A Series of Events at Emergency

Lights up.

The set reveals a hospital triage and emergency waiting room. A myriad of health notice posters are tacked to the white walls, including one advising those with cold symptoms to wear a facemask to prevent the infection spreading to other patients, et cetera. A clock ticks loudly and the flickering light and gentle buzz of a television joins the set. A small, bedraggled, fake Christmas tree is perched behind two rows of uncomfortable plastic chairs joined at an angle so the patients might slightly face each other.

NURSE [Side stage] The triage nurse will be with you as soon as possible.
Enter Cathy and Mum. Cathy is a young woman in her early twenties. Her mother is middle-aged. They wear comfortable clothing and each carries a bag. They sit side by side and Cathy pulls out a book, opens it and sits it in her lap. She does not begin to read. Mum crosses her legs. Cathy observes the television, tapping her foot impatiently for a few moments. Then she pushes her book aside.
Cathy This is taking so long! I could be dying.
Mum Are you dying? You are dying, aren’t you? I thought so. You couldn’t eat or breathe and last night you were even snoring in your sleep! You’ve never snored before in your life.
Cathy gasps.
The doctor said to go to the hospital if you didn’t get better.
Cathy The doctor also said the only way you could fight glandular fever is with rest.

I fear the hospital may not be able to fix this. I’m doomed! Snoring. What a catastrophe.

Enter a Nurse wheeling a laptop on a stand that also includes a heart rate monitor and other medical measurement devices.
Hi [Cathy croaks]. What are those things? You’re not going to poke me with them?
Nurse [alarmed] Of course we’re going to poke you with them! Now what’s wrong with you? We have to make it all better, quick sticks.
Cathy [sniffling] I have glandular fever…
Nurse If you know what’s wrong with you what are you doing here? You don’t belong here.
Mum Of course she belongs here! She was snoring last night.
Nurse Snoring! Goodness gracious. We can’t have that.
Nurse pulls out a thermometer and slips a plastic cover over it.
Where do you want it? Armpit, mouth or anus?
Cathy [horrified] Mouth, I guess.
Nurse Well open up, it’s got to go underneath your tongue.
Cathy obeys reluctantly and Nurse unceremoniously inserts the thermometer. All three wait for the resulting beep with their breath held. The machine beeps. Nurse reads the display.
Nurse Well I rather expected something more impressive than that.
Mum What’s wrong with that?
Cathy [over the thermometer still in her mouth] What’s wrong with what?
Nurse You’re not very warm. Let’s take your blood pressure.
Nurse removes the thermometer from Cathy’s mouth and Cathy sags with relief.
Mum Why is this taking so long? You’re practically dying!
Cathy [aghast] Mum!
Nurse We’ll be done when we’re done and if she’s dying this won’t speed it up any. Now, which arm? This or that? I’ll take that one.
Nurse takes Cathy’s arm and wraps a heart rate monitor’s sleeve around it. The sleeve inflates and then deflates and the machine beeps accordingly. Nurse inhales appreciatively.
Nurse Now that’s more like it. One thirty over seventy. You could power a small racehorse.
Mum Surely, she couldn’t.
Cathy Why would I want to?
Nurse packs up her equipment and types on her computer. After a few minutes she turns to Cathy and Mum.
Nurse Well it looks like glandular fever.


Nurse Yes. The doctor will be a while. It’s busy out there. [Nurse indicates stage left with her head]
Nurse exits stage left with her machines. Mum withdraws an iPad from her bag and begins working.


Enter Miss Allen, a blond women in late twenties, with a cannula inserted in her hand. Miss Allen sits opposite Cathy and Mum and picks up a magazine. Cathy observes Miss Allen with a pointed expression, picks up her book, opens it and ignores it in favour of further observing Miss Allen.

Cathy [whispered] Mum. Mum! That’s Miss Allen. Miss Allen, the art teacher. You know!
Mum looks at Miss Allen. Recognises her. A look of disappointment flashes across her face.
Miss Allen looks up at Cathy.
Miss Allen Hi. Um… Cathy?
Cathy [pleased] Yes.
Miss Allen [to Mum] And?
Mum Helen. [She smiles.]
Miss Allen It’s not Miss Allen anymore.
Cathy Oh right! You were engaged. So obviously you’re Missus…something?
Miss Allen Smith. How are you? What have you been doing since you left high school?
Cathy [looks around, taking in the emergency room] I’m not that great. Glandular fever. Snoring. But I started uni at the beginning of this year. Philosophy and International Studies at UNSW.
Mum [nodding proudly] All distinctions in her first year.
Miss Allen That is good work.
Cathy Now that you’re a missus and all, are you going to have any kids?
Miss Allen Why does everyone keep asking me that?!
Cathy and Mum share a look.


Enter Doctor Julian. Doctor Julian is an attractive man in his mid-twenties.

