Thursday, February 23, 2017

You need some characters? I have characters for you!

The ER is a great place to observe people, their conversations and quirks. It helps with fictional characters if you're a short story writer.

Last night I spent almost nine hours in the ER with our neighbors, a couple in their late 60's. He had an infection and was eventually admitted. Real characters came and went all evening while he waited to be seen. I got out my pen and pad and started jotting notes...until 11:30 p.m.

Older woman sitting in a wheel chair, nodding off. Took off her sunglasses and shoved them on top head into wiry hair. Removed pair number 2 and wove them into her nest. She fiddled for five minutes with pair #3 and finally fit them in, too.

Young man, late teens, T shirt imprinted with the word STAPH across his back. Not going near that knucklehead.

Woman with sick kid. Her T-shirt: FLU CREW. Steer clear!

Three generations of limited English-speaking Muslim women. 20-40-60 yrs old. Mother complained of stomach pains. "Baby due March." Young receptionist told her she should be seen by L&D on the 7th floor.
The women said okay, sat down, and waited. An hour later, the 20 year old daughter apporaches receptionist. "My mom, needs doctor."

Receptionist asked,  "Mom's name?" Checked computer. "Sorry, your mom is not here. Maybe she was treated and released."

The poor girl was so flustered and kept trying to explain. The young receptionist said, "She is NOT in my computer."

I finally intervened.  "I know you just came on shift, but the other receptionist said she should go to Labor and Delivery."

"Well maybe that's where she is. No one by her name is in this computer. She is not here!"
I pointed to the waiting area. "I said, "Yes she is. She is right there!"

"Oh, well she should have been sent to L&D."
It took another fifteen minutes to get someone to assist.

Elderly couple, she in wheel chair, bloody, suffering from a fall injury. The tech walked over and said, "I need to get your vitals."
"I'm 5'9" and I weigh 157 pounds..." the MAN said.

Dizzy woman (more than one way) mid-thirties, registered and walked to the waiting area with her hands extended as though she were sleep walking. "Been running into things all day." Few hours later she jumped up, rushed the receptionist and screamed obscenities, "I'm out of here, ain't waiting another four hours! F*** You!" She walked a straight line right out the door arms swinging by her side.


DUTA said...

I would gladly keep away from the ER and its characters. Nice of you to have helped your neighbors who needed to be at that place.

Merlesworld said...

You are right some unusual people in the waiting room.

Kim said...

With people waiting hours to be seen, it seems that "emergency room" is a misnomer. I think that "Urgent Care" sounds more time-sensitive than "emergency room"...and none of it NOW.

I think I do my best people watching at the Goodwill store.

Kathy's Klothesline said...

I was an ER nurse many years ago and I know what you mean. Funny about the t-shirts, sometimes they aptly identify the wearer. We had a frequent visitor to our ER. She had about 6 children, about 10 months apart each in age. So, she was always there with one or two. One day she came in and they rushed one to the treatment room. The child had gotten in lye and eaten some. We immediately started flushing her mouth with copious amount of normal saline to try to slow down the effects of the lye. The little girl must have been about 3 and she was screaming, of course. The mother came in, having finished with the registration process. She stood there watching us and announced, "Y'all just makin' her mad with all that water." There were three of us. A technician and a new nurse, Brenda. Brenda started to explain to the mother what we were doing and why. She was using terms like esophagus and trachea. I tried to catch Brenda's attention to tell her to dumb it down and failed. The mother had the blankest look on her face and repeated that we were just making the child mad. This is when the tech, Bob, took note of the shirt the woman was wearing ..... it said "Ignore this person". Then he said to me, 'I've never seen a lobotomy scar, think she'd show us hers?" I miss those days sometimes.

Val said...

That is so sweet of you to accompany your neighbor to the ER. At least I THINK you were being nice...and not just casting out your weirdo magnet, hoping to reel in some writing ideas!

Connie said...

I enjoyed reading your descriptions. Waiting in the ER is definitely a good place to do some people watching. You never know who you will find there.

Bookie said...

W0W, what a load of story starters. You really ran into a bunch of eye stoppers today.

Sioux said...

Linda--I wonder if those two have special ER t-shirts--shirts they ONLY wear when they go to the ER...

Yes, even in waiting rooms, you attract 'em.