Am I overreacting?
As I write this, Mrs. B is in the surgical recovery room at our friendly neighborhood hospital. Why am I writing a blog post and not by her side? Because I'm not allowed back there yet, and because I'm half loopy for lack of sleep, and because I'm so happy that the docs say she's gonna be alright.
Business first: Mrs. B suffered what appeared to be a pretty serious postpartum complication late last night/early this morning, and lost a lot of blood. We've pretty much been at a hospital since 3 a.m. I say "a" hospital, because our true neighborhood hospital, which is about five minutes from our house, discharged her at around lunch time today and sent her to her doctor's private office, because he wanted her examined further by his partner. Upon conducting that exam, the partner basically concluded that Mrs. B shouldn't have left the hospital and that she needed a simple surgery to correct the problem that manifest last night. So the partner sent us to another hospital a little further away to prep for surgery, which brings us to the here and now.
Thanks in advance for prayers, concerns, etc. Mrs. B is actually doing very well, and the problem that manifest last night, while scary, was quickly and easily fixed this evening in surgery.
What can I tell you? What doesn't kill you.... I'm telling you, she and I joke almost daily that we've squeezed about 50 years worth of those life's lessons our elders keep telling us about into the past 12 months. If they gave out a trophy for positive outlook and pragmatism, Mrs. B would get it. I have to give her credit. By nature, I'm way more cynical than she is about human suffering and way more likely to jump to the conclusion that the Cosmos hates us, or at least hates me, and is making us both pay karma in spades because of it. She is taking things in stride. I am learning from her.
So knowing that Mrs. B is OK, let's move on to my not-so-hypothetical. At one point early this morning when we were in the E.R. of the first hospital, I left to run back to our house and get Mrs. B a few things, let the dog out and clean the stupid cat's litter box.
As I walked out of the E.R., I noticed out of the corner of my eye a scruffy, middle-aged gent with several serious-looking scrapes and bruises about his face, hovering in front of an E.R. room. In a split second, I assumed he had been in an accident or something and was maybe there to be treated himself or was waiting outside the room of someone close to him who was being treated. I thought nothing more of the guy and kept going.
When I returned to the hospital 35 minutes later, the guy was gone, I noticed a city cop on hospital security detail hovering around the triage desk, and the atmosphere felt slightly different.
I got back to Mrs. B's room, and the curtain was half open. I'd left it closed. She appeared to be resting comfortably. I walked in with her things, took a seat, and picked up where I'd left off on my coffee. Something was bothering her, and knowing how much "secrets" annoy me, Mrs. B told me something to the effect of "JB, I don't want you getting angry, but that guy who was out in the hall in front of that other room? Well the police dragged him away. He came over here after you walked away. You had barely gotten around the corner, when he walked over here."
So the guy walked up to Mrs. B's room, stuck his head in and asked "Was that your boyfriend?" Mrs. B replied "No, my husband." The guy shoots back, "Oh, a nigger."
Let us pause here for a second: My temper dictates that I should have walked around the E.R. till I found this guy, and then beaten him like he stole something. But my common sense dictates that I am too pretty to go to jail. Him referring to me that way isn't what bothered me. This was a guy who looked like he might think 1 + 1 equals 11. It would have taken a little more for him to offend me....It was him getting within a few feet of my wife, unchecked - that he had the nerve to approach her, and the cowardice to do it after I'd walked away. Still, if I'm going to be honest, it's my occasional, but still too frequent, run-ins with guys like him that make me wonder if I maybe I should be an angry militant dude. As far as I'm concerned, turning the other cheek only works twice, unless you're gonna bend over and let whoever kick you in your butt cheeks. But that's another post another time.
Again, I did not react to that idiot's language. I did react, however, to the fact that in an E.R. swarming with armed security guards and a sworn police officer, this nut job could walk right up to my wife's room and poke his head in. No one noticed, no one stopped him. No one questioned him.
Ultimately, police dragged him off and he was taken to a psych ward in the hospital for a 72-hour observation.
As I tried to calm down and flush my thoughts of hurting this man, Mrs. B went on to tell me that a nurse had relayed that the guy was brought into the ER by police - as a patient, not as an inmate in custody - because he had sustained his injuries in a bar fight.
So I went to the triage desk and confronted everyone I could. I wanted a police report. And I wanted to know why, if this guy had been in a bar fight, security hadn't kept a closer eye on him. Even if he had not started the fight, he had still engaged his opponent, and in my civilian mind that warrants a little more scrutiny - especially if there was any chance he was still under the influence of alcohol.
The E.R. director initially defended her staff by saying she couldn't verify why this man had been brought to the hospital or by whom and that he wasn't displaying aggressive behavior when he was admitted, so no one had any reason to watch him a little more closely.
Later, after we had moved on to Mrs. B's doctor's office, the E.R. director called me and said the nurse had been incorrect, that the guy had not been brought in by police for any reason. He was homeless, and had wandered into the E.R. claiming he had been assaulted.
So that let's the cops off the hook. But tell me if I'm nuts here: I don't think it lets the E.R. staff or E.R. security off the hook. See, if I as a total stranger walk up to you, grimy, bruised, beaten, and sullen, with furtive mannerisms, and I tell you I need help, you may help me, but just by virtue of my appearance and my attitude, I'll bet you're also going to keep one eye or the corner of an eye trained on me just in case.
Am I right? Or am I overreacting? I mean, I'm no doctor or nurse. Just a journalist, but common sense dictates to me that I would have watched that guy a little more than say the little old lady who walked in clean, calm, and collected. Call it profiling if you want. I call it a sensible precaution.
That's it. Nothing more to this story. The E.R. director called me a couple times more, as if she was trying to change my mind. I suspected though, having gotten my business card (when I demanded on the way out that someone call me quickly and give me answers), that she was concerned that if they didn't appease me I might become the boogey man and write something negative about them in the newspaper. Sorry, that only happens in the movies.
Anyway, thoughts, please?