Three days ago I fell and broke my nose. I spent a horrible nine hours in the ER of a downtown hospital (a place where they see many people who end up looking like I did who are judged because of how they got that way, nepharious activity that no doubt gains them no sympathy and perhaps wears down the staff with its repeditive and unsatisfactory treatment.) I was tested for drugs and alcohol and sent a social worker to talk to. I started showing people pictures of myself before the fall so they could see that I AM NOT THE BLOODY THING YOU SEE. Once you are in those hospital gowns you become someone who is less.
I wasn’t drunk or drinking or taking drugs. I didn’t get beaten by my partner or dealer or pimp.
I fell on a busy street because, i think, I was dodging people with oversized bags who were in a hurry, one of whom clipped me the other I avoided and lost my balance on weak ankles and met the curb with my face. A lot of tests were done to see why I fell. At one point I was told I could have a blood clot that could kill me. A contrast dye CT was done. The results sat for three hours just a few feet away from me (I had been there six hours already) and no one would tell me what they said because they had to be read by the doctor who could not be found.
I washed my own wounds with the help of a nursing assistant. I got no stitches. The tip of my nose is on the pavement on a downtown street.
I flipped out finally. Numerous pages on the loud speaker did not turn him up. I dressed myself. Got someone to take out the IV. One of the nurses said, “She found him! Go, follow her!” I followed the nurse. I stood while he chatted for 15 minutes with a pretty young woman who twisted her ankle. Finally he told me I DO NOT HAVE A BLOOD CLOT. I was given all the paper work and allowed to leave. I was given no instructions on how to care for myself in the following days. The previous doctor had written me a referal to see a Ear, Nose and Throat doctor. It was suggested I see my GP.
I don’t blame anyone specifically. To some extent it was the fickle finger of fate, but bit less superficial judgement and just a few more moments of compassionate attention I think could have made a world of difference to what felt like insult added to injury. Remember, you really don’t know who you are looking at, it could be your own face. I know I will try harder to question any story that arises in my mind when confronted by what appears to be suffering that is someone’s own “fault”.