So, I had to spend several hours in an ER waiting room. My mother had a small health scare after doctor's office hours so, away we went to the ER.
They immediately whisked her in for triage and then spit us out into the waiting room to wait for an exam room.
Fortunately my mother was, at this point, feeling slightly better, so it wasn't an anxiety-ridden-"my mother is critical, why won't you help her?!" wait. It was a busy time in the ER and the waiting room was packed with sick children, people with fractured appendages, elderly people with breathing/heart issues, and several groups of people anxiously, worriedly, waiting for news of a loved one being treated behind the ER doors.
I found a corner away from the crying children, wheezing, sneezing and coughing sick people and parked my mother in that space. I was smugly satisfied. I found the one area available away from the madding crowd. I view finding an oasis in a frenzied, miserable crowd a major coup. A quiet, empty gate within earshot of my flight announcements in an airport, a small table in the back of a tea shop, a corner away from sick people in an ER waiting room...I consider these triumphant victories.
Our little corner was as close to you could get to bliss in the ER waiting room. Besides, given my mother's history of heart issues I was confident we would be granted entrance to the actual ER before the kid with the broken arm. Always look on the bright side of life.
People streamed through the hospital entry into the ER waiting room. It was a busy time in the ER. As each new patient entered, almost all eyes in the waiting room turned to assess the new patient and their condition. It was obvious we were all silently assessing the new patients. "18 month old toddler, red cheeks, glassy eyes...ear infection? They'll put them at the bottom of the list." "83 year old man with chest pains. He's going to the top of the list." "22 year old guy with oozing gash on forearm...after the chest pain, before the ear infection."
There were no gunshot wounds. No car accidents. No burn victims. It was a good day. Relatively. Mundane stuff in ER terms.
When a middle aged guy walked in with his jeans not only unzipped but also with the fly spread wide open, exposing the entire man-region swathed in zebra print mankini underwear, everyone
He had to wait at the reception desk, third in line behind a young couple taking turns holding a three year old girl coughing and crying, and an older gentleman having trouble with his hearing aid.
The zebra crotch guy was clearly in a state of discomfort, shifting his weight from leg to leg, one hand pressed into his, um, man region. Glances were exchanged around the waiting room. I'm reasonably certain 90% of us over the age of 9 had the Cialis ads and the disclaimer running through our heads. "If you get an erection that lasts more than four hours, get medical help
I know most of us were thinking this because some of the glances were uncomfortable, awkward glances, "Well that's embarrassing for everyone including me..." kind of glances, and others were glances that said, "OMG! That dude took Cialis and has an erection lasting longer than four hours!!! That's the funniest thing I've seen in months but I don't want to laugh out loud in the middle of the ER waiting room because that would acknowledge that I looked at the dude's crotch and know what Cialis is so I have to stifle my guffaws!" Some of the mothers of young children nervously tried to avert their children's attention away from the grown man with the zebra undies.
When it was finally the erection dude's turn at the reception desk, the waiting room fell silent except for the blaring televisions and crying babies. The silence was my confirmation that everyone else was seeing and thinking the same things I was. An unrelated group of people now had a unifying commonality. Thanks to the position of the reception desk, the blaring televisions and crying babies rendered it impossible to hear the conversation between the fly-guy and the nurse. It was obvious we were all disappointed on some level. We'd all have to continue to speculate on his condition.
Most of me felt bad for the guy. I tried to pretend to not notice. I tried to give him respect via avoidance.
But. All's fair in love and an ER waiting room. And any dude who wears mankini underpants is giving express consent for speculation, and the zebra motif is an open invitation to ridicule. Walking into an ER waiting room with jeans unzipped and fly spread wide exposing mankini underpants with a zebra motif is carte blanche for speculation, ridicule and whatever giggles, smirks and tut-tuts the other ER waiting room patrons throw your way.
He was given his paperwork and sent to the waiting room with the rest of us.
For reasons only he can explain, he chose the area in front of my mother and I to wait. Apparently erections lasting longer than four hours hurt because the dude a) wouldn't sit down and b) paced somewhat frantically while holding his nether area. We were seated, he was standing, so his crotch was at our eye level. There wasn't another space that could accommodate both my mother and me, so moving wasn't an option, and unless we closed our eyes there was no escaping a direct assault from the zebra mankini and its contents.
Since he chose to pace in front of us, he was fair game for any thoughts I was having about him.
I'm close to my mother, but not that kind of close. There are topics that are understood as "no reason to discuss, so don't." Not taboo, not shameful, just unnecessary. Male erections are one of those topics. Think about it: Her knowledge on the topic would include my father, and I am not, and never have never been, even remotely curious about my father's penis, much less my mother's take on my father's penis. And my mother, I'm certain, does not want to know about my knowledge of penises and how I acquired it. So. Penises and erections fall squarely in the "no reason to discuss" category.
