A friend recently found himself in the emergency room for a thankfully minor injury. While telling me about his adventure, he said, “That might’ve been the first time I was ever in the emergency room as a patient.”
I nearly fell out of my chair.
“What about when you were a kid?” I asked.
“Not that I can remember.”
“Sports-related injuries?” I asked.
“Nope,” he replied.
I told him that I had probably been in the emergency room as a patient 20 times in my life, which he said was impossible. So I made a list.
I think it’s fairly complete.
I referred to my baby book to find a 1972 trip to the ER as a baby for bronchial pneumonia. I visited the ER two other times as a baby, but I knew about those visits already.
My mother loved to tell those stories.
I also decided to include if the mode of transport to the ER was an ambulance, which has happened quite a bit as well.
Turns out my friend was correct. I’ve only been in the emergency room as a patient 19 times in my life that I can recall.
But I was close.
Eight of those visits were by ambulance.
I was also brought to a medical facility by a colleague after a student accidentally hurled a softball into my face from about six feet away during a distance-throwing competition, giving me yet another concussion, but I think we may have gone to an urgent care facility. Being concussed, I can’t quite remember even though it happened just a few years ago. I remember sitting in a waiting room with a terrible headache, wishing the lights weren’t so bright, but I don’t think it was a hospital.
I’ll have to check.
It’s also interesting to note that my brother, my sister, and I have all been hit by cars in our lifetimes and been transported to the hospital by ambulance. My accidents (I’ve actually been hit by a car twice) were by far the most minor of the three, though one still required an ambulance.
My brother was clobbered by a car while crossing traffic on his bike as a kid (I watched the whole thing), and my sister was nearly killed after being hit by a car while running across an interstate and being thrown 100 yards through the air.
I asked Elysha if she thought it was normal for all three siblings in a family to have been hit by cars, thinking she’d say, “Not really,” or “It’s a little unusual.”
Her response: “NO, IT’S NOT NORMAL!”
So perhaps my family has a bit of a dark cloud when it comes to these kinds of things. But I also suspect that athletes, people who work in dangerous environments, and people who perform physical labor have probably visited the emergency room as often as me.
Context is probably a determining factor.
And so, here is my list of emergency room visits over the course of my lifetime:
1971: Swallowed a bottle of paregoric/stomach pumped (ambulance)
1972: Bronchial pneumonia
1972: Head wound/stitches
1983: Bee sting/anaphylactic reaction (ambulance)
Circa 1983: Smoke inhalation during house fire (ambulance)
1985: Dog bite/stitches
1986: Bee sting/anaphylactic reaction (ambulance)
1987: Punched in chest/two broken ribs (ambulance)
1988: Head injury while pole vaulting/concussion
1988: Car accident (ambulance)
1991: Head wound/staples
1992: Head wound, broken ribs, broken fingers resulting from armed robbery/stitches
1996: Head injury/concussion
1997: Thumb crushed in a safe
1997: Knee injury/surgery
2000: Hit by car/concussion
2011: Bay leaf caught in throat (ambulance)
2018: Suspected heart attack (turned out to be pulled chest muscle) (ambulance)