Posts Tagged ‘fiction’

This is Part 6 of my fictional series “Stories of the ER”. In this story, the event really did happen. Everything before, during and after it is 100% fictionalized.

emergency

**WARNING** GRAPHIC CONTENT!!

I am generally not a religious man. Even though I was raised in a very Protestant home, my folks never really made us attend regular church services. Sure, mom and dad would force my sister and me to dress in our best “church going clothes” and they would pack us into their little brown station wagon and make the twice-yearly trek to church for Christmas and Easter — usually sunrise service or midnight mass (which always started at 10:30 at night, ironically).

But for the remaining Sundays, we’d spend the mornings doing whatever we wanted: sis and I would get up at 6:30 to watch the Bugs Bunny cartoon show, while dad enjoyed his only day of the week to sleep in. Mom, who was a stay-at-home mom, occasionally would get up around 8 am and spend the next two hours making huge, carb-loaded, coma inducing breakfasts from scratch. At least that was what we always thought they were. But, her little secret was exposed one day when I wandered into the kitchen because the smell of cooking bacon overpowered me. I found her pouring boxed pancake mix into her favorite mixing bowl. She was horrified I had caught her “cheating” – but personally, I didn’t give a shit because the end result was a feast made for a king and I was her little prince.

That was pretty much the extent of my religious upbringing. When I moved out after college and took this job at GW, I didn’t give religion a second thought. Sure, I respect a person’s right to believe, but after seeing a lot of what I’ve seen here in this job, I’m fairly convinced there is no god. How could there be when there is so much pain and suffering in this world.

This story, as you might have figured out, focuses on the topic of religion and how it can and does destroy lives. As I’ve mentioned before, I worked the day the ragheads blew up the towers and the Pentagon with airplanes. I know what happens when flames meet flesh, all done in the name of religion. And honestly, it’s pretty fucking disgusting. “My god, your god, his god, her god” Does it really make a fucking difference whose god is who’s when there’s no evidence of any god? I guess that makes me sound like an atheist. Oh well, call me that. When I tell you about Dharia and how she came to my ER, maybe you’ll understand why I detest religious zealots.

This is Dharia’s story. I’ve had to fill in a lot of the details, unfortunately. You see, Dharia was one of the women who didn’t make it out of my ER alive. In fact, she barely made it into my ER alive. Perhaps I should start at the beginning.

Living in DC, we have a lot of  foreign nationalists come here and take up temporary residence while they represent their countries’ political and diplomatic interests. And of course, they’re just as vulnerable to accidents and injuries as anyone else. However, being foreigners, they aren’t entitled to US healthcare benefits. Well, change that a little. The recent ADA has, to the upset and outrage of many, allowed foreign diplomats to enroll for healthcare coverage if they’re here on an A or G Visa, whatever the hell that means. We were just told to treat them like any other sick or injured person and the government will foot the bill. However, years ago that wasn’t the case. They were required to have their own international health plan before they arrived, should they need medical care while in Washington on official international business.

Regardless of their visa status, we did have a few foreign diplomats come through our doors over the last few years. We’ve had, if I can remember, a couple heart attack patients, several traffic accidents because they weren’t used to driving on the opposite of the road, and one or two drunk driving accidents. One guy from South Korea on an economic visit was struck while walking across the street to the federal building by a Russian diplomat, who had just returned from a lunch heavy with vodka and was driving erratically back to his rented apartment. This in and of itself nearly caused an international scandal of epic proportions. They resolved the sticky mess by just declaring themselves diplomatically immune from prosecution and, despite our best efforts  to try for prosecution and criminal charges, nothing ever happened in that case. I guess power does have its privileges.

Unfortunately, the wives and children of these spouses don’t have that same level of protection afforded the diplomats. Is this unfair? Absolutely, which is why the wives and children are seldom seen out and about, enjoying the same types of privileges their husbands and fathers get. Welcome to politics.

But as I’ve said, with power comes privilege. And while privilege certainly played an integral role in Dharia’s story, it wasn’t through her, but through her husband’s abusive behavior that Dharia came to us, only moments before I witnessed her pointless death right before my eyes, while I stood there – unable to do anything to help her or even comfort her. You see, Dharia was a suicide victim. The how and why of her suicide is what needs to be told.

