* Do you feel like hurting yourself?

That’s the first question we get during our intake at the ER. No matter what. My dearest teaching widower had another medical emergency so it was Round Four. The follow up question is: “Do you feel like harming someone else?” I felt like killing someone as I pictured the interminable night ahead of us. The nurse stared at me as I stifled giggles.

No matter how you feel upon your arrival, the ER ‘rooms’ are cleverly designed to drive you crazy. Every hallway has been partitioned into these spaces where we listen to the intimate details of others’ misery. Some poor woman groaned for about two hours, begging someone to stop. A neighboring roommate talked incessantly to us about burial plots for several more hours. I tried to read but I kept hearing, “Do you have a history of vomiting at work?”

Eventually we were offered a choice, a no-brainer, really. Did we want to stay in the hospital for two more days or go home and come back. See ya later, alligator!