Wednesday 30 October 2013


I've been married for over a decade and a half, but I remember my wedding day like it was yesterday.  We invited about 200 people, but only 95 actually came.  There were some really good reasons that some people couldn't come ("My baby is due that day") and some...not so good excuses for other people not showing up ("Oh shit, it was yesterday?  No way!")  And there were a few people who were determined to come despite overwhelming obstacles, like my grandmother who had trouble walking down the aisle but did it anyway.

Of all the people we invited, my grandmother most definitely had her priorities straight.  She realised that she only has a limited number of grandchildren and a limited number of years on this planet.   Besides, she loves me and my wife, and a typhoon, a massive swarm of killer bees, and a sharknado wouldn't have kept her away, god damn it.

On the other hand, other people's priorities, how shall I put this?  Ah I got it - fucked.

When my pager told me at 2AM that I had a trauma victim in the trauma bay "NOW", that told me one of two things:  either the patient was driven to the emergency room in a private vehicle, or the triage nurse determined that a patient who just arrived needed to be seen more acutely by me rather than waiting to be seen by the emergency room staff, and that the patient was "upgraded" to a trauma.  While those "NOW" traumas are usually a big heaping, steaming pile of bovine feces, my pager also said "gunshot wound", so my heart started beating a little faster, and I rushed down to see what was going on.

What greeted me was a man who looked less traumatised than I did after I stubbed my toe earlier that day.  He was standing up, taking off his clothes, and laughing with the staff.  I, on the other hand, was not amused.

A big steaming pile of...

I looked around for the medics, but finding none, I asked the nurse what had happened.  Apparently the patient had driven himself to the hospital (well that explains that), because he had gotten shot in the back.  Yesterday.

Yes, you read that right.  Yesterday.

He had no symptoms except for mild stinging at the gunshot site just to the right of the middle of his back.  He had no neurological symptoms, no abdominal pain, no shortness of breath, no chest pain, no bloody urine, nothing at all that signified that he was remotely injured except for the tiny hole in his back which wasn't even bleeding.  I've had hangnails which looked worse.

I looked at him and the nurses incredulously, looking for some reason why some super-smart rocket scientist thought this patient needed to be upgraded to a trauma, especially at 2AM when I'd much rather have been either sleeping or dealing with a real trauma.  But then I had another thought - why in the name of Phineas Gage had he not sought medical attention, oh I don't know, right when he was shot?  So I did the only logical thing - I asked him.

"Well, I didn't think much of it yesterday," he replied calmly.  "But I had a wedding to go to today, so I thought I should get checked out."

I was speechless.  He could have said he was afraid of questions by the police.  He could have said he felt fine.  He could have used any number of 1000 decent (though bullshit) excuses.  But of all the bullshit excuses he could have given me, he chose that one?

I turned around and walked out.  Halfway up the stairs, my pager went off again.  This time it was a forklift accident - real trauma.

Sigh.  I turned around and headed back in.  My bed would have to wait.


  1. Good to know that every now and then your pager does show a REAL trauma. ;)

    1. Good, and perhaps also not so good - I suspect forklift accidents get messy!

    2. I'm curious as to how you get into a forklift accident… at 2 AM

    3. A lot of stores do their restocking and whatnot overnight. My friend works at a Walmart warehouse at night, driving forklifts, unloading trucks, lifting heavy things etc.



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