Friday, August 27, 2010

Totally badass

So, I think one of my weaknesses at this job is going along with the fuss a lot of people make about their medical conditions. A good deal of the people I see are being treated for problems I've had before- sprains, breaks, gastroenteritis and nasty upper respiratory infections- mostly at home with zero drama. When I have to deliver morphine for something that turns out to be a stomach bug or send someone home with Hydrocodone, but apparently not enough, for a sprained ankle, I kind of want to punch something. Bitch, please. Suck it up.
But lately. Wow. I've taken care of a couple of people so tough and badass that all I could do is sit back in admiration.
We had the adorable young stabbing victim. He was on the way to the bar when a guy flagged him down in the road. He said he normally wouldn't have stopped but that the guy had his kids with him and he wanted to help. He picked the man up to bring him somewhere for help, and the man stabbed him in the stomach and ran off. This guy drove himself home about 10 or 15 miles, where his sister then brought him up to the hospital. He probably had a good 4 inches of intestine sticking out of his abdominal wall. He didn't scream or cry. He strolled in casually where we brought him back to a trauma room- the only fuss he made at all was when I had to start his two 16 gauge IVs- and by made a fuss, I let him squeeze one hand while I started the IV with the other and he looked away. He never once asked for narcotics, but he did want to know what kind of antibiotics he was getting. He was a little nervous about getting transferred for surgery. He looked at me and said "Can't you just push it back in there?". I laughed and told him that he probably wouldn't want it done that way. He smiled and said,"No, it's cool. Just dump some of that hand sanitizer you guys use on there. It'll be fine." Hilarious. I was sad to see him go.
I took care of an older man recently who had fallen off his roof at about 6 that night. Not doing anything stupid like lots of our patients, just trying to clean the gutters. He fell about 10 feet but he stuck it out at home and tried to take some Aleve. He came it at 1 AM cause the pain got worse. I was pretty freaked out that he had broken something important or had a traumatic injury to an organ, yet he was incredibly patient about waiting to see a doctor and very sweet and funny. I got him some Fentanyl and we x-ray and CT'd just about everything- nothing life threatening going on, but homeboy had broken off a chunk of his scapula. Yeah. It was just floating around in there while he was chilling at the house with his OTC pain meds.
Then last week. I took care of a lady with a Hemoglobin at about half of what it should be. I asked her if she'd be feeling dizzy or weak. Yeah. For a while now. But she was trying to get in a clinic. She didn't want to come to the ER and bother anyone. Was a little freaked out about getting transfused. No, it's fine. I'm really okay as long as I'm lying down. It's been like this three weeks and the only time I wanted to pass out was going up some stairs. I talked her into the transfusion and finally got her upstairs to a bed. She'd been a hold in the ER most of the night with zero complaints.
I realize it's a little extreme. But I love patients like this. There's something very refreshing about taking care of people that actually belong in the ER, but it's even more refreshing when you can tell that they don't even think of treating the ER like a Starbucks. I wish there was some kind of medal of honor I could give them so that they could go out in the community and be like, "Yeah guys, look at this. I had a legit painful illness but I handled it like it was nothing. I'm a badass, fear me." At least I get to give them IV pain meds. I guess that's the next best thing.


  1. Yes, those types of patients are wonderful. Unfortunately for my husband, being stoic didn't pay off in our hometown ER....but I guess getting your fingernails ripped off doesn't rate compared to an MI or broken bones or whatever.....oh well. At least he got seen eventually...(but didn't get any pain meds btw - not that he asked for them!) I guess that's the difference between a drug seeker and a legit.

  2. tuff patients are the best. specially if they don't smell.