Ever since I was 5 years old, I've spent my summers and actually, most of my free time, at the hospital, either running around in princess dresses getting quizzical looks from strangers in the waiting room to running around in the emergency room rummaging for IDs in people's pockets. Of course, I'm grateful that I didn't spend all that time in a hospital bed or looking after a sick loved one, but I've seen a lot more than necessary in my time here.
There's a little place in my brain compact with random memories of patients I've met, their stories, and images of strangers I'll probably never see again but can't seem to forget. When I was 15, I worked as a tray assistant at Newton-Wellesley Hospital delivering meal trays to patients on every floor. I wheeled my cart into the kitchen one day, stepped into a backroom to check my phone, and saw techs in scrubs wheeling a body into the private elevator. Even if I hadn't known they were headed for the morgue in the basement (my coworkers told me), I could've guessed by the atmosphere, and that was the first time I felt the chill of a recently deceased patient.
The patients in the cancer intensive care units are incredible. You better be prepared to walk into a room without changing your facial expression, tone of voice, or anything no matter what you see in front of you. Bruised skin from head to toe, shaved heads, wires and IVs for god knows what sticking out everywhere, and a look on their faces 20 years more tired than they should be. And that was just the typical cancer inpatient. I'd see pretty much the same people every weekend, in various stages of recovery or degeneration, and eventually someone else would be in the bed.
These days, work is a lot more hectic and sometimes even comical. Imagine having a psych patient accuse you of stealing a cigarette from her when you've been in front of her the whole time -__- Oh, and then having to go along with it till the nurses calm her down. One time, I had to read out every number on my scrap paper in Spanish so the patient would answer my questions. How about having a ginormous person dressed in all black trying to whisper curses or whatever at you as you walk away slowly...then coming back to find out from security that the voodoo guy was asking where the "little girl" went. There are also some moments where I just walk into a room, stare for about 5 seconds (if the patient is unconscious), get over the "whoa there" phase, and then proceed, like that time I walked into a trauma room after being OK'ed and there was a very large vagina in front of me. Every now and then, when I ask a drunk person if they'd like to add an emergency contact, the answer will be "Oh I don't have one? Well what's your name?" You'd be surprised how creative people can get about where they defecate too - in the sink of a public bathroom, all snug in their johnnies, next to the toilet on the ground, and the infamous trail of poop leading from the patient's room to the bathroom. I wish I could get that EMT job I want so I could get more hands-on, wouldn't you want to?
Deaths are pretty uncommon in the ER, at least when I'm working. They are usually sudden and public, and can make the whole ER solemn for hours. Family members gather inside the room, coming in and out sobbing and talking on the phone, making arrangements and whatnot. The patient's status is labeled "Expired."
Um, that's pretty much all I want to type right now. I'm really hungry and can't think right now. Peace out .__.