A drunk with a cut


The laceration was open then shut.

Quiet? It was anything but.

     To sew up a drunk

    Took a two-hour chunk

But it was really quite a large cut.

Synopsis:  I’m a family practitioner from Sioux City, Iowa.  On sabbatical to dance back from the brink of burnout, while my one-year non-compete clause ticks off, I’m having adventures and working in out-of-the-way experiences.  Right now I’m living in Amberley and working in Waikari, within an hour of Christchurch in New Zealand’s South Island.

I had call last night, taking the four bags of resuscitation equipment in the clinic car.

At bedtime, I checked the two beepers and the three cell phones. Then I told myself, lying, that I wasn’t on call. I slept marvelously for two hours.

The beeper went off about 12:30AM.

The first problem I faced was not knowing which beeper went off, the second was trying to figure the beeper out. Eventually, I got the info from the parasitic collection of semiconductors and realized that I didn’t know what to do with the terse codes and abbreviations, followed by an address in a municipality I didn’t recognize.

I hate waking doctors in the middle of the night, especially when they’re not on call, but I had to phone my back-up.
He received the call graciously, and told me whom to ring.

By this time Bethany was wide awake.

With the full moon light streaming in the bedroom window, I explained to the dispatcher that I didn’t understand the system. She asked for my phone number. I realized I didn’t know it.  I heard her clicking keys in the background, and then she agreed to call me back

Ten minutes later I talked to the ambulance crew.

The problem involved a drunk and a laceration, and a ten minute ambulance ride.

Back home, I’ve figured out a system to slip out of the house with minimal family disturbance when I get called out in the middle of the night; here I still stumble around with the lights on.

The ambulance beat me to the clinic.

Having the key to the clinic and the code to the alarm system doesn’t mean I know where to find the key pad or light switches or how to actually disarm the system. I triggered the alarm, a deafening experience.  My ears are still ringing.

The St John ambulance crew, marvels of professionalism, kept the intoxicated patient calm.  I eventually found everything I needed.  I anesthetized and scrubbed the 7 cm (3 inch) gash and stitched it back together. 

After the laceration, the EMT’s worked with the patient to figure out disposition (not an easy task) while I wrote a note to the receptionists about billing and filling out the ACC45 form. 

I enjoyed driving through the sleeping town in the full moonlight, alone with my thoughts.

I got back to the flat two hours after I left, to find Bethany sleeping soundly.

I did my best in the moonlight not to need to turn on the light.  I dropped one of the beepers in the dark, discovering that I couldn’t really handle five pieces of electronics without pockets. 

I arranged them on the bedside table.  I could lie to myself again about my on-call status only because I trusted the multiple layer redundancy of my communications equipment.

I slept deep till the alarm went off.

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One Response to “A drunk with a cut”

  1. CHARLIE MILES Says:

    “parasitic collection of semiconductors” Love that description…it is perfectly said!

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