Friday, August 24, 2007

The Chamber

I couldn’t breath. They had shifted me around, causing the neck brace to press against my Adam’s apple.

Here I was, stuck on a stretcher in the hallway; no room was available. Pain, a live wire radiating down my right side. They told me the emergency room wasn’t that busy. Nurses walked by. My breathing became rapid, hard. I asked a nurse if the neck brace could be loosened. He said that only a doctor could do that.

I told him that I was suffocating. Finally he undid the neck brace. “Stop hyperventilating,” he ordered me.

“I’m hyperventilating,” I replied, “because I couldn’t breath!”

Then I was left alone. No painkillers. A bruise on my leg where the pickup truck hit me kept swelling up; a big goose egg. And my back – I tried to hold on, resist the intense, throbbing pain.

In the background a doctor was annoyed. She had ordered some painkiller for another patient. She kept asking where the order was.

I waited forever. I finally asked if I could get something for the pain. Acting upset as if my request was unreasonable, a nurse jabbed a needle in my arm. The pain was alleviated but as I lay there helpless on my back, I watched the square ceiling tiles above me wiggle around.

I had never done any hallucinogenic drugs – until now. Apparently if I did such a drug outside the ER, it was illegal. But within the belly of this beast it was licit.

Eventually I was given some attention. I glanced at the growing dark purple bruise on my leg; it was getting ready to burst. I asked if an ice pack could be placed on it. Today I have a splotch scar where the goose egg almost messily hatched out.

That was over a year ago. A memorable visit to the ER at the Champlain Valley Physicians Hospital, CVPH for short.

Recently I noticed a detail in the CVPH logo: the “V” has been reshaped into a person throwing up their arms as if celebrating good health.

For some reason that “V” figure represents to me a victim being stretched out on a torture rack.

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