A Trip to the ER and Family Law

A friend of Triangle Smart Divorce got an ambulance ride to an emergency room a day or so ago. A few hours after he got home, he told us his story . . . because he was really – really – stuck by something during his afternoon telling at least nine people his story over the course of three hours.

It goes like this: he’s a middle-aged guy with a gut he’s trying to lose by eating like a twenty-something while running about 3 and a half miles 4 days a week. He knows the math doesn’t work. So he upped his running to seven of the last eight days before his ‘episode.’ One other thing – he played rugby into his late thirties and soccer until three or four years ago though he hasn’t officially ‘retired.’ He has a decent amount of metal in him as a result and over the last month an old shoulder injury flared up  . . . badly. This is important.

He was driving on an Interstate early the other morning when he suddenly felt lightheaded. Then very lightheaded. The kind of lightheadness you get in the immediate aftermath of a concussion (yup, he’s had a couple). He pulled off the highway, checked Google maps for ‘Emergency Medical’ and managed to get to a clinic a few minutes later.

He describes it to a nurse as ‘feeling weird.’ He tells another nurse and a PA about the lightheadness, they take his BP, it’s off the charts. On goes the EKG pads (by the end of the day, when he can finally take a shower, he will pull 18 of the things off) simultaneously with, “So, how bad are your chest pains?”

“No chest pains.”

“Well, you must.”


The EKG is fine. It doesn’t matter, though, because the BP is too high, an ambulance is on the way. The ambulance guys show up . . . by the way, we need to note here, just like he did, that everyone though every step of the way was incredibly nice.

Ambulance guys, “Are your chest pains getting worse.”

“No chest pains”

“They’re gone?”

“Never had them.”

On the way to the hospital the EMT  filled our friend in on the stroke he suffered on the job a few years ago. Our friend’s BP spiked again.

In the ER he filled in six successive RNs, PAs. and MDs on this: he hadn’t slept in a week because of the shoulder; he has a high threshold of pain and sometimes it gets the best of him; he ran more than usual over the last week and a half; he flew out of the house that morning and downed about four cups of coffee on an empty stomach.

All six continued to ask about chest pains. Through blood tests and xrays, it was the mantra – you have to have chest pains. They compared the EKGs from the clinic, ambulance, and the ones they ran every ten minutes or so – no changes, looks great . . . and still, ‘about those chest pains.’

He patiently explained that his lower shoulder was in pain and yada, yada, yada . . . only to be asked about the chest pains again.

Finally, the head guy showed up. He listened to the story – well rehearsed and really polished by now. He checked the shoulder, he checked our friend’s MapMyRun app, looked at the EKGs for a few extra seconds and, “Okay, we don’t have the blood work back yet but I’m pretty sure we’re going to find that you’re dehydrated and the caffeine nailed you and in conjunction with the pain and lack of sleep …. boom. Relax, you should be out of here in an hour or so. Someone will come by to tell you I’m right . . .  oh, and really, neither one of us is thirty anymore, right? Stop eating shit and keep running.”

He nailed it.

Why we’re writing about this: Our friend was ill and fit a profile. Middle-age, overweight guy with high BP labeled him immediately, because, really, what are the odds? Yet, everything he told everyone, through every step, contradicted that label. It wasn’t so much that no one was listening to him, no one was processing what he said because it didn’t fit their experience.

Because they were, of absolute necessity, generalists.

By the end of the day, our friend was sick of telling his story over and over and over again. It was exhausting.

So . . .  about family law. Go to the people who have the experience to know enough to never label a client. Those are the attorneys who listen because they know no two family law matters in the history of the Republic have ever been the same.

It’s exhausting to tell your story over and over again.

Don’t. Call us.