Posts Tagged ‘emergency room’

Part 4 in the “Stories of the ER” Series.

 

 

emergency

Being an ER nurse in a Level 1 Trauma leaves little time to have a private or social life. It’s no surprise, therefore, that there isn’t a Mrs. Carson. Carson is my last name, by the way. I don’t think I’ve shared that with you before.

I certainly love the ladies, and I’ve had a few serious relationships over the last couple of years. But unfortunately, being on constant call and married to a pager does have its drawbacks, especially when a call comes in with high numbers of wounded. A few years ago, when 9-11 happened, nearly everyone who worked in my ER, whether on duty or not, was paged and told to report for shift work. I remember it very clearly – it was almost a 22-hour day that day. I had to have someone check in  on Buster – who was only a pup at the time. I was worried I’d come home to find a house filled with dog shit and piss. Now Buster is trained to hold it all day long – eighteen hours if he had to. Back then, not so much. Fortunately the old married couple who lived next to me (both dead now), offered to go next door and let him out every couple of hours. I figured it was best to ask them – they certainly didn’t go out beyond, say, 7 pm. That happens when people get old. I’m sure someday I’ll be in bed by 8 pm myself.

Anyways, back to the lack of a social life/love life. At one time, I was very close to getting engaged. We had met in nursing school. She was on track to become a NICU nurse. For those of you who don’t know what NICU stands for, it’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. This is the place where very ill, or very underdeveloped babies are put after they are delivered. They’re placed in warming incubators and monitored very closely until they are out of the danger zone.

Becca, the ex, had always loved holding and cuddling newborns. She was the oldest of five children — two girls and three boys – and was always helping her mom diaper and feed her younger siblings. She had very maternal instincts, which is why I fell hard for her at first. I thought of her as perfect wife and mother material. She was drop dead gorgeous too – long, lean legs, soft brown eyes and hair that reached all the way down to her alabaster ass. Am I getting too personal? I apologize for that–just lost in a reverie.

Unfortunately, she finished her nursing school internship and was offered a very lucrative, high paying job clear over on the other side of the country – California’s Cedar Sinai, to be precise. She also was a bit superficial and really delighted at the possibility of running into all the celebrities who end up there for their various ailments and baby births. The thought of being a nurse on the ward when a celebrity mom-to-be came sneaking through the back door to avoid the paparazzi was almost an aphrodisiac to her.  I wasn’t going to be the one keeping her from her dream job. Sadly, we said our goodbyes, promised we’d stay in touch, and all that happy horse shit couples promise each other but never deliver. Last I heard, she had married a doctor and the two of them had purchased a house in Burbank. Good for her.

Since Becca moved, I have only dated here and there — mainly because I seem to spend the majority of what little life I have here – among the living and the dead, just trying to keep as many people as possible comfortable and alive. I imagine some day, maybe if I get tired enough of this shit, I will move to a more stable 8-5 shift in a doctor’s office somewhere. Probably not though – the idea of that sounds mind-numbingly boring.

The story I wanted to share this time is about social life – rather, social lives. This is about being young and stupid all at the same time. It’s about those few years in college, when you know you should be studying in your dorm room, but the call of the wild comes to you instead. In this case, it has to do with what happens when young, undeveloped minds mix alcohol, gravity and Mardi Gras all in the same night.

We can almost bet our salaries on the nights when our ER beds are at capacity: New Year’s Eve, Memorial Day, 4th of July, and, not surprising – Fat Tuesday, the culminating night before the start of Lent. Each one of the aforementioned holidays always involves heavy drinking. However, Fat Tuesday also seems to bring out every drunken asshole within a 5-mile radius of the nearby college campuses here in DC. Why is Fat Tuesday such a draw? Well, other than the idea of being a night filled with overeating and over drinking, it’s also a night for dress up and general obnoxious behavior. This pretty much describes every college frat boy and sorority sister, everywhere. And I’ll get to the whole “getting of the beads” thing later, too. Yet another interesting sidebar to this story.

So it comes as no surprise then that this story is about an extremely loud and chaotic night in the ER when we were slammed by not one, but two Greek organizations that had experienced a high number of very poor consecutive choices, beginning early in the day that Tuesday, Fat Tuesday, and carried through until disaster struck, and twenty-five drunken, obnoxious and varying degrees of wounded came through our ambulance bays.

