Tuesday, May 17, 2011
Fly on the Wall
You don't get that in Emergency Medicine mostly because it's already a noisy, chaotic place and music would just be a distraction, but sometimes... sometimes you have an evening like tonight where I had a long complex ear laceration repair involving multiple layers and almost plastic surgeon-like skills, and there were no other patients in the department. Tonight we pulled out the Frank Sinatra (it was a senior citizen after all) and jammed to "I Get a Kick Out of You" while I made his ear look like an ear instead of the congealed mass of torn flesh and cartilage.
Other times, though, music is not needed as you simply seem to disappear into the background while the patient and their spouse/significant other/sibling/parent/entourage provide running commentary and/or simply talk about personal matters while you quietly sew together their torn skin.
I've been privy to family dramas, dates gone wrong, girls gone wild, etc. Drunks don't seem to care who hears about their adventures on the bar scene, while some some have felt perfectly comfortable talking about sex and STD dramas while I'm sewing. I've heard about impending divorces, ex-spouse love triangles, and teen angst escapades. I know people's vacation plans, baby plans, wedding plans, and tattoo plans.
I always thought CO's weren't supposed to talk about their lives in front of their prisoners, but I was always amazed at the amount of information they shared while standing around waiting for me to finish. I learned about promotions, who was leaving, who was coming on, what their kids were doing, medical problems, etc.
Then, there's the solo patient who comes in. Usually elderly. It's amazing how you can hear someone's life story in just about half an hour. You learn about dairy farming, lumberjacking, airplane flying, etc. You know how many children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren they have. You hear about the places they have traveled. And, sometimes you just sit in awe of the life they've lived.
Of course, eventually I start to wish again I could have closing music in the E.D., or even be allowed to wear headphones while I suture.... Come, on, Blue Eyes, sing me another....