There's never a good time to visit the emergency room, but being forced to do so on the same day as Bay to Breakers would have to be an even bigger bummer than usual.
We thought our fianceé Daniel Phifer would be avoiding the whole mess altogether when he ventured over to Berkeley on Sunday morning to engage in some very adult activities. Unfortunately, he returned to San Francisco a few hours later with a shattered wrist (he should've attended the Safety Day in March!) and a visit to the Kaiser emergency room that inconveniently coincided with the winding down of SF's annual drunken marathon—well, one of them, at least.
Here's the account told last night through Daniel's itchy, Percocet-induced haze, as he awaited surgery in the morning (they're putting a high-tech plate in his wrist that will get him well on the road to recovery in a couple of weeks):
After I had already been there an hour, a bunch of people in robes and tennis shoes came in, and one of the guys had a huge cut on his chin. He was bleeding everywhere and arguing with everyone that he was fine and wanted to go home and "party." His friends kept reassuring him, "Don't worry, dude, you're gonna get to party." And his girlfriend kept offering to get him some ice. I told them you're not supposed to put ice on a laceration, which they ignored. (The nurse later confirmed my advice.) They told him to sit down, and he plopped down in a chair and almost knocked over the teenaged girl next to him who appeared to have cancer. He was seen by a doctor after five minutes.
Another runner came in on a stretcher holding tissues all over his bloody face and was immediately wheeled into the back. He then walked out five minutes later completely fine.
A girl with a broken nose and blood all over her face walked in nonchalantly and was seen within five minutes. Then walked out a few minutes later.
It took them a half an hour to first call me back and see what was wrong. Then two and a half more hours to treat me. I was pretty much told that my wrist is now a clusterf*ck of broken bones jabbing down into the joints and that I will probably have to have surgery. I should've taken the morphine when the doctor offered it because this Percocet isn't cutting it.
The moral of the story is, in order to expedite your service at the emergency room, make sure you're bleeding profusely!
Just kidding, we do understand emergency room policy, kind of: "As a rule, sicker people are seen first. Someone who comes in by ambulance or who complains of trouble breathing, chest pain, or severe bleeding will be seen before someone whose condition is not life threatening." They warn that the average emergency room visit takes around six hours. (But just ten minutes if you're a drunk runner with a bloody chin.)
Photo by SFist reader Jerry Jarvis