Wednesday, November 25, 2009



What do you hear? Silence? Commotion?

During yet another crazy, bustling ER shift, I squeezed into a sliver of unused counter space at one of our nurses' stations to finish writing on a chart. I was facing one of my favorite secretaries, Louise, who sat opposite from where I was standing.

"Is it me or is it loud in here tonight?" she asked.

Besides being good at what she does, "Weezie" also was born and bred in our hospital's town and seemed to know everyone. "That's my great aunt's best friend's nephew's son's girlfriend--well, ex-girlfriend, I mean. They broke up last week." Some of my heartiest laughs at work have come from Weezie. You should have heard her three-year rant after turning 50 about still getting her period! The first time she missed her period, I should have bought her a Georgia O'Keefe print to celebrate! There would be one more unclipped Tampax coupon in the Sunday paper that week.

"Way too loud, Weezie," I answered, still writing.

She was right, too. It was deafening. And now that she brought it to my attention, my ears were hurting. The ER seems to be very moody, bipolar almost, in how quickly the atmosphere can change. And judging from the volume tonight, we were in a manic phase. Without looking, I knew there was a full moon.

I stopped writing and looked up from my chart, appreciating the bedlam. Looking down one hallway and into the next, all I could see were patients lying in cots lining the halls, nurses and techs scrambling in and out of rooms, pacing family members, ambulance crews waiting with their patients for a room assignment, and security taking their usual strolls.

"I think this might be one of the worst," she said. Those were big words coming from Weezie.

I went back to finishing my chart, hoping this most recent patient would recover from her stroke symptoms.

And then it happened.



It was the most momentous, most sudden silence I have ever appreciated at work.

I knew that whatever was going on was huge, HUGE--nothing can silence an ER like this!

Debating whether to look up or not, it was Weezie's voice that convinced me.

"Oh my God," she exclaimed. Weezie exclaiming? This must be colossal!

I looked up at Weezie, her mouth gaping, and I followed her pointing finger.

Staggering down the hallway, towards us, was a middle-aged man. Moving slowly. Passing by patients and their families. He seemed real nice and friendly, nodding to this patient and waving to that one, in a vote-for-me kind of way. I'm quite sure, though, that he wasn't running for public office.

And, oh yeah. I may have forgotten to mention--the guy was butt-naked!!!

There was no gown, no clothes, no shoes even. His pudgy, hairy middle-aged body was there for the world to see. If not the world, at least our lucky ER. Who knew that little Susie was going to have her appendix taken out and see her first naked stranger!

I would like to say that I rushed over to help this gentleman cover up but I, like everyone else, was so completely stunned that I couldn't move. Couldn't budge from my spot. Couldn't shut my gaping mouth, either. I had seen much craziness in my career but nothing that stunned a crowd quite like this. Boy, did I like this guy.

It had been upwards of a minute before security responded to this kind gentleman's wayward stroll. With an armload of blankets, they covered him up and coaxed him back into his room. Right before he stepped back in, he peeked out to give us, his adoring fans, one last wave! Yes, with his hand. I hope for his sake this guy had a lot of alcohol on board.

It turns out this patient, who I'm proud to say wasn't mine, had fallen asleep at a bar counter and had been brought to us by the police to observe and "check out." Somewhere during the ER's chaos, this gentleman, who the nurse had rightfully checked in on many times, was able to climb out of bed, strip off his gown, and take a lovely, relaxing stroll. I think this could qualify in the "memorable stroll" category--mine, not his. He wouldn't remember a thing.

After the guy's last wave to us, we all looked around at one another. Our faces were indistinguishable--we all wore masks of disbelief. It took just one brief smile, one quick laugh from one of the techs, and we all burst out howling at the absurdity of the situation.

"Alright, Weezie," I said, after we had caught our breath, "who was that?"

"Why are you asking me? How would I know?" she asked, incredulously.

This was a first from Weezie. But if you ask me, I'll bet it was her sister's ex-husband's old high school teacher's third cousin, twice-removed.

Next posting will be Friday, November 27. I'd like to wish everyone a blessed Thanksgiving holiday. If you eat too much, tough, I don't want to see you in my ER! Thanks for visiting and reading my posts...


linaka said...

I am so enjoying your posts - thank you for sharing your words with those of us "on the web"!

So far you had me in tears on Monday and laughing out loud today ... can't wait to see what's next!

Happy Thanksgiving to you and those you love.

Peace - linda

Tanya said...

I hope for his sake that you're right and he doesn't remember his you know exactly what you need to do to quiet down a noisy ER!

Heather said...

OH my goodness! LOOOOVE it!

When I was doing my psych rotation, we had a patient in the ER waiting for mental health placement out at the state hosptial (4 hours away). He decided to try to CHEW the hinges off the door. We had a deafening silence as well.

And lots of teeth to pick up...

Happy Thanksgiving!

SeaSpray said...

Hilarious!! Poor man..although he did choose to do it to himself -drink to excess.

Yes..I can see how that would stop a crowd and clear the area too.

You have a gift for writing and I fell like I am reading a chapter in a book. LOVE your blog!

We are about an hour or under from NYC, yet small town enough that it is entirely possible to know the patients and relatives, etc. years a go I worked in a large local insurance company and an the joke was to be careful what you say because so many people are related. LOL! It was true.

Weezie sounds fun and I can relate to her a bit..except that I'll be sad when the cotton pony takes her last ride out of town. :)

Happy Thanksgiving. :)

SeaSpray said...

P.S. Actually not sad..but wistful. :)

Maha said...

He reminds me of Naked Jesus - police periodically bring him from one of the busy downtown intersections for being ... well... naked. He gets to sit in our psych room while patients gasp in disbelief and horror at seeing a buck nekkid man in a glass room. Our attempts to gown him are usually futile.

Cal said...

I am glad that this post was as wonderful as the last one, and much more cheerful.

StorytellERdoc said...

Hey all

Just a quick thank you, thank you for the incredibly kind words and input regarding my site. Also, thanks for sharing your stories with me as well.

I am really enjoying this process and your feedback makes this even more exciting for me, much more than I anticipated.

Have a great Thanksgiving holiday! See you Friday!

Jamie Ridler said...

LOL! I guess you just never know what's going to happen.

Bongi said...

welcome to the wonderful world of medical blogging. look forward to reading more.

Greg said...

Laffin all the way out here in Az..Take GOOD care of "OUR" Weezie Doctor Jim...

Ambrosia Bierce (2014 AD) said...

Heh heh heh ... One of my kids is a lifeguard. Regularly seeing fat, hairy, pasty white men in Speedos is enough for that one. I guess butt-nekkid would be a tad worse.