Original writings by Adrienne Nater

Emergency Room


The fires were nearing the neighborhood from the northeast. Smoke, ash, yellow sky; water pump ready by the pool, roof sprinklers tested, hoses laid out, connected ready for the fight; voluntary evacuation, by phone and police blow horn announcements throughout the area. The roads were blocked both into and out of the area. The waiting began. Night illuminated by red/orange glowing only a mile up the road. To bed. Not to sleep.

The pain, excruciating, across her lower back, right side; hours of retching. She could not even hold down a sliver of ice. She held her head up long enough to nod in agreement to a very late eveningís trip to the ER. Off to see the wizards. At this point, her recollection of incidents faded in and out. The drive went on forever. Streetlights flashed by, headlights from car were blinding, the sounds resonating in her head like those of a parade Ö. She disappeared gradually into her own private oblivion.

There he was, her favorite cowboy, Roy Rogers; riding his wonder horse Trigger. She had to reach him. Out into the street she dashed. She wanted a ride. He reached down, grasped her outreaching hands, pulled her up, swung her up into the saddle in front of him. She was moving ahead. Lights, music, Christmas trees on all sides, cheering, waving; looking down there was a familiar black figure running alongside the horse reaching for her, a tone of a voice pleading with her. She heard herself. No, no, let me be here.

The voice penetrated, broke into her unconsciousness. "Weíre here." She felt a hand on her shoulder, she didnít want it there, brushed it away. She wanted to ride, ride into the sunset. Her closed eye lids quivered, her tongue stuck to the top of her mouth, so thirsty, she couldnít hear any music, intense lights, unfamiliar lights interrupted her parade no longer colorful but yellow, horribly harsh, "where am I, what am I doing here?" The pain brought her here. Emergency Entrance.

"Can you walk to that open door", "I think I can, I think I can, no I canít." It didnít happen, she didnít walk, couldnít; legs quivering. She was loaded like a sack of jellybeans, poured into a wheelchair, arms flapping over the wheels. A Raggedy Ann. Her body, doubled over, disorganized, too disjointed to move itself coherently. She could do nothing, collapsed, really collapsed; pushed through the illumination of a hushed void.

The guard, his immediacy, the intake nurse, a bed, a plea for pain relief, needle in her arm, the drip. She had to vomit; a bag placed in her outstretched hands, used immediately. She felt warmth, the diminished consciousness, she did not fight the feeling, deep breaths, her thoughts left to do whatever they wanted, and they did.

Back, back to the early days of yester year, out of the past comes the thundering hoof beats of the great white horse, Silver. Hi ho Silver. No, no, no, not hoof beats but the thundering sounds of an airplane engine, winds were whipping through her long black curly hair, she felt arms holding her, gripping. Then her world turned up side down. The sky was at her feet. She was delirious with joy, clapping her hands, laughing, shouting with excitement. Another spiral the sky back where it belonged. The earth at her feet came closer, closer, she felt the bounce, the roaring subsided, the rush of wind, speed reduced. The airplane came to a stop. Arms released her; straps fell, gentle hands lifted her up and out. Stong arms embraced her. She hugged back. She heard herself, "Thank you, Mr. Cummings, some day I am going to fly my own airplane just like you."

A strange, harsh voice came through the empty air above her head. But a gentle familiar hand smoothed back her hair, held her hand, caressed, stroked her arm.

The voice dominated. "Letís have your arm, turn your head away so you donít breathe on me." Who was this nasty person, dressed in white? If she is so damn hygienic, why doesnít she wear a mask?" She felt a needle prick, then more nothingness as she lay on the bed; glanced down, pulled a loose thread from the sheet, reached for the blanket, tried to pull it up; cold; smells, unfamiliar yet not. Sounds of voices echoed, buzzing sounds, vision blurred. She followed the sensations.