I should probably remind you that I work at George Washington Hospital. If you didn’t know already, it is a teaching hospital, so it is also part of a large university. The university enrolls a little over 20,000 students, with students from all fifty states and over 130 countries. With that many students comes a lot of potential for injuries and accidents. Which brings me back to Fat Tuesday.

I had been enjoying a quick bite in the hospital cafeteria (I eat around 9 pm every night, which for me is normal mid shift) when I was paged back to the ER. I shoved as much of my remaining dinner as possible in my mouth, grabbed my belongings and practically ran back — because of the Level 1 status, those of us in ER know that when our pagers go off during our break times, something very big was about to come through our doors. Moments like these were always adrenaline boosting, read and react moments. I shoved it into automatic gear, wondering for only a second or two what I was coming back to.

I wasn’t disappointed when I pushed through the swinging doors. Before me, gurney after gurney was loaded with, yes, college aged kids in various stages of inebriation. But, I also noticed many had their elbows in slings, legs in splints and a lot of blood mixed in with vomit that reeked of beer and barbecue. Instant read of the situation indicated some sort of party had gone terribly wrong somehow.

My eyes searched through the sea of young faces, trying to ascertain who was most critical and therefore needed immediate triage. It took merely a nanosecond to spot my first patient. What made him stand out over all the others weren’t his good looks (which something tells me have just become permanently marred), or the designer label, blood-stained polo with the turned up collar – a fashion trend remnant most likely passed down by his father’s alumni status as president of Beta Upsilon Chi, the prestigious “we come from money” #1 Greek, very traditional, very Caucasian, fraternity at GW. No, none of that mattered in comparison to the mystery burn marks covering most of his face. They were striped, and made Clay look like some sort of weird, cross-species: half-human, half zebra. He was screaming in pain at the top of his lungs, as one of the other nurses was trying to get him to lay down on the bed so she could apply a burn pack to his face. He suddenly stopped squirming, moaned “I gonna sick..” and leaned over the side of his bed, unloading the contents of his stomach all over Sara’s – another nurse in the department – clean scrub pants. Sara recoiled in  horror and disgust, and turned her nose away from the filth, which contained small chunks of reddish material. At first I thought it was blood, but the unpleasant smell of barbecue mixed with stomach bile quickly enveloped the room, and I realized Clay had just barfed up his Fat Tuesday feast. And from the looks of the burn marks on his face, he wasn’t likely going to be able to eat anything for a while.

Sara motioned me over – she was looking a little queasy herself, and I offered to step in and attend to Clay while she went  to find a fresh, clean pair of scrubs. She didn’t say anything out loud, but her eyes did. For a brief second, I thought maybe there was a spark of interest. The moment was shattered, however, when a now more sober Clay began screaming again – this time about his face. Apparently, the numbing effects of alcohol were wearing off. Perhaps I could finally figure out where the burn marks came from. I didn’t want to press him too hard for a lengthy discussion – his lips had swollen to three times their normal size, due to a well-placed (if I can call it that) burn strip in the center of  his face. I started with some friendly banter, just to get a measure of how drunk he still was.

“Hey, buddy. I’m Jeff, the head ER nurse here. Are you able to talk? You look pretty mashed up here.” I began gingerly dabbing up as much vomit and blood off his face as possible – the poor kid had enough to worry about, I didn’t want to add insult to injury. Upon closer inspection, I was able to tell that the burn marks on his face weren’t nearly as critical as I had initially thought. They were going to leave scars in some places no doubt, but for the most part, I was able to assure him that his face would eventually heal in about, oh two to three years. When the poor kid heard this, he started to weep. He obviously cared very much about  his appearance.  I listened quietly (and without judgment), as he began to fill in some of the details of what had happened at the Beta Upsilon Chi’s house during this year’s annual Fat Tuesday celebrations. And from what he was telling me, it’s no surprise we have a full house of drunken, obnoxious, injured party goers.

“Dude..” he drawled, still slurring some of his words together, “I was just tryn have a lil fun…know what mean?” I nodded silently, but didn’t say anything. I was trying my hardest not to chew his ass out. My tolerance for drunks was approaching zero.

