Gourmet: Mechanical Soft Menu

Instead of describing a book from Carto’s library, the next few blog postings will be a story of my own concoction; history, the events are true, but may be poorly remembered or told. I will relate my unplanned entry into our local mega-medical world for a three-day adventure that includes some gourmet eating surprises: some good, but not all.

The menu I will tell you about is the Five Star, featuring three special options: Soft, Mechanical Soft, and Maternity Soft. Since the Maternity Soft was clearly out for me, and their were items on the Soft menu that triggered my trip to the Emergency Room (ER). Mechanical Soft is my menu; it’s also the Doctor’s choice.

Stanford Hospital has grown from the large hospital where my older son was born into an international mega-medical-center; in their words:

Stanford Hospital & Clinics is known worldwide for advanced treatment of complex disorders in areas such as cardiovascular care, cancer treatment, neurosciences, surgery, and organ transplants. Consistently ranked among the nation’s top hospitals, Stanford Hospital & Clinics is internationally recognized for translating medical breakthroughs into the care of patients…

How are they going to focus on me and my small problem?

My check-in at Stanford Hospital (SMC) was not the usual one: Most people come in through the front door, expected and greeted and registered; I came in through the Emergency Department’s Critical Decision Room; I rolled in on a wheel chair.

But I promised a story, and here it is.

Choking is serious, and I had choked, but was now calm—if you are chocking you are at the edge of loosing control, you need help—my wife and designated driver took me to my favorite local Emergency Room (ER). Dressed as I was: Hoody over pijamas, moccasins with socks, cell phone, wallet (Medicare card, picture ID, emergency contact list).

We were out of the house and into the car in our usual slow pace, but we didn’t panic: the rule is don’t rush and create a new emergency, easy does it.

First miracle, there was a secure ER parking spot open. We were about to enter the world of high tech ER. But first comes the police screening (remember everyone, even nasty characters have emergency medical problems), but we’re squeaky clean weapon-wise, so we move on to the intake line.

They are not busy tonight (trauma and gang-fights, even drunkenness and drug OD seem to be on vacation); so I can start the entry screening. I show Medicare ID and briefly describe emergency—choking—and suddenly I find myself entering the real ER room with efficient looking people in scrubs and stethoscopes around their necks. Believe me, this is comforting; so smile!

The drill: clothes off, hospital gown on, kept socks on, the thick padding feels good. My driver is now my voice, telling my story over and over for me because talking with a sore throat is not a good idea.

By the way, I look down at that white ER wrist band with my ID; ER now owns me; I’m here until they decide the emergency is over. Advice to remember: relax, try to enjoy the process, the waiting can be relaxing and pleasant because this is an interesting place and there is a total absence of trauma tonight–no ghastly car wrecks or bloody gang fights–it’s not always like this.

A parade of specialists begin to appear and I am about to discover high tech devices I didn’t know existed: a flexibile camera that travels down your nasal passage to look into the pharynx, for example.

And speaking of pharynx, that was where my trouble was hiding. I didn’t know what the pharynx was so I looked it up on Wiki when I got home:

The human pharynx is the part of the throat situated immediately behind the mouth and nasal cavity, and above to the esophagus and larynx. The pharynx is divided into three sections: the nasopharynx, the oropharynx, and the laryngopharynx.
ed. Catro, original on Wiki

The pharynx is part of the digestive system and also the respiratory system; it is also important in vocalization. And so, what is so important there?  The pharynx is the only way to the respiratory system —forget the eating and talking for now— breathing is what you need to do every minute of the day.

Let’s digress for a moment:

If you are not breathing, try to get calm, not easy; right! Get someone else involved, if you are alone get your phone working and be ready to dial 911.

Now, are you calm, and breathing? If calm is no then dial 911 now, in my case I was calm and my throat was open for business, and the business at hand was to turn my brain on.

I was thinking, what if this attack was a warning? The next attack could lead to a 911 call–and they can save my life, but the medic may do a tracheotomy to surgically open my airway, and ER will definitely have to be involved. Can my driver get me to the ER? Safely? Ok, now act!

That’s how we got here, Carto.

This post is too long so … Mañana, nos vemos. You’re going to hear a lot of Spanish in the ER so aren’t you glad you took that Spanish class in Adult Ed (I did and am glad).

Till tomorrow. I’ll close with a note for Seniors everywhere:

Come, let me sing into your ear;
Those dancing days are gone,
All that silk and satin gear;

by William Butler Yeats

But, Yeats is optimistic, he doesn’t say that it is the end for you have value and a lot to do yet; get a cell phone, know how to use it. This is doable and there are many volunteers out there ready and willing to tutor. In Palo Alto a good starting place for finding tutors is Avenidas Palo Alto Senior Center, your town may have something similar.

Remember it is your brain; use it or lose it. You can even learn the TV remote if you can wrestle it from your significant other.

Day 1 of Mechanical Soft Menu, Autobiographical Story in 3 parts, 2011.

About carto

Retired software engineer who grew up in Montana, went to Montana State College in Bozeman, and moved to California to work at Stanford Research Institute (SRI). Carto's Logbook is about photography, travel and adventure; Mt. Maurice Times is tall tales mostly biographical; Carto's Library is about books I've read and liked.
This entry was posted in Memoir, Poetry and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Gourmet: Mechanical Soft Menu

  1. holy crap that is a crazy story

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