When she came through our hospital doors, seconds from death, all she could do was stare at us in wild-eyed terror — eyes screaming what her charred lips couldn’t — “Help me, oh please–help me!”  Her arms were stretched outwards from her body – sticks of bone, fingers burned off completely. She walked in on two wooden planks – what used to be her legs. Her clothing had melted onto her skin, then into the skin itself. The smell of charred flesh and burnt hair trailed in still smoking ringlets all the way up from the nubs of what once were her feet to the very top of her exposed and peeling scalp. Her earlobes were bubbling as the cartilage melted into human fat globules, dripping onto the floor below. There was nothing left of her to save, and we all knew it.

We were frozen in place until, of course, the screaming began. Fortunately, it was still pretty early in the evening, so the waiting room was almost empty. Unfortunately, there was a family with small children ages nine and four, who were right in the sight line and witnessed Dharia’s dramatic entrance as she hobbled through the automatic door, moving in a herky-jerky way that reminded me of the walk made by Peter Boyle as Frankenstein in Mel Brook’s “Young Frankenstein.” Only much, much more terrifying to a four-year old, who raised his little hand and pointed directly to Dharia, while stating, “Mommy – That scawy monster is coming to get me! Scawy monster!” When mom looked up from her cell phone and caught sight of what her little boy was pointing at, she became hysterical and started screaming at the top of her lungs, temporarily dragging the attention of the rest of the people waiting from Dharia and right onto her. The intake nurse lunged out from behind her cubicle to see what all the commotion was and was just about to ask the woman to calm down when her eyes locked with Dharia’s, and she froze in her spot, wobbled a bit, then promptly fainted onto the tiled floor. At that point, several of us from inside the ER rushed out to see what was going on, and that’s when I caught Dharia as she started to tumble, face first (or what was left of it, anyways) directly on top of the unconscious intake nurse. The lobby was in total chaos by this time as people rushed about not knowing what to do or where to go. The mother of the small children picked up both her kids at the same time, buried their faces into her chest, and ran out the doors – apparently their visit wasn’t much of an emergency any longer.

With Dharia in my arms, I half-carried, half-dragged her nearly lifeless body through the double doors as quickly as possible to get her out of the sight of others. She looked truly terrifying. I know I had never seen anything like that in my career – even in the worst of traumas we’ve had come through our hospital. I also recognized the sounds of a dying person – the throat gurgling as the person takes his or her last breaths. This was what I heard as I laid Dharia down on the gurney. Her body made this awful thunking sound, like the sound you hear when you throw a fresh, dried log onto a fire pit. This sound haunted me for days afterward, and it was that sound echoing over and over in my mind that led me to do what I did next: call the police. If someone had done this to her, I wanted them caught and put on trial. I couldn’t and wouldn’t let her death go unnoticed. I just needed some answers.

Dharia died moments after she was put on the gurney. Her eyelids had been burned off, so even though she was dead her eyes appeared to still be opened. And, screaming. I draped a towel across her face, cut off what remained of her melted clothing and flesh, and prepared her for the hospital morgue and autopsy. I wanted to know why she had been burned so badly, and how she had managed to get here, in the last few minutes of her life, considering the physical state she was in.

When the police arrived, Dharia had already been taken to the morgue. I explained everything  to the officers as best I could, and begged them to come back and tell me whatever they found out – I wanted to know more about this poor, brave soul who had made one last, desperate measure to save herself. The will to live is one of the most powerful survival mechanisms we have. She definitely demonstrated that will when she defied all odds and walked through our doors,  seconds before both her will and her heart gave out.

The police investigation into her death only took a week or so. What they told me shattered my heart into a million pieces and confirmed my belief: there truly is no god, or couldn’t even be a god if he/she/it allowed someone to set herself on fire in sacrifice to that god. You see, Dharia was Hindu. She was the wife of an Indian diplomat who had brought her to the US with him when he was transferred from Mumbai to Washington, DC. She had been struggling with adjusting to DC – she didn’t have anyone here to support her or talk to her. Her husband was away often – leaving her alone and lonely. She was near her emotional breaking point so one night she decided to go for a drink without him – a very taboo idea for a Hindu woman, but she was desperate for conversation and human interaction.

While at the bar, she met another foreign diplomat – a Pakistani man, who had been at the bar for hours already and had several martinis under his belt when she walked in and sat down on the stool at the other end of the bar, minding her own business. The diplomat noticed her immediately and began making the moves on her. Despite her numerous protestations and flashing of her wedding band, the Pakistani refused to leave her alone. In fact, he got more and more aggressive with her. She had finally decided she had enough of his bullshit and headed back to her car to go home, only to see him following closely behind. When she opened her car door, he pushed her in and raped her right there in her car while she screamed and screamed for help. Nobody came to help her. Once the man was finished, he just hopped into his fancy government-issued Mercedes and drove off into the night. He was never caught.

