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Emergency Room Survival Humor

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Parenting a child* with serious mental illness has meant for us multiple trips to the emergency room. As anyone who has ever been to the emergency room can attest, you are not there to enjoy the ambiance. It’s not the I Really Prefer This To Shopping at Target Room, after all. You are tense, you are frightened, you are pretending everything will be OK, and you are forced to share space with strangers who are experiencing their own crisis when you’d really rather be alone.

That was me last week, waiting for another psych evaluation and admit, sitting in that cold, noisy waiting room at the exhausted end of a day that started with fire alarms at 4:30 a.m., fire trucks, another ER visit, and the teenager’s mental health crisis. (Indoor cigarette smoking against the rules, duh + teen having rough time = A BAD DAY)

(The first ER visit early that morning was for my Hero Husband’s burned fingertips, injured as he attempted to put out the fire and then carried a box of books outdoors that was ON FIRE, to prevent the imminent conflagration of our entire basement and house. His courage, and selfless straightforward actions to protect us? I. Have. No. Words. Well, one. Gratitudelovegratitude.)

This was the box UNDER the box the Hero Hubby carried out.

This was the box UNDER the box the Hero Hubby carried out.

Sign Language for "I love and will protect my family"

Sign Language for “I love and will protect my family”

(Also, don’t do that should you ever be in that situation. The AMAZING kind and professional police officers and firemen gave us that message loud and clear. Smoke inhalation will get you long before the flames will, so just GET OUT.)

(Also, GO CHECK YOUR FIRE ALARMS. Now, walk away from your computer and check them. I would not be typing this today had our smoke alarms not worked last week.) (I’m not kidding, GO CHECK THEM.)

So there I was, hanging out with the teenager as we waited for her to be called back, and my tired, giddy brain produced the following. It killed some time, and made us both giggle as we concocted it. Perhaps one day you can use it, and get a giggle or two out of a tough situation.

Inappropriate Ways to Amuse Yourself in the ER

  1. Engage in a loud argument with your companion about why your approaches to your treatment-resistant lice have failed. Scratch a lot while arguing.
  2. Have the same argument…..with a chair. (Note: if you or your agreeable companion are there for mental health issues, you get a free pass to do this. You are merely poking fun at your own related experiences, which is ok if merely inappropriate is your goal. If you are there for a non mental health situation, don’t do this. That’s just mean.)
  3. Begin a fierce, loud disagreement with your companion about which one of you has lost the bag of tarantulas.
  4. Pass gas enthusiastically and with abandon. Act like nothing is happening.
  5. If people talk loudly about THEIR ailments, share your opinions on their treatment options and prognosis. Include your beliefs on the use of tarantulas for healing purposes.
  6. Rowdy, unsupervised children in the waiting room? Teach them some favorite songs! “100 bottles of beer on the wall, 100 bottles of beer……” (Note: do this only when you are fairly confident you will be called back no later than bottles 82 or 83. Otherwise, you too may find yourself in need of a psych eval.)
  7. Mime Fun! Mime your symptoms, the weather, or your favorite episode of Law and Order for the audience. waiting room.
  8. Score some of those purple non-latex gloves, blow those bad boys up and express your creativity! Begin handing out Balloon Turkeys. Or Balloon Spiders. Or Balloon……Hands.

Do you have any good additions to my list? If they are Inappropriate but Generally Harmless, share them! You never know when we all might need them!

*Parenting it is, whether it is your birthed child or the child of your heart, as in this case of our niece/foster daughter. I have her permission to blog about our adventures together.

16 responses »

  1. Love love love to you and yours. I mean, giant, virtual hugs. ❤

  2. What a scare! I am glad you are all (relatively) OK. Had my own trip to the ER this week as well and learned that if you have any symptoms that sound even vaguely heart-related, you get to go to the head of the line! And, as we speak, my husband is at the ER with a neighbor who fell and maybe broke something. He is waiting because you don’t go to the head of the line for broken stuff. It must be trip-to-the-ER week. Take care and stay inappropriate!

  3. I loved your sure fire cure for ER boredom! Here’s a #9 for you:
    Pretend that you are waiting for someone who’s being treated for a gunshot wound he received during a bank robbery the three of you pulled off together. Discuss all the places that you hid the loot around the area.

  4. Knitting is my favorite pass-time in the ER or other waiting room. I knit two fuzzy pom-pom scarves last spring/summer. I brought them everywhere, each er visit and each clinic visit and each residential care unit visit and each psych visit and finally finished them. But they were not really long enough for scarves, as they were only one skein. I may make stuffed pets out of them, pillows that is. It’s good to bring knitting to the waiting rooms also because you can show someone what you are doing and they can oo and ah over you as if you are somebody, while your stomach is churning with worry and your heart is pounding with fear and your phone is buzzing in your pocket from all the relatives who want to express their concern and support. Yes, knitting is a good friend in the ER waiting room. 🙂

  5. Bless you, Tara. I made so many trips to the ER when my boys were growing up that I was afraid I’d be arrested for suspected child abuse. Best one: son Terry tried a jack knife dive from the high board, hit his nose with his knee, and needed surgery to create what eventually became “the classic boxer’s profile.” Could have used your creative ER techniques to pass the time. Keep it up, champ , (and is your friend Grant the N PF Terry
    Grant whose cranberry sauce recipe I use every year?)

  6. Glennis! Fancy meeting you here. How on earth are you? It has been years. This is probably the cranberry recipe you refer to. I am still making it.

  7. Oh, Tara. Wow. So thankful you guys are okay.

    I say whilst in the waiting room, cough and hack very loudly, to the point of making dry heaving sounds. Make no attempt to cover up your mouth. In fact, stretch your neck out as far as possible in all directions.

    Of course this only works if you’re not really sick. Otherwise, keep your germs to yourself.

  8. Glad you are ok!! Scary, and funny too.


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