Tuesday, November 2, 2010

The lights are ON!!!

Last night, I was feeling pretty low. It was the start of yet another very long week where I wouldn't get to see my son much. Plus I've got a mid-term in my tax class on Wednesday. I managed to cry a little on the way home, just because I needed it. Soon after I got home, my sister called. I wasn't really in the mood to talk, but I hadn't talked to her in days. Boy am I glad I answered! She proceeded to tell me an ER story that had me howling for 30 minutes. I'm sure I'll get some things out of sequence here, but I'm going to try to tell the story for the entertainment of any who read this blog. My sister's delivery is SSSoooooo much better than mine will be.

My sister is an ER nurse in a hospital. About 45 minutes or an hour before the end of her shift, the episode began. We're going to call our 80+ year old male patient Skippy. Sis answers a land line call from one of the guys in the ambulance who asks to speak with the doctor. There is an odd, loud howling in the background. Sis hands the phone to the doctor saying "good luck on hearing your caller". The howler (Skippy) is on the way to their ER. They can't really figure out what's wrong with him other than he seems to be crazier than bat sh**. Once he arrives, they have to put him in 4 point restraints just so he'll stay on the bed, while he repeatedly says, "please let me out of HHHHHEEEEEEEELLLLLL!!!" at the top of his lungs.

Skippy's relatively calm 83 year old wife is with him looking dismayed. She says that he's normally not like this at all! He spends a lot of time volunteering and is one of those pillar of the community types. Skippy keeps telling them that the bell is still ringing. There is no bell. There's not even any machinery dinging. Sis asks how long he's been like this. Ten days. Ten days?! You've been dealing with this for 10 days! Well, she says sheepishly, I hoped he would snap out of it. They've been married for over 60 years, so she knows this man.

THE LIGHTS ARE ON!!! Skippy says. He keeps writhing around on the bed, only being held on the bed by the restraints. Rather athletic writhing. Skippy also has the strength of ten thousand heroes at the moment. At one point, the sweet wife tries to hold his hand to calm him and he nearly crushes her hand by accident. With all this commotion, they can't even start to examine him. They can't even get a blood pressure or a urine sample, in order to start to try to have a clue as to what's making him crazier than bat sh**.

Sis tries to reassure the little wife that if this is a fairly recent phenomena, then it might be something simple. Apparently urinary tract infections can make old people crazier than bat sh**. They've seen it lots of times.

All this ruckus is hysterical to my sister primarily because her shift is ending in just a few minutes. She will not have to deal with this guy for the next 4-6 hours. It's one of those laugh or cry type moments. But with each new piece of drama, she gets even more tickled and is having the darndest time continuing to act professional.

They do manage to get a wrist band on him with the regular bar code on it. He's fascinated with that for about 10 seconds. Sis has an idea. She asks the front desk lady to print out a whole page of those bar codes on paper, not stickers.

The entire ER is getting to hear all about the fact that the lights are ON! (like this is news or alarming), the bell keeps ringing (does it toll for thee?), and "let me out of HHHHHHEEEEEEELLLLLL!" As in most ERs, the patient areas are separated by thin partitions that certainly aren't soundproof. Some of the other patients are looking dismayed and weary of all the high volume information bulletins (really, are the lights on? Because we weren't sure).

Sis finally snags his attention and says, "here, hold this for a minute" and hands him the page of barcodes. Immediately, he is fascinated and becomes perfectly still and totally silent. Everyone in the ER stops to stare. The lady in the bed next door whispers, "what did you DO to him!"

One of the other nurses asks, where did you learn that? Did they teach you that in nursing school? No, says Sis, I learned that when I worked in the 2 year old room at daycare.

A few minutes later, Sis and the doctor are staring at Skippy (the bar code page has worn off) and trying to figure out where to start. Sis suggests a blow dart, just for starters. The sweet wife of Skippy says, delightfully surprised, "oh you HAVE those? Like on Wild Kingdom?" Well, the drug works the same, but we won't be chasing him down with a jeep to administer the drug. The doctor says to Sis, you didn't learn that at this ER, did you? Well, no. But the doctor agrees that it's a good place to start.

Skippy has started howling as well. Sometimes hitting one of those really high notes that only dogs can hear.

At some point in his ravings, Skippy has said something to indicate that he finds one of the nurses hot. Sis walks into his area with the blow dart syringe on a tiny tray. Skippy pauses for a second, looking at it, and then goes completely ape-sh**. "THE LIGHTS ARE ON!!!" As if this would get him out of a shot. Sis is looking into his face when he practically shouts this and she completely looses control. She starts one of those snorting uncontrollable laughs and has to set the tray down out of his reach. She asks the hot nurse to come in and "shake it" for a minute. Skippy will look that direction and Sis can administer the blow dart. This works!

When Sis leaves at the end of her shift, Skippy is calmly rocking in his bed (and four point restraints), still saying "the lights are on" and "I can hear the bell" under his breath. The wife is sitting nearby looking relieved and dismayed at the same time.

Now my sister's delivery of stories like this is second to none, and definitely better than mine. But I hope I have entertained you just a smidge.

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