After a long 24-hour trauma shift, all I want to do is have a coffee, go home, have a coffee, take a shower, have a coffee, and spend some time with my family. With a coffee. I had already managed to take care of 18 trauma patients during one particularly busy shift (including two who had tragically arrived dead and stayed dead), and with only 15 minutes left to go and a large cup of coffee on my mind, I thought I was home free.
The Call Gods had other ideas.
As I was daydreaming about my first coffee at home (the hospital coffee is pure, unadulterated crap) my pager went off, telling me that I would be getting a pedestrian struck in 10 minutes.
DAMN YOU, CALL GODS! The coffee would have to wait, unless the medics were late. Please be late...please be late...please be late...
Exactly 10 minutes later (DAMN IT!) the medics brought me 20-year old Ellie (not her real name). "This one is a real piece of work!" one of them chuckled as he dropped her off. Chuckles the Medic couldn't really tell me what had happened to her since she wouldn't talk to them. "She says she got beaten up. She doesn't really seem badly injured, but she's complaining about pain everywhere. She's a real winner!" Chuckles gleefully continued as he and his cronies laughed themselves out the door.
I did my initial survey from head to toe and saw just a few scrapes on her knees and hands and a bloody swollen nose. And then I made my first error - I asked her what happened.
Much like any argument I've ever had with Mrs. Bastard, as soon as my mouth was open I regretted ever opening it. She launched into her story that didn't end for at least 30 minutes. We were able to do our entire workup, X-rays and CT scans included, before she was even close to finished.
Ellie told us that she and her boyfriend had gotten into an argument over another girl (I don't care) which had escalated into a fight (I don't care). Not just a fight - a fistfight (I DON'T CARE). That might explain the abrasions and contusions on her knuckles. But Ellie was perhaps 150cm (just under 5 feet) tall and might weigh 45kg (100 lb) soaking wet. I've met very few men smaller than that, so I'm assuming he won based on her broken nose. I'm also assuming he wasn't satisfied with just winning, because he apparently decided to run Ellie down with his car. Fortunately she was just knocked onto her hands and knees (explaining the knee abrasions) with no real damage done.
But as I was looking over her scans (and finding nothing else broken), she continued telling me about her history with her boyfriend (I DON'T CARE). He had stabbed her last year, she said. And he had cheated on her with at least 2 other girls.
"Oh but Doc," she finally concluded. "Can you tell me how I can avoid getting another STD from him? He already gave me something last year, and I think he got something else from one of those other whores, and I don't want to catch anything from him again."
Wait wait wait, let me get this straight - he cheats on you, stabs you, beats you up, and tries to run you over with his car, and you want to know how not to catch an STD from him because . . . you're . . . staying . . . with . . . him?
"Yeah Doc, I love him."
I closed my eyes for a moment and went to my happy place. When I opened my eyes, she was looking at me expectantly, like I was going to give her some sage wisdom. I took a deep breath. "The best way," I said slowly and deliberately, "to avoid catching an STD is to NOT sleep with someone who cheats on you, stabs you, beats you up, and runs you over." I then splinted her nose and sent her home.
My coffee was waiting.