You know you’re a writer when, as you’re being hoisted to the door of a regional jet on a cherry-picker-type lift, you think “well, this is going to make a good blog post.” And even in the absence of the usual indicators—wealth, fame, status—you know you’re a VIP when the doctor directing John Hopkins Hospital emergency room that day gives you his e-mail address and the general manager of the Baltimore Marriott Waterfront sends you to the airport in a Lincoln Town car and asks the security officer to go along. This post is a thank-you note to the staff of John Hopkins Hospital emergency room.
It all started on a beautiful Thursday morning, as I took the short walk between the Charles St. and Light St. offices of Lutheran World Relief. For no apparent reason, on a perfectly flat sidewalk, my ankle turned over and I fell…splat.
I was sure I had just sprained my ankle and proceeded to ice and elevate it. By noon I knew I needed to get back to the hotel. (Thank you, Devin and Stephanie.)
Denise, the (head?) housekeeper, came to check on the room. “You need to go to the hospital and have that checked,” she said with loving authority. Others had said the same thing, when I thought I knew better.
Fast forward: Sometime after 3 p.m., I limped into John Hopkins emergency room (JH-ER). I was embarrassed to be there for something as simple as a sprained ankle. I was grateful that I have health insurance that allows that sort of decision.
From start to finish, everyone I encountered at JH-ER was efficient, professional and kind. The intake nurse (Andy) and the ER secretary (name?) who worked with him were especially wonderful. “You’re getting upset,” said Andy, concerned. “Why?” “Because everyone is being so nice,” I said, tearing up.
The first X-rays showed the fracture. With that evidence, an orthopaedic consult was ordered. While waiting I met a cast (pun intended) of health professionals, including Dr. Ben, beginning his third year of medical school, his resident supervisor (name?), and the most wonderful Dr. Rodney Omron, who was the ER doc in charge.
Dr. Omron was pleased to learn that, in my case, the ER system worked even better than it should. I didn’t have to wait for his assessment before X-rays and an Orthopaedic consult. “I will be keeping tabs on you,” he said. “Don’t hesitate to call for me if you need anything.”
Additional x-rays were ordered to confirm appropriate treatment (splint-cast or surgery). It was decided that I should wait for Dr. Greg Osgood, an orthopaedic surgeon, to do the additional (stress) x-rays. During the wait there were opportunities to receive the caring kindness of more staff (Heather in X-ray, Jennifer my nurse, and the “magazine man,” who had an official function unrelated to getting me an issue of People magazine).
Dr. Osgood and an orthopaedic physician’s assistant applied my “big joey” knee-high, two-splint cast.
Nurse Jennifer demonstrated crutch walking. Before I took a turn, I asked to go to the restroom. In the process I knew I was about to faint. Somehow I found myself back on the gurney with Dr. Omron at my side. “You’re a narcotic light weight,” he said, ordering a bag of IV fluids for me. The lowest-dose pill of OxyCottin, which I had taken an hour before, had caused my blood pressure to precipitously drop.
An hour or two later, David, whose badge noted BSN so I think he’s a nurse, accompanied me out the door. He called the cab for me, waited for the cab to arrive, and accompanied me on the slow walk on crutches to the taxi.
“Does everyone get this kind of VIP treatment?” I asked. “Not everyone thinks so,” David replied.
—Sue Edison-Swift (5/7/2011)