The crack of a bat, crowds roaring, she was on her feet, shouting. She felt the shadow, then a hand on her shoulder. Looking around lifting her head up. A man in a uniform, hand reaching. "Youíll have to show me your ticket, or leave these seats. You donít belong here do you?" The blood rushed out of her head, feet frozen to the spot! Caught! She had watched the empty home plate boxes for three innings from her fifty-cent seat, which she hadnít paid for either. She knew where and how to sneak into the ballpark, watch the empties, drift down section by section to one that was unoccupied, A voice; "Hey, let her stay, thereís plenty of room, if not she can sit in my lap." Picked up, placed on the lap of a man who smelled of cigar like her daddy, but he had hair, lots of dark hair, a big bushy mustache, prominent nose, and yes, big cigar. It moved up and down as he spoke. He was somewhat homely too. Her focus, eyes were on the moving cigar. She smiled weakly. There were hot dogs, cool drinks, popcorn in front of her. He was laughing, all the time laughing, a funny way. She was laughing too. "Who is your daddy?" Oh my, I know him; heís the attorney for Sam Goldwyn and Bob Roberts. I had no idea he had such a grown-up daughter. Tell him hello for me;" She was having an extraordinary time. Bouncing around. Being in the box seats her favorite Hollywood Stars beating the Los Angeles Angels at Gilmore Field sitting on the lap of Groucho Marx. The game ended. The shouting did not.

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A piercing voice, "We need a contrast CAT Scan. Drink this." A straw was placed between her lips, sucked on, she couldnít. Every sip that went down came back up into her vomit bag. Her body lifted out of the bed, moved, rolling along on a gurney. She opened her eyes, everything, everybody misted in a fog of bright lights and white. All movement stopped. It was dark again. "Get up here, weíll help you, then lie still." OK. She could do the lie still part; she had no desire to move. Was it dark and cold or was she dark and cold? She raised her un-needled tethered arm to balance herself as she slid her bottom onto a table, it must be a table it was certainly not a bed. The sound of a machine

dim star like flashing lights, all else, dark, dark, darkness. "I donít want to be here." She felt wet with perspiration, it was washing over her. "Iíll make a wish. When you wish upon a starÖ"

The pool water so cool: The Beverly Hill Country Club with Daddy. He played tennis there Wednesday afternoons. Always movie stars. John Garfield, unpleasant little man, mean, poor looser kind. As she was having lunch he even got into a fistfight with that nice Larry Adler, the harmonica player. She ran out of the dining room, hated anger and yelling. At the pool today, a tall, big-shouldered woman, who needed a bath began to talk about her wild daughter. "Youíre such a sweet child, so quiet, polite, I should have adopted a child like you. Wouldnít you like being my daughter?"

She ducked under the water paddled to the other side of the pool, hung out as far as possible from her reach. "Why did she talk to me, I donít know, but I watched her as she kept drinking from a tall glass, talking into the air. My hold on the pool edge was firm." She reached for the ladder grabbedÖ

"Tell me" a voice from out of the air above her head. "When did this all begin?"

She felt heard words coming out of her mouth, they made no sense. She rambled, knew she was rambling, had to relinquish her story telling. She turned her head "Tell him." Grabbed for the bag, vaguely heard her organ recital. She had been below par for a long time. Gone again.

What time was it? Did it matter? Yes! Where was a clock? She could not find the clock. Thoughts were swirling again. A watch was hanging by a golden chain above her head, just out of reach. The face was ebony black with the hours designated with diamonds. Sitting in a very comfortable lap, her hair being stroked, a soft voice say nice things. She heard, "quiet on the set, action, music up, cut, another take. Mr. Young, is the music placed in the correct sequence?" Her lap answered softly," yes". The watch was in her hands. It was so smooth. It was her Uncle Victor. Mother was working on his hands as the Paramount Studio manicurist.

"I strongly advise that she be admitted." "I want to go home." She looked at her live-in nurse, pleading in her eyes. "Home it is. Iíll give her the pain and nausea med there."

