in this case a chest x-ray as he had shortness of breath besides a swollen ankle prompting the ultrasound in the first place. The ER doctor called his kidney surgeon at UVA who said to transport him to Charlottesville.

This set off another chain of events. I had been teaching on Friday at my old school in Harpers Ferry Middle. He had sent a text about having to have the ultrasound, but did not tell me in which location the test was taking place. I tried to call the office about the time he should have been leaving but he was gone. I tried his cell phone. No answer. Thus I decided to drive around the parking lots at both Trex Diagnostics and the WMC Diagnostic Center to look for his vehicle. I started with the Diagnostic Center and got lucky. When they wheeled him into the lobby before transport to the ER, he told me the cell phone was on his desk. One of my duties before transport to Charlottesville was to go to the office to pick it up. (Maybe at UVA they can surgically implant it in him so that I can find him when I need him!)

The next challenge was the anti-rejection medicine. It has to be taken at very specific times, and he would be ambulance bound when the time came around. So off to Stephens City I go. Not before I called my friend Jane Mathis to come help me get his vehicle home. She got his meds together while I packed a bag. Back to the ER we went. She insisted on going to Charlottesville with me as it was 8:15 p.m. by then. Valley Transport was already there and getting him ready to move. Our little caravan arrived at UVA around 10:30 p.m.

The fun begins again! All the standard questions and tests start over. This, people, is one of the things wrong with the American healthcare system. In the 21st century where communication is instantaneous (NASA can talk to people IN SPACE for heaven’s sake,) 2 hospitals cannot manage to share test results that are less than 4 hours old? When I questioned this, the answer I got was “protocol”.

After answering the same questions again for 4 people (read the chart, folks!) he was sent to a room around 3:30 a.m. At a little after 4:00 a.m. he was settled and answering the standard questions all over again. (Honestly, doesn’t anything get put onto the chart?) Jane and I headed back to Stephens City. UVA had homecoming in town, and we couldn’t find a room closer than Woodstock, so what was the point?

Adrian was released on Sunday afternoon and is back at his desk taking his blood thinner. But he is tired, so I told him I’d be happy to reprise my role as guest columnist for a week.

After all, I always have something to say!

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