Thursday, September 20, 2012

a moment in the day: triage

It’s eleven at night in the ER. Stephen and I sit in the little glassed-in triage room. Just home from my writing group, I’ve got a sheaf of pages with comments all over them shoved in my purse, and Stephen’s the one with the blood pressure cuff around his arm and the weird plastic monitor clipped to the end of his finger.
The nurse is a guy in blue scrubs and purple gloves with a well-ordered face and a blond buzz cut. He stares at the monitor as he asks Stephen questions.

“Lower abdominal pressure? Groin pain, radiating down leg?” the nurse says, and his profile gets a little smirk in it. You wouldn’t think a nurse would smirk, but that’s how it looks, a tiny creep of smile at the corner of his mouth.

“Sounds exactly like a kidney stone about to pass,” he says.

Now he’s out-and-out smiling. I’ve heard how much fun kidney stones are to pass, and I don’t think the nurse should be smiling.

“That would be so cool!” the nurse says. “If I got the diagnosis just like that? That’s what I’m hoping for!” He shoots a little thumbs-up.

Someone peeps a head in from the door on the right and the nurse gets up from his seat. He starts pulling the monitors off of Stephen, saying, “I have to go resuscitate someone,” like he just has to go warm up his coffee, and he’s gone out the door.

I look at Stephen. Stephen looks at me. Stephen says, “Well? Are you going to write this down?”

I'm glad he knows me so well. Yanking the stack of writing group pages from my purse, I turn the stack over to a blank page and start fishing in my purse for a pen.


  1. yep, it didn't turn out to be anything. in fact, we sat in the waiting room so long we finally just went home.