July 23, 2011
The sixty year old man was semi-sitting up on the gurney in the emergency room, after the forty-five mile ambulance ride from the small mountain town of Oakhurst, just seven miles north of his home in Coarsegold. Oh, he didn’t look sixty, true enough, but right then he was feeling it. He didn’t look sick, either, but right then he was feeling that, too. And, in fact, he was sick… really sick…
He had just successfully completed a solid week of vomiting, dry heaves, sleeplessness and generally feeling worse every half hour of life that he had managed to crawl through. It didn’t help that he had not been able to urinate, have a bowel movement or even fart the entire week – he was feeling somewhat full on the inside, even though the only thing he could keep down the last four days was hot chocolate. And, of course, there was the constant taste of ammonia in his mouth.. “Where the heck did that come from?”, he thought to himself.
The x-rays taken in the urgent care facility he had walked into a few hours earlier – for the second time that week – showed massive build up of gases in his abdominal cavity. But the thing that bought him a ride in an ambulance and entrance into the emergency room was the lab report. It was really ugly, and the doctor didn’t even make an attempt to put lipstick on it.
“I’m completely baffled by your lab results – they don’t match what I’m getting from you.”
“What do you mean,” asked the patient, thinking that the doctor thought he might be lying about how he feels.
“Well, I’m looking at you and I see a man who, while he may be feeling under the weather, looks otherwise perfectly healthy and fit.” He continued, “But the lab results show me a man in complete renal failure and ready to have his heart explode at any minute.”
This, naturally, piqued the patient’s curiosity beyond the point where he could shut up.
“You mean I’m dead?”
“No, but I don’t know why not, and you are well on your way.” Then, in an effort to temper the effect of his last statement, he informed the patient that he was being sent to the hospital. Right now. In an ambulance…
The admitting nurse, a large man of about forty with vastly thinning hair, was sitting at a computer typing in information from the forms so nicely provided by Todd, the attending paramedic. He interrupted his flying fingers in an effort to become social for a minute.
“Says here that the patient is sixty years old. You don’t look sixty years old and I want to make sure I have the right guy.”
“So how old are you?”
“Pretty sure. “
The nurse gave him a look that said ‘Alright, I’ll use ‘sixty’ for now,’ and entered the ‘information’ saying “OK, sixty years old”.
“Thank you for your confidence.”
“So why are you in my emergency room?”
“I would like to be sixty-one some day.”
This, actually, caused the nurse to smile, though the smile was followed by another inquiry into how the man came to be applying for residence in his hospital..
“It’s a really long story”.
“Can you give me the cliff notes version?”
“I took a hike up Half Dome and now I’m here.”
“Maybe fill in a few more details for me?”
The important parts of the Lab Report
The Hi-lighted parts are the parts that would normally have made Man of Action dead.