The Wizard of ER

When he asked me to bare my breasts, I wondered why more men didn’t go into nursing.

I get to ER a lot. During my most recent trip to the emergency room (OK, OK, it does seem to be turning into a bad habit), I had a male nurse who asked my age and raved about how great I looked. You look 25, he said, which even in my bleary state was tough to believe. When he asked me to bare my breasts, I wondered why more men didn’t go into nursing. For a cardiogram, he added, then circled my left breast with littlestickers.

On the other side of my orange curtain divider was an elderly African American woman, all alone, hooked up to some almost-had-a-heart-attack machine. Beyond her was a heavyset Russian man who needed to supersize the narrow hospital cot. He had one visitor. And me? I had not one, not two, but three friends who insisted on rotating in, one at a time, from the waiting room to my side. Talk about a bonanza—with my entourage, I had the best friends a girl could ever ask for.

I’d organized the evening to celebrate our friend upcoming matrimony. Not a bachelorette party, which was too traditional for our taste. Just a low key get-your-drink-on dinner followed by dancing at a lesbian nightclub. That plan got waylaid at the Mexican restaurant by me feeling faint, putting my head in Piper’s lap, then full on collapsing as they tried to walk me to the car.

Some time before that everything had gone red and I’d been blind. And some time after I’d literally clawed my way out of a dream, my arms scratching at the air, to find myself on a brown tile floor near the heavy wooden legs of a chair with my friends asking if I could hear them and looking very concerned in that holy shit! way that freaks you out even more. I’d been unconscious for eight minutes, and turned so translucent you could almost see the tile beneath me. Meanwhile the other guests in the crowded New York restaurant were doing a great job of ignoring me and my personal swat team.

Four hours later, a tall 20-something doctor in clogs and sweet dark eyes finally stopped by my bed. (By now my exhausted friends were reevaluating their loyalty to me, trading bets on if I was pregnant and inventing my new nickname. Flopsy). His diagnosis? “You fainted,” he said. Since my vital signs were excellent (and if I do say so, so were my breasts), it could have been dehydration. He couldn’t say, but after chatting with me about the type of writing I did he urged me to come back to ER for a follow up. “You should have asked for his number,” my friend David said. “He was cute.”

The next day at the park when an errant soccer ball slammed into me I wondered: what’s the protocol for asking your doctor out in ER? Just in case there’s a next time. I have a feeling there will be.


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