I wasn't embarrassed to have an erection parading in front of my mother and me, I mean, you know, given the context, but I was kind of embarrassed to let on to my mother that I found it funny. My sniggers would be acknowledgement to my mother that I knew about that sort of thing, and I was afraid she might think that I have had relations with men who need Cialis and therefor I am familiar with this sort of problem. I don't really want my mother going around thinking that I have sex with men who take Cialis. Or men who where mankini underpants. Zebra-print mankini underpants. I'm not sure why, exactly, but for some reason in the moment that was a point of consternation for me.
My mother is no prude, but she is refined, dignified and mature. Since my father died, I've felt a stronger obligation to "protect" her from some of the more unsavory people roaming the planet. My mother is savvy and street smart, she doesn't "need" protection, but she also doesn't need to be subjected to, well, men in zebra-print mankinis containing an erection that lasted longer than four hours pacing back and forth in front of her. Especially since the entire reason for our visit to ER was a heart medication issue. I was getting kind of angry at this guy for choosing to parade his apparently painful erection in front of my mother.
I had moments of empathy. "Maybe it's a hernia." "Maybe it's a kidney infection." I tried to feel sorry for the guy. I decided that, no matter the health issue, at the very least he could have changed into some less obvious underpants, and because he opted to show up with zebra-print mankini underpants, he opted to be the source of ridicule in the ER waiting room.
No one wants to go to a crowded ER to treat a painful erection that won't go away. Right? The thing is, the dude didn't seem particularly embarrassed. He acted like this is a perfectly normal malady that appears in ER rooms - kids with broken arms, babies with ear infections, elderly people with breathing/heart problems, middle aged men with painful erections lasting longer than four hours. If he'd assumed some humility, affected a manner of apology, something, any sign of acknowledgement that pacing around a crowded ER waiting room with your fly undone, holding your penis, is not something one normally does and not something other people want to see, then I might have been more willing to be more sympathetic. But he didn't seem to mind that a room full of strangers, including small children, were being exposed to his underpants and the erection therein.
I tried to ignore it. I mean him.
There was no avoiding the pacing zebra print mankini and the dude holding its contents. So. No matter how fuzzy the kittens or waggy-tailed the puppies, no amount of kittens and puppies mind over matter thinking was going to help divert my thoughts from the dude with the erection lasting longer than four hours.
My mother, who is polite, genteel and not given to commenting on random guys' underpants and erections in general
, tried to force her gaze at me. But the zebra print erection pacing in front of us was too much for even my "we do not comment on that sort of thing" mother.
"Must he parade his Cialis-gone-wrong problem in front of us
? Is this where women's lib got us, no respect for women and children?"
My mother: 1, Cialis: 0
The people seated around us either guffawed or nodded knowingly to my mother's remark.
The erection dude was undaunted.
And then things got weird. I know. Things may have already seemed weird, but the events up to then were the halcyon moments of normalcy.
A young woman with very big hair and very high heels appeared, with a two year old in tow.
The child seemed to know the erection dude. The kid trotted ahead of the big-haired woman and said, "Hi!" to the erection dude. The erection dude reached down and patted the tyke's head with his free hand. The woman was somewhat aloof toward the erection dude. The dynamic between the woman and the man was odd. They exchanged no words, no greetings, nothing. They both just seemed to accept that he was frantically pacing in an ER waiting room with his jeans unzipped and zebra-print mankini underpants exposed. She seemed particularly blase and nonchalant, not exactly chilly, but not the least bit concerned or embarrassed or, well, anything. She barely acknowledged the erection dude. If it weren't for the small child she brought with her, you wouldn't assume they even knew each other, much less that they were there, in the ER waiting room, together. She seemed like she was just hanging out in a park or mall, sitting around watching a toddler run around.
A wave of obvious speculation about this new development rippled across the ER waiting room. Is she the intended recipient of the Cialis' results? Were the zebra mankinis for her? But what about about the toddler? Were these two gonna get it on while the kid napped? What about her seemingly apathetic demeanor toward Mr. Zebrapants? Was the woman not
the object of the erection dude's desire, a wife, perhaps - who was called to the ER because she's an emergency contact - and now Mr. Cheating-pants has some 'splainin' to do?
The kid approached my mother and me. A plush green puffy toy with eyes was proffered to us by the child. My mother and I looked at each other before engaging in the child's attempt at making friends. The look we exchanged was, "Huh. The erection dude's kid is trying to make friends with us." "Is it his kid?" "Dunno, but the kid seems to know the erection dude." "Yeah, but don't judge the kid on the adults. This seems like an odd dynamic. The child is probably already suffering enough." "You're right, just be nice to the kid and attempt to ignore the adults."
