Sunday, April 15, 2018

A nasty visit to the Paris zoo

 It turned out OK in the end, but I had to take Patricia to the ER of the hospital in Paris Saturday afternoon.

Starting Friday afternoon she started feeling abdominal pain and nausea. She ate and drank very little. This afternoon she threw up and suggested we go to the hospital ER.

They hooked her up to an IV drip (she was very dehydrated) and took some blood samples.They then gave her a few stopgap medicines and later, took her for a cat scan.

The process took about four hours. The report from the cat scan showed she had a spot of colitis. She's snoozing on the couch and feeling better. We have four prescriptions which I will have to get filled in Paris Sunday (there are no 24-hour pharmacies anywhere near here.)

The medical staff we interacted with at Paris Regional Medical Center were quite helpful, friendly, and professional.


The ambiance was a combination between a zoo and a riot. It may just have been our bad luck, but we eventually stayed behind a closed door in the examination room, because we felt we were in a combat zone.

Early on, we had to close the door because a patient across the hall was loud and using the most vulgar language possible. It was really scatological. Sometimes he may have been on a cell phone, other times I think he was talking to people in person, but wow! This guy had the loudest, dirtiest mouth I ever heard.

We were able to muffle his foul language by closing the door, but then - believe it or not - things got worse. A lot worse.

While Patricia was getting her cat scan, some people - who must have known someone also getting a scan - camped out in a waiting area just outside that door.

It looked like a mom, a young daughter, and maybe four or five toddlers. I really couldn't tell, it was such a fiasco.

By the time Patricia got back, as we waited a couple of hours for the results, the kids screamed and shrieked and cried to make the doors shake and the windows rattle. It was obvious the kids were badly out of control and the adults either couldn't or didn't want to control them.

This time the door was no barrier to the noise. It was like being in a hurricane. Patricia started to get sick from the racket and I was getting woozy myself.

The hospital staff was nowhere to be seen. They all seemed to be clustered around the nurses' station. socializing and trying not to get involved.

I cracked open the door and saw hands trying to grasp the various limbs of the toddlers, who were squirming and on a complete warpath. I polite suggested from across the hall that it would be nice if it was quieter.

That didn't seem to have any effect, so maybe 15 minutes later I went down the hall and alerted the staff to the problem. Then I retreated to the exam room.

Instead of abating, it got louder, and after a while I cracked the door because I was genuinely curious if something was seriously wrong. It sounded like these kids were cannibals doing a war dance as they roasted a sibling over an open fire pit.

I saw maybe two staff members were in there, perhaps - I hoped - trying to get control of the situation. As I looked out, the older of the two ladies seemed to be saying that I was the cause of the problems by complaining, and then said, pointing, "And there he is sneaking a peek through the door."

OK, that was it. I do not sneak. I flung open the door and shouted at the top of my lungs "CONTROL YOUR LITTLE...!!!"

Now, that last word I used is a standard English plural noun used to denote children whose parents were not married at the time of their birth.Although often considered a malediction, I felt personally assured, under the circumstances, that it was probably accurate.

It was rude, though. A staff person told me to get in the room and shut the door and stay there. Which seemed like a good idea.

After a while the ruckus finally dissipated. Barricaded as we were in the exam room, Patricia and I were happy to believe the hurricane had passed.

A while later there was a knock on the door and the same staff person who had admonished me to get back in my room entered with a security guard. She chewed my ass for having the temerity to do her job in trying to abate out-of-control visitors. She said I can't use that language around children.

I bit my tongue and didn't point out it was probably a description rather than a curse. I admitted I lost my temper - which was true - and said I was sorry, which was also true.

They left, and a while later a real doctor came in and explained the results of the cat scan and the diagnosis of colitis. We left shortly thereafter with prescriptions in hand.

Back in the car, we agreed never to set foot in the place again, and if need be we'd rather go to a hospital in Texarkana or Mount Pleasant than back to that hell hole.

Although the medical professionals, and most of the staff, were - as I said earlier - helpful, polite and professional - failing to keep even a minimum of decorum in an emergency room is abusive and just plain damn lazy. I have high blood pressure, and I'm lucky I didn't have a stroke over the affair.

It was one of the worst Saturday evenings I've had in my life, and with that lack of detail to simple decorum, I suspect Paris will soon be another small city without a hospital.


  1. You need to inform the administrator of the hospital. That staff member was clearly unprofessional and out of line and should be formally reprimanded.

  2. Keith - Have you heard of a short story that's a Nebula nominee this year, "River of Teeth"?


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