Wednesday, September 5, 2007

People Are Strange, part 2

Saturday night must have been a blowout around here, because come Sunday morning we had a unit full of (pick at least one) intoxicated/suicidal/arrested people getting treated. The psych rooms were full and there were numerous other SIL (sleeping it off) patients.

How you get treated in a situation like this really depends on the circumstances. If you do something illegal while you're drunk you're going to wake up with a blue uniform next to you, and as soon as you're medically able you'll be off to the big house. If you come in with no legal issues (let's just say your frat boy friends got a little concerned when you fell down three flights of stairs), as soon as we finish treating your injuries and rehydrating you, we'll discharge your hungover butt and send you on your way. The treatment of choice is something we call a Banana Bag,which is a yellowish fluid composed of normal saline and a whole pile of vitamins and electrolytes that clearly need to be replaced. Think of it as IV gatorade.

The tricky ones are the Psych cases, the people who have at some point in this whole process been obviously intoxicated, but in that time have expressed any kind of desire whatsoever to harm themselves. This is when it gets difficult. All we can do is let them sleep it off, with a nurse or law enforcement person there with them at all times. These one on ones can be awful when the unit is packed and all you can do is sit there and constantly keep one eye on your still passed out patient. The other nurses glare at you as they race by, but every single one of us would rather be too busy than flipping through a four year old copy of Fisherman's Weekly, bored out of our minds, wondering when the hell our patient is going to finally wake up so we can get on with things. While they're sleeping we continue to draw blood for labs, because the next step in the process is to get a mental health screener in to determine what happens next. Are they really suicidal or was their friend Bud doing the talking? Do they need detox? The catch is that the patient can't still be drunk when this screening is going on, so we draw serial alcohol levels to know when they're sober enough to be evaluated. It's a frustrating time, especially when they wake up belligerent and hung over or still drunk off their tails and mean about it. However frustrating it is though, it's never dull. And it's often hilarious.

I had one guy, in the space of thirty seconds, tell me I was the most beautiful (and only) girl in the room and ask me a) if I was pregnant (what??), b) if I had grandkids (WHAT??), and c) if I could find him a shot of vodka somewhere, before he started singing "Somewhere, over the rainbow..." at the top of his lungs. He looked a little like the Cowardly Lion just to add to the whole scene.

The kid who got to me was just a plain old "too much partying" case. But when he woke up he was scared, he was embarrassed and in his own words, he felt like he was going to die. I'm quite sure that seemed like a distinct possibility. I was closest guess in his alcohol level pool and all I got as a prize was some other fool singing Judy Garland at me. Anyway, this kid is very anxious and heading straight south toward hysterical when his brother and his girlfriend get there to take him home. And as I'm standing about ten feet away pulling meds I can hear them all talking and do you know what the girlfriend is doing?

She's breaking up with him. Right there by the bed. He's standing stiffly with yellow fluid that looks like pee still running into him and a nasty hospital gown flapping in the back and she's telling him that they don't have anything in common anymore and their relationship has just run it's course and they need to see other people, yada yada yada. And he starts crying. Right there by the bed. And do you know what I did?

I threw her out. She said fine, gave him a little wave and, like Elvis, left the building. The patient and his brother looked at each other. The brother was clearly at a loss for words. And do you know what the brother finally said?

"Dude. Sucks to be you. You wanna go get a beer?"


la bellina mammina said...

I just had to laugh with what the brother said!!! I mean, how can you not laugh!!?

Your job sure is never dull...

Kaycie said...

Damn. I do have to admit I'm laughing. But what an insensitive bitch. Good for you, throwing her out! And the brother -- isn't that just what a brother would say!

I'm still laughing. Thanks, RC. I needed that tonight.

my two cents said...

On the one hand, not everyone is blessed with the gift of being able to say the right thing at the right time. On the other hand, it explains how he got there in the first place. What a funny story though!!

code word: npwzllb - maybe he just should have said that!

my two cents said...

p.s. Do you think they actually went for a beer??

