As part of the ancillary nursing staff, the technician is a cover-all role for all the random and labor-intensive tasks of the emergency room. Being a tech is one of the most interesting and difficult jobs one can have and I hope you enjoy my stories from the bottom of the healthcare ladder at a busy city ER.
HIPAA: None of the names I use are those of real patients.
Monday, July 11, 2011
Jailbreak Week: The Smiling Hipster
According to UrbanDictionary.com:
Definition 1: Hipsters are a subculture of men and women typically in their 20's and 30's that value independent thinking, counter-culture, progressive politics, an appreciation of art and indie-rock, creativity, intelligence, and witty banter.
Definition 2: Usually has some degree of monetary conformability, although sometimes only because of their parents, due to cost of living...
Definition 3: The Hipster walks among the masses in daily life but is not a part of them and shuns or reduces to kitsch anything held dear by the mainstream.
Definition 5: Referring to young people of around 18-30 years of age, who drink cheap beer (most often Pabst Blue Ribbon, on occasion Budwiser), smoke Parliaments, Lucky Strikes or hard to obtain foreign cigarettes (such as Gauloises) and take recreational drugs, coke being the most popular. Use a great deal of sarcasm, claim to be ironic. Are usually less than 5% body fat, drink copious amounts of coffee and eat children's cereal.
Check check check x5.
He was smart, he was well-spoken, and he was also a heroin addict. He informed us of this in a nonchalant, sing-song-y tone. He was in custody when he tried to hang himself and ended up as a trauma patient on my shift. Because he had "suicidal intent", I was stuck sitting with him, even though I was supposed to be working in the trauma bay.
Alex was very thin, younger than me, with translucent skin. His long eyelashes made his face look innocent, but looks can be deceiving.
He listed all the things he had done as if none of it mattered- in addition to heroin, he took cocaine, but he wasn't worried about the cocaine, just the heroin. So how did he pay for it all? (He looked around with wide eyes- this is all off the record, right? The cop chuckled.) He sold drugs in order to buy drugs. He also lives in an extremely affluent neighborhood with a good friend whose father was a millionaire who owns a successful local business. He had been through college, partially, till he discovered his predilection for narcotics.
He also added serious points to my street cred: So, a bundle of heroin is 20 bags. He takes a bundle and a half to two bundles each day. In each bag, there is about 50mg of powder. In the northeast, the purity rate, according to various online sources, is about 75%. Therefore, if he is taking 1.5 bundles, he is using 30 bags, which is 1500mg of powder, of which 1125mg is pure heroin. >1 g of heroin a day. Mein gott!
Alex had never thought about detox or trying to get better. He described drug-euphoria for us and charmingly made everyone laugh. He keenly grilled the cop about various checkpoints and code names in the city, even offering to help him bust drug dealers.
"Oh Alex, we got to get you out of this life." Nurse 1
"Oh Alex, you don't belong to that world." Nurse 2
"Oh Alex, you gotta find new friends, we can help you get to a program. You're too smart for this." Nurse 3
Everyone was so charmed, but I had a few pointed questions for this young gentleman who answered everything with a smile. I sensed a hint of triumph in his face- one that said, that was too easy.
"So, just between us, did you really want to kill yourself?"
"No, actually," answered the honest lad, "I made sure my feet were partially on the ground when they found me."
I heard a mental gasp from everyone around me as the facade of honesty and pure youth lifted from their faces.
"What? I just didn't want to detox in jail. I figured the hospital was the best place to be."
The injuries he sustained on his neck were from the warden, who really held him up the wall and punched him for faking it until the ambulance arrived.
"So," Alex tried his luck, "Officer, you're a good guy. Can you turn around, I'll take this neck brace off and take off, and you can tell them that you never saw me."
Ah, the hopeless romance of youth. He simpered, smirked, and made love to us all (who knows the reference?), but to no avail; he stayed in custody and stayed in our facilities for the night.
Nice try, hipster kid.
The happy hipster is an oxymoron. The smiling one is just a snake in the grass.
Bye Alex, best of luck, because you really are a smart kid. Here are some discharge instructions from another facility that says it perfectly: