Chapter 10

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"I'm going to get your vitals and some basic information before you are called back," said the older woman as she shuffled around the room.

Ben waited patiently as she checked his blood pressure, pulse, and all the standard triage procedures she went through. She sat down at the desk next to him and typed for a moment or two.

"What's going on today?" she asked not moving her eyes from the screen.

Ben noticed she never shut the door. He peered outside wondering why she wasn't shutting the door when he was about to tell her personal information about his medical care.

"It's my leg. I can't put any pressure on it. I've been in a horrible amount of pain."

She glanced down at his leg before asking, "What's your pain level between a scale of one to ten. Ten being the worst pain in your life."

"I would say an eight to a nine. I haven't had it this bad in a long time."

"A nine?" she asked in disbelief.

Ben studied her expression and saw she was skeptical.

"I have hit a ten before in my life obviously when this happened," said Ben as he motioned to his leg. "If I can't sleep without pills. I can't even put any weight on it now, it's a nine."

The woman typed a few things in the computer then turned to Ben again.

"It might be best to get you to see our urgent care clinic tomorrow morning."

Ben sat stunned and stared at the woman for a few seconds. He has never been told about an urgent care clinic nor referred to one.

"I'm sorry but I don't see how that will help me now. I'm already here. I'm here to be seen."

The woman crossed one arm over herself propping her head on her hand. As if she was debating on what he just said.

"I'll put you in to be seen but I'm not sure how long of a wait it will be."

"It's not like I'm coming in here with a damn runny nose so I don't see why this even needs to be debated."

She ignored him as she continued to type in the computer. Ben rolled his eyes and shoved his arms over his chest.

"You will be called when your turn comes up."

Ben pushed himself up from the chair, careful not to put any weight on his leg. He put his hand on the wall and limped out. The woman didn't bother to offer any assistance. Radcliff shot up from his chair and met Ben at the doorway.

"Could have at least told me he was ready," muttered Radcliff towards the woman as he put his arm around Ben's waist.

Ben limped over to the chair.

"Sir."

He turned his head and saw the burly man behind the main counter was behind him with a wheelchair.

"I think this will help you."

Ben looked down at the chair apprehensive to take the nice gesture.

"I know it sucks. But it will be better than falling on your face. I will look at your paperwork once she is done so I can find you a spot quickly. That way you aren't in this chair for that long."

Ben nodded and sat down.

"Thanks man."

The burly man nodded and disappeared behind the secured doors back to his station.  Ben messed with his wristband reading his name, birth date, and code printed on the thin white paper.  The door opened in front of him where the woman who just triaged him walked out.  She bustled to the secured doors and saw the burly man motion for her to come in.  She walked in and looked where he was pointing at the computer screen.  Luckily enough, Ben's good ear was toward the glass pane only a few feet from him.

"Non urgent???" muttered the man in disbelief.

"He can walk on that leg.  He's exaggerating the pain."

"Really?  You think he's exaggerating half of his leg missing."

"There are other emergencies that take priority over THAT."

"There is but we don't have that right now.  He's in pain."

"He didn't show any signs of that."

"His pulse is high.  Even though he may not grimace in front of you doesn't mean he isn't in pain.  He's a chronic pain patient."

"Probably a pain pill......"

The man cut her off by putting his hand up which infuriated the woman.

"You tell me that he doesn't feel any pain when you have your leg blown almost off."

At that, he heard the man throw his computer seat back and march to the emergency room.  Ben averted his eyes and felt the anger bubbling up in him.  He was so sick of these medical professionals downplaying his injuries.  This is why he hated the VA.  This is why he didn't want to come here.

"Let's just go," muttered Ben to Radcliff.

Radcliff snapped his head toward Ben.

"What are you talking about?"

"That lady doesn't think I feel any pain.  I'm going to get the same treatment back there.  I bet she's already flagged me as a pain pill seeker."

"But, you haven't been prescribed those in a long time you told me."

"I know.  I rather deal with the pain then be addicted like those other guys."

Radcliff grew quiet.  He knew Ben was referring to the military hospital.

"Let's just wait and see.  We are already here.  We might as well wait," encouraged Radcliff.

Ben barely heard him over the TV on the wall behind behind him a few chairs away.

"Four soldiers have been killed this week in Iraq.  An improvised explosive device has been said to be the cause of their deaths," read the newscaster in an automated voice.

Radcliff shot up from his chair and turned off the TV.

"Sir, you are not suppose to touch that," said the woman as she came back into the waiting area.

"You should have it on something else besides the news then," responded Radcliff coldly. 

The woman opened her mouth to argue but decided not to looking at Radcliff's death stare.  Radcliff sneered at the woman before placing a hand on Ben.  Ben jumped slightly not realizing he had dissociated at the time.  He breathed in deeply and grabbed his leg without thinking. 

"Grayson," called the burly man at the security doors. 

Radcliff pushed Ben in the wheelchair up to the security doors.

"Do you want me to go in with you or wait?" asked Radcliff.

"You can wait," said Ben quietly.

Radcliff let the burly man take over the wheelchair.  Ben rubbed his leg almost aimlessly as his mind fogged over. 

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