Although the man was never caught, Dharia’s “infidelity” quickly became apparent when she started to show due to the resulting pregnancy. Of course her husband – who had been away on business for an extended period of time, put the math together in his head and quickly figured out the baby wasn’t his. And because of their religious and cultural beliefs, she had just disgraced him, her, his entire family as well as put his political career and  reputation at grave risk. After a harsh beating at home, behind closed doors, and a vicious threat not to go to the police for fear she would get them both kicked out of the country because of the trouble she brought upon herself (instead of blaming the rapist, where it belonged), she felt she had nowhere else to turn.

To make things right again in her mind, Dharia resorted to the Hindu practice of self-immolation. She waited until her husband was at work then took the full gas can out of their rented garage, a stick lighter for the grill, and a blanket and walked to the park directly across from the hospital’s ER entrance doors. She set out the blanket, took a few moments to work up the courage, then splashed the entire can’s contents over her head, chest, legs and, even the blanket. Then, after the gas  had soaked her and the blanket entirely, clicked the lighter and touched it to her chest. As she sat there, flames building and creeping everywhere, her survival instinct kicked in and in one last desperate act of futility, changed her mind and tried to beat the flames out with her hands. By that time, the fire had grown too big and had consumed too much of her cotton clothing that she wasn’t able to stop the burning. That was when she stood up and began the several  hundred yards walk to our ER department. Sadly, it was too little, too late for her. There wasn’t anything we could have been able to do anyways, except maybe give her morphine to help with the pain. But it turned out she didn’t even need that.

If there is a lesson to learn from Dharia’s story it is this: women continue to suffer religious and social persecution at a higher rate than men. In some countries, they can be beaten and stoned to death for many different reasons, without a trial or other formal inquiry.This just isn’t right.

The female police officer who investigated Dharia’s suicide showed me one last thing before we parted ways. She pulled a picture out of her wallet and handed it to me. The woman in the picture was stunning–long, beautiful, jet-black hair. Big, brown eyes against caramel-colored, flawless skin. An electrifying smile. She took my breath away and I was instantly attracted to her. I asked, “Who’s this?” The officer paused a moment, then in a hushed tone said, “Your patient. The suicide victim. I thought you’d want to see what she really gave to the world.” I saw in the picture she was surrounded by little kids. The police officer added, “She had been a kindergarten teacher over in India before her husband was transferred here.”

Her name was Dharia P. She was only twenty-four, she was a beautiful, a shining star, and had the whole world in front of her.

Author’s Note: The story above is entirely fictional. Any similarities to any person, living or dead, is strictly coincidental.

 

 

 

Change Partners

Posted: November 8, 2014 in Uncategorized
Tags: , , , , ,

The following is a response to my writers’ group prompt: “Take two to three words from a song and write a story”. Change Partners is a song by Stephen Sills.

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1976_Chevy_Caprice

Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about setting up a menage a trois. Why? Maybe it’s because I lead such a vanilla life. How “vanilla” a life? I’m a CPA. And if that doesn’t sound vanilla enough, let me add a few other clues:

I drive a station wagon. Not just any station wagon, but you know the one with the fake wooden side panels? Yeah, that one. I’ve had it ever since I inherited it from my parents as they sent me off to college at, where else? Purdue University in Indiana. The heart of vanilla country.

Despite how absolutely nerdy I feel and look driving this car, it comes with a story too good not to share. And, it’s part of the reason I have it in the first place. If you were able to look in the back seat – all the way in the backseat,  you would find a couple of words carved into the faux leather seat covering. They’re all but faded now, with only a semi-perceptible outline remaining. After all, the car is over twenty-five years old. I’m twenty-three. So, if one did the math correctly – and trust me, as a certified, licensed, board approved, vanilla laced CPA living in the heart of nowhere, USA, you’d pretty much be able to figure out what those carved words actually say. Okay, so maybe you can’t. Let me fill in the blanks:

Stanley Norman Alexander Preston, 6-12-83

Yep, that’s good ol’ me, Stanley. Or, SNAP for short. You see, twenty-three years ago, on a warm summer’s night, in the back of my parents’ (now mine) very vanilla, very classic station wagon with the fake wood paneling, semi bald tires and gas guzzling tank, I was conceived – a child born of passion, lust, and the unfortunate by-product of a swingers’ party.

