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More From The ER Diary…

by Lucky Garvin

You’ll call me delusional, but, trust me, these are true stories.

. . .

She had a one half inch laceration to her pinkie. Had you been standing outside her door, listening to all the screaming, you would have sworn she was donating an organ.

She was a clinical psychologist who took Prozac and Xanax [nerve pills].  Interesting credentials: PhD. and Rx’s.

Her husband must have been a hyperactive child; and been a treatment failure. He walked round and round the room and out in the hall. “Can’t stand to be cooped up.”

He talked to me incessantly as I prepared to numb her finger. She shrieked when I injected her finger. She jerked her hand and pulled the needle out.  I left them for a bit.  By the time I had gotten back in the room, justification had done its work; she had a ready explanation for her screaming. “You stuck the needle into the bone.  Otherwise I would have taken it just fine. I should have taken a Xanax.”

`Pass’m around,’ I thought.

Yup, a 1/2 inch laceration can be a life-altering event; one of those moments you never forget. As I sutured her, her husband, “Mr. Warp-Drive,” explained to me his sensitivity to artificial light and his distrust of chickens. He filled me in on the details going back to childhood; and beyond…

“Nasty!’ he said.

“Chickens?” I answered.

“Artificial light.”  He wandered around some more and then exclaimed, “Hurts my eyes!”

“Artificial lights?” I asked, still in hopes of catching up with the choir.


He then started on religious topics.  He ended by saying, “I’m going to leave my spleen to Jesus.  Say! How about you, doc?”

“I’ve already signed my donor card.”

“Big ecological problem. Metal coffins in the ground, all over the place.  You agree, doc?”

“I’ve got a tee shirt says, “Save the planet. Cremate.”

“You’re my kind of guy, doc.”

“That’s high praise sir.”  Content that we were in philosophic harmony, he fell silent.

But she took up the aria.

“I’m very squeamish, doc.  Should have taken a Xanax; see me through this trial. Don’t let me see what you’re doing.  And don’t explain it.  I might throw up.” Wouldn’t want that.

I sutured – and endured – in silence. But, her husband, uncomfortable with the three second silence, pops up with the story about how he lost his toes in a bush hog.

All in all, I was glad to see them go.

It was an awful day. More like a focal seizure. It would have made a stirring plot for a late night Sci-Fi movie.  Someone dropped a little old demented lady off in the ER and left. No one knew anything about her.  No old chart; no identification.  No reason for her visit. I went in to see her.  “Where are you hurting?” I asked. She answered, “Glabit norrodge phlunbuck.”

Ah!  Now we’re getting somewhere!”

. . .

I had a patient the other day who immortalized herself for a day with the ER staff.  Seventy-two-years old she was; slipped and fell; broke her ankle.

She lost her footing while hunting, dragging a deer out of the woods.  She had had a heart attack two months before.

I walked in to her and didn’t say a word.  I merely shook her hand. To find such a person as this is the equivalent of discovering a cat with insomnia. I have since passed several feverish nights wondering if I was equal to her feat.

She had a question: Can I go to work tomorrow?

“I’m not man enough to stop you,” I answered.

. . .

It was a busy day, and I was becoming frustrated. I had given my patient her diagnosis, but she was balking.

“How do I know you know what you’re doing?”

“Well, I’m board-certified and I study every day.”

“I just don’t know. Maybe I should get a second opinion.”

My patience snapped, and I said, “Well, I wish you’d make up your mind! I’ve got other patients to see, mom.”

Look for Lucky’s books locally and on-line: The Oath of Hippocrates; The Cotillian; A Journey Long Delayed.

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