Tuesday, April 5, 2011
E is for Emergency Room
The Emergency Room is the place I may find myself at soon after I dive out of the window to escape from the A-Z challenge.
It's an onerous kind of thing to blog every day because there are days when quite frankly I don't feel like blogging. Like today, tomorrow and the next.
Still the emergency room is a no brainer because I've made too many visits; even though it was called Casualty back home. There was even a show of the same name, although it wasn't the sort of drama that would attract George Clooney of ER. George Formby, more like.
I made my first visit to casualty when I was about two-years-old after my parents rather kindly left some shards from a broken bottle in the bath. They swear it was an oversight and social services were not called on. Still I never pass up the opportunity to remind them.
Although the cuts weren't severe I still remember a night of terror under artificial lights and butcherous figures milling around wearing green masks.
The second incident was during my adolscence when my Superman-style dive onto a bed ended in a good deal of Lois Lane. I don't want to elaborate on this one much given its embarrassing nature.
Incident three was during my first term at university. I had the advantage of a top floor room directly above my 'friend' Andy. This was particuarly handy because it meant every time he stuck his head out of the window, I could tip water from my plant jug on his head.
On one occasion, his head disappeared as if he had been shot shortly after I soaked him and there was a pounding on the stairs. Suddenly Andy was in my room, throwing a bucket of water at me. Expecting such a dirty trick I had refilled the jug. I chased him down the corridor. He closed the glass fire door. I went through it.
Bleeding profusely from the head and chest I retreated to the bathroom. Surinder, a medical student, saw my plight, laughed loudly and ran outside chuckling. He later landed a top job on Harley Street. I still bear the scars.
A good five years later I had my next brush with the emergency room. The scene was Wales on a windy day and we decided to tackle the mountain Snowdon the hard way along a narrow ridge.
We had sneakers and our belongings in a plastic supermarket bag. Our waterproof jackets cost about $10 each and we had no map. The only thing we were lacking was T-shirts reading: "I want to be a statistic."
Things went downhill fast, although not literally. Literally things went uphill and up a craggy peak called Crib Goch which apparently is a "knife edged" Arete; although I'd describe it more accurately as a big rocky pain in the backside.
After hanging over a sheer side as we inched over the rocks, we made it to a narrow and slippery ledge. The peak of Snowdon appeared to be miles away in the mist.
"This first part of the ridge is very exposed and serious, having resulted in several fatalities, even of experienced mountaineers," says Wikipedia, which wasn't much good because it wasn't around in those days.
Martin's cheap sneakers slipped at one point and an experienced climber with all the appropriate gear came across the ridge bemoaning the treacherous weather conditions. "Oh my God. I'm going to die," Martin said in a thick Scottish brogue, looking ruefully at his mildew encrusted sandwiches in a Tescos bag.
The thought of those sandwiches outliving Martin was too much.
Galvanized into a panic we decided to head down a steep slope to knee aching, backside scraping safety. After numerous cuts and scrapes we reached a path. Unfortunately at this point a huge gust of wind picked up my backpack and propelled me off the path. I saw a rock heading towards my face and tasted blood. I had enough time to think: "This is the end."
When I tried to get up I knew something was wrong. My left wrist had ballooned up and was clearly broken. We sat on the path in the driving rain wondering what way to return back. After about two minutes a man appeared, who turned out to be a ranger.
Salvation had shown up out of the mist but the walk to a van and the jolting drive in a vehicle full of climbers groaning about their fractures is something I will never forget. I resolved to take up less dangerous hobbies in future such as checking out tea rooms.
But every fracture has it's recompense. While Martin spent a windy night in a freezing campsite and saw the tent literally blown away I was in a warm hospital bed surrounded by nurses.
And when I was released for the rest of the trip with a plaster cast on my arm, my plight endured maximum sympathy from every Welsh person I met including ladies in lacy hats. And let's face it Welsh people, and ladies in lacy bonnets in particular, are not normally known for their kindness to the English.
I even had the satisfaction of getting Martin to tie my shoe laces. I made sure as many people as possible were watching.
Notwithstanding these few perks I'd rather keep up my record of no admissions to ER for the last 20 years, unless you include a badminton-related sprain. For one thing it invariably tends to hurt.