Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Epiphany!

I was browsing through the blogs of BabsRN, AD, MonkeyGirl, ERNursey, and the other medical professionals who drop by here, and the answer to a decade-old puzzle suddenly appeared.

'Bout ten years or so back, I was standing outside the ER of an Amarillo hospital, when a lovely nurse gave me one hell of a hug, kissed my cheek and said, "Thank you."

The ER was jumping that night with everyone doing forty things at once, and I didn't want to distract her, so I never got to ask why. I had thought of going back when they weren't busy, but she was wearing a wedding band -- and I don't poach -- so I chalked it up as a pleasant little mystery and moved on out.

The mystery has been solved.

An hour or so before the incident in question, the S.O. got a panicky 911 call from a house occupied by an elderly couple. The call was from the wife, and entirely unintelligible, so I head thataway.

When I get there, I find her husband sitting in a chair, clutching his chest and panting. He's chalk-white, soaked with sweat, and cussing his angina.

Seeing a small brown vial open on the table beside his chair, I ask how many of the nitro pills he's taken, and he says, "Four" further opining that "The damned things are out of date, because they ain't working" as he massages his left shoulder and jaw. The scrip had been filled three months previous.

I broke two Olympic records and a porcelain vase on the sprint for my cruiser where the radio and AED were located.

I'm slapping the leads on his chest, when all of a sudden the house is full of volunteer firemen, EMTs and deputies. One of the many reasons why I love living in a small town.

The big unit goes on, and it's firmly decided that the gentleman is on his way to the 'Rillo. His wife is determined to accompany, but the paramedic takes me aside and whispers that more than likely they're going to be doing some pretty dramatic things before getting to Amarillo, and it would probably be best if she wasn't sitting up front to watch them jumping up and down on her husband's chest.

Nae problemo, sayeth I, I'm 15 minutes from End of Shift, I'll take her in the Super Scooter. Things Go Rodeo, she's with me and doesn't have to see it.

All well and good.

Even better is when we pull up behind the ambulance at Amarillo, they're off-loading her husband -- and he's grouching about it.

Nonetheless, he goes in at the head of the line. And a long line it is, too. That place was swamped. Folks piled up in the lobby, beds lined up in the halls, nurses hither and thither, looked about like Grand Central Station, only with more crying people.

Gentleman goes into a alcove, I follow behind with his wife, get her settled, ask if there's anything else we can do, and get set to leave.

As I exit the alcove, a pretty nurse comes out of the next door alcove with that walk ladies get when they really want to stomp, but they're not going to, muttering a steady stream of cuss words under her breath and she ricochets right off of me.

I tip my hat, pick her up and she slaps my hands and snarls, "I suppose you want Vicodin, too!" before stalking her way to the front.

I shrug, a little nonplussed, but write it off to stress, turn to leave and happen to glance through the not-pulled-quite-shut curtain into the alcove she just left.

There's Two-Step. Laying on the cot, left arm over his eyes, legs crossed, finger of his right hand drumming on the mattress.

Two-Step had (probably still has, if he's still alive) a rap sheet longer than I am tall for Theft, Burglary and Possession of Controlled Substances.

And there's warrant for his arrest on a burglary charge sitting on my desk.

My day is looking up.

I walk into the alcove to make sure that the body laying on the table is, indeed, my suspect, and when I do, I brush the curtain with my shoulder.

The noise causes the perfectly relaxed Two-Step to utter the most heart-rending, pitiful, hammy, fakest groan I have ever, in my life, heard -- followed by, "Oh, Gawd, I can't take the pain! I'm gonna lose my mind if I don't get some relief from this pain!"

I really can't think of anything to add to that, and I'm for a phone as Two-Step continues, "My back! I've got to have something for the pain! And a pillow, because my doctor said ... Mr. 'Dog?!"

"Hello, Two-Step," sez I, pretty much figuring he's stupid or desperate enough to think I can't touch him outside of Bugscuffle County, "You okay?"

"Oh, Mr. 'Dog, it's the pain. I just can't take it!"

