A Negative Reaction To A Negative Reaction

| Working | October 18, 2013

(I am at work on a particularly hot day, when my hands and ears start itching. At first I pay no attention to it, but eventually I start itching in other places, and I see welts appearing on my arms. Having never had an allergic reaction to anything, I have no idea what they are, but they keep getting worse and worse throughout the day, and then throughout the evening. Finally, my boyfriend drags me out to the car and takes me to the emergency room at the hospital nearby. The triage nurse appears very angry that another patient has showed up.)

Triage Nurse: “Help you?”

Boyfriend: “Yes, my girlfriend has these welts all over her, and they’re getting worse. She’s also having trouble breathing. I think we need a doctor.”

Triage Nurse: *without even looking at me* “It’s probably just heat rash. Fill out these forms and bring them back when you’re done.”

(She hands the forms to us, and I’m so out of it I have to have my boyfriend fill them out for me. He leaves me sitting in the waiting room to turn them in, and we settle in to wait. Nearly 45 minutes later, I’m gasping for breath and the welts have spread all over my chest, stomach, arms, legs, feet, hands, throat, and ears. Finally, we go up to the desk to see what’s going on; my boyfriend is practically carrying me.)

Boyfriend: “Look, my girlfriend is getting a lot worse while we’ve been sitting here waiting. How much longer is it going to be?”

Triage Nurse: *glaring at my boyfriend* “It’s just a heat rash; I don’t know why you two even came in—”

(Just then, a doctor happens to come out of the doors next to the desk. He takes one look at me, and then turns to the nurse.)

Doctor: “How long has she been here?!”

Boyfriend: “Almost an hour.”

Doctor: “Are you kidding me?!”

(The doctor calls to a couple of orderlies.)

Doctor: “Get her back here NOW!” *turns to the nurse* “What were you thinking, making her wait like that?”

Triage Nurse: “It’s just a heat rash!”

Doctor: “LOOK at her: does that look like a heat rash to you?! No, don’t answer that; I’ll deal with you once I’ve got her stabilized!”

(I’m taken back to be treated, and given several shots. At one point, I start to drift off to sleep and the doctor slaps me awake, telling me not to DARE go to sleep yet. Finally, I’m stable, and he sends my boyfriend in to sit with me while I’m recovering, and he goes to speak to the triage nurse. I can hear him yelling at her, and then he comes back in to us.)

Doctor: “Feeling better?”

Me: “Oh yes, much better. What happened? What were those welts?”

Doctor: “You had a really bad allergic reaction to something; those were hives. And your boyfriend saved your life. You wouldn’t have lived the night if he hadn’t brought you in, and to be honest with you, if that stupid nurse had made you wait longer, I’m not so sure we could have saved you, even in this short period of time! Next time you start breaking out in hives, take an antihistamine immediately, and then come see us right away if they get worse.”

(We thank him profusely, finish our paperwork, and leave. Ever since then, I’ve always been grateful to that doctor, and I always keep Benadryl on hand just in case!)

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