Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Catch Ya Next Time

There is a sizable population of "regulars" in our Emergency Room. Usually, they come in every day or so for a spell, then drop off to visiting every once in a while, as if to remind us they are still around. What happens to them in this time in between? Where do they hang out? What do they do?

I was jogging in my fair city today, when I caught sight of Mr. Catch walking around carrying a large backpack, perhaps with all his belongings. He looked at me, but I looked away and continued jogging the way I was going.

Mr. Catch was once probably very much so a catch. Tall, lanky, handsome, he had the deep, steady gaze that might have palpitated many a fluttering female heart before his eyes glazed from too much drink and hardened from homelessness.
The first time I saw him, he had just woken from a nap and talked to me comfortably. Because he was well-known as an elopement risk, I was to be his sitter. He was shivering, so I made sure he was warm enough with a blanket and slipped a pair of hospital socks on his feet. He was very polite and called me miss, apologizing for being in his state. He was determined to quit drinking, he said, and was feeling great.

A patient's family member walked by carrying a Gatorade. Mr. Catch asked the kind man if he could have it- I raised my eyebrow at the resident who was watching. The resident nodded and Mr. Catch enjoyed his gatorade, giving me a smile and wink. He decided he was feeling so well that he got up before I could stop him and tried to ask the resident if he could leave soon. As he was standing up, he suddenly contorted and I caught him before he hit the ground as he began shaking uncontrollably in a grand mal seizure. The resident joined me and together, we lowered the rest of him to the ground, turning him on his side.
We transferred him onto a spine-board, then stretcher, and he was carried off to the critical care section to be treated.

Three days later, Mr. Catch was back, with plenty of alcohol in his system this time. It had been raining those two days and he was still wearing the socks I placed on his feet. They were soaked through, as was he, and a foul smell emanated from them, permeating the whole hallway. An exasperated nurse asked me to do something about it.

Peeling off his shoes, then socks, I definitely made the problem worse for a little while. Another tech came by with soapy wet wipes, and we both attacked the source.
Then, I took a few bottles of peppermint spirit:
The first I hooked up to the compressed air chamber with a nebulizer, to disperse the odor eliminator in the air. The other I placed on the countertop near his feet, using gauze as a reed dispenser of sorts. This worked well, until I walked by later and saw him awake and sniffing the peppermint spirits. "Just like peppermint schnapps!" I moved it out of reach.

A few nights later, I went with a co-worker to a local bar to de-compress after a stressful day. I thought of Mr. Catch and told her the story about when we caught him before he hit the ground during his seizure. I stopped dead during my story because the man walking outside the panoramic bar front window was very familiar. He turned and looked into the bar before walking off. Mr. Catch was looking for his next drink, perhaps.
I have since seen him several times on the street and always wonder to myself if he recognized or remembered me. I hope not. Fortunately, so far, we've never made more than cursory eye-contact.


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