Six years ago, my mom and dad were struggling to get along. Mom had always been the happier one of the two. Dad, well, he was a bit of a prick to both mom and me. I never actually understood why until THE FIGHT happened. Oh sure, I’ve heard them yelling and snapping at each other often – what kid doesn’t grow up hearing their parents fight? Mine were no exception. They’d find the silliest things to argue about – the toothpaste cap was left off, there wasn’t enough gravy for the mashed potatoes, anything unexpected, out of order or just plain annoying to either of their perfectly boring lives was perfect fodder for an argument. But, after a few nits had been picked fairly raw, they’d usually run out of steam and eventually just head to their separate corners – mom to her sewing room and dad to his garage, to find something to dither over until the storm had completely passed.

So it was a bit of a shock, needless to say, when I was studying in my bedroom one night and noticed that the volume of their argument was much higher than any other one they’d ever had. I tried to shut it out the best I could and just cranked up my radio a bit higher. That worked for a while until I heard the crash and subsequent sound of glass shattering in the room across from me. I dashed out of the room to see what had broken, when I heard my mother screeching at the top of her lungs “YOU ARE STILL PAYING FOR  HIS COLLEGE, REGARDLESS OF YOUR PATERNITY, YOU SELFISH ASSHOLE!” My father was cowering in the corner, hands and arms covering his face, small shards of glass glittering in his hair. I wasn’t sure what to do so I just stood there – stunned to all hell, as both my mom and dad (what had I just heard? something about paternity?) rushed over to me and, fight forgotten, pulled me into the living room and forced me down on the couch.

“Son,” mom smoothed her mini-skirt down, crossed her legs and folded her hands in her lap, trying to regain as much composure as possible. Dad took a seat in his leather recliner, leaned back and began picking glass fragments out of his hair. His purpled cheeks said he would need a lot of time to calm down before he could speak, unless we wanted to witness a brain aneurysm happen right there in the living room of 4714 Vanilla Drive, Anywhere USA. Mom continued.

“Son, I am so, so sorry you had to hear what you just did. It was never our plan or intention to mention the subject ever again. We –your dad, er – um, George over there – and I promised ourselves we’d do everything we can to give you as normal a life as possible…um, uh –” Mom was trying, and failing miserably, to get through the story with as little discomfort as possible. Dad just sat there quietly as the blood continued to drain from his face. I, on the other hand, was growing increasingly confused. I begged mom to continue.

“Well, son…here’s the thing,” she stammered a bit, but held on long enough to offer a partial explanation. “When we–” mom pointed to dad, then back to herself “When we were newly married, we, um…kinda. Oh how do I tell you this? We –”

“For God’s sake, Norma, let me do this.” Dad was back to his normal cranky self. I turned to look at dad and, perhaps for the first time, saw that his features and mine didn’t quite match. I had brown hair, brown eyes, and  he had blond hair and blue eyes. I was short and squat, he was tall and thin. As for mom, she was a redhead and from what I know about redheads, they’re sort of a mishmash of genes. Mom was a mutt, so I could have come out anything but albino and mom would have been able to pass off her very differently featured son as hers. My true dad, however, was obviously not the man who I have watched fall asleep in his recliner every night at 8:45 since I was old enough to remember. I felt a little panicky, I must admit.

The man I no longer thought was my dad continued, “Stan, it’s like this. Your mother and I were in a real romantic funk. We had stopped having the kind of mind-blowing, roll your eyes in the back of your head, blow the top off –” “GEORGE!’ my mother interrupted, “I think he’s got enough of an idea…” she chided. She was right. I really did not want to, or need to, hear about my parent’s sex life. For all I had convinced myself, they hadn’t had sex since I was born. However, George insisted on barging forward with the story. I think he was enjoying the memory, to be honest.

“Norma was feeling a bit randy one day, and since it was so close to my birthday, I decided to toss out an idea so wild, so foreign to the both of us, that we needed a bit of time to get used to it. You see, we wanted to find another couple to join us in the bedroom.” I started feeling nauseated. Was I really sitting here hearing about my parents having sex with another couple? What the hell?

“We found the couple through a newspaper ad. Sure, it was a huge risk to take – we were worried they’d come over, hurt us,rob us blind, then steal the station wagon and drive off. The wagon was brand new and back then, it was quite the car because of the space in the back, if  ya know what I mean.” Dad winked at me knowingly. Even though I was seventeen, and knew exactly what he meant, my only thought was eww, eww, eww. I wanted to put my hands to my ears and roll into a ball on the floor. This was becoming more and more unbearable to hear. But of course, dad needed to finish because, we’ll he’s a guy and, now that I’m the age he was when all this was going on, I get how important it is that he bond with his son over sex. It’s a right of passage, so I’ve been told.

