Writing from the E.R.
I’ve written stories in a lot of strange places, but last week took the cake.
I wrote an entire political story while waiting in a doctor’s office and the St. Peter’s Hospital Emergency Room on Wednesday. The exercise culminated in three different ER nurses conferring to figure out where I could go to find a wifi signal to submit my story.
(The final answer: leave the ER, walk into another building, going through doors that are locked at that time of night, circle around near a closed cafe and pray to the Internet gods. And then persuade the security guards to open the locked doors on the way back.)
It all started when my girlfriend was rushed to the hospital as I was wrapping up my interviews of the Democrats running for City Council this fall.
My colleague Michael Goot volunteered to take over my school board meeting, which I had been scheduled to cover. I grabbed my laptop and my notebook and headed to Albany.
I still don’t know how I managed to write the story, though as anyone who’s ever been to an ER knows, you basically spend hours sitting in an uncomfortable chair waiting for word while everyone ignores you.
My jobs for the night consisted of hand-holding and water-fetching between lengthy periods of sitting and waiting.
So I had plenty of time to write, if I could get focused enough to actually form coherent sentences.
Thankfully, I got almost all of the story done before anyone conveyed to me the seriousness of the situation. Once I knew how bad things were, at 9 p.m., I decided to give the story one quick read-through, check the basic facts (spelling, ages, etc.) and send it off. I just hoped the copy editors could make it make sense.
Since we didn’t get flooded with complaints the next day, I’m assuming it was at least informative. And today my girlfriend was back at work, healthy and whole, so I can look back on the night and (try to) laugh.
She even saved her medical bracelet, telling me she’s going to scrapbook it as our “first medical emergency together.” I told her she was crazy. But if the bracelet goes in the book, my story does too.
Kathleen Moore is a Gazette reporter. Reach her by email to firstname.lastname@example.org.