“I’s up on the roof — zat’s where we were keepin’ the keg cold — and some chick dared me to do a keg stand. So, I did.” This explained his drunken state, but not the burn marks on  his face. Little did I realize at the time I was about to get the full-blown, no-holds barred, down and dirty details of the debauchery that unfolded. I had no choice but to listen – I think he was actually proud of himself and his frat house for having a party so “epic” (his words not mine) that it would go down in history for years to come as “the story most often retold over business dinners and high-priced martinis.” For you, dear readers, I’ve cleaned up his language and carefully edited out the obvious grammar mistakes caused by his slurred speech. What you see below is his story, but in my words.

(Pay especially close attention to how much of an asshole Clay turns out to be when he speaks of those less fortunate than he is, what with being a future recipient of what he mentioned was a “well-padded trust fund”.)

*********************************************************************

We had been planning the party for months. This was the perfect opportunity for us to, you know, unwind and have a little fun. We’d already done the fundraising shit – had a few car washes, bake sales, and all that community bullshit we have to do but don’t really wanna do, know what I mean? Honestly, I don’t really give a fuck about the poor — it’s not my problem there are so many lazy people in this world. Maybe they should just get off their fat asses and get themselves a job – ya know? But, our charter requires it, so we get a bunch of guys together – coordinate it with the sorority sluts of Alpha Chi Omega, let them do the majority of the work since they give more of a shit– and then spend one or two weekends pretending to care about whatever the fuck it is – homeless orphans, hairless cats, wrinkled old people -who knows?

Anyway, enough of that bullshit. I wanna get to the good stuff, the party. As I said, we’d be planning it for months and was busy marketing the shit outta it.  I wanted the whole fucking campus to know who we were when it was over, see? We emailed and texted everyone and anyone we could. We started a Facebook page. We tweeted the shit out of it – 140 letters doesn’t leave much room for clarity, so we had a gifted writer come up with as many clever ways to say “PARTY AT OUR FRAT HOUSE, FAT TUESDAY, COME CELEBRATE WITH  US” as possible without us getting busted by the university. See, the problem was that it’s totally illegal to drink on campus, and none of us were 21 years old anyways – the oldest frat brother is only turning 20 next month so…you could see our dilemma here. We had to plan all this shit out 100% on the down low. Then. we had to find a couple of trustworthy frat alum bros to come back, buy us the alcohol and carry it into the house so we didn’t get caught. That’s why I was up on the roof – we stashed it up there to hide it from the university cops who patrol our neighborhood nightly, looking for porch parties with kegs out in the open. I’m not sure who came up with the idea to stash it on the roof, but it was pretty fucking clever.

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Clay seemed to really enjoy bragging about the collective stupidity of his fraternity brothers. He also seemed to be oblivious to how much of an insensitive prick he sounded. I just made sure not to show my growing contempt for the pompous asshole. He continued.

**************************************************************************

The day of the party was a collective cluster fuck from the get-go. We had been up pre-gaming the night before, and stayed up til 4 am, playing an extra intense game of Strip beer pong with the Delta gals. Let me tell ya, those girls aint no angels – we call em our slut sisters for a reason – Jason, my best bud, ended up with three of em in his bed a couple of weeks ago. There was a lot of sucking and fucking go on that night, know what I mean, bro?

Anyways, we had all accidentally overslept, and a lot of us missed our morning classes – like anybody really gave a shit, ya know? We were too hung over and hungry to care about anything else. We just wanted to sleep in til we  had to get up and start prepping for the bash. The house was trashed – littered with late night pizza boxes and beer bottles everywhere. Throughout the day, we kept finding condoms, some used, some not, in a bunch of places. How they ended up there, I don’t wanna know. I didn’t get laid the night before, unfortunately. One of the bleached blond Amys had offered a blowjob, but I turned her down, I think. I dunno — one minute my pants were up, next they were down at my ankles. Maybe my big dick scared her off. Who knows?

We were all up by noon, which left us about five, maybe six hours, to clean our shit up and get it together for the Fat Tuesday bash. Based on our marketing the shit out of it, we were predicting a major turn out and turn up. I had gotten a hold of a local weed dealer and we had a baggie or two of the finest kush in the area. I know, cuz I blazed up a couple of days ago with a homemade bong I made from a couple beakers and piping I stole from the chem lab.

