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  • Writer's pictureDearbhla

A&E: Parte Deux

Day two of A&E and I now know I should have worn a hazmat suit...

8am. “How did I end up here again?” I think to myself despairingly. This deluge of the great unwashed. At least this time I was armed with coffee. I edge slowly past the misshapen bodies contorted over chairs; limbs sprawled over arm rests like socks on a drying rack. Overflow from the night before.

As I settle in for day two at A&E, this time, a seasoned attendee, I swipe the best seat in the house. I am well placed against the wall at the far end of the room, furthest away from the epicentre of chaos. I begin to recognise more and more people from the previous day wading in to join me in my quest to penetrate the triage doors. Clearly, everyone else’s doctors forgot them too, including a pregnant woman with a blood clot whom I had met the previous day. I resign myself to the fact that I will be lowest on the pecking order again today if she wasn’t even considered a priority. Baking soda lady is sadly nowhere to be seen. I hope both she, and her haematoma, are doing well in a stress-free Swiss hospital.

I note that the bed pan is still pride of place under the third row of seats and remnants of coffee cups and other items are still scattered across the room. A red jellybean smushed into the floor has seen better days. I make a mental note to boil wash my clothes and spend the next hour trying not to touch anything. Much harder than you would think.

At 10am, a man pushing a squeaky cleaning trolley enters. He places two bright yellow “cleaning in progress” cones outside the toilet doors. I breathe a sigh of relief. I was beginning to wonder how many days the white, plastic bed pan was going to hold the fort undetected. I begin to feel a bit better about the disinfecting that’s about to happen. I am getting carried away as usual, assuming too much. The man, satisfied that erecting “cleaning in progress” signs equates to the same thing as actually cleaning, proceeds through the door to the main hospital and is never seen again. I am now convinced I should be wearing a hazmat suit.

Five hours later, a voice floats melodiously across the dissonance calling my name.

Triumphant. My time has come. Like a volcanic explosion, I jump up waving deliriously, tripping over the chairs as I clamber towards the Doctor: “Me! Me!”

I feel like a gladiator walking gallantly towards freedom, leaving behind the savageries of the arena. Having been held hostage for two days at Ireland’s answer to the Hotel California (if it were an under-staffed, over-populated cesspit), one thing I do know is that I have narrowly escaped the inexorable descent into madness.


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