I know there is a "mile-high" club for airplane travelers who are, to say the least, adventurous and daring. But is there a club I don't know about that involves an ER treatment room and the flimsy cot in it?
The other day, during another busy shift, I walked into Room 31, ready to treat a new patient. What I walked into, however, caught me off-guard. In fact, I think I blushed. And after everything I've seen and treated in the ER over these past years, to get me to blush is a major accomplishment.
Lying in the cot, covered by a thin papery sheet, was a very "loving", shall we say, young couple. They were in the midst of some passionate maneuvering--four tangled arms wrapped around one another, shirts rumpled and pulled up, shoes kicked off to the side of the cot, and mussed up hair. My timing couldn't have been better. Lucky me. A front row ticket to an amateur peep show.
Maybe in my twenties, I would have been more enamoured about this situation but, to be honest, I'm in my early forties now--the only thing I felt was a little frustration. And, guessing from my warm cheeks, embarrassment. Well, some wonderment too--who in their right mind looks around an emergency treatment room and gets "in the mood?" Is it the gowns? At least this explained why the room curtain and sliding door were closed.
I cleared my throat and skipped my usual greeting. 'What's going on in here?" I asked, trying to sound like my father, stern and all-knowing.
Surprised, the girl sat up. "Oh my gosh," she giggled, hardly embarrassed, "we got a little bored after waiting for so long to be seen."
"I'll tell you what. I'm going to step out of this room for one minute, and when I come back in, I expect you to both be presentable. If not, you will both be escorted out of the ER by security. Do I make myself clear?"
They both nodded their heads at me, the middle-aged doctor who interrupted their cheap thrills.
I walked back to the nurses' station shaking my head. I wasn't buying the bored routine. Each patient room has its own television, complete with a remote control and more cable channels than I get at home. Each room also has a filled magazine rack and its own telephone for local calls. We even have available wireless internet if someone is so inclined to bring in their laptop with them. Outside of a pillow, a warm blanket, and a two-day old turkey sandwich with fresh lemon jello, what more could a waiting patient want?
Obviously, some privacy. And some form of birth-control.
I found the nurse for Room 31 and after making her aware that our patient had just been actively trying to get pregnant in our ER, we both walked back to the room together. Maybe, we joked, they would name the baby after one of us.
The curtain and sliding doors were both open. We walked into the room. The twentyish male companion was sitting meekly in the corner chair, the patient in the treatment cot. They were both dressed.
This time, I introduced myself and their nurse. "So," I said, after introductions, "which one of you might be the patient? Because from what I walked in on earlier, I would think that neither of you is sick enough to visit us in our ER."
After some putzing around, we got to the reason. The patient, it turns out, had missed her period and came to our ER for a pregnancy test. Yes, I am being serious. She got sent to the ER's acute-care side instead of our express wing after telling the triage nurse she had abdominal pain, thinking it would get her seen faster when, in fact, it tripled her wait time. The triage nurse, trying to move things along, had ordered the pregnancy test and some basic blood work.
There must be a higher power--her pregnancy test was negative.
This whole scenario, though, got me thinking that maybe there was some club I wasn't aware of, a club that nobody filled me in about since they know I work in the ER. This isn't the first time I've caught a couple fooling around in a cot. It's happened before and I would be disillusioned to think it wouldn't happen again. The common denominator, though, seems to be that they are all younger people, ranging from their late teens into their twenties.
I guess that rules my wife and I out. Initially, after catching this last couple, I had started making plans to take my wife to our ER to spend the night and find out what we were missing. And I was going to splurge, yessirree. No regular treatment room for my honey. I was going to get us one of those big trauma rooms with the really sturdy cot. Warm blankets. Cable TV. Pack our own sandwiches and pillows. Get a baby-sitter for the kids. All I had to do was register one of us, embellish some medical symptoms, give our insurance information, and the room would be ours.
"Hey honey," I would have said, "pack up your suitcase and jump in the car. I'm taking you on an overnight excursion. You don't need to pack a nightgown, either. Where we're going, they have plenty of them." If those prospects didn't intrigue her, what would? "Oh yeah," I'd add, "don't forget our insurance cards!"
In the midst of all this planning, though, it hit me--I probably wouldn't get a good night's sleep in the ER sharing a trauma cot with my wife. And, as I think I mentioned, I am in my early forties now. I held both my hands out and weighed the situation. A good night's sleep at home versus joining some obscure "notch in the ER cot" club. I yawned as I thought about it and with my yawn, the answer came quite easily.
So, this brings me back to my original question. Is there an ER club similar to the "mile-high" club that I don't know about? Do I really want to know? And does it have a nickname? I do like "notch in the ER cot" but I made that up on the fly--I would hope the name would be something better and more original than that.
Finally, if any of you are members to either club, keep it to yourself. I don't want to know. Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to get a good night's sleep.
As always, thanks for reading...next post will be Friday, January 8th. Let me know if you think of any good nicknames...