Glow of the fires visible as the top of the road. Pain gone, sleep in her own bed.

She knew where she was going. Not all of it. But it would come as she wrote, rewrote:

The tiger was being held by the tail. Donít let it go!

Now time to develop an outline for the progression of the characterís actions during events; or by the events that trigger the characters actions? Should it be by time line or by another means of presentation? Think, think, think.

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"Youíve got a urinary infection." "I do not, the lab is in error, I know the symptoms and I donít have them." I also knew that I had dropped the specimen lid into the toilet. That was the contamination, not me. Poor, shy doctor, he of Middle Eastern descent. A tiny man in stature; had just recently bought this practice from two doctors who had moved away from the area. He didnít argue or suggest a re- test. "See you next year for your annual." Fine with me.

Next year became eighteen months. Eighteen month of not feeling on top of the world, night sweats, but age may be creeping up on the energy level. Then over a year later, came the on and off terrible pain during urination. Surmising, "If it is a bladder infection it would be constant discomfort, yes. What in hell was going on?" Was it from the back problem, the very recent epidermal to the lower lumbar region? Couldnít be, the extreme discomfort was before the procedure.

Calling OB/Gyn, symptoms described, sounded like a chronic urinary tract infection. She ordered an antibiotic and urinalysis. She was going away, two weeks.

Letís see. She had taken the first tablet in the morning. By coincidence or not, it was that evening that the acute pain and vomiting started. Was it related, the cause?

Trying to relate all the medical history in some order was difficult to construct. For over a year her chronic back pain had unbearable. She couldnít walk, sit with out extreme discomfort. Time for a visit to the back doctor.

He couldnít be a doctor! Looks about eighteen and handsome too. "The best way to precedeÖPlan A go to physical therapy for two months, before we go to a more invasive treatment." "Sounds good! I like conservative medicine, heís not a cutter."

Physical therapy was fun, therapist working on the right places, the massage, heat, electrical stem and rest. Mild core exercises. The acute back attacks diminished but not the overall pain. To plan B. The total diagnosis via MRI. Yes indeed, problems at lumbar three and four, pressure on nerves, a spinal stenosis Ö. An epidural, numbing of the area to reduce pain and swelling ordered.

Simple procedure, no sweat. This doctor at a surgical center spoke to her before the injection. She mentioned the urinary problem; could it be related to the back problem? No. After the procedure she was relieved of the extreme pain. Her back condition was tolerable.

All this happening prior to the acute attack that took her to the ER. The doctor there surmised that the incident was possibly bowel infection of bacterial origin. Given antibiotic and antiemetic. Advised to see regular internist. Saw him the next day. He thought that the GI problem might be viral but agreed that the antibiotic should be finished out. Advised a routine Colonoscopy.

Called OB/GYN about the antibiotic she had ordered. Donít take it but come in for another urinalysis so a more specific antibiotic can be ordered if needed when the ER antibiotic is finished. She would call the gastroenterologist with her findings and request ASAP appointment. A miracle worker.

Next day, visited GI Doctor. His initial review of the records and evaluation of history and symptoms leads to possible stone in the common bile duct as the explanation of attack. It would be gone. However, imaging reports from ER show some other areas of question. Within a week the colonoscopy was completed. All finding OK. Then six days later the Upper GI. Findings show some areas of irritation in stomach and duodenum. Ordered acid suppressing meds for thirty days.

Then back with the OB/GYN with orders of another antibiotic to treat the urinary infection that was still present.

Finally, a subsequent urinalysis shows that the infection is gone. No further instances of abdominal problems. No episodes of back spasms. No nausea.

Then came the shoulder.

A One-Hoss Shay was I.

"How it went to pieces all at once,

"All at once, and nothing first,

"Just as bubbles do when they burst."

Now, how to write this up in a more literary manner. Maybe later. I have an idea for another story