My Day in the ER

Recently I spent a day in the ER.

I had a Zoom book club meeting the day before and was eating a tuna fish sandwich as I sat at my computer chatting with my book club friends.

I made the tuna salad myself and in fact my husband was eating it downstairs while I was upstairs Zooming,  and he later told me he thought it tasted fine.  But it tasted off to me,  and a few hours later I felt sick to my stomach and that night spent more hours in the bathroom than in bed.

The next morning I still felt awful and called my wonderful primary care physician Dr M.  His nurse told me it sounded like food poisoning and rather than come to the office I should go to the ER as I’d need fluids after throwing up all night.

And so I went to the local hospital in the Connecticut community where we spend half our time.  It’s a wonderful hospital,  and there’s usually no wait in the ER and there wasn’t that day.  I was immediately ushered into a private room,  quite unlike the narrow bays separated by curtains that I’ve seen in the crowded ERs in many New York hospitals.

Then a kindly staff treated me with state-of-the-art medical equipment.  But when I mentioned I had a slight pain in my abdomen,  a red flag went up that sent me for an MRI – not the usual protocol for someone in the ER with food poisoning.

And the results were a bit alarming – it seems the MRI revealed a cyst on my pancreas as well as something suspicious on my breast.  The MRI results were shown to the surgical team who deliberated for awhile while I worried, and altho they concluded that nothing was urgent,  they strongly advised me to pursue those two incidental findings with my doctors.  And so of course I continued to worry.

After six hours in the ER I was discharged, and the next day I called my New York gastroenterologist and my gynecologist with the Connecticut ER story.  Each asked that my medical records from Connecticut be sent to New York,  and I made appointments for further tests to be sent back to Connecticut so my doctors in both places were kept – pardon the expression – abreast.

And so my inter-state medical saga continued.  I had several more tests and procedures,  and for a few weeks I continued worrying until I finally got a clean bill of health from both doctors!  The pain in my abdomen that had sent me for that MRI was now chalked up to gastritis caused by all my vomiting that fateful night.

Back in Connecticut I went to see Dr. M.

“Isn’t it lucky that when I went to the ER for food poisoning they did the MRI and uncovered those incidental findings!”  I said.

One of the things I like about Dr. M is that he’s not an alarmist.

“Actually my dear,  it might have been better had they not been so conscientious in the ER and not done that MRI.”  he said,  “It would’ve saved you all that unnecessary worry.”

You know,  he was right.

– Dana Susan Lehrman


  • Dana, sorry to hear about your recent illness, but I should tell you I am on probation serving several consecutive life terms for HIPAA violations for just trying to help! The ubiquitous tuna most often gets blamed for what the mayo caused, and food poisoning frequently gets blamed for what some nasty virus caused. For those of us who once practiced medicine, the diagnosis of food poisoning is rarely correct – kinda like spiders blamed for mosquito bites. But despite all glad to hear you are alive and well!

    • Thanx Phil, so sorry to hear about your HIPAA violations and your legal problems.
      I’ll try to get you a good lawyer, but if he can’t keep you out of the clinker I’ll bake you a cake. (But bite carefully, there’s be a file inside!)

  • All in all, I don’t know. The ER is a place–even with modern digitized records–where a physician often meets a patient on a blind date.  Better to over check than under check. 
    This reminds me, as an active city kid growing up in Boston, I’d often end up in the Emergency Room – once twice in one day for different injuries. My poor mother.

    But Dana, so glad you’re fine now!

  • That is an awful exoerience. I had food poisoning in Paris which almost made us miss a flight. Memorable because the EMTs wore WWI style helmets and pulled up to a restaurant in a fire truck!

  • Quite the adventure…one that you didn’t need! Whew…dodged two bullets…and so glad there is a happy ending. Strange that Danny had no reaction to eating the same food. I,too,would think bad mayo before bad tuna but…who knows?So…is the lesson to stick to bagels and cream cheese? Stay well!!!

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