by Lucky Garvin
I’m on duty in the ER. Thirty inches of fresh snow on the ground. Police are asking that all unessential travel be avoided; and patients are signing in left and right to be seen with chronic complaints: `M’back’s been hurtin’ fer nigh on thirty year. Thought I’d get it checked out!’
I tell you, Virginia could be in a nuclear confrontation with New Jersey, and folks would be coming to the ER for suture rechecks! But, stand to your philosophy, Gahv, each day brings its petty dust. Don’t take it too seriously.
A patient of mine did a speed-bump. Where was he hurting? He pointed behind him and said, “Right here at the neck of my head.” [Oh, you know where that is, right near the shoulder of your back!]
During the recent blizzard, roads were all but impassable. How to get Dr. Culpepper home after his shift? “We got you a snow-mobile and a driver,” said the nurses.
“Oh great!” he said. Then he paused and asked, “What’s a snow-mobile?” [He was raised-up in Tallahassee and he don’t get out much.]
Reluctant to spill the beans, one of them answered, “Well… uh… you might say it’s like a small car.”
“Oh great! Ah know all about cars!” he said. They led him out to the parking lot in front of the snow vehicle. He looked around the lot and said, “So. Where is it?”
“You’re standing in front of it.”
“No. I’m standing in front of a little sled with a motor and the words `organ donor’ written all over it.”
But, rather than spend another minute in the ER, he grabbed fate by the forelock and reluctantly climbed aboard, all the while uttering shamelessly profligate promises to his God in exchange for getting him safely home. A platoon of saints could never have achieved all the good works Dr. Culpepper promised his Maker that day.
A patient stopped and stared at me like I was a urine sample. “Dr. Garvin! What happened?! You’ve gotten so much older! Did you have a stroke?! [Working at a medical facility, I’m sure someone would have told me.]
“Well, when was the last time you saw me?”
“About five years ago.”
“Did you expect me to get younger?”
“Well, no, but not to look this old!”
She later asked me if I was angry at her for telling me I looked so old. I said, “No. Happens all the time.”
But then, there are compensations: I stepped into the examining room. The little six year old girl squealed, “Oh goody. A boy doctor!” Thank you, Ma’am!
People wonder why I’m burned out:
The patient came for a return visit and told me, “I didn’t take those pills you gave me and I’m no better.”
It’s 4 AM. Three patients. One with a cat bite sustained at 6 PM the previous day. Dropped by for a tetanus shot.
5:30 AM: A lady with a knee injury. Three weeks ago. No increase in pain. She just got tired of it.
5:45 AM: The lady has a sinus infection. She was diagnosed one week ago. Took her antibiotics two days. Felt better. Quit them. The infection flared up again. Go figure. So, she came in to be seen. By ambulance.
6 AM: My legs got weak after my heart surgery three years ago.” “And you just now got around to coming in to be seen?” “Yeah.”
6:05 AM: He needed a refill on a medicine a physician had given him in California. Helped him breath. Oxygen tablets.
“You got the physician’s name?” I asked. “Dr. Somebody.” Well, that’s getting the ball over the plate, eh?
“Nurse,” I said, “look at the roster and see which of our physicians has the first name of `Dr.’”
A 39 year old fellow came in with heart pain. No past history of heart trouble. But, he’d been using cocaine. He was playing `the innocent.’ “Oh, is coke bad for you?”
“No, sir,” I said, “It’s one of the four basic food groups.” The other three are: Mellow Yellow, sun-flower seeds and trail mix.
I went in to see a fellow who happened to be a bilateral leg amputee. He told me he worked as a stand-up comedian. [True.]
Look for Lucky’s books locally and on-line: The Oath of Hippocrates; The Cotillian; A Journey Long Delayed.