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.
Tuesday, July 12, 2011
Jailbreak Week: What Else Did You Put Up There?
I knew it was too good to be true. It has only been a week since I've been in the drunk tank; I've been stationed there several times since, but people have been nice enough to take that shift from me, knowing my particular dislike for being there all the time.
Alas, last night, I wasn't to be spared.
It happens to be jailbreak week, for whatever reason. Police are patrolling our halls instead of the streets, keeping an eye on those in custody. When prisoners flip out and give themselves health issues, they can come to the hospital to be 'coddled and catered to', as one cop put it.
My first few hours were in the drunk tank, which was converted to psychiatric patient overflow. For some reason, they are pouring in this week (and it's not a full moon yet). One of my patients put me on edge; she had been there before, violent, verbally abusive, manipulative. Luckily (for me) or unluckily (for her), whatever drugs she had taken were making her delirious and nonsensical. She couldn't keep her concentration long enough to make any real demands or implement any plans.
Then, I took my dinner break, was yelled at by charge nurse for doing so, since she needed me to sit. Were you on dinner break? Yes. Did you tell anybody? I wasn't assigned on the sheet, so no. I've been looking 45 minutes for you. That's absolutely incorrect- I took 30 minutes. 45, she insisted. Ok, well, where should I be sitting? She chided me some more, then sent me to the obgyn room. (Nurse power trips are so sad to watch. Don't bully techs!) Lucky I took my break; I wouldn't have gotten one if she found me a minute sooner.
My lady Tina was in custody. I was instructed to never take my eyes off her and to take any wires or cords away from her. She had apparently tried to hang herself in our ambulance bay. Tina, upon seeing me, demanded a sandwich. I said, I need to ask the doctor. Oh no, I can't wait, just get me one since I've already had one! It's ok! The other tech came in and gave her a sandwich. I looked in the trash pail, she had already eaten at least one. She snarfed it down in less than 2 minutes.
She then settled under her blanket and proceeded to masturbate. The blanket was thin, she was naked under it (for fear she'd hang herself on a hospital gown with laces), and the stretcher was moving. When I walked over, she stopped, then after a few seconds, started again.
Great. Now I feel like a pervert.
The OB-GYN resident came in and needed me to stay there to do a pelvic exam. The drunk, non-English speaking trauma patient I was also watching had to be watched by someone else as I stayed in that horrific room.
"So how many partners do you have?"
She shrugged. "I don't even know"
"20? 30? 50??" as she shook her head.
"More?" She nodded.
"Ok... any history of STD's?" She didn't answer.
"So what else did you put up there?"
Tina had taken a whole box of tissues and stuffed them one-by-one into her birth canal. The resident took a large speculum and some speculum tongs and fished out the foul, blackened plugs. Upon irrigating the area with water, all of it splashed out onto the sheets and the floor.
"Whoops, looks like I made a mess," he exclaimed and hurriedly left the room, never to return. With the help of a nurse, I cleaned the room of the water from Tina's netherparts and returned to sit down. "I want a sandwich! Can I please have a sandwich? I'm so HUNGRY. They don't feed me in there!"
"Tina, you've had 2."
"One," she corrected me. I rolled my eyes.
She kept pleading, nonstop, and at this point, I was really annoyed. After a few hours of this kind of slow abuse, it really adds up!
I asked the volunteer to go fetch a lunchbox, which she also scarfed down in less than 5 minutes.
She then proceeded to her after-meal exercise, which is to say, the sheets started moving again and the stretcher started shakin'.
Edit: Mind you, one of her hands was cuffed to the stretcher, so she only had use of one for eating... and other purposes...
The resident came in to give her discharge instructions and an antibiotic. They were set to go, but the officer needed hospital-jail paperwork, so we asked the resident, and again, and thrice. An hour later, I left my sitting duty (against my credo) to ask one more time, to see the doctor chatting with others. He dismissed me in an annoyed way and said, I'll get to it in a minute when I'm not busy. His minute just to print out a sheet of paper was 3 hours of time- mine, the officer's, and the patient's, who was still enjoying herself this whole time.
These are the nights that will make me burn out. I don't think it's ego- I'm not averse to working hard or under people- it's just that one can only stand for so much mental abuse such as sitting without repercussions.