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“Get me out of here you son of a bitch!” screeched the elderly woman with a head of wild white hair and dark sunglasses (think Maxine wearing a hospital gown) when a teen volunteer asked her if she could get her something.

“Can you do a urine test to see if I’ve been drugged?” moaned Lisa, the twenty-something on the other side of my curtain, “I feel like shit,” followed by gurgling sounds not of the babbling brook variety.

“My pain – all over,” responded the girl from Switzerland in broken English when asked what her pain was on a scale of 1 to 10 . . . Pretty sure she may have cursed in German at one point as well, “I do not know the bleeping English word for 10.”

These were the three women I shared room 16 with at the Marin General Emergency Room for several hours this afternoon.

It all started a few weeks ago when I woke up in the middle of the night feeling light headed and gasping for a bit of air. At 3:11 a.m., I thought that was an odd feeling and then spent the next couple of hours worrying about Ralphie and/or Kip (I never worry about Kelly – don’t ever let your kids drop out of band). I thought maybe this odd sensation was an isolated event (like the first light that appeared on the car dash).

A few days later it happened again, then again, and again. I came up with several explanations for my nightly light headed, dizzy, shortness of breath spells. None of my explanations involved overweight mid-century woman with high blood pressure (I’m listening to HGTV right now). I thought ebony stain, allergies, too much exercise (the doctor ruled all of these out – they always rule out too much exercise).

Today, during our $40.00 return trip via taxi to Toscalito’s to pick up the repaired car (I’m sure the hospital bill will make replacing the Explorer’s speed sensor seem like a bargain), I started feeling dizzy, light headed, and short of breath (I just spent three weeks in Thai taxis and Tuk Tuks so going 62 mph on 101 North was not the cause of the sudden change in my heart rate).

After picking up the car, we headed for Trader Joes (Kip has to eat) and Cost Plus for fake flowers to cover up the cables the geek squad (their name, not mine) ran down the wall over the fireplace – that’s another blog; possible title: “It Works.” I started getting wobbly in Cost Plus which was a bummer because I was finding some good stuff, but the aisles are narrow with lots of breakable items so wobbling is not an option.

Tony and I decided, based on the lesson we learned from ignoring the warning lights on our car dash, that we should call my doctor. The Tahoe office advised we go to an Urgent Care right away which we did . . . another blog; possible title, “You Can’t Judge a Building by its Boarded Up Windows, a Nursing Assistant by How She Plucks her Eyebrows, or the Physician’s Assistant by her Tattoos.” They were great!  They took my blood pressure and could not get a reading (may have been the “the state of the art” medical equipment – all medical care in the USA is not equal) . . . eventually after taking it the old fashion way, they advised I go to the Marin General ER.

Me directing Tony to the ER was an exercise in backseat driving that will most likely be etched into our memories for a very long time, “and by the way I love you, but if I pass out please just pull over and call 911.”

So that is when we met Maxine, Lisa, and the girl from Switzerland. Lots of tests later . . . no idea what is wrong with me, but I should follow up with my regular doctor. Lisa was feeling better after anti-nausea medication and hydration -no idea what is wrong with her. The girl from Switzerland was discharged – no idea what is wrong with her, but she left with a prescription for antibiotics and Vicodin (and a big surprise when she gets an American hospital bill). Poor Maxine was still screeching when we all walked out of room 16 and she had no idea why she was there (that could be me someday – hope I remember to be kind).