A visit to the local emergency room on a Wednesday night was not expected or wanted.
An earlier evening dental appointment where vitals were taken exposed a blood pressure and pulse reading that concerned the dentist and his assistant. Needless to say, it didn’t concern me as I started new anti-depression meds and was not exactly adherent to the ‘do not drink alcohol” label on the bottle.
I did not drink prior to the dental. After the appointment, I went home, swallowed the pizza I bought on the way and fed the furs. That lil’ voice in the head, often ignored, nudged me to check my blood pressure.
165/110 pulse 119!!!
Got in a neighbourhood cab and $9 later sat in the emergency room at Methodist waiting for a doctor.
After two hours of sitting on a plastic grey chair that once may have been blue; playing Candy Crush while observing the homeless woman across from me sleeping, snoring, hunger rumble from her belly, I was called in.
EKG/Blood Pressure monitoring and pulses oximeter.
My vitals were taken by a Haitian nurse who bragged about her scholarly accomplishments and frowned at my taking anti-depression meds. I was brought into the er amidst the beeping of vital machines, moaning, cursing, frazzled nurses, complacent doctors, and human congestion of the rush hour automobile kind.
Waiting and observing brought back the memory of numerous hours spent with mom, my mom in this same space. She was in hospice care at home but would frequent the er when her draining tube dislodged.
Anxiety, severe depression with the strongest need to scream.
My mom gave up her mental fight during the last visit to this er. Defeated over additional testing, she started to cry. There was no end to the treatments which brought no healing. A return to normalcy was not in her future. I sit with myself in bright fluorescent lights trying to block the memories. I felt so helpless then as I do now alone in sterile coldness, which only exacerbates the fragility of mí alma (my soul).
With high blood pressure and an elevated heart rate I was an outsider in the emergency room.
I was an outsider inside a large room where homelessness mixed in and cememented with mental health issues. Mind you, I do have the mental health stuff but I’m also “medically managed” * for it.
Others are not.
In the er, some were going through psychosis, strapped to their beds with heartless security guards sitting nearby. The er that night was a mental health facility over run by those seeking shelter from a cold/foodless night on the outside.
This city, NYC, treats homelessness as the black elephant in the room whom city officials would love to sweep in the sewer.
I applaud all the healthcare workers there that night who did their rounds and interacted to the best of their abilities with the fragile mental humans in front of them.
*my primary care physician’s words