| If I had been playing golf, it would have been a cause of great celebration, making a hole with one shot.

Unfortunately, I was not playing golf, and the hole was not sunk with an awesome drive from the tee, but sunk with my head ramming through one of my newly painted walls.

The short form of the story is: I passed out and fell, knocking a hole in the wall with my head. I then spent the next eight hours in the emergency room at the hospital.

The long form of the story is: It was a hot and humid day in the desert. I had gone outside for what I thought would be a short walk about the property with the gardeners to find out where all the sprinkler controllers were and check the settings. It turned out, however, that there are many, many more controllers than I had imagined, and they are spread all over the place. As a result, I was out under the broiling sun for a much longer time than I expected to be, and for a longer time than was prudent.

When we completed the walkabout I was definitely aware of feeling the effects of the sun and would probably have been just fine if I had come into the house straight away and drunk some water and sat down for a rest. But I didn't do that. My neighbors — who are rarely here — had spent the night, unbeknownst to me, and were just coming out to leave. I had to say hello. We didn't chat long, but they did want to see my floors now that they were finished. "Sure, come on over," I said hospitably.


They came in and we were standing about looking at the spectacular floors and gorgeous colors. The next thing I recall was coming to, lying on the floor next to a head-sized hole in the plaster wall. That was mere moments before the paramedics arrived, followed closely by an ambulance.

I had nearly convinced them that I would be fine, just fine, but they insisted that I get up and move about a bit before they would leave. Feeling fine, just fine, I tell you, I stood up, and promptly passed out again. After that there was no arguing with them. They put me on a stretcher with my neck immobilized in a brace and carted me off to the emergency room. En route they administered oxygen and an IV solution and tracked my "vitals" through a maze of wires they had attached in numerous places about my body.

At the hospital I was disgorged from the ambulance and wheeled inside. I don't know of many experiences that make one feel more helpless than being wheeled about while strapped down, unable to move, and unable to see anything except the ceiling tiles gliding past. Eventually I found myself in a bay of the emergency room with more gadgetry attached. Still unable to move or see beyond a small cone of visibility right above my head, I could never tell if people were talking to me or someone else unless they stuck their face in over mine so I could see that I was the intended audience. Over the course of the day they wheeled me about to various other locations for an untrasound of my carotid arteries, a CT scan of my head, X-rays of my neck.

Late in the afternoon one of my nurses, Kyle, started unhooking all my wires. "It's been nice knowing you," he said, "but we need your space. You're being moved." They parked me in a hallway under a sign taped to the wall, "E-1."

It was then that someone with a clipboard came by to inform me of the hospital's privacy policy. "Well, there's damned little of that," I remonstrated, "when you're parked here in the hallway to be gawked at by everyone who walks by!"

Shortly after that another nurse came along to move me into another little room for more observation. Of course, my view of the ceiling was little changed, but I could hear a television tuned to FoxNews. Frankly, listening to that drivel was more painful than any of my traumas.

Finally about 5:30pm the nurse came and said they were going to admit me to the hospital for "a day or two" of more observation. Say what?!? The ER doctor was summoned to explain to me that although "all of the tests came back negative, when someone your age" has a fainting episode, they like to do "more test" just to be sure.

Someone my age?? Harrumph! "What are you going to test for?" Well, they would do a this, and a that, and .... "I still don't understand what problem it is you're trying to rule in or rule out with those tests." No clear answer was forthcoming, and I concluded that this would be a high-tech, high-priced fishing expedition. "Look, I got over-heated and under-watered. It's as simple as that. Sorry, but I'm checking out."

And I did. Of course, I had to sign a piece of paper indicating that I was doing so "against medical advice."

Someone my age, indeed!

And you know what really gets my goat? I was in the emergency room for at least eight hours. In that whole time, no one bothered to clean my bloody scratches or even brush the plaster out of my hair, eyebrows, and eyelashes. Some care.


21-Jul-08 | On Sunday the Desert Sun ran a long, fawning interview with the CEO of Desert Regional Hospital, an interview that made her sound like the second coming of Mother Theresa. Needless to say, I had several comments to make about that article.

Paul Maori

Jim and Angela couldn't resist turning my facial scratches into body art á la Maori

Last updated on Apr 13, 2018



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