Thursday, August 4, 2011

Dalliances with Drunks

Mr. Slick began his ER hallway drunk-tank adventure as an explorer. He sailed through the halls, through uncharted wildernesses of unused stretchers and linen closets, stopping man and beast alike to chat and build local street cred. He sensed the triage nurses were inattentive and slow and he knew the system like the back of his hand. Eventually, he was caught by the native security guards and escorted back to his bed without being tied down. He tried to talk me out of his involuntary stay on his stretcher, but it was to no avail. Grumbling, he covered himself with a sheet and passed out for a few hours. His BAC was .380.

Mr. Scumbag then wheeled in with a BAC of .327. He refused to admit he drank anything and proceeded to ask directly for a sandwich as soon as he was settled on the stretcher. He also needed a glass of water and needed to go to the bathroom, too. Despite these needs, the floor was "too dirty to walk on" for him. Eventually someone fetched him a sandwich. He didn't eat a bite before he asked me to throw it out, "not to be a scumbag or anything." Winking at me, he kept making a come-hither sign, saying "hey, hey, pssst, come'ere." The first time, I did go near him and all he said was, "you're gorgeous." Uh, thanks. "Wait, come back, come'ere." He looked conspiratorial- "whatever you have to say to me, you can just say it out loud." "Tsk... no, really, come here, it's important." "You know you're into me." Half an hour later, he gave up, "you don't want to talk to me because you know I'm a scumbag." I did take him to the bathroom and suddenly, he put me in a bear-hug. Feeling his arm around my throat was not a good feeling, so I called security and he tried to laugh it off. He was escorted back to his stretcher and warned. He soon became bored and woke up Mr. Slick.

They became great buddies, feeding off each other. Mr. Slick knew our system well from coming in all the time and taught Mr. Scumbag what "AMA" means- against medical advice. This prompted a chorus of "I want to sign out AMA! I want to sign out AMA!" Of course, as I explained calmly, this was impossible considering they were intoxicated and therefore incompetent to make that decision. Then, Mr. Slick pulled out a cellphone, which was not allowed. I told the nurse, who totally undermined me by saying "I don't care if they have it if it makes them calmer." Way to go for standing up for your co-workers and workplace morale. Mr. Scumbag snatched the cell phone and tried to use it, too, to no avail. Our radiology department was next door and the leaded walls blocked out signal. Mr. Scumbag declared my explanation as "a crock of ****", and Mr. Slick became convinced the hospital was full of voodoo that blocked cellphone signals instead. "Hey, I'll give you $100 if you go get Burger King for me," Mr. Slick offered me. I laughed at him and turned to help the nurse with Mr. Scumbag.

A nurse tried to take vital signs on Mr. Scumbag. The cuff kept popping off. His arms weren't that big and I watched him to see why- he was flexing as the meter read and being a general d-bag. He started bragging "You can't take my blood pressure because they're DIESEL," posing for all to see. The nurse gave up. Soon, Mr. Scumbag realized nobody was watching him flex and he got bored, declaring "I just wanna go home and get laid."

Mr. Slick shook his head, deciding he did not like his new friend. That was when Mr. Slick's neighbor, Mr. Goldfish, wheeled in. Mr. Goldfish was looking for his phone, which was in his pocket the whole time. Security took it out and put it in the bag under his stretcher because he was not allowed a phone. He had some sort of short-term memory loss- he didn't remember anything that happened about 10 seconds before. So he kept asking for his phone. Pleading for it. Pleading for us to find it. So he could call our hospital. He did not stop and mournfully wailed for it, even crying large tears out of both eyes. Why are you crying, Mr. Goldfish? My mother died! he wailed. He continued crying inconsolably. He refused to breathalyze for about half an hour despite our most insistent nurse drilling at him. Finally, I asked him- when did your mother die? 20 years ago. Geez, the way he was crying, one would have thought it was yesterday. Soon, Mr. Goldfish was put in 2-point restraints because he kept flailing and refusing to sit back. When he was taken out of restraints, based on a verbal agreement that he'd behave, 30 seconds later, he had to be put back in. He didn't register there ever was any sort of agreement. Completely incapable of normal cognition, my hours with him wailing and asking for his phone really grated on my nerves.

"This is a sobering experience," observed Mr. Slick. "I wanna go get laid," interjected Mr. Scumbag. "WHERE IS MY PHONE? CAN I HAVE MY PHONE?" asked Mr. Goldfish.

8 Hours later, the noise level was still the same and I was beat. Drunk tank tech is done for the day. Time to go for a long run.


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