The louder you are in the ER waiting room, the more the staff is convinced that you are not having an emergency.
I mean it. You’re getting the attention you think you want, all eyes on you. Except ours.
“Isn’t there anything you can do?” Your fellow waiters ask us, concerned. Behind the triage window, you can’t hear our teeth grinding.
You’re in pain, i understand that. This might even be the worst pain you’ve ever felt.
But you’re probably not dying.
Dying isn’t loud.
A patient having a heart attack does not scream and thrash and gasp for air. It’s a whisper, a tightness, with slow flexing fingers.
A stroke happens in a fraction of an instant, and never makes any sound. More whispers, halves of sentences and muscles that don’t quite match up anymore, a puppet with a few of the strings cut. Alarmed and wandering eyes, maybe, but never yelling.
Or the more common killers, infections that shut down organs or the pipes of blood that sever. Cardiac or respiratory failure. If a person can talk they are, in fact, breathing just fine.
Remember this, the next time you come to an emergency department. Remember this when you’re sitting in the waiting room, while a sleepy-looking person in a wheelchair is whisked away without a word.