A different view

A recent illness gave me the experience of viewing a different form of transportation from the back of an Ambulet van. My condition was an arthritic infection in my right wrist. Thank goodness for a very astute wife who, in her RN experience, realized it was more than a sprained wrist and insisted we are going to the ER to get it checked out. Naturally, I saw no reason for the excitement and didn’t want to go, saying it will just be better in a couple days. Her answer that I would be dead in a couple of days, and the tear in her eye told me she was serious and so was the illness. Off we drove to the hospital in Middletown. I noticed she had packed an overnight bag for me, further enforcing the opinion that I would be admitted.

We were greeted right away at the front desk of the ER and were lucky to be taken to an exam room quickly. As we waited, the ER began to fill up with others, and I realized just how lucky we were. Once in the exam room a blood test followed as well as an X-ray of the wrist. The results came back rather quickly, and it turned out that it was a septic infection, the worst kind. When the aide came in with a hospital gown, I knew the reason my wife had packed that overnight bag.

It was early enough in the day that the doctor was in my room when I finally got there. He reviewed the blood test and X-ray and turned to us to say he had room to schedule the surgery that night. It was 9 p.m. when I was finally wheeled into the OR and after midnight when I returned to my room. What followed next was a four-week stay in the hospital along with three more procedures on my hand. They finally told me I was going to be released, but only to a local rehabilitation facility in Liberty, NY.

Arrangements were made, and the following day the men from the ambulance company showed up around 4 p.m. for the ride to LIberty. The driver was as stocky as I am, but his helper was on the lean side. I wondered just how they would get me in the ambulance and hoped for the best. It was a cold, rainy night as we got to what turned out to be a rather old and beaten up Ambulet van. On the first try they almost dropped me, as the stretcher began to lean over. Two more tries ensued before they finally enlisted the help of another person, and I was finally in the van.

The ride was not as scary as almost being dropped, but the rain was coming down in buckets and the cars were driving very close and passing us at high speed. In the van the patient faces the rear, so I had a great view of what I was convinced would be a white knuckle-ride. Seeing as it was pitch black outside, the headlights of the oncoming cars only added to my anxiety. Then I noticed that the back door was not locked, and my imagination had me flying out the back if we stopped short, sending me careening down Route 17. 

When we finally reached Liberty, the driver got lost. I had my phone in my hand and with the help of Mapquest was yelling directions. He then drove past the location and wound up down a dead-end road. I was still on the job, and eventually we pulled into the location of the rehab facility.

I was never so happy to see a place that I had never seen before, and happy to be out of that van. Let’s hope for a happy New Year. 


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