The Delta Chi’s came over around four, fivish, to help set up the spread. We had a lot of salads and side dishes, plus the typical crap like nachos, salsa, you know, that college kids devour after a heavy night of smoking weed and getting laid. Our main dish, however, was gonna be barbecue chicken…

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Aha,  I thought to myself. That explains the little chunks I saw swimming around in his vomit. It seems like we’re getting somewhere, just not sure where yet. This guy sure can talk.

*****************************************************************************

The party started off okay, of course. Most of us were still kinda hung over from the night before.We were only nursing our beers at first. But, as you know, nothing ever stays calm at a frat house. Especially when the Delta women arrive. Their whole sorority house came over, it seemed. I guess a couple of the bitches had been talking about us guys — comparing sizes of our dicks, how good we could eat them out – typical horny college girl talk. The rest of the girls came over just to see if any of it was true. Man, I couldn’t believe the amount of hot pussy that came over that night. I couldn’t keep my dick down, know what I mean?

Things were going along great. Someone had plugged their Iphone into the stereo speakers and we all migrated out to the huge, wrap around wooden porch on the second floor of our house. Well, it was a wrap around before the shit show started. We were just dancing, having a great time, when suddenly things went to total shit. Apparently, there had been some sort of jealousy thing between two of the Delta Chi’s. Bimbo #1 and Bimbo#2 – I don’t even recall their names — found out that each had been fucking Charley, one of my fraternity bros. He had managed to keep both of them from finding out about each other. We all knew what was going on – he would bring em both here, usually one in the morning, the other one at night, and bang em in one of the back bedrooms. He had been fucking em both for about three months. Why he didn’t even consider the possibility they’d find out tonight, I dunno. But, what happened next was probably why so many of us ended up here.

Charley, being the total dick he was, was hitting on another girl -Slut #3, when not one, but both of the girls saw him out of the corners of their eyes. As bitches get, they decided to confront him, at exactly the same time, which of course blew his cover and exposed  him as the sneaky, two timing rat bastard they kept calling  him. Trying to do his best to keep from getting bitch slapped by them both at the same time, he headed over to the railing of the porch, while both girls started pushing and shoving each other – apparently jealous and now on the verge of a cat fight.

Unfortunately, the commotion caught the attention of the rest of the party goers, except for the few couples who were now hooking up in various places around the house, and even a few on the lawn furniture out back. As everyone streamed outside and onto the porch to watch the chick fight, none of us had noticed that the creaking wooden floor was starting to wobble. A few sharp cracks later, and everyone found themselves falling two stories to the ground, where body upon body of people in various stages of undress and drunkenness, landed in a huge pile of bruised, bloodied and battered flesh. I thought I had heard a few bones snap and crunch in the process. 

Fortunately, I hadn’t been on the porch at the time it collapsed, so I was able to call 911 and get help. It wasn’t an easy call to make, I was pretty high and drunk by then, and I was up on the roof of the house, pouring myself another beer. And of course I was horny so I had a woman with me I was trying to get to blow me. She wasn’t very willing, until I offered to do a keg stand – right there on the roof – as she watched. She agreed immediately…

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I was sensing he was coming to the end of his story, and why he had striped burn marks on his face. As appalled as I was by this story, I wasn’t going to let him leave out the best part. I needed to know how far the party antics went.

**************************************************************************

Grill 7

So, here I was, on the top of the two-story house, getting ready to do a keg stand, while my girl was just seconds away from blowing me right there. I reached to put my hands on the keg handles, raised my back-end and legs, and was almost entirely vertical to the keg when the porch’s rumbling started, throwing me forwards and over the side of the roof, heading straight down to the yard below, and the glowing embers of the barbecue grill plate, staring back at me.

Yes, I face planted right into the still smoking, sizzling Weber, which had just been emptied of the stickiest, sauciest chicken wings and drumsticks we’d ever had. 

And that, nurse, is how we all ended up here – after one of the most epic party fails ever known in GW’s history.

One more thing before I pass out from the pain — you might examine Ashley – that brunette over there across from me. She was leading the contest for the most beads earned by the most shows of her tits. Rumor has it she has a string or two of the bright purple ones shoved up her pussy. 