Doctor Julian Cathy? Is there a Cathy Morgan?
Cathy Oh great.
Mum This one over here! [waving and pointing at Cathy]
Doctor Julian I’m Doctor Julian. If you’ll follow me [gestures stage right].
All exit stage right.


Lights down.


Lights up.


Cathy is sitting on a hospital bed, to the left is Mum and to the right is Doctor Julian. Behind Doctor Julian is a desk with several boxes of gloves and a number of basic medical instruments including a jar of large paddle pop sticks. Doctor Julian withdraws a pair of latex blue gloves from one of the boxes and begins putting them on as he starts to speak.

Doctor Julian How are you feeling tonight?
Cathy I have glandular fever.
Doctor Julian The symptoms?
Cathy [sigh] So two weeks ago I woke up with really swollen eyelids and I went to see my GP and she prescribed me with Amoxicillin. The next day I had all these red spots around my eyes and I was feeling really extra lousy. I dragged myself to work. Made it about twenty minutes before I gave up and went to the medical centre. I work at David Jones by the way. [smirks] So the doctor there took one look at me after hearing that much of the story and told me I had glandular fever. He poked and prodded my liver and spleen and I took the blood tests to be sure but we were pretty sold on it. He said I “ticked all the boxes”. So I’ve had the last week off work and Mum decided…
Mum I decided she wasn’t getting any better and they*** we’d come to the hospital. She couldn’t swallow any food and she was snoring in her sleep!
Doctor Julian [gasps] Snoring!

So you’ve got pretty bad tonsillitis, huh?

Doctor Julian takes a paddle pop stick from his desk and sticks it in Cathy’s mouth.
Cathy Ahhhhhhhhh… OK?
Doctor Julian Yep. [discards the stick and takes out a swab] I’m gonna take a swab from the back of your mouth to see if the tonsillitis is bacterial or viral. We’ll start you on some penicillin anyway and some IV fluids to get you rehydrated.
Cathy Mmmm… Hydrated.
Mum All she’s had to eat is soup.
Cathy I’m starving!
Doctor Julian [laughs]. Ok, and how’s your temperature.
Cathy is suddenly overcome with shivers.
Why don’t we get you some blankets? [exits stage right, returns with a pile of blankets]
Cathy lays down on the bed and Doctor Julian covers her with the blankets. Cathy sighs in relief.
Cathy They’re heated.
Doctor Julian I’ve got to go get you a cannula for your fluids. Just lie here and warm up and I’ll be back in a second. [exits stage left]
Cathy [still shivering, looks around and spots the boxes on the desk] Mum! Can you get some of those gloves?
Mum What? What gloves? Why?
Cathy Because they’re useful and they never have my size in the pharmacies!
Mum crosses the stage and grabs a handful of the blue gloves feeling very guilty.
Cathy Thank you.

I’ve never done this before. [to Mum] Have you ever done this before?

Mum Relax.
Cathy What’s taking him so long?
Mum I’m sure everything is fine.
Nurse [Side stage] That’s another ambulance coming in now. What does that make? Three? Four?
Cathy What are they doing in there?
Mum regards Cathy.
Cathy Ok, I know what they’re doing. I’m nervous.
Mum Oh, really? You don’t say.

It shows.

Cathy, slightly cowed, goes back to shivering. Mum conceals the gloves in her bag. Cathy pulls out her phone and starts texting.
Cathy Do you seriously have nothing at all encouraging to tell me?
Mum Nope [pops the ‘p’ sound]
Cathy But… [Cathy’s phone pings. She quickly reads the message.]

Hey, Mum, what’s a good way to get a photo of this doctor? Ariel wants one.

Mum Why does Ariel know you’re in hospital?
Cathy She saw the pictures on Facebook?
Mum Well you could just ask him. Say, “Can I get a photo with you because it’s my first time in hospital?”
Cathy You seriously think that would work?
Enter Doctor Julian stage left carrying a hypodermic needle.
This will hurt but you’ve had needles before.
Cathy You know this is my first time in hospital right?
Mum Well, not your first.
Cathy I’ve never had a cannula before.
Mum But you have.
Cathy [to Doctor Julian] Would you mind taking a picture with me?
Doctor Julian [very surprised] I’d prefer not to.
Cathy Oh ok. Ow!
Mum nods suggestively at Cathy’s phone.
Mum So she has every symptom of glandular fever?
Doctor Julian Textbook. If we had interns in the hospital at the moment we’d bring them in to examine you. You’re the perfect specimen.
Cathy sneakily snaps a photo with her phone.
Doctor Julian They have a bed ready for you in the emergency ward. We’ll decide if you need to stay the night later.
Cathy [As the three exit stage left] Mission accomplished.
Doctor Julian What was that?
Mum Nothing.
Lights down.




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