Because the emergency room is like a stage. And we poor players just strut and fret our hours.
I have been called “nurse” so often in the last three weeks that I have begun to ignore it. Most of my conversations end like this:
“No, sir, I don’t know if you can leave now.”;
“No, ma’am, I don’t know when the doctor will see you.”;
“Sorry, I can’t help you. Let me get you an actual nurse.”
Welcome to Cornwall Regional Hospital, where the patients are many and the beds are few. But don’t worry, the emergency cubicle is always ready and waiting. Oh, the anecdotes I could share.
For instance, once we were assisting the resident on duty to suture a three-year old’s facial laceration. Assistance at these procedures is mostly about restraining the screaming, kicking (biting) child while the resident tries to avoid putting his eye out with the needle. We assistants were actually being assisted by the toddler’s mother, grandmother and aunt and we were still having a hard time. On top of that the grandmother kept telling the little boy to behave because the nice nurse was fixing up his face for him. She said it like five or so times, and then the aunt started saying it too. Finally the resident tells them, “I’m a doctor, ok? Not a nurse.” at which point the grandmother goes “Oh, okay.” And five minutes later says, “The nice nurse soon finish, don’t worry.”
So there was definitely humour around the Sisyphean mountain of work. In between trying to site intravenous accesses (fondly termed “drip” by our patients), interpreting electrocardiograms and taking histories, we made friends and we made memories. I realized that I love the touch-and-go aspect of emergency medicine. I thought I would; I’ve never fancied holding on to patients indefinitely and inundating them with repeat blood test after repeat blood test, but it’s good to know. This feels more like ‘proper doctoring’ because we get the patient as they walk through the door – without the benefit of a preliminary diagnosis – and the detective work that ensues is like watching a piece of art take shape.
Okay, that might be a bit much. Suffice to say, that I find it all really, really exciting.
And all too brief. This week is the end of the rotation, and I feel like there’s so much more for me to learn. (There definitely is more for me to learn for my exams on Friday, actually). Like my three week stint on Gastroenterology, I just feel like staying in this department forever. I can learn to deal with sleepless nights and uncooperative patients. I just want more. I, I . . .