Monday, September 25, 2006

The Hot Dog Incident

The day started out calm enough - no overfills, triage going well, wait time less than 30 minutes. We were living high on the hog of ER medicine. Then Lucy said the dreaded word...............the word we all fear.

"Boy, it sure is QUIET today"

Time stood still as we all swung around to look at her. In slow motion, you could see Dr Q running toward her, arm flung out attempting to cover her mouth with his hand. "Oh noooooooooooooooooooooooo!" he cried as he tripped over the cord for the fluid warmer. "Not the Q word!"

Instantly, the ER doors flew open and a multiple victim ATV wreck self-presented to the ER. A dark cloud descended over the ER as we glared at Lucy. "This is YOUR fault" Dr. Q said, struggling to get his legs untangled from the warmer cord. "You did this to us." After 20 seconds of what appeared to be some new African tribal dance, he freed himself and accompanied us out to triage.

The four victims were sorted and triaged when an elderly couple walked in with c/o chest pain. "You both have chest pain?" I asked. "Yes" they replied in unison. "Well, what brought it on?" Red faced and stuttering, the old man said "well, you see..... we were, um........well, we were kinda...." "Oh for Christ's sake Harold - just say it" his wife replied. "We were having sex miss and we both started feeling a little short of breath and having a bit of chest pain. We didn't think it was bad enough to call an ambulance so we just drove ourselves up." I looked at Harold who was looking a little bit gray all of a sudden. Our lovers were escorted back to the cardiac rooms.

Lucy came running up to me at that point screaming "Some dude in the lobby cut his hand off with a chainsaw - there's blood everywhere!" All our beds were full at this point. Oh, what to do - what to do? Rooms were swapped, people moved around, and another doc called.

Approximately 6 hours later, Lucy calls and asks for lunch relief. "Yeah, right" I reply. Seriously? Lunch? Dream on, I thought. I immediately filed her request in the back of my mind and continued to help my current patient. This one had wrecked his bike when he tried to jump a barbed wire fence. In what had to have been only 4 maybe 5 seconds later (if I allow time for Dr Q's clumsiness), Dr Q approached me and said "Lucy's crying in front of a patient." "WHAT?" I said, immediately stepping out into the hall to find her.

Lucy was a bit flustered. By a bit I mean weeping uncontrollably, snot draining from her nose, throwing pens across the room flustered. I pulled her out of the room and into the nurse's lounge. "What the hell is going on?" I asked.

Between snorts and sobs she says "I ..... just ....wanted.......lunch.......and ........I got this.........snort, snuffle, cough......... hour ago..............and it's ....... shriveled........and..........cough, hack, sob...........cold!" I just stared at her, my mouth hanging open. She continued. "And.......I'm not going the damn thing............NOW!" she screamed. With the speed of a professional baseball player (which in all honestly, I never though Lucy had any talent in that arena at all), she threw the hot dog on the floor and stomped out of the room. "I'm leaving and I'm going to eat lunch!"

The poor hot dog was shriveled, I'll give her that. It was also now broke into an open massive wound of meatflesh. It had left a trail of grease across the floor as it bounced on it's merry way. I stared at this poor hotdog in disbelief. I was in shock - this poor hotdog was mutilated, destroyed, dead.

Dr. Q threw the door open - "What are you doing? I need you out here!" he screamed.

"Staring at a hotdog" I replied.

He wrinkled his brow in confusion. "Umm............" he started to reply.

"Lucy's hotdog is on the floor" I said.

"Ummm........OK" he said. "Let's go back out to the ER now. Slowly. Just come with me," he urged.

As he was pulling me out, my eyes shifted to the hotdog. "Lucy went to lunch" I said.