We were supposed to have a lovely dinner in New York on Wednesday, prior to Thanksgiving with the family, and then catch the play “Freud.” Instead, I wound up at St. Luke’s Roosevelt Hospital.
We left The Palace Hotel by limo and arrived for pre-theater dinner at Marea, one of our favorites. I was happily engaged with my fusilli and octopus when I felt a flash of heat. I have been battling a cold, and have been through five time changes from Bora Bora and a 40 degree temperature decrease.
I told Maria I had better head for the rest room and she offered to walk with me. I told her I was okay, rose, walked two steps, and the next thing I knew two other dinner patrons were working over me, taking my pulse and asking if I knew where I was and when I was born.
The good thing about a great restaurant is that there will always be doctors at dinner, and Mike, the EMT, told me later, “Do you know that one guy was a cardio-thoracic surgeon? You couldn’t do much better than that if you had to pass out somewhere!” (Mike couldn’t figure out though, why the doctor was considering CPR when I was clearly breathing, and I didn’t like him telling me not to move because, “You may have broken your neck and if you get up you could be paralyzed.” He then began to ask the other doctor where he practiced and went to school. I was staring up at the fraternal conversation, wondering if this shouldn’t be more about me.)
Anyway, Mike arrived with a buddy, they checked vital signs and off we went. There was a lot of blood all over the floor, since I went down like a building being demolished. ONLY IN NEW YORK: As we get outside, Maria yells to our limo driver, “Follow that ambulance!” She came with me, lights flashing, limo pursuing.
Unlike any medical television show you care to name, Roosevelt’s ER was calm and completely in control. Dr. Kim took my case, Ellen was my nurse, and a great guy whose name I can’t recall was my “transporter,” taking me for my CAT scan and back. Approximately 85 people asked if I knew were I was and my date of birth, and apparently I aced the tests. The CAT scan was negative and the diagnosis was plummeting blood pressure (something like 77 over 47 whereas I’m always at 120 over 80) due to medicine and alcohol.
The Roosevelt ER is not only well run, it’s courteous, professional, and reassuring. It is typical New York: Asian, Hispanic, Black, White and combinations thereof in every position. And it’s a funny place.
Transporter: The CAT scan folks will get to you in just a few minutes.
ME: You tell that to everyone and it’s going to be a long wait.
Transporter: That’s true, but what I’m telling you is far more politically correct.
These were terrific professionals, with great attitudes. I don’t care what they’re paid, they’re not paid enough. And contrary to stereotypical stories, no one asked me about how I was going to pay or for my insurance until after I had been initially treated.
After three hours I was stitched up (three in my eyebrow, three in my lip, and super glue to close a gash on my nose), was told how l lucky I was, and was sent to discharge. A great guy there, with huge blonde dreadlocks, said, “Let’s get you out of here as quickly as possible,” and calculated swiftly, took my Blue Cross Coast-to-Coast coverage, and charged us a grand total of $100.
On our way out, we saw Mike with another patient coming in. “Hey, Mr. Weiss,” he yelled, “you look much better!”
“New York and March 3,” I said.
Now Mike was concerned. “No, I didn’t ask you where you are….”
“Oh, good one! Enjoy your holidays!”
And we stepped out into the night and our waiting limo.
(Postscript: The family had Thanksgiving dinner as arranged in the private dining room of Marea last night. I asked the manager to add the prior night’s meal to the bill, since we had sort of rushed out. “No,” he said, “it’s on us. You’ve paid enough!”)
© Alan Weiss 2010. All rights reserved.