"You call that a cut?" Ms. White has now assisted in peeling off my upper garments and is chiding me sharply over the condition of my shoulder.
"Yes, what would you call it?" I retort. I'd like her to get on with it already. I have my boys to take care of, and I'm wasting my time here.
"That's a laceration."
"Fancy word for cut."
"Mr. Frohike, that's way beyond cut. It's down to the muscle, I bet. And I'm going to have to clean it out."
"As long as you do it quickly, fine."
"This may sting," she informs me.
She eyes me quizzically. "You've done this before."
"It happens." I really don't care to relate the events that have made me well-versed in dealing with hospitals, medical personnel, and procedures.
"Most people hit the ceiling when I start to irrigate. You didn't even flinch."
She continues with her work. It's slightly uncomfortable but not unbearable. Certainly not the worst I've ever endured.
She has small, expert hands and seems to know what she's doing.
"Are you sure you don't want some lidocaine before I start suturing?" she asks me.
"Don't need it."
"Whatever. You don't need to impress me with how rich you are in testosterone, though."
"I just want to get back to the boy."
"You're really worried about him."
"He's in bad shape."
"He's in good hands. Dr. SJ is very competent."
"But she won't be with him once he's admitted." I have no doubt that Langly will be confined for at least a day. He's stabilized, but not sufficiently to be thrown back into the wild.
"All right, you're done. Get your shirt back on and I'll put your arm in a sling."
"I have to be able to drive."
"Mr. Frohike. What you do on your own time is your affair. What you do on mine is mine. And you'll put the sling on when you're in my care."
Women. We always lose to them.
And we keep coming back for more.
Ms. White leads me back to Langly's holding cell. Jesus, you'd think they'd get the boy in a room already. He's obviously not fit to travel right now.
When we enter the tiny room, Dr. Saint John is still very much present with him, but she doesn't even see or hear us. She's ministering to him, yes. In the form of stroking his hair and cradling one hand. I get the sense that this has moved beyond professional courtesy and into something else.
God help me, I'm still getting over Byers' close encounter with someone of the female kind.
I am getting way too old for this shit.
I check to see if he's returning her apparent affections.
That would be affirmative. His hand is firmly locked into hers.
"Dr. SJ?" Ms. White's voice is a bit sharp.
The young resident looks up, each cheek bearing a spot of deep crimson.
Ms. White continues. "Did you write admitting orders for him?"
"Uh-yeah, they're right here." She pulls away hastily from Langly, inducing him to whimper. "I'll walk 'em over now."
"You do that." Ms. White walks over and checks Langly again.
"How's he doing?" He still looks terrible.
"Better, but not good enough to be a road warrior yet. We'll get him in a room soon as we can."
She looks at me with clear, serious eyes. "Are you all right, Mr. Frohike?"
"I'm fine, thank you."
"Would you like something for the pain? I'm sure Dr. SJ would write you a scrip for something."
"No, I'll be fine."
Someone around here has to keep his wits about him.
Looks like once again, I've been appointed.
I'm on my way to the Admissions office to drop off the paperwork and reluctantly hand my patient over to the house staff.
I'm halfway there when my resident in charge stops me.
"We've got a 26-car pileup on 83 and we've 47 incoming. Make yourself useful."
I'm about to protest, "Hey, I'm off!" but simply mutter, "Fine."
I wander over to Mel.'s desk for assignment. She's back in motion. "Oh good, you're still here. We're gonna have to go on total divert anyway, need all the hands we can get."
We are barely set up when they start flowing in.
I of course, in my sleep-deprived and emotionally overwrought state, am awarded someone who looks more like dropped pizza than a human being when they arrive. Amazingly he's not DOA.
We struggle for over an hour to save the person, but in the end, we cannot sustain him. 86 minutes later, I'm asked to call it.
I asked my resident in charge one time when I would get used to this part of the job. He said, "If you're lucky, never."
I don't feel so lucky right now.
And it gets worse.
"Where is she?" I ask Frohike.
"I don't know."
I may be out of my mind on drugs, but not so far gone that I could miss what just capped me on the ass.
That girl is incredible.
"You find her?" I ask Frohike.
He groans. If I could see him I bet he's rolling his eyes.
"Oh Christ, Langly, the place is a madhouse. She's probably working her ass off right now."
"Hope...she'll...come back." I'm fading.
I hear him cough. "Oh man, first Byers, and now you? Jesus."
"Go find her?" I can barely get the