Mardi-Gras-Beads-Credit-iStock-146720325-630x419

 

 

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Dear Life-Saving Superheroes:

Hello! This is a personal shout out and plea to all emergency room staff for assistance. Will you help me?

I am an aspiring author and have started a series of fictional stories written by my fictional character, “Jeff Carson”an ER nurse in a Level 1 Trauma in the DC area. Everything in my stories is fictional except for the “actual event” towards the end of the story. It’s the “big reveal,” so to speak.

If you’d like a better explanation, you can read one of my stories here:

http://mymusespeakstome.wordpress.com/2014/11/10/whats-needling-me-you-ask-im-not-really-sure/

Here’s where I can use some help. I am not in the field of medicine. I never have been. I’m just a writer with an active imagination and untold stories to tell. I’m in need of more “events” for my stories.

Do you have a unique event that happened in your ER during your shift? Do you want to put a voice to that event but you don’t have the time or can’t find the words? Let me help you! I understand HIPPA laws and confidentiality laws, so I respect patients’ confidentiality.

If you’re interested in contributing to my idea, all you will need to do in the comment section is write something like this:

 

  • Hi! I had a patient once who came to the ER with a pneumatic nail stuck in his head.
  • Light bulb up rectum

 

Due to my complete lack of a medical background, if you plan to contribute, please put your mini story/experience in non medical terminology. I can fill in the rest 🙂

I do hope you take a moment to add your experiences. If all goes well and as planned, I would be more than happy to give you credit!

Thanks so much for helping me out and especially for all you do to help save lives.

CTL50

superhero

This is Part 3 in the “Stories from the ER” Series I have begun to write. While the details are entirely fictional, the event which occurs in the story is based on a story once told to me by an actual ER nurse. All names have been changed to protect the idiots who come into the ER with unusual sets of circumstances.

emergency

 

Because of the high costs of insurance, many people who can’t afford health insurance – the mentally ill, the addicted, the homeless or any said combination of those — tend to use their local ER departments as a doctor’s office. We get a lot of repeat customers suffering from lung ailments – homeless people catch colds and pneumonia much easier during the fall and winter months than the warmer months– who come to see us for a) a warm place to sleep for a couple of days, b) a free dose of antibiotics and c) scraps of compassion they don’t ordinarily get from those who walk by them in utter disgust as they sleep in alleys and over warm city grates, huddled into tight little balls so they don’t freeze to death during the night.

Since this area of DC has such a high percentage of homeless, and the winters can get really harsh, every year we ask for and accept donations of old coats, blankets, hats and mittens for the homeless to take with them when we inevitably have to kick them out of probably the only warm place they’ve slept in weeks. I must admit, the first few times I had to cut dead and dying blackened skin from the fingers and toes of some severe frostbite victims really had me rethinking a move to the Caribbean.

Unfortunately, I’d really grown attached to both the adrenaline rush and Buster, my five-year old labradoodle who patiently waits for me at home when I have to work double shifts due to high volume patient loads. He is also part of the reason why I keep coming back every time – he is my saving grace and the only one I reserve my tears for when I go home and allow myself to feel the pains and anguishes I bury all day long. He never judges or chides, he just sits patiently by my side, staring at me with big, brown eyes as I let the tears flow for the especially hard cases I never had the chance to win. It seems like lately, I’ve been losing more than I have been winning.

Anyway, I have another story for you. This one isn’t a story of loss, but more of a story about mental illness, and what weird shit mental illness can cause people to do to themselves over and over again. This is Shannon’s story.

Shannon wasn’t homeless. Well, okay, she had been homeless for several  years before she met and married her second husband. She  was taken to the homeless shelter one night by a good Samaritan who had discovered her huddled in the recessed doorway of his apartment complex, shivering and mumbling incoherently to herself. He had noticed she was clean, so he surmised she hadn’t been out on the streets for long. In between mumblings, he was able to piece two and two together and found out she had, in fact, a home – but had no idea where it was or, even where she was at the moment. When the good Samaritan summoned for an ambulance, he made sure to tell them she had spoken to him some and was most likely “not homeless just very confused at the moment”. My ambulance drivers searched through her large, expensive-looking leather purse but, unfortunately, she had no identification. When they brought her in, they weren’t able to tell me much more about her, other than her name. I guess it was up to us to figure out who she was, until she was able to speak for herself.