“Anyways, things were going along smoothly, Norma and John – that was the guy’s name, and me and Deb – that was his wife’s name, were flirting with each other. I had the booze out and was serving drinks all around. The alcohol was passed between us like a water jug. Then, things just got wildly out of control.” Dad paused a moment, the memory obviously right in front of his eyes. Mom, meanwhile was caught between awkward and titillated. I didn’t know. I really didn’t want to know anything at that point. I just knew things were about to get really uncomfortable for me.

“One thing led to another. Mom and I were together one minute, enjoying each other’s bodies, then out of the blue someone would yell, “Change Partners!” and we’d all shift positions like some kinky game of musical chairs.” Dad poured himself a bourbon on the rocks. Mom finished it up for me, but only after scrubbing the story clean.

“Stan, the man you think is your dad, really isn’t. John, the guy from Dad’s story, is actually your father. He and I had a wild romp in the back of the station wagon. Unfortunately, we didn’t think about protection until it was too late. And,” mom shrugged her shoulders matter-of-factly and finished, “here you are, years later, getting ready for college. We’re so proud of you, son!”

Mom had a way of finishing stories with absolute finality. I could hear from the tone in her voice that what they just told me was all they were going to say on the subject. It was over, done, and life was to go on. However, I had one final question to ask them. I wanted an honest answer, too.

“Mom, dad – can I still call you dad?” I sputtered out. “How do you know dad isn’t my father? After all, weren’t you..um, man this is awkward, all screwing each other at the same time?” There, it was out. “I was really hoping that dad–I pointed to the man in the recliner–THIS dad, I mean, was my real dad. But, now that I know what  happened, I was wondering if I could see a picture of my possible dad?”

Mom snapped her fingers together in an aha! motion and hopped up quickly. “Of course! That’s it! Let me go dig out one of the pictures we took. Geez, we were all so drunk, I don’t remember much about that night except for the other couple’s names. I’ll be right back.”

As mom was searching through her closet for a long ago picture of who might possibly be my real dad, the only dad I had ever known was drifting off to sleep in the recliner, empty rock glass still in his hand. Obviously that wasn’t the first drink he’d had all day. I was still trying to wrap my head around the whole story when I heard mom shouting from upstairs. She was whooping and hollering like crazy!

Dad was startled awake again, and rocketed out of his chair like someone had just set his hair on fire and his ass was catching up. Mom flew down the stairs, shaking an old Polaroid picture pinched between her right thumb and pointer finger. She was practically bursting with excitement. I, on the other hand, was a nervous wreck. I was about to see who my real dad was. I wasn’t sure what to think about anything at this point.

Mom came barreling into the living room and ran right to dad, holding the picture up to his face and grinning from ear to ear. Dad took the picture between his two fingers, shook his head back and forth a couple of times, whistled softly between his two teeth. He looked from the picture to me, then back again. Then, he started to laugh – a deep, belly laugh that practically shook the pictures off the wall. I watched the two of them as they huddled together and hugged each other, laughing so hysterically mom had tears streaming down her cheeks. I wasn’t sure what to do, so I just asked, “Well, can I see his picture?”

Dad caught his breath one final time, wiped the tears from his eyes and said, “Oh son, there is no doubt I’m your father.” I perked up, hoping of all hopes that he was being one hundred percent honest with me this time. I asked, “What makes you know for sure?” I challenged him. Dad took the photo between his fingers and chuckled one last time. He turned it towards me and said,

“Because John and Deb, well, they are both black.”

I guess I really am “vanilla” after all.

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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

Kids, ya gotta love them for their creative ingenuity and general curiosity about the world. They say and do the darndest things, right?

Hey, it’s Jeff again.  Thought I’d share another one of those insertion stories. I swear, there is no end to the strange cases that come through the doors of my ER. I’m not even sure I can explain them fully here – but I’ll try to do the best I can, okay?

This particular case is a bit less funny. Why? Because it involves a young boy. Not only a young boy, but a special needs boy with a special circumstance. And because I don’t believe in making fun of retarded children, I’ll try to temper any potential humor this time. That seems fair and professional, don’t you think?

