Gratitude in $140 zucchini bread

For part one of the story, which describes how I came to be in the emergency room on a Saturday night, click here.

I knew it would be a long wait when I arrived at the emergency room.

Several people were in the waiting room. Most of them had the look of people who had been there for a little while.

I walked up to the window.

The attendant looks up.

“What happened?” she asks.

“I’m an idiot,” I reply.

I gave her the required information and settled back into a seat in the waiting room. Minutes later, my name was called. I thought I would get lucky. After all, if it bleeds it leads, right?

Not exactly, the triage nurse took my vital signs and asked what happened. I told her I was an idiot. She gave me some gauze and kindly asked if I wanted to keep my blood-stained wash cloth. I assured her I didn’t and she sent me back to the waiting room.

“You’ll probably go in before me,” a man says, testily.

He then explains, in colorful terms, how he’s been waiting with a temperature of 100-something. He’s agitated. Once or twice, he gets up to challenge the desk attendant, demanding to see the person in charge.

Finally, in another flurry of colorful language, he storms out the door.

The faces in the waiting room suggested it was a welcome departure.

I turned over a magazine on a table next to me. Haitian faces looked back at me from the cover.

I remember faces like these. I remember seeing them in a hospital far more crowded and far less sanitary than this one. I remember our host telling us that the people had been waiting for hours and would be there for hours more.

My mind starts racing. What if I had sliced my finger in Haiti? How long would I wait for someone to stitch it up? Would I even try to get it examined at the hospital? After all, who could afford it? If I didn’t, the chances were pretty good that I’d get an infection due to the lack of clean water. Could a cut that requires four stitches in the United States be a cut that results in amputation in Haiti because of such infections?

Does the agitated man realize how blessed he is to be in a hospital in this country no matter what the wait? Do I?

Eventually, a nurse calls me back. I settle in on the hospital bed.

“What happened?” the nurse asks.

“I’m an idiot,” I reply.

“But a grateful one,” I think.

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