Bud and Gerry, my drivers, wheeled her in through one of the back door bays, and quickly called me over to her gurney. Assuming the worst, I peeled the gurney out of their hands, mumbled a quick “thanks guys, I’ll take it from here” and started rolling her down the long hallway to find an available room for her. I thought at first she might be another cardiac patient because she was a little blue in the face and lips. However, after further assessment, and hooking her up to the monitors, I could see the EKG was pretty solid, except for an occasional hiccup. The readout indicated Shannon was stressed, but certainly not arrythmic. I was relieved, because I was able to stall for time and leave her be for a few moments to attend to the screaming child with the broken leg who had just been carried into the waiting room, screeching and flailing about as his diminutive mom was trying her hardest not to drop him onto the hard, tiled floor as he tried to squirm out of her arms. It really never is a dull moment at work.

Once the chaos and confusion ended, I headed back to find Shannon fully awake, a little glassy-eyed as she tried to figure out how she got to where she was currently. Her hair was completely disheveled, but as she ran her hands through her hair, I saw something that told me Shannon was neither homeless nor even poor. In fact, my guess was that she lived in a very affluent suburb of DC, and ended up in my ER merely by a series of unfortunate circumstances. Shannon’s fingernails were freshly, manicured. And on the ring finger of her left hand, she was wearing the largest sparkler I’d ever seen – and most likely will never be able to afford. I put its value somewhere in the same price range as my first house.

She caught me looking at her ring finger, and immediately rolled the hand into a clenched fist. She must have assumed I was going to steal it from her. I approached her and said, “Hi! I see you’re awake now. Do you know where you are?” Shannon looked around the room, a baffled expression on her face, then looked back at me and squinted to read the words on my name badge. She grunted a little, crinkled her very perky buttoned nose in what I could only describe as “disgust” and, to my utter surprise, spat out, “What the fuck am I doing in this shit hole? Who are you? Why am I here? What the fuck is going on? WHERE IS MY HUSBAND! He would be appalled to find me here. Get me out of here. Get me out now!”

Something had set her off, and I think it was her less-than-first-class medical accommodations. And me – some lowly, barely blue-collar male ER nurse, whose only fault at the moment is showing compassion for someone whom I can only describe as “a high-maintenance, frigid bitch with cunt-like tendencies.” Yeah, I can’t write that on her medical chart, but I sure can think of her that way in my head.

Shannon sat up, took one look at her hospital gown, and went off on me again! “Doctor! Where tšhe fuck are my clothes?! Gimme my clothes back, you asshole! I paid five thousand dollars for that top — you had BETTER NOT had to cut it off me or I am suing  you, your hospital and everyone else I find out who is involved in holding me against my will! How DARE you put me in this piece of crap cotton – COTTON! I haven’t worn cotton anything since I was six! — get me my clothes!”

All of her screaming and scene making had caused quite a reaction from the rest of the staff. Suddenly, I found myself sharing a bedside emotional beat down with the ER doctor on duty and three other nurses – who were checking to make sure the bitch hadn’t decide to stab me with a pair of suturing scissors when I turned around to grab a pair of sterile exam gloves. Fortunately, we’re trained in nursing school to calmly continue and speak with a calm, soothing tone, for situations such as this. I maintained as blank a stare as possible, indicating I wasn’t going to cower or kowtow to her demands. I just paused and waited until she was calm enough, once again, to let her know why I was worried.

I proceeded slowly. “Hi, my name is Jeff and, no, I am not the doctor here, just the head nurse.” She opened her mouth to protest, once again, but I held up a hand and cut her off before she could lay into me. “As I said, I’m an ER nurse. You’re here in George Washington, because of a good Samaritan’s efforts. You had passed out, of sorts, in front of his apartment complex. He called for an ambulance and my drivers brought  you here. I’m just here to make sure whatever brought you here can be identified and treated, so it doesn’t happen again –” She bit her lip a bit, and was just about to lay into me when, again, I cut her off, “Ma’am, your safety and health is my number one priority at the moment. And honestly,” I paused for a moment, searching for the perfectly rude yet still professional thing to say that would cause her to drop the arrogant, self-entitled bitch attitude she was giving me. Unfortunately, I think I missed the mark. “Honestly, to be walking around in this area of the city wearing a rock the size of the one on your finger is dangerous. People kill people for that amount of extravagance.” Yeah, I can be a bit of an asshole myself when pushed too far.

