Thursday, September 1, 2011

Humor in the Time of Overcrowding

"Do you have time for a short story?" Mr. Professor asked as I was pulling my nurse-on-a-stick vital signs machine out the door. I stopped, "sure."

"So on Good Morning America this morning, this is a true story, mind you, there was a guy who got his foot stuck in some machinery and had the strength of will to cut off all five of his toes. When he called the ambulance, his friend said to him, why did you call the ambulance? Why didn't you call the tow-truck?"

I laughed at him for being silly, but he insisted, it was a true story- how great it is to have a sense of humor like that in such a time. It's true- it's a sign of the just how deep the friendship was and how smart the guy had been to do what he could to make his friend feel slightly better about the situation. Mr. Professor quickly became my favorite patient of the day. A local college lecturer, he had been in the middle of a class when the room suddenly felt very warm. After a dizzy spell, he came in to visit us and we observed him for changes in troponin-levels- something that signifies damage to heart-muscle.

Every time I came in, he would greet me warmly and I would open up and talk to him, tell him stories of what I had seen, including when I had a full half-hour's worth of one-sided conversation with a man who was completely deaf. He was surrounded by loving family who carefully and tenderly cared for him. A man with a great sense of humor and presence, who really made my night.


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