Monday, December 26, 2011

Holiday Hijinx

My white cloud brought me no traumas Christmas Day (yay!), so I kept myself busy helping in the other sections for the day. First theme of Christmas: there were many, many people who didn't chew their food well enough, coming in with foreign bodies in their throats.  I have to say, pulling steak out of someone's throat wasn't what I was expecting to be doing!

Another theme of the Christmas season has been the dropping off the elderly at the ER because nonnie or poppy "wasn't acting right." Unfortunately, because the holidays are the only time the family visits, the mental changes in their beloved, albeit neglected parents/grandparents/great aunts/great uncles were not necessarily acute.  "Yes, Mr. Dementia is confused sir, yes, he probably wasn't like this the last time you visited, no, actually, this isn't new- we've seen your loved one several times already this year and this has been his/her baseline. Also unfortunately, it is the holidays and their immediate placement in nursing homes is very unlikely until at least the next business day, please don't yell or call your lawyer?"

There were also many, many overdose patients.  One family found their son unconscious in the bathroom because he had taken whatever pills he had found in the medicine drawer in a suicide attempt.  The parents removed and brought the whole drawer to the ER. It was full of empty pill bottles. The only one still half full was the bottle of Vitamin D pills.  Waiting in the family room, the parents kept harassing our resident.  However, the clean-up process was long. The young man was covered in paint-chip-like flakes, which turned out to be half-digested pills. Yours truly also figured out how to work the new "stomach-pumper", but it yielded little, as mostly everything was already expelled or digested. When we finally invited the parents in, I could understand why the resident got so frazzled. If you could picture older hippie Trekkies, they were the disheveled stereotype.  When we transported the young man to the ICU, the father was at the bedside telling his son that they were going on a spaceship and warping to another universe.  Privately, though, he choked to me, "thank you for the best Christmas present ever, for bringing him back." The father then asked me if we shaved him.  "No, we haven't done anything, why?" "Well, you see, he was about five days unshaven the last time I saw him... So I was just wondering." It was probably how his son meant to look at the "end."  Poor family- I hope the best for them.

Another young man had overdosed on narcotics and was intubated when he came in. A nurse and I felt the long track marks on his right arm and looked at each other- "this guy must be left-handed!" Later, a respiratory therapist had undone the restraint on a wrist in order to draw a blood gas.  Alas it was his left hand! He was apparently awake, pushed her hand aside and ripped the endotracheal tube right out of his throat, balloon still intact and puffed up. Ouch!! He then looked at me and asked me for juice!! The doctor said no and he was admitted to the ICU for observation anyway.

Our Christmas Trannie came in to visit wearing a Christmas speedo. We know because she/he/it was smoking funny things and flashed us while in four-point restraints, shaking her booty and grinding toward the sky for all to see while viciously lambasting us at the same time. Talk about mixed  messages.  She/he/it was visually very feminine and attractive, so hearing his voice screaming in the ambulance bay was rather incongruous.  His bright lipstick made her fast-moving lips a hypnotic and mesmerizing point of focus.

In the midst of the hustle, one of our drunk/psych patients came in and latched onto me in triage while I was taking vital signs. She wouldn't let me go and bawled her sorry eyes out while pretending to be someone else. We knew her from her many visits by name, though, and called her out on it, making her sob even harder.  Meanwhile, our Christmas Trannie was tranquilized, and in the moment she/he/it rolled by, Ms. Hot Mess was distracted and I extricated my hands. The evening thus became considerably calmer.

This weekend has been at moments uplifting, hilarious, and poignantly sad.  All in all, though, I am just very tired... Managers had scheduled me on Christmas Eve Eve (1530-midnight), Christmas Eve (1100-2330), Christmas Day (0730-2000)... I am feeling the most burnt out I have felt since June, the month I was stuck in the drunk tank almost every day.

However, I am thankful to have today off. Post-holiday Manic Monday doubly busy- the day when everyone who said "I'll wait till after the holiday" or "We'll see if it gets better by Monday" decide to come in.  Looking forward to an early bedtime tonight. : )


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