Unfortunately, nearly every season or two, Mom, Dad, or one of their friends has had to pay a visit to the emergency room at the local hospital. The first couple of years they were there, Mom and Dad were lucky enough not to have to go. Flo, however, tripped in aerobics one morning during her second season in Florida, and her leg swelled up like her husband’s stomach after dinner at a Chinese buffet. She was in a lot of pain, too. So, Irv drove her over to the emergency room where she sat and sat and sat. After two and one-half hours of sitting in the waiting room, they finally brought her into an examining room to look at her leg and take a couple of x-rays. Then she sat around there for another hour before they could get a doctor in to read the x-rays. Fortunately, it turned out only to be a bad sprain. They gave her an air cast and some painkillers and sent her on her way.
Spraining her leg, however, did give Flo the benefit of having something to talk about at the pool for a few days. “Would you believe that when I called to cancel my reservations for the ‘Young in Spirit’ square dance because of my leg, they said I couldn’t get my money back?”
“You’re kidding. Did you tell the person in charge that you fell and are unable to dance?” Mom asked.
“Of course, I told her,” Flo replied. “You know what she had the nerve to say? That she wouldn’t refund my money because I am still able to get around. She said some of the members in wheelchairs are even coming to the dance, and that I should come to sit and watch the others dance. Like watching other people do-se-do while my leg is in a cast would be any fun.”
Spraining her leg, also gave Flo a chance to commiserate with some of her other comrades who also have had to pay visits to the emergency room at one time or another.
“Oy, the wait in that place was atrocious; you get bread in Russia faster than they see you in the emergency room,” Flo said at dinner one evening. “I was there for over five hours.”
“Well, that’s because they triage you,” Dad explained, “Obviously someone with chest pains would get seen faster than that. If it’s not that serious of an injury, I’ve heard that waits of five to six hours are common in that hospital.”
“Well, I would hope they see you faster for chest pains or you could die in that place waiting. To begin with, most of the people in the emergency room aren’t too young when they get there. The average age in the waiting room must have been 83. Then they have to wait several hours to be seen. Gosh, it was so crowded there with old people. That emergency room really packs them in”
“Well, that’s who does a good business in Florida,” Mom said, “hospitals.”
“And doctors,” Flo added.
Unfortunately, the following year Dad was able to prove his triage theory to Flo. At about eight in the evening, he began to have a couple of chest pains. Mom got so scared that she drove him over to the emergency room herself, even though she normally doesn’t drive in Florida. All Dad had to do was say, “chest pain” and the nurses took him in to be seen right away. They checked his vital signs, took some chest x-rays, and gave him an EKG before they determined he had a bad case of indigestion, probably from the large meal at Barney’s earlier that evening.
“I told you they triage the patients. They took me right away,” he told Flo the next day. “I made it out of the emergency room in a record two and a half hours.”