Sunday, June 1, 2008

ER stories (long time coming)

My sister recently sent me a shout out and reminded me that I need to write some ER stories!

I work in an area of the ER that is more like an urgent care. No gun shot wounds or traumas, just the usual bumps and bruises that can't wait to see someone's regular doc. For example, a man visiting from ******. (I won't say where to protect his identity and his pride.) He decided, while at the beach, to "pet" a sting ray. Not very bright. He walked away with a 2 inch laceration to the back of his hand. (By the way, if you are ever punctured by a stingray stinger, soak your affected appendage in hot water for about an hour. The hot water denaturizes the proteins in the poison.) Anyway, the doc sewed up his laceration and I was called upon to clean him up and bandage him. I cleaned up his bloody hand with normal saline and spread a nice layer of antibiotic ointment before bandaging his hand. This guy complained about my clean up job, was demanding ointment before I was even done cleaning, then complained about the amount of tape I used to secure his bandage. That's okay, I'm used to people being bossy because usually it is a cover up for how stupid they feel for being there in the first place. Fast forward two days. He comes in for a wound check and my intuition is screaming at me not to deal with him. But, I decide, why subject another nurse to his pickiness. I already know him. I walk in to his exam room and am immediately barraged by insults. He tells me what a "crappy" job I did washing his hand, my "terrible" bandage job, and if I'm having a bad day I shouldn't take it out on him, so on and so forth. "Remember the tape?!" he proclaims, like he is putting me in my place. So I tell him this: "I'm sorry that you are upset.". Not really an apology, because I have nothing to apologize for. As far as my "crappy" wash job, I invite him to wash his own hands in the sink. Well, that didn't go over so well. Apparently I should've soaked my hair in oil and washed his hands that way. He continued to insult me. I calmly set down my bandages and told him I would be right back. Now here is the part where I feel bad. I had to ask another nurse to go in and take over for me. Maybe he just hated me and treated her nicely. But I felt bad putting another nurse in the crossfire. And I refuse to apologize to someone who is asking too much. I did my best job like I would have done for any other patient. I really had to bite my tongue as he left. I wanted to say, "Feel better! Don't pet sting rays!!" It is so hard to give, give, give to people and then have someone treat you as if you are a servant.

A very sweet woman came in after taking a big fall on her skateboard. She was visiting from Seattle. She was sobbing as I brought her into the exam room. This normally doesn't mean anything to me (don't think me callous but some people sob because they stubbed their toe). She told me what happened and I carefully took off her shoe and sock. It was apparent to me that she had a severe fracture, possible needing surgery, at the very least a reduction (re-set). She told me where it had happened and it turns out it was one block away from my house! As she continued to cry she said, "People told me that nobody is nice in LA but people came out to help me!" This statement made me think. Before I moved to LA, I thought the same. The first week I was here I was visually assaulted by someone as I was walking down the street. Some douchebag decided it would be a turn on to jack off in his car and watch me catch a glimpse as I walked by. At the time I was very upset but never called the cops because I thought nobody would care. After living here for over 4 years I know better. Los Angeles is a city made of many small communities. Yes, there are a bunch of idiots, but there are also lots of very nice, loving people who make this city their home, as well. I learn that every day at my job. Lots of idiots, lots of cool people. What can you expect in a city of 10 million people? By the way, we re-set her ankle and as far as I know, is enjoying LA from her moms couch with her foot elevated...

1 comment:

Mama Nomad said...

i think saying "feel better! don't pet stingrays!!" would have been an excedingly nice thing to say considering his rudeness!

people say the same things about NY...and i thought people there were very sweet. with that many people around in such density, you have to learn to get along...

love you!