That seemed to shut her up. At least she wasn’t demanding any special treatment any longer. I continued in my interview, “Do  you have any idea what you were doing before you passed out? Anything coming back to you?” I put my hands to her neck and checked her heart rate through her carotid. They seemed normal. I put the tip of the thermometer in her ear, and waited for the beep – normal temp, good. I used the penlight on her eyes – normal dilation, then I looked up her nose — everything checked out at first glance. Other than looking somewhat disheveled, I had no theories on why Shannon had ended up in my ER. The fugue state she had been found in, was a bit of a mystery as well. Only bits and pieces of it were coming back to her as well.

“I was out with my husband. We had just celebrated his second – and final step promotion – as CEO. He’s the CEO of World Bank — he worked himself into that position practically from the ground up, I’ll have you know…” She was going off on another self-congratulatory, high falootin, brag a thon, when I interrupted her again. I just didn’t have the time or patience to listen to such snobbery. “Can I see your arm for a sec? I’d like to get your blood pressure…”

She rolled her wrist over and offered it to me. That was when I noticed the large, blotchy patch of red that went from just under the bottom of the palm of her hand to midway down her forearm. Her skin was raw in spots — she obviously had been scratching at it for some time – possibly days. Regardless, it didn’t appear to be psoriasis, or ringworm, or any of the other thousands of potential viruses and skin ailments I’ve seen over my years. I was, however, alarmed at how red it was. It almost looked angry.

“What’s going on here?” I asked her – pointing to her rash. Shannon looked down at her wrist, grimaced and – almost disconnectedly, said, “That? Oh, that’s for when I’ve been a bad girl. That’s my punishment.” Her voice had changed. Gone was the angry, pushy, wealthy socialite with the loud, aggressive voice, hell-bent on ruining my career. Right before my eyes I saw her change. She pulled her arm out of my grasp and, furiously rubbing and scratching at her bright red rash, she squeaked out in a tiny, almost childlike voice, “My needles. Mine. Bad Daisy! Bad, bad, bad!” I couldn’t believe what I was seeing take place before my eyes. Shannon, this big, brash, larger than life woman, was regressing into a child. I watched as she started curling into a little ball on the bed — trying to shrink as far into the bed sheets as possible.

I suddenly had the impression that I needed to call in a psych consult for her. Perhaps a psychiatric evaluation can be of help here. I’d never seen anything like this before – and felt it was out of my depth. I could, however, help relieve her of the pain and itching coming from her wrist. I leaned in for a closer inspection. I place my two fingers on her wrist and felt a series of small ridges. I moved my fingers over the ridges and felt something under the skin move as well. Shannon had something stuck under her skin. I rushed her down to the X-ray lab and had the technician run some prints for me. Fifteen minutes later, I got my answer: sewing needles. Shannon had over forty of them, at end of count, shoved under her skin. How long they had been there was anyone’s guess. That was,  until the psych evaluation came back.

Shannon, as it turned out, had dissociative identity disorder. More commonly known as multiple personality disorder. Through picking apart and putting together bits and pieces of her story, we were able to locate her regular psychiatrist who confirmed her case.

What I had seen that night, other than the rash of course, were two of the seventeen personalities this patient has living inside her. That explains how she ended up in the doorway of an apartment complex in a bad area of town. It turns out one of those seventeen personalities decided to turn a few tricks that evening.

Who knows how things would have turned out  for her if it hadn’t been for that good Samaritan. I, too, might have cheated another date with death as well.

needles

 

 

The following story is fictional. The event described, however, was told to me second-hand from an actual ER nurse. To protect the privacy and idiocy of the person or persons involved, all names are fictional.

emergency

Life, as they say, can change in the blink of an eye, a turn of a dime, blah blah blah and all those other smarmy cliches and platitudes people use to make uncomfortable and unexpected situations much more…tolerable, I guess?

I live my life, well my work life that is– like that. I have to catch the blinks and dime turns, because it is usually someone else’s life that hangs in the balance.  Someone I’ve never met before, in some sort of distress, or danger, or desperation. The 3D’s of emergency room work.

