It’s been really warm lately, over 100º today. Warm enough to open the windows. Even to keep them open all night. After months of bone-chill, this is something really great. Except for one thing.
I wake up screaming. Most every night, I wake up screaming. It is not from nightmares. I do not dream. It is shooting pain from the nerves. It is sudden and it is severe.
It is a big problem, this screaming. Because the neighbors do not like it.
When it happened last summer, a neighbor called 911. In the middle of the night, a neighbor called 911. And without so much as a knock, the police broke down my door.
Instantly, my bed was surrounded by five over-zealous officers and paramedics.
Such a scene, maybe some girls, they would think they had died and gone to heaven. Not me. I have never been attracted to a man in uniform.
I told them my many and various symptoms, diagnoses, medications, and side-effects. This information, it did not seem to interest them. But then I fainted —
This was very bad timing, very bad, but my blood pressure is naturally very low. Sometimes I have to take medication to raise it to a more human-like level. And sometimes I faint. It is really no big deal. Except if I should be driving.
When I awoke, there was a gurney beside my bed. They wanted me to roll onto it. Instead, I pushed through the crowd and started to run —
It used to be that when I watched a cop show, I would wonder why the criminals try to make a break when it is clear there is no chance for getaway. Now, I know. It is instinct. You do not think. You just GO.
Anyway, I didn’t get very far. Just to my living room. There, the medics grabbed me, tossed me on the gurney, and bound my wrists and ankles to the frame.
Within moments, we were in an ambulance, sirens blaring, en route to the hospital. I tried to remain calm. I tried not to struggle. It was very hard. I wanted to sit up. I wanted to see. But the restraints so thoroughly restricted my motion, I could lift only my head, and only a few inches.
As soon as we got to the Emergency Room, the EMTs transferred me to an examination table and warned the hospital team to be careful because I was very strong. This remark, it made me to feel very proud.
Instantly, the staff retied my wrists and ankles and cut off my clothes. At least, I wasn’t wearing anything of particular value or special favor. They stuck me with sensors and punctured me for IVs and shoved a catheter deep inside me.
Several times, I asked them to untie me and told them I wanted to leave. I assured them I did not require emergency care; I needed only the sodium and electrolytes found in a good broth. They told me I was being put on “hold” and would not be released without the supervising doctor’s authorization.
To emphasize this point, they assigned three — three! — security men to guard me. Each one of these burly guys looked like he played tackle on some championship high school football team.
Seriously, besides being trussed up like Harry Houdini before one of his great escapes, the only thing I was wearing beneath the flimsy hospital gown was seven electrodes. I was not going anywhere.
A parade of physicians and technicians took many samples and various images for untold, unnecessary tests. I suppose it’s just protocol, but still… A chest x-ray? My cardio-thoracic condition is so excellent, G-d forbid someone you love would need a new heart, you should just shoot me in the head and take my mine.
Of course, they found nothing, or rather nothing other than the chronic conditions I had previously reported.
It was getting close to morning; I felt like I had been a good sport, and I told them it was time for me to depart. I was still tied to the bed and the catheter was causing terrible pain with the slightest movement.
They told me I would need to urinate before there was any chance of liberation. No problem, I thought. If there is one task that I can perform on command, it is to urinate.
But I could not. When I pressed down, I felt overwhelming agony. Later, the nurse would tell me the catheter had been inserted improperly. BTW, this is Stanford, one of the most highly regarded medical centers in the world.
Finally, I convinced them to let me use the toilet. They untethered me, handed to me a pitcher (not one of those little cups), and sent me, along with my security detail — I am not kidding — to the lavatory. When you enter into a hospital, you leave your dignity at the door.
At last, they released me on my own recognition. My body was covered in bruises and the vaginal abrasions made it difficult to walk.
My trip to the Emergency Room had lasted only a few hours, but I left in far worse shape than when I had arrived. Whatever happened to “do no harm”?
And even with insurance, the visit cost me thousands of dollars. Not to mention the expense of repairing the entrance to my home.
I really love the fresh air at night, but I’m not sure it’s worth the risk.
© 2017 Jaclyn Schrier. All rights reserved.