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ER Horror
                     by Robert Roth

Last night my mother was still in the emergency room after over 36 hours there. When I had left her the night before they said that she would be in a room of her own in a couple of hours. She was moved from place to place inside the emergency room and for a while in a holding room. When Marlene and I got there last night she had been misplaced, then found in a dirty room off from the other patients. Her door was kept open by a bin filled with dirty laundry. One crazed patient opened the bin, scavengered through it and started throwing the dirty laundry up into the air. A huge security guard was sitting just outside her door. She had been held down with cloth restraints. She thought she had been kidnapped and held in a private house in Queens by a mother who had complete control over her son. And she was being tortured. She did not understand how a Jewish woman could do such a thing.

When we got there the restraints had been removed because two friends of hers, Marta and Nellie raised hell. She had big bruises on her wrists. I brought her to the hospital because she was hallucinating that she was hearing music.

One ambulance driver tried to convince us (after the fact) we should never have called him. He said all she had was “music in the ear” something older people who are alone often get.

It is now more than two years later. In retrospect he was right.

On the way to the hospital my mother realized that the music she had heard was really in her mind because she was hearing it in the ambulance in a much softer way. She was totally intrigued by the beauty of the music knowing it was not real and yet enjoying it nonetheless. The emergency room was harrowing. It took hours before she was seen.

After endless hours of hell Marlene and I got her moved to a very nice room on a clean floor with people who were very kind and attentive. No restraints, and instead of a security guard the person she was with when we left was someone engaged in an interesting conversation with her.

Marta and Nellie two sentries standing by her bed. They asked the person in charge of the ER,“What have you done to her? Just hours ago she could speak brilliantly about anything.”

The ER a dungeon of neglect and horror. A great investigative reporter in her early writing career, Marlene Nadle has the same focus, determination and smarts she had then. She had the almost legendary ability to track a naked general sitting in a sauna in the most inner secret sanctums of the Pentagon and get him to reveal whatever information she was looking for. And here she was putting all her amazing talents to use as she organized the entire ER to get my mother moved to another floor. She even spun around those whose job it was to create the obstacles, recruiting them into an army up against a heartless almost criminally negligent hospital bureaucracy that they temporarily forgot they were the mainstays of.

A young woman wearing a white uniform with playful tumbling colorful animals on it came and rolled my mother on a gurney out of the ER into the elevator up to the 6th floor.

A stunning, very pregnant Indian nurse greeted her with attention and kindness. My mother thinking we were at a book party asked her whether she was a writer or a publisher. A very sweet man, Marlene thinks a nurse, I think a nurse's aide, sat with her afterwards talking with her as we left. This changed later into an alternative memory about being brought to the backroom of a bookstore to be examined by a doctor and his beautiful pregnant wife. My mother even now perplexed about why they would have an examining room in the back of a bookstore.