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Saturday, December 03, 2011

they'll eat you alive

Have you ever heard of the term "1,000 yard stare". It is sometimes used to describe combat soldiers who have seen too much, are always on alert and just trying to make it through til they go home. Well I think I am developing the ER version of this and its called the "1,000 yard scowl".

When I cross the line into the triage area, I feel a change come over my body and a sneer or scowl start to involuntarily take shape on my face. I try to stop it but it won't go away. I am defenseless against it. There is something about triage that just brings out the beast in me. I sit at the window and have the attitude of "go ahead, make my day"...sometimes I put a battery on my shoulder and dare people to knock it off..(anybody remember that commercial?)

I think deep down inside I am trying to scare people off. But I'll tell ya the people who present at the triage window are not easily scared away. You could be slumped over on the desk, gasping for air and they would still say "I wanna see a doctor". You can have a phone in each ear, a patient in both bays, one in a wheelchair, an ambulance stretcher whizzing by and a line ten people long....but still " hey you I wanna see a doctor...".

Those people at the triage windows are survivors. They won't take no for an answer. They are like the mailman - through rain or snow or sleet or hail nothing will stop me from telling my tale....and no matter how many times you say things like "weren't you just here last week?", "what's going on today Bob?" or when you're having a bad day "you're back again?",they will keep coming back.

If there was a nuclear bomb dropped on the city, like the cockroach they would survive and present in the same whiny voice: "I wanna see a doctor". Triage is like combat. You never know when there will be a surprise attack, you always have to be alert, wary...keep your guard up. If you let it down, they will surround you and eat you alive...they're just waiting for a sign of weakness...(Ok I'm getting carried away...).

I think its time for me to resurrect another symbol that we share with the combat soldier: the short timers calendar. Everyday I'll cross out a day that will bring me one step closer to retirement...

3 comments:

Lynda Halliger-Otvos said...

That commercial featured Robert Conrad (Wild Wild West tv show from the 60's). Still think he's a whale of an attractive man. "Come closer Mr C, I'd like to try to get closer to your batteries !~!~"

Sigh.

EDNurseasauras said...

I can't help the eyerolls either. Some days I have to mentally bitch-slap myself as I head to triage because I know that complacency can kill patients AND nursing careers. I keep telling myself that for every 1,001 squirrels there will be an actual emergency.

Anonymous said...

The attitude cuts across all lines. A Toronto Bus driver was on the radio last week -- on one of his trips he was attacked by an angry passenger and friends.
As he lay on the bus floor, shirt torn, eye socket (and other bones)broken, he heard a passenger yell " can we get going now??!!"