Janet Urquhart: Taking my body in for repair work | AspenTimes.com
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Janet Urquhart: Taking my body in for repair work

Going to the hospital, I’ve discovered, is a lot like taking your car to a mechanic.

Instead of describing my engine trouble and letting a guy dressed all in blue hoist my car

up on the rack in order to tinker around, I described my trouble to a guy dressed all in sea green, who hoisted me up on a emergency room bed and tinkered around with the gash on my hand.

The meter starts running the second they agree to take a look.

The only difference is, my car is probably a better patient than I am.

I knew before I even looked at my hand that

it wasn’t going to be pretty. I had clumsily slid down the most minuscule of embankments, landing on my butt, but had instinctively stuck out my hands to help break the fall. My left hand landed in a little pile of debris – sticks, essentially – and I felt instant pain at the base of my palm.

The flesh was pushed back to expose the inside of my hand, which I’d never seen before. Then a pool of blood obscured the view. I said a bad word, and another.

Fortunately, I wasn’t far from my car, and it wasn’t far from the hospital. Whimpering, I pressed my palm against my T-shirt and drove to the emergency room for treatment of my very first emergency trauma.

Let me say, the people at Aspen Valley Hospital were very nice. They didn’t care that I had no money, no identification and no insurance card on me. And, they politely ignored my wussy behavior.

A nurse asked me to rate my discomfort on a scale of one to 10, a 10 being the most excruciating pain imaginable. Feigning bravery, I lied and said it was “just a four.”

Meanwhile, on the other side of the bed, someone else taking information for another form asked, “Was this an accident?”

“No, I did it on purpose,” I snapped.

I didn’t feel better until another putz came into the emergency room. He had fallen off his motorcycle during the Fourth of July parade and landed on his scalp. How humiliating was that? At least I didn’t have a crowd of onlookers witnessing my mishap.

A physician’s assistant poked a needle all around and in my wound to numb up my hand (like that didn’t hurt) and then did it again because the first round quickly wore off. The nurse, meanwhile, was attacking me with her own needle, for a tetanus booster. I was in hell.

After a second dose of anesthetic, I could still feel the little fishhook-looking thing the physician’s assistant was poking through my hand to suture my cut. Apparently, I have a low threshold for pain, but a high one for painkillers.

My boo-boo was actually a laceration, in medical jargon. I know this because they gave me printed directions for follow-up care that reads: “A laceration (las-er-a-shun) is a cut in the skin.”

Sometimes, treatment includes an “an-ti-bi-ah-tik” but I didn’t get any drugs. All my friends come out of the emergency room with a prescription for good pills – ones with street value. I got a couple of bandages and was advised to take some “i-bew-pro-fin” for the pain.

Then I got the bill, which produced a perfect 10 on the pain scale.

[Janet Urquhart’s bill included a line item for a simple body repair. Really. Her column appears on Fridays]


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