So I said, "Wow, that's a really cool green whatever that is!"
The child smiled and threw it in the air.
The erection dude continued pacing, now adding a little tip-toe jig into his weight shifting. The big-haired, high-heeled woman talked on her phone.
When the woman saw the child throwing the green thing, she came closer to us and told the kid to not throw the toy.
An older woman who'd been at the reception desk came over and took a chair across the aisle. She arrived after the erection dude so she may not have been aware of the, um, situation with the unzipped jeans and zebra-print mankini underpants. The child went straight to this new patient in the waiting room and proffered the plush green thing to her. The woman engaged and starting playing with the child. The erection dude just kept frantically pacing. The big-haired, high-heeled woman moved closer to the new patient and the child. The new patient started asking the big-haired, high-heeled woman about the child. How old? Birth date? Pre school? Siblings? The big-haired, high-heeled woman did not respond as quickly as most mothers do. She hesitated with the birth date and pre-school answers, as if she either struggled to remember or struggled to quickly make something up to satisfy the woman in the waiting room.
Meanwhile, erection dude continued to pace and completely ignored the big-haired, high-heeled woman and the child, and they ignored him. You'd still never guess they were together. Then they called the erection dude into the ER exam room area. Apparently Priapism ranks higher in the ER hierarchy of emergencies than a bleeding wound or an elderly heart patient.
The big-haired, high-heeled woman didn't seem to even notice erection dude was gone. She was now deep into conversation with the new patient in the waiting room.
And then they called my mother into the ER exam room area. Once she was settled onto an exam room bed and tethered to a monitor, we had to wait for doctors and nurses to return.
And that's when we heard what was happening on the other side of the curtain.
We knew it was the erection dude because of the line of questions being asked by a nurse. And no, she wasn't a comely hairband video nurse. She was a no nonsense, clinical nurse in scrubs and sensible shoes. Some of her questions were: How long have you had the erection? Are you able to get an erection without medication, and if so how long do your erections normally last without medication? Is this erection larger or smaller than your usual erections? When was the last time you had sex? Have you masterbated in the last 24 hours? Do you now have or have you ever had a sexually transmitted disease? Did you use marijuana or cocaine in the 7 days prior to taking the erectile dysfunction medication?
My mother and I attempted to make small talk to block out the questions and answers on the other side of the curtain. It was a feeble attempt, on both our parts. At some point we just accepted what was happening mere feet away from us with nothing other than a thin piece of fabric separating us from the zebra-print mankini and an erection problem.
I felt really sorry for the nurse
who had to interrogate him. I'm guessing this is not what she had in mind when
she decided her calling was in helping others in their times of
A doctor's shadow appeared on the
other side of the curtain. The doctor sounded young. He repeated the questions
the nurse asked and then snapped on the latex gloves. My mother and I both
winced reflexively at the sound of the snapping of the latex gloves. I presume
there was some sort of probing involved because we heard some yelping, groaning
and a lot of "for Christ's sake, doc!!"
When they say, in the Cialis
commercials, "If you get an erection that lasts more than 4 hours, get
medical help right away," they don't mention what the actual treatment is. They
probably should. Because it sounds really awful.
Then we heard the doctor tell the
nurse to prep some sort of injection. My mother and I both winced again.
I don't have a penis so I can't say
for certain that if I had one I wouldn't want any sort of needle anywhere near
it. But. I cannot imagine that injecting anything into or around the
penis/testes area is a pleasant experience. However, after the questions
the nurse asks, and then the doctor asks the same questions, any type of
physical torture might pale in comparison.
Based on the continued yelping and groaning, the experience was not pleasant for the erection dude.
A cardiologist entered my mother's exam room and our focus was blissfully shifted back to where it should have been. But as the doctor examined my mother, the erection dude and the nurse attending him got into an argument. Apparently he didn't want her to do whatever it was she had to do to him because he started calling her names and yelling for a doctor. The nurse apparently hit the "I need back up in here stat!" button because the doctor attending my mother looked alarmed, jerked his focus to the other side of the exam room curtain, excused himself and quickly busted through the curtain to assist the nurse.
We presume they had to subdue the erection dude because he very suddenly fell silent.
End of commotion.
The cardiologist returned and resumed examining my mother, saying only, "Sorry about the interruption. Takes all kinds."
My mother's medication was adjusted and we left a few hours later. As we exited the ER through the waiting room, the big-haired, high-heeled woman was reclined in a chair, draped over a younger man who was texting, the child asleep next to her.
I looked up Cialis and what happens when men have erections lasting longer than four hours. It doesn't sound worth the risk of taking Cialis in the first place. From the Cialis website: "Priapism must be treated as soon as possible or lasting
damage can happen to your penis, including the inability to have