Sweet Irene said...

Does it make you sad and frustrated to find people in these sort of conditions? It seems so awful what people do to themselves under the guise of trying to feel better. It seems so dangerous and suicidal almost. I sure feel sorry for that kid, though, and I am glad you threw his girlfriend out. The brother doesn't sound like a bright light either. What a job you've got!

ciara said...

how heartbreaking for that kid. sometimes ppl can be so heartless, and his brother needs a smack upside the head for his last remark lol

bravo for throwing the gf out!

hey, i noticed that ppl do the code word w what i 'think' is the word verification. here's mine:
xqqbmw excuse b moi or maybe you have to excuse the bmw?lol

Jo Beaufoix said...

Oooo RC what a complete cow that girl was.

If I was him I'd have vomited on her shoes.

Very funny though sweetie.

I don't know how you do it.

Flowerpot said...

Great end to a story!

Em said...

Good grief. Glad you threw the selfish cow out!! Poor lad. Very funny though....

Jen said...

I suppose it's people singing Judy Garland that keep it from getting too depressing. Good for you for throwing that wretched girl out. I mean, she could have at least sent him a text message instead. Or waited until he was discharged. Damn.

This is why I like radio. It's generally quiet, and the crazies are on the phone so when they get abusive I can hang up on them.

code: devfmswb They've fm swab.

Sounds like someone trying to combine your job and mine.

Anonymous said...

I have to say it, there really is no hope for some people is there.

How do you manage without losing the plot yourself? You are to be admired, extremely.

Crystal xx

laurie said...

it's funny the way you tell it but it's also so heartbreaking.

wakeupandsmellthecoffee said...

I'm laughing too. But maybe Brother said the exact right thing? He was expressing his sympathy in a surfer guy sort of way and offering his support. And maybe girlfriend had seen your patient practically comatose from drinking one too many time? Just a thought.

Amy said...

I think I know that guy.... Funny and depressing.

My mom worked in a hospital, too. I think I'll print off some of your stories for her to read. She would get a bang out of them.

The Rotten Correspondent said...

bella - No, it's never dull. Even when I want it to be.

kaycie - She was a piece of work all right. It was kind of fun though - it's been a long time since I threw someone out.

my two cents - Can you see my boys doing the exact same thing? Sadly, I can. I hope they passed on the beer, but what do I know?

sweet irene - Part of the reason this blog came about in the first place is because my job upsets me SO much sometimes that I just need an outlet. And it is easier to laugh than cry. Usually.

ciara - I felt so bad for him. Her timing sucked.

jo - He should have vomited on her. heh.

flowerpot - Maybe not so much for him!

em - The sad thing is that I actually enjoyed giving her the boot. That really isn't like me.

jen- Well, I can't hang up on mine, but sometimes I can knock them out.*snicker* ;)

crystal jigsaw - How do I manage? I blog!

laurie - I get my heart broken on a daily basis at work. I wish I knew why I like it so much...

wakeupandsmellthecoffee - I have to admit that I wondered that myself. She may just have been sick to death of his behavior. But her timing was just wrong in my eyes. However, I'm willing to bet there's a whole other side to this story.

amy - I think we all know that guy. That's why it's so scary!

Swearing Mother said...

In the UK we have a TV programme called Holby City and I never believed the stuff that went on in the emergency ward until I read your blog! I bet your working life is never boring, though at times it must be a bit scarey.

But at least sometimes you get to throw people out who annoy you. That must be GREAT!

Mya said...

Sasquatch, Gumby and Surfer Dude will start bringing girlfriends home one day. I pity those poor unsuspecting fillies!

Well done for chucking the silly cow off the premises - talk about bad timing.

Mya x

Willowtree said...

It was a full moon, that may have accounted for some of it. You didn't mention all the males with hand injuries on Friday and Saturday nights.

Diana said...

Boy, nothing like youth to make you truly selfish and insensitive. Poor kid. Let's hope he didn't take his brother up on the beer.

Akelamalu said...

Ah that's a brother for you! LOL