Day 838, October 18, 2022

 Scenes of Mortality in the Emergency Room

A woman brought in on a gurney, 
her neck secured in an elaborate plastic brace, 
like she might have been an African queen once. 

The old woman in a wheel chair, 
accompanied by the younger woman. 
It looks like we will be here all day, 
the younger woman says. 

I am festooned with electrodes 
that are connected to wires that etch a waveform on a piece of paper, 
and then the wires are removed, 
but the electrodes remain 
and I will remove some of them later that night when I go to bed. 

The x-ray technician wheels me to the x-ray room 
even though I tell her I can walk. 
I don’t protest though, 
and submit to the ride. 

Inhale and hold, she says. 
And then, Breathe! 
She yells from the other room. 

The phlebotomist works from a mobile station 
and he is like a juggler, 
a man with magic tricks, 
how he handles needle, vials, tape, and cotton. 
My blood looks surprisingly dark and gritty. 
He holds a vial to the light to make sure he drew enough. 

Throughout my visit, 
they use my old married name and I correct them, 
but it seems futile. 
What does it matter who I am anyway? 
I am discharged and by the time I pass the workstation, 
I am forgotten. 
There are other patients, 
another gurney, 
someone else’s vitals.

(I’m ok. Had chest pain/congestion, but it may just be a tweaked back. Just had it checked out to be safe.)

Dry Hill Cemetery, filled with tombstones dating from the 1800s.

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