"I hear you, Two-Step. Listen, I just brought Mrs. Humphrey over to tend to her husband and I've got to get back to Bugscuffle. You take care now, you hear?"

"Yes, sir, Mr. 'Dog."

I slip out of the alcove and drift down to the Nurse's Desk, whistling a jaunty tune, before asking the duty nurse behind the desk for a phone, then happily dialling the office number.

"Bugscuffle County Sheriff's Office."

"Earlene, it's 'Dog. Listen, I need you to run a local check for Critter, Jody, a/k/a Two-Step."

"Lordy, what's that boy done now ... I swear, he's going to be the death of his momma ... here it is. One valid warrant for burglary."

"Thanks, Earlene, tell the boss I'm still in Amarillo, and I'll be back as soon as I hook-up Two-Step and find a local to take custody of him."

"All right, 'Dog."

I hand the phone back to the duty nurse -- who is regarding me with disbelief -- give her a beatific smile and trot back down to Two-Steps alcove ...

... where the little bugsnipe has apparently developed some smarts and legged it out the door.

Oh, well. Catch some, lose some. I'll get him next time.

So, I'm just outside the ER door, heading for the Super Scooter and idly wondering if I'm hungry enough to stop at the Waffle House, when the nurse who bounced off me earlier comes out of the door and gives me the hug and kiss mentioned above.

It wasn't until today that I discovered that Two-Step's pitiful attempt at scoring dope is apparently very common, very widespread and a major pain-in-the-neck to ER staff everywhere, with addicts tying up desperately needed ER space while trying to game the system for narcotics.

Goodness.

Glad I could help, in a small way.

LawDog

16 comments:

Ambulance Driver said...

Oh yeah, brother. It's an epidemic. And on a few occasions here recently, I have placed a discreet phone call when some of our more egregious systems abusers venture through the door...

...to let the local cops know that Wanda P. Drugseeker is here in the flesh, and just idly wondering, does she have any outstanding warrants?

My colleagues ask me, "Bet it wasn't this bad on the ambulance, huh?"

To which I reply, "Sez who? The ones I'd get on the bolance were the drug seekers who were too lazy to even find a ride."

Babs RN said...

Yeppers, when I can't find a client on my caseload, one who used to follow me around the ER demanding her Demerol, and the first number I call in attempting to locate her is the non-emergency dispatch number to find out where they've been picking her up from lately...you know there's a problem. It's universal.

ERnursey said...

Mr. 'Dog, I love my local cops so much that when they bring in a 'med clearance I will put them at my desk if they don't have anywhere else to go...and you know what I get in return? There is one nice officer that drops by everytime he is within a couple of blocks just to check and see if we have any drunks he can take to jail for us or if anyone is being rowdy.:)

Kiki B. said...

LD, thank you for taking that poor woman to the hospital to be with her husband. What a kind thing to do! They may not be able to thank you, as I don't know how often you would see them, but if they don't get to, I will say thank you for them.

I know when my dad died of a heart attack(while driving) when my parents were on vacation, a young police officer who responded to the scene called his wife to see about bringing my mom home to stay at their house until my brother could get up there to pick her up. It ended up that we had friends near the area, so she stayed with them, but I will never forget his kindness, and I wish I knew who he was and could thank him and his wife lo these many years later. Unfortunately, we lived in Houston at the time, and this was in the St. Louis area, so I have no clue who the young officer was, but it made those of us at home and feeling quite helpless feel much better to know that mom would be taken care of and not be alone, no matter what.

It's also a blessing to see that there are still good people out there who care and who will take care of people in real need. That's refreshing(and something I'm trying to teach my hubby who comes from a different area than I did).

Kiki B. said...

Back to the topic at hand, it urks me to no end to know there are drug seekers like this out there. I worked OB, so we didn't see it as much as those in the ER did. But, like I said, I am on the receiving end of healthcare now, and one thing I have to deal with is chronic pain due to the injury I suffered as a nurse. Do you know that hoops we have to jump through to deal with that? It's awful.

