Irony: a discrepancy between the expected and actual state of affairs (Oxford Canadian Dictionary)
The emergency room is chock-full of moaning and wailing patients. I lay on the gurney staring up at the ceiling. The ambulance attendant stays by my side in the crowded corridor until I am admitted to a room. An old woman wanders around, her gown open, revealing a bare backside and crumpled skin ravaged by time. A man with a bandaged head stares at me with one eye. Every two minutes, a loud voice barks from a speaker calling for doctors to attend to their stations. The sterile air reeks with antiseptic, and I am grateful every time the main doors slide open so I can catch the scant scent of the fresh summer air. The attendant takes my blood pressure and pokes around at certain places on my body asking if I feel any pain, if anything is tender…I shake my head, feeling only a strange quivering sensation that crawls through my body, the type of sensation one gets when not eating for a long time.
People all around me, asking me, “Are you okay? Where does it hurt? Can you breathe? Do you want some water? Can I call someone for you? Are you okay?” Am I okay? I think there’s been an accident.
A nurse comes over and wheels me into a room divided by thin drapes. She and the ambulance attendant place me on a bed; the attendant wishes me luck and they disappear beyond the folds of the curtains. I listen to the stirrings of the emergency ward — people grumbling, screaming, complaining; a couple of rooms away a man shrieks obscenities at the staff for allowing his wife to be present during an exam. How did I end up here?
I am lifted into the air and hurled to the ground… Where are my shoes? Why am I barefoot? Are those my glasses on the street? Somebody hands them to me. I am clutching them in my left hand. Where’s my backpack? There are too many people around me. Are those sirens?
Two hours pass before the nurse returns to dress my injuries; mostly soft tissue, no broken bones, a few cuts and gashes.
They are checking my wounds – is that my blood? Is that a gash on my elbow? It looks ugly – is that my ugliness?
A policeman arrives and tells me that the driver would like to see me. I nod. He is young, a baby face streaked with the shame and fright of his accident. I tell him its okay, no real harm was done, it could have been worse, I’ll be fine. The nurse loads me up with painkillers, tells me I’m going to be sore for a while and I should take some time off. Physical rehab may well be needed to strengthen my
weak muscles from the trauma they endured. She asks what I do for a living…I tell her I work for a physiotherapist…
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J.G. Chayko is a writer, actress, and international arthritis advocate who’s been involved in theatre for more than 30 years and has published poetry, fiction, and creative non-fiction.