Haaaaaa, night shifts in the ER…
Clock, waiting room, patients, patients. Pager. Telephone, x-ray, stethoscope, clock, scalpel, patients, stitches, patients, clock, again, and again.
Serious stuff, dirty stuff, benign, mosquito-bite-like stuff, moving, emotional, funny stuff.
Anxiety, too much of, or not enough. Nervous mothers, sons falling apart, nice hysterical girls, aggressive folks.
They’re all different. They’re all alike.
So when it’s 3AM, when you begin your seventeenth hour in a row, when the patience and indulgence you’re usually so proud of have an unfortunate tendency to slowly fade away, you try nonetheless to keep some words for yourself. And you hope very hard that they won’t slip out some night.
To this guy who wants a knee x-ray, tonight at 10PM, for a pain he’s had for two weeks. And for which he has, in his pocket, an x-ray prescription from his doctor, for the next day. When he looks down on you and says « But tomorrow, I got to go to work ». (Really? Well, tomorrow I got to go run naked in a clover field, asshole.)
To this other guy, with a svastika tattooed on his shoulder, when you are doing your best to stitch up his eyebrow arch, while he’s conscientiously throwing up on you. And that’s before he starts yelling that you’d better leave him alone now, cause there’s no way he’s gonna be screwed like that, and we’re in a fuckin’ democracy and he can choose whoever he wants as a doc, and that sure won’t be some fuckin’ chick… (Aaaaaah, you see we finally have an agreement there, Sir, cause I don’t usually treat complete jerks.)
To the very nice old lady who doesn’t know anything about her medical history because her daughter usually takes care of everything, but she’s pretty sure that every morning she takes « a tablet, you know, doctor, it’s white and the blister is green and white ». (Oh, I see! It’s the tablet for the disease, you know, with those signs?)
To this girl who comes for a « lump under her arm » that she’s had for a month and a half. When you ask why she decided to show up, precisely now, at 3AM, she answers « A friend of mine this afternoon told me it could be cancer, so of course you see now I’m worried, could you just do a quick ultra-sound for me ? And while you’re at it do you think it’s gonna take long? Cause I’ve been waiting for 45 minutes already… ». (Oh yeah, it’s going to take some time… Plus we have to consider a CT Scan for your brain cancer…)
To those who are outraged to have to wait for one, two, or sometimes three hours in the waiting room, when they all cry out « But this is supposed to be an emergency department, for God’s sake! ». (Yup, but it doesn’t mean « emergency » in that way, sweet honey bee, so just shut up now.)
To those who answer « Oh, for a while » when you ask for how long it’s been that way. (Okay, now I have a diagnosis. It’s almost certain you have a disease.)
To this guy who flatly refused to get a CT Scan, because he wanted an MRI, and who ended up saying to me « After all, Madam, the customer is always right! ». (I have no words.)