And, all because some selfish, self-absorbed, self-centered piece of filth drug addict abuses the drugs that I need, and carefully administer to myself within the guidelines of of the law. String them all up by their toes, and punish them! Don't punish me, I'm the patient who needs it, who doesn't abuse it, and gets it through the appropriate and legal channels.

For crying out loud, I have never gone to the ER for pain meds., and after hearing this, I do believe I would rather die of pain than go there and ask for meds. It just irks me to no end. And I would say the only thing worse than this, is when I hear a younger person talking about taking a handful of prescription pills at one of their parties, and they don't even know what they're taking(this was on TV, not personal experience). Good Lord! They're going to kill themselves!!

I shall step down off my soapbox now.

Anonymous said...

Haven't these idiots heard of teh intarweb? You can get yer pills on the net delivered via fed-ex or USPS and save the trip to the ER. Besides it keeps the riff raff at home and out of everyone else's hair. They get all drugged up and slobbery in the cozy confines of the double wide with their bottle of xanax or darvocet and they aren't out bothering anyone. It's reasonably priced, fairly legal, delivered to your door so you don't have to rob or steal to get it. It's a winning situation for everyone.

The .gov is doing it's best to shut it down however. Can't have something actually working.

Orion said...

I'm with you, Dog. That's one of the reasons I love living in a smallish town as well. Seeing that herd of volunteers and career folks showing up in a hurry at a phone call.

And it's always a neighbor, or a friend.

And here, that means something.

Orion

KY Person said...

Too funny Mr. 'Dog. My sister is a pharmacist at a free clinic and they get a lot of those critters.
Makes her even more cynical than she already is.

Don Gwinn said...

We're a Basic Life Support service out here in the boondocks, so we meet ALS coming from the hospitals in Springfield, about thirty miles away. With most companies, this is no big deal. We get 'em on the radio, arrange a handy gas station at which to stop, and the paramedics grab their jump bag and hop on board. The only thing they need that we don't have are drugs, so it shouldn't be a problem.

There's one company, however, that just irks the hell out of me. They say their insurance won't allow them to do that, so whether it's 100 degrees out or a blizzard, you have to take the patient out of the rig, transfer him to their gurney, and put him in their rig so they can transport him. And now they keep trying to say they aren't allowed to take "riders"--family members.

Usually, we try to avoid these wankers. But when we get the local med-seeker and he's telling us his pain is a 10 out of 10, guess who we call first? :)

DW said...

'Dog,
She just liked the mustache,
heh!

Rorschach said...

AD, doesn't that kinda run afoul of the federal medical disclosure laws? (not that I'm complaining mind, but you COULD be setting yourself up for an ambulance chaser lawsuit)

Rorschach said...

BTW Dog, Did you ever catch up to ol' two-step?

Mad Jack said...

The first time I had a nasty bout with kidney stones I had no idea what was wrong. I just knew that it hurt worse than anything, and something sure must be busted. I went to the closest ER, and after repeated complaints, descriptions of the pain, the locale of same and demands for help I was given a few pain shots and eventually got well and left.

The second time I got hit with a kidney stone I went to the ER, explained what I had, and requested a pain shot and treatment. The ER stalled and stonewalled. I was told I’d have to wait until they were ready, and that would be a long time. Just how long, no one would say. I finally left and went to a different hospital where I got treatment immediately. Mind you, I'm sweating blood through all this, but since there's no help to be had the only thing to do is grin and bear it.

And then I found out from a Doctor at the second hospital what was going on at the first hospital. The idiots thought I was a drug addict and were waiting for me to give up and go away. Which, give them credit, I did.

All this happened some years back, and still to this day for the pain I suffered because of their, what, poor judgment? Bad decision? Whatever. I'd still like to sue the bastards for their back teeth - and I'll pull 'em out, sans Novocain.

Jean said...

Grumpy Unk is another blogger who posts about this all the time. He's an ER nurse up north.
good post!

MonkeyGirl said...

'Dog; I'd have given you a kiss AND bought you dinner.

PS: Could I borrow your Taser? I've got a couple that just won't go away.......

Matt G said...

"'Dog; I'd have given you a kiss AND bought you dinner."


...You know, MonkeyG.... 'Dog's single these days...