The View from the ER

So, Thanksgiving was not the way I’d planned it. The signs of its unusualness started on Monday with sinus pain that worsened by Tuesday. The trip to my sister-in-law’s parents’ home that I had been looking forward to was starting to look like it wouldn’t happen. I made the call most of us dread—to get a doctor’s appointment, only to discover the only available one was 11 days away.

I can tough this out, I thought. Ha. A few nights with little sleep thanks to pain caused me to ditch that plan and head to the ER on Friday, after a turkey-less Thanksgiving spent at home. Now, one does not head to the emergency room lightly. You have to come prepared. I brought a book, my Nintendo Switch, and a writing pad. Hmm. Which one would I choose? If you answered none of the above, you would be right. I sat there instead, trying to sleep, just wanting the pain to stop.

Now picture in your mind the sound of a record scratch. If you were born after a certain year, you might not know what that sounds like. Go here to hear it. A record scratch, according to Merriam-Webster is “something that abruptly calls attention to surprise or change.”

There I was, feeling sorry for myself when a woman arrived with an infant carrier. When asked the baby’s age, the mom replied, “Four months. She tested positive.” And then I heard the most chilling sound I think I’ve ever heard in my life: an infant wheezing—a tiny, gut-wrenching sound.

More sick children were carried in. Sick adults came too, some in wheelchairs. I was surprised at the amount of lower back pain people were experiencing. Some had had a fall, which left one woman concussed.

All of us waited for hours to see a doctor. I heard a nurse tell someone that the estimated wait time was two hours. A low estimate, I later discovered. Another nurse announced a stroke alert after a man came in with numb fingers. A woman came in with chest pain. The patient shuffling began with high-risk patients like these.

After four hours I saw a doctor for probably less than five minutes. His pronouncement—dental abscess—was met with prescriptions for a high-powered antibiotic, a probiotic, a high-powered pain pill, and a lesser potent one.


But though I came for what I needed, I was left with something more: a remembrance of that baby wheezing, a tiny note of fear and helplessness that caused me to pray and think of someone besides myself.


Photos by L. Marie.

49 thoughts on “The View from the ER

  1. Hope you’re feeling better. It’s tough hearing any sickness sound coming from an infant. There’s a sense of fear that comes with it because the child is unable to say exactly what’s wrong. So your mind can run wild with things, especially if you’re already stressed.

  2. I am so sorry your holiday was pain- filled, Linda. And so amazed and grateful you were able to turn that experience into a rewarding, meaningful read for the rest of us.
    Deep thanks!

    • Thanks, Louise. I knew I needed to post, because I hadn’t in a while and this seemed like the thing to write about. I needed to write something, because I literaally have not written anything in a while.

  3. Oh Linda! I am so sorry. ERs are usually such terrible experiences … and yet there you were, caring and praying for others through your own pain. I do hope you’re feeling better.

  4. I am so glad you’re getting better, Linda. A visit to the ER is always hard because it reveals the suffering and pain of others, too. Praying you recover fully and for that tiny sweet baby.

  5. what you describe , Linda is what I feel at this time . The blood circulation is blocked in my feet and it is sore. No sleep possible at night. I hope the doctors at the dialysis at the hospital are going to find yo morrow a mean to calm me .
    Yes at the hospital we see onl see misery and sadness.
    Love ❤

  6. Oh boy. Definitely not a good Thanksgiving year for you. Not only were you in pain and sitting there for hours, but all the other sad stories brings a person down even further. I hope you’re feeling better today. Warm, sunny hugs to you. 💗

  7. ER anytime is chaotic and filled to the brim with people in various levels of need. But during the holidays? I mean, Thanksgiving is the busiest flight day for the airlines…so it would follow…
    I’m relieved your ailment was diagnosed properly so you can ‘manage’ it…but yikes how awful! Hope you’re feeling better by the minute and that someone saved you some Thanksgiving treats!
    Hearing the distress of increasing numbers of parents having to deal with RSV, Flu and COVID for their kids as becoming a part of our ‘new normal’ is dauntingly dire. Especially in light of the fact of all the for-profit hospitals closing down pediatric wards since they were’nt cost effect for them????
    The Lord knows. The Lord cares. We are His Hands extended…your prayerful presence made a difference.

    • Laura, thank you for the well wishes. I’m grateful He knows and cares. There was a section full of children in the waiting room, so perhaps that cost-efective call was premature. 😞

  8. Oh, my dear Linda Marie. My heart ached for you as the story unfolded, but then you come out of the hospital with a gem of truth, a lesson learned, gratitude eventually. The experience “caused me to pray and think of someone besides myself.” Still, I’m sorry you didn’t experience a very happy Thanksgiving as planned.

    I hope you are feeling better now, and maybe you had a delayed Thanksgiving menu. My visit to a critical care unit resulted in a COVID diagnosis in early January, but my symptoms were mild. May you experience healing in the coming days. Hugs to you too! ((( )))

    • Covid is so beastly, isn’t it, Marian? I’m glad your symptoms were mild. Thank you for your well wishes.
      I might get together with some friends who also missed out on Thanksgiving, thanks to having to attend the memorial service of a family member. Thanksgiving 2022 has definitely been unusual for many people I know.

  9. Poor you! I hope the medicine is working and you’re feeling more like yourself. We’re having quite an outbreak of respiratory illness in babies here – don’t know if it’s Covid-related perhaps, but it’s very worrying for parents.

    • Thanks, FF. I’m feeling much better. The antibiotic is a good one! I’m sorry to hear about the respiratory issues there.
      A number of people have the flu here. Lots of respiratory issues here as well. 😞

  10. Oh, Linda, I’m so sorry for your difficult Thanksgiving. A visit to the ER is always unpleasant, especially when you’re in pain–even if someone else is feeling worse. My daughter’s college roommate is an ER doctor and has been for many years. She has cut her hours so she can spend more time with her family. Still, I don’t know how she does it. It must be hard to see other people suffering.

    • Thank you for the well wishes, Nicki. My cousin also is an ER doctor. There is no way I would be one, though I am grateful for their service. I didn’t see that many doctors on duty that day. I wonder if some cut their hours.

  11. Glad the antibiotics are doing their thing so that the pain dissipates. Will you follow up with your dentist to see if the abscess is gone?

    Poor mom and baby. That would be tough to see.

    • Thank you, Nancy. I am feeling better. And yes, that was painful to watch. It seemed all the more horrible, because from the angle of where I was sitting, I could only see the carrier. Yet I could hear the wheezing.

  12. Good morning Linda, I;m so glad you’re feeling better. I will continue praying for you. I am praying for the mom and baby also.

  13. I’m so sorry about your Thanksgiving-weekend experience and hope you’re feeling better. I’ve been hearing about hospitals being full of young children with Covid, the flu, and RSV, and hope that baby is doing better too.

  14. I know it wasn’t the day you’d hoped for but the message you came away with is the essence of gratitude. Sometimes are lives take us in odd directions that are the absolute right ones.

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