All I knew was that I was in a Boston Medical Center in the middle of Chinatown. The ambulance had brought me there, with many a jerky turn that made me want to puke more than I already was. I had called the YMCA Front Desk Agent, whom I asked for medical attention, who in a moment of kan-chiong fit, called an ambulance. The medical personnel had asked me on the way to the medical center, "If it was you, would you have called an ambulance?" I replied, "Probably not." But I knew that in my heart, I WOULD DEFINITELY have, because the 8-hour old bloat in my stomach at that time has caused me so much pain and vomitting that there was no way I would have trekked on foot to a medical facility nearby.
The night was a cold and merciless one. The nurse really couldn't be bothered. I came into ER without a busted head or a broken leg, and probably was treated with less seriousness. I hated her nonchalance, her presenting me a small plastic container for me to puke in, something which I actually had to hold on to, like a small bowl of milk cereal. She didn't empty it frequently enough, so imagine holding on to a bowl filled with puke, when trying to lie down and rest, which of course couldn't be materialised because of the nagging pain.
She forced me to down this white liquid, apparently to allow a later scan to track the movement of the fluid down my small intestine. Preliminary scans have revealed an obstruction at the first quater of my small intestine. Suddenly, more attention poured in. The nurse started to ask if I was alright, doctors from various departments began flooded into my ward, bothering me with details and fishing for details which I had to repeat again and again like an unfixable broken record. Packets of IV were changed more frequently. More eyes peeked into my ward.
"Hi, I am Dr. Austin from the GI department!" (still don't know what GI is)
"Hi, I'm a student intern here, can I do a survey with you?"
"Can you tell me what happened since you first vomitted?"
For a moment, I thought I was at the wrong place - a police station or something. I was interrogated by so many people, interviewed like a patient with a disease unheard of in history. Not far from the truth, one of the doctors diagnosed my situation as "an extremely rare case of unknown cause, especially for a young adult" like me.
THE WORST was when they had to shaft these tubes into my nose and down my oesophagus. The same nurse pushed the tube so hard into my nose, but couldn't get it all the way into my gut. She tried my other nostril and when I actually hit her arm in protest of the ridiculous force she was exerting, she stopped. She changed the tube to one with a smaller diameter. For a moment, I hated her. Really. Finally it went down. What followed was the most painful, awful 4 hours of my life.
Everytime I swallowed saliva, roughly 6 times a minute, 360 times an hour, I would feel that straw of a tube behind my throat. Super duper uncomfortable. Let's not even mention the procedure of shafting liquids up my anus, poking me for blood, asking me to urinate into the smallest of containers etc. It was a nightmare.
Finally after 4 hours of being connected to tubes, I said enough was enough. I was actually waiting for the next available specialist who "had the expertise" to put a scope/camera down my gut to check what the obstruction was. As if 4 hours wasn't enough long of a wait, the nurse could not tell me when this specialist would arrive. "Could be this afternoon, maybe early next morning..." NO WAY WAS I GOING TO HAVE THIS network of tubes down my throat waiting for the elusive doctor. I said, "I AM LEAVING." They had no choice but to let me.
On hindsight, what was this discomfort compared to the more serious life-and-death situations that this ER department oversees? We watch drama serials that tells the story of the lone patient who survives only because of of his strong will to live. I would not have been this person. I was beaten by discomfort. I gave up treatment.
A fellow patient in my ward was in an intense argument with her husband as to whether to take on the next procedure. She echoed my sentiments exactly. "Honey, I AM ALREADY in so much pain, and the doctors want to put me in a procedure that subjects me to more pain. NO I AM NOT going through this!" Amid cries, shouts and comforting exchanges of words, she finally gave in and stayed for her next procedure.
For me, this familiar voice of a "honey" was not around. I was alone in this unfamiliar city - location unknown, kin afar, and voice of rationality unmoved. This has been an experience. Very much so.