Billy, let’s call him Billy this time. Billy was a sweet young boy with a moderate to severe case of Down Syndrome. He was uncommunicative, only able to grunt and moan when speaking. But, he was also a really sweet boy too – he instantly gave me a bear hug when he walked through the door and saw me in my scrubs. He obviously believed that I was the doctor so he came right up to me, even though his mother had a firm grip on his hand (Billy likes to take off into a full run when he sees something that interests or fascinates me. I think it was the shiny stethoscope I had draped around my neck at the time.) Fortunately for his mom and me, he wasn’t afraid of hospitals, so he didn’t start screaming, struggling and turn tail and run out the door the second his mom’s grip loosened a little. He practically knocked me over instead.

While his mom checked Billy in and filled out the required paperwork, Billy was left to his own devices for about twenty minutes. Again, not trying to poke fun of the mentally challenged, but I must say in that short period of time Billy got himself into a variety of trouble.

First, he grabbed all the pens off the registrar’s desks (all four corrals, mind you) and started shoving them into whatever hole he could find (fortunately it wasn’t a hole on his body — because he was wearing clothes at the time). He stuck two in the planter boxes – straight down into the dirt, three or four in the plastic blinds (after he had scribbled some unintelligible words on the metal slits), and  the rest he started handing out randomly to several patients waiting to be seen. There were some odd looks, but mostly the patients understood he was mentally disabled, so they really didn’t act like assholes over this.

Mom, meanwhile was growing more and more horrified and frantic over her son’s behavior. Billy, BILLY! COME SIT OVER HERE NOW!! she kept saying, snapping her fingers at him, trying to get his very short attention. Billy was oblivious to his mother’s begging.

Unfortunately, there wasn’t much anyone could do but let Billy continue wreaking havoc in the waiting room. As typical with Down Syndrome kids, they tend to be hyper-focused and incredibly stubborn. Not to mention very impulsive.

He started going from person to person -which did start irritating a few folks. I don’t blame them – they aren’t in the ER for a picnic, ya know what I mean? Some of them were obviously in a lot of distress and just wanted to be left alone. But how do  you politely tell a moderately retarded child to fuck off? You don’t. You smile politely and try to get them to go annoy someone else and leave you the hell alone to suffer in silence and exasperation.

After going through all the patients in the waiting room, then he started going after the equipment. He found the remote control, started pushing random buttons, causing the channels to flip in rapid succession. So much for the latest information on the school shooting, or terrorist threat or whatever the fuck was obviously more important and worldly than the fucking cartoon he found — and stopped at, with a death grip on the remote so strong that even his mother couldn’t get him to give it back to the receptionist. It took her and two interns to bribe him with a lollipop before he finally let it go. After that, he found the water cooler and simultaneously discovered water and gravity. The water jug was half emptied before anyone even noticed the waterfall and subsequent flood that was overtaking the back hallway.

Throughout all of this, Billy appeared to be having the time of his life. He would grunt and clap his hands whenever he accomplished something (destructive, that is). He would search the room for approving eyes — and point and drool a little bit at what he’d just done. He didn’t seem the least bit sick or distressed. He did, however seem like he could have used a sedative.

So, I was unsure why Billy’s mom had brought him in this evening in the first place. But, I’m sure I’d find out shortly, because mom was finishing up the paperwork. They expedited  his case and triaged him right into the first available bed. Not because he was seriously ill, but because the people in the waiting room had grown tired of watching Hurricane Billy’s path of destruction widen and spread.

When we were alone, I did the usual thing: blood pressure, vitals, etc. etc. Everything checked out visually. Other than soaked pant cuffs, a snotty nose and a little drool, Billy appeared in fine health. So, I just had to ask, “What seems to be the problem here?”

That’s when Billy’s mom’s cheeks turned bright red. She puffed them out, rolled her eyes exasperatedly at the ceiling and said, “Billy, take your pants off and show Nurse Jeff what hurts  you…” Billy shook his head defiantly, grunted what I only suspect was “No touch me!” and refused to do what his mother told him. Mom pressed, “Billy, take your pants off now so the nice nurse can remove it!” Pants? Remove? What the fuck, mom?

Billy slowly reached down and began to pull his elastic banded pants down, shaking his head slowly from side to side “No touch no touch no touch, nnnng nnng, ngg”. I noticed that Billy had what looked like a slight erection. But, as his pants came down, I realized that what I was looking at wasn’t an erection, but the bristled tip of…what the fuck? A toothbrush.

Billy had somehow inserted his toothbrush all the way up his penis, and only the brush end was visible. All I could think was “How did that thing get up in there?”

clever-toothbrush-tips

 

 

 

 

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