Sunday, November 13, 2011

Dancing in the Moonlight

There is a superstition in Emergency Rooms... that when psychiatric patients suddenly collectively crawl out of the woodwork at once to overwhelm and abuse us, it is not a random act of terrorism but rather an organized, meaningful migration controlled by the phases of the moon. You may scoff at my apparent lunacy, but remember, I used to be just as logical and scientific as you are.  Back before I started working here, I didn't believe in ghosts, cold-blooded murderers, priapism, human cruelty, nor prolapsed urethras either.  Well, I still don't believe in ghosts, but I am otherwise that much more accepting of weird happenstances from my experiences in the ER.   

In any event, whether you believe in the correlation or not, last week's full moon coincided with one of the gnarliest weekends ever at the ER.   All surrounding hospitals, psychiatric treatment centers, urgent care facilities, even our own inpatient areas were totally overwhelmed. Patients were not moving and more kept pouring in. In our ambulance bay, plastic dividers were set up so patients didn't have to watch each other being sutured and otherwise cared for.  Psychiatric emergencies filled the corridors with jungle-like hoots and hollers.  

Mr. Man-child constantly made drawn-out whining noises like an opera student warming up and exhibited less self-control than an advanced dementia patient.  He was tied in 4-point restraints when I took over the job of sitting with him. 
"You's better get me out of these restraints. I'm gonna sue you like nobody's business. Enjoy your freedom now, ********, 'cause I'm gonna own ya when I sue you for all you're worth!"
Intoxicated and naked, he took another approach when I ignored him. "Fine, if you don't let me go, I'm gonna get naked." He tried to throw his blankets off him, though his 4 limbs were tied down. After a fuss and much struggling, he managed to expose his chest and copious rolls of fat.  Livid, he tried to stare me down. Nonchalantly, I ignored the large slitted eyes and closed the curtain to spare innocent passersby the unpleasant visage.  Then came the death threats. "When you walk out of here tonight, expect to get jumped, you ****, don't expect your kungfu skills will do you any good, cause ya know what? You're not bulletproof." 

(P.S. How scary is this... I usually do get affected by death threats like this because the possibility is a little too high to be ignored entirely...

As charmed as I was by his way with words, I had to put an end to the yelling. I met his fury with a calm, collected air, taking him by surprise.  "Mr. Man-child, you are running a fever of over 102 degrees, which is a dangerous condition. You are tied down because you're not making any sense. Think about it." He looked at me in nervous astonishment. "We are trying to help you. Please don't try to struggle and go home because this is really serious."  Careful not to sound like I was condescending to a child, I took him down layer by layer until his noise output was reduced to a quiet whimper every few minutes.  We had no opportunity to celebrate our small victory with Mr. Man-child, though, because Ms. Misogyny decided to start yelling at me to stop "doing a man's job, because you can't do it right. Just stand there and look pretty cause that's all you're good for."  

Twelve hours of this later, I was more than ready for a hot shower and the comfort of some peace and quiet.  
Walking into the brisk night on my way home, I saw the silvery full-moon slipping behind a cloud. Seeing is believing.  


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