06 December 2008

Two for one

I came on at 7AM and the ER was going through its daily decompression routine. The night-time doc was just brain-dead exhausted and going through the motions in getting rid of his last few patients. There were a few stragglers from the overnight shift who had not yet been seen, and I jumped on them, full of caffeine and energy. A toothache. A laceration. Room 3-1 contained a very nice but weary mother whose six-year old son had a sore throat. It was obvious strep, and a quick prescription later, they were on their way. I felt kind of bad for them, since they had been waiting for three hours, but that's what happens when the night shift is backed up.

Then the new patients started showing up, and I just kept on moving through the tide. A headache. Vomiting. I went back into room 3-1 to see a teenage girl with an ankle injury and stopped short as I saw the same weary mother sitting there by the bedside. "You again?" I blurted out. I had a brief moment of panic -- had I forgotten to discharge them and had she been sitting here the whole time? No, there was a new patient -- the ankle injury (the boy with strep was there at the bedside, as well). The mother explained that no sooner had she gotten home than she had gotten a call from school that her daughter had fallen on the steps, so here she was, back again, in the very same room. She ventured a weak smile.

Her daughter had a nasty fracture-dislocation, which I reduced and splinted. Again, I sent them on their way with well wishes and an admonition not to come back again! What a terrible day for the poor woman. Well, at least they'll have a story to tell.

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