Do you remember Bill Murray and Andie MacDowell in 1993’s Groundhog Day? Well this, for those of you who do remember, is where I have been for the last 10 days. I have been doing an extraordinarily long shift!
D.J: Okay, campers, rise and shine, and don’t forget your booties ‘cause it’s cooooold out there today
As it so happens Monday was a bit nippy, or it was early doors when I went to work. Big Son was starting Jumping Jacks today, a gymnastics class for toddlers, the idea being more to run the legs off him than teach him any balance beam prowess. So whilst he was learning how to perform a star jump I was learning the nuances of how to sell my soul to the orthopaedic registrar in order for him to admit his own patient. Whilst Big Son’s landing position was perfect my execution was less so, eventually I dug my heels in and balance was restored.
Phil: I don’t suppose there’s any chance of a cappuccino?
Mrs Lancaster: (confused look)…Oh, I don’t know.
I started today seeing a wonderful old man who was utterly charming in the toothless way that only old men can be. Age spots covered his weathered face and laughter lines creased with delight as he shared his tales. This was his moment and the story was embellished with such delight that I felt the need to reward it with a cup of tea. On asking politely what he took in his tea he looked at me, winked, and said “just a wee biscuit hen”.
Phil: I have been stabbed, shot, poisoned, frozen, hung, electrocuted, and burned.
Rita: Oh, really?
Phil:: …and every morning I wake up without a scratch on me, not a dent in the fender… I am an immortal.
A 45 year old man came in today, now it was rather unfortunate on his part that I picked his card up. Had he seen one of the other doctors, who hadn’t seen multiple other time-wasters earlier in the day he may just have got away with it. If he hadn’t discharged himself against medical advice from another hospital 12 hours earlier he could have been forgiven for calling 999. His complaint being that he was unable to use his left arm or leg. Let’s just leave the story with the fact he got short shrift from myself and walked out, holding his phone up to his ear with his left hand. A miracle had occurred……or not!
Rita: What did you do today?
Phil: Oh, same-old same-old.
It must have been getting towards 10pm when I went into see the new patient in bed 18. I had been to see the patient in bed 18 no less than 6 times during this shift. It was very much like a magic show, each time I opened the curtains there was a different patient – different name, different age, different sex, different complaint. Now today really was my Groundhog Day. Will this social experiment ever end?
Phil: Something is… different.
Rita: Good or bad?
Something is different today, I don’t have to go to work! I was hoping to get to this day with no tears – I cry when I’m tired and predicted I’d only make it to Tuesday. There have been no tears, I worked my 81 hour week and still have a smile on my face. And the reason for this it that today I get to spend with Big Son and Bella. Excitement levels are high. All is going superbly well until 3pm – we hit Tesco, aisle one and Big Son vomits. I catch the first mouth full in my hand, but to be honest wouldn’t have bothered if I had realised the torrent which was to follow. Luckily there was nothing in the trolley and we raced to the toilets for a change of clothes. Pheweee, disaster diverted. Now, back to aisle one to quickly wipe up the mess, feign ignorance and get something for dinner ASAP. Nothing could have prepared Bella and I for the regurgitation of Big Son’s stomach which subsequently ensued. The aisle cleared within milli-seconds and Bella began retching violently too. Suffice to say after sorting Big Son out we made a quick apology at customer services for his reckless driving of the porcelain bus. From now on we will be shopping elsewhere.
Phil: What the hell?
I’m warned before I go to see the next patient that she needs the toilet more than any patient ever to present to A+E. The reason for this is she needs a cigarette every 2 minutes and this is where she lights up. Inevitably within 10 minutes of arriving in the department she needs the bathroom. Her bag is removed from her and all I hear is, “it’s an infringement of my rights”! She returns only 2 minutes later to have the urge again. And her bag is taken from her but no resistance is offered. It is only then that we can smell burning. The smell of burning flesh no less. The nurses ask if they can look in her pants, for this is her favoured hiding place. Empty undergarments but she is hopping from one leg to the next and the burning smell is getting stronger. Eventually she whisks out a lit cigarette from beneath one of the rolls of fat which constitutes her ‘apron’. Caught in the act but very far from impressed.
Rita: You’re missin’ all the fun! These people are great! Some of them have been partyin’ all night long!
It is almost beyond comprehension how many intoxicated people I have seen today. From the first patient I saw at 8am to the last patient I saw tonight, with several others in between. Litres upon litres of vodka have been consumed. Some have been found sleeping on the pavements, others have fallen at the bus stop, one had a seizure in Macdonalds and one came in asking to be admitted for a detox. The common theme that holds them together is their love of football, I have been asked countless times which team I support today. So whilst their livers are screaming in pain, their brains are shrinking and their bodies are forgetting how to clot their blood to stop them bleeding to death, they are worrying about the activities of 22 players on a 105 metre long field with a leather ball. Forgive me for my lack of enthusiasm.
And so my week in A+E is complete. I have a couple of days off to reacquaint myself with my gorgeous offspring and to try to get some groceries. The stories from this job are truly endless. As it appears is my enjoyment, surely I can’t change careers again!