Well, far from missing the bright side of any event, this week’s “incident” has taught me a few valuable lessons about how things run in a medical emergency. Mainly, what I learned was that privacy doesn’t exist in an emergency setting, and that hospitals are currently even more obsessed with stickers and bracelets than I was in the fifth grade.
In case you’ve ever had the delusion that privacy regulations were alive and well in a trauma setting…they’re not. There are no secrets in the emergency room…none. I don’t care how embarrassing, bloody, drugged-out, or genitally-involved the reason you’re here is…everybody in the immediate vicinity is going to know about it, because you’re dealing with very small spaces with tiles floors, and no sound carries further than, “I need some longer forceps, or I won’t be able to get this out of his rectum,” or, “So, how many hours ago did you use the heroin?”
Now, because they don’t want you (the family) to hang out with some random, unrelated bleeder, the minute you arrive, they slap a sticker on you, to identify your assigned patient. (Hey, look at me! I’m Green 17!) Apparently, some people like to trade up, but given the competition, I think I had the first-round draft pick, but let’s look at the other contestants, shall we?
Now, patient Green 16 posed some stiff competition. Not only did he come with his very own striped pajamas, but also his own personal uniformed Sherriff’s Deputy, who had brought him over from the closest prison. Green 16 was making quite the case for himself, until I heard that he was in for an infected absess, and pus just isn’t my thing. And while I maintain an “open-minded” stance on the use of handcuffs in bed…in this scenario…I’m pretty sure the ones being used to chain this guy down, weren’t of the fur-lined, novelty variety.
Perhaps Green 18? Well, sure, she’s a ragingly intoxicated, gray-haired, older lady, who screams obscenities and constantly threatens the staff with violence, which necessitates security repeatedly wrestling her back into her room and restraining her…but, at least she knows how to mix a good cocktail! That and I think she might even know more uses for the f-word than I do. (Self…I’ve seen your future…and it ain’t pretty.)
Now, let’s get to those bracelets, shall we? If we were back in Jr. High, and these were of the friendship variety, my mother would have been more popular than a 13-year-old with her own platinum card.
Now, looking at the collection she accrued, which one do you think is the largest? The green one, right? It’s bigger than her identification, penicillin allergy, and the one warning people that she likes to take the occasional nose dive into the asphalt. (Which, by the way…no shit…we could have used that one, yesterday, before she went down faster than Sonny Liston.) So that green one must be super important. Yeah…that’s the one that tells staff that she paid her $50 co-pay, which is, as it turns out, way more important than those other shitty, minor details. Allergy Schallergy…pffffft.
So at the end of the day, we all learned a few things, an untold number of new residents got to see my mom’s innards, and my mother got herself a shiny new shoulder joint, which will ensure that she never again boards a plane without getting to second base with a TSA official. Not bad, really.