The name is Jeff. I’ve been an ER nurse for about ten years now. Yeah, not a doctor, a nurse. I KNOW. I catch shit for that all the time, especially from my family: “Jeffie, what’s the matter — not smart enough to be a real doctor? Grades not good enough? Couldn’t handle the pressure of med school?” I’ve heard em all before.

Truth is, I never had any interest in becoming a doctor for a number of reasons: 1) couldn’t afford the high student loans I would need because I got  nosed out of a full-ride scholarship to Johns Hopkins by some asshole whose daddy “made a sizable donation to the medical library there – total bullshit, by the way and 2) I’ve heard what interns go through, and I really don’t have that level of dedication in me, I really value having a personal life, ya know? So, I decided to become a nurse instead. Four and done. And guess what? I still get to work with doctors, still get to do cool ass shit so yeah, I’m a nurse. Fuck you, judgy people.

Let me tell you about my ER. It’s fucking sweet. I work in a Level 1 top trauma hospital center in DC. We get some of the most serious, most complicated and critical cases there. Lots of gun shot wounds, stab wounds, multiple car accidents — the worst of the worst come through our center daily – and we’re always ready for them. We even got a few of the 9-11 Pentagon folks come through our doors when those fucking ragheads decided to fly a 767 straight into the side of the building. That was a crazy assed day or two, I won’t lie. Almost made me want to quit. I didn’t tho – the adrenaline high of working in a Level 1 is just too good a buzz to walk away from. I’m damn near vibrating with the stuff by mid-shift every night. High traumas.

I’ll spare ya the gories of some of those cases, though. As adrenaline pumping as they are, they don’t make for good, funny stories. More often than not, the night doesn’t end well for some of them. It’s a real drag to have to say “Call it, Doctor” several times a night, know what I mean?

But, if you want to stick around, I got a few really good stories for you, too. Stories that are bound to make you laugh your ass off. Stories that you can’t help but ask, “What IS that doing in there?” I’m sure you know what I’m talking about. Yep…insertion stories. And not just up one hole if ya know what I mean, wink, wink. I’m talking rectums, vaginas, ears, noses, under the skin..if there is a hole to insert it in or a patch of skin to shove it under, it’s been tried, and I’ve seen just about everything.

About two, maybe three years ago, I got to work with Mr. Harishoto. The case of Mr. Harishoto was a bit perplexing at first, to be honest. Here was this little Japanese guy — dressed in a thousand dollar business suit, couldn’t speak a damn word of English, and I’m not at all fluent in Japanese. ‘Ari gato’ and ‘sushi’ are pretty much it for me.

Anyways, Mr. Harishoto comes walking into the ER, moaning and crying, entirely hunched over and clutching his belly. He is obviously in great stress — he was bent nearly  half over. A quick assessment by the receiving nurse had us thinking he might have just come from a high priced dinner and perhaps had eaten the wrong part of the blowfish — food so deadly it will kill you if not cut and cooked properly by a certified “blowfish chef”. Also, since he drove himself to the ER, he obviously hadn’t been home from work yet. Who the fuck knows where Mr. Harishoto had been after work? He could have been fucking a Geisha girl for all I care.

Anyhow, we quickly get him checked in, offer a wheelchair — and he waves the chair away frantically, moving his hand from his belly and pointing it at his ass. It took me about two seconds to figure out the pantomime: Mr. Harishoto had something up his ass. This outta be interesting….

We take him to a private room  and motion to have him get on the bed. He lies down on the bed — on his stomach, and we notice the seat of his pants are bulging outwards. Greatly. He didn’t speak English and we didn’t speak Japanese, so the best we could do is pantomime back and forth. He kept pointing to the bulge in his seat, and then he would hold his hands about a foot apart – with one hand on top, one on the bottom as if he was holding a bottle or a jar. None of what he was trying to tell us made any sense.

Until of course, we removed his pants. I tried to keep as straight a face as possible, but this one was a bit much. I knew I was going to have to use the baby forceps this time.

Sticking halfway out of Mr. Harishoto’s now swollen and entirely yellowish-red ass was the biggest, widest, purplest eggplant I’ve ever seen.

What was that thing doing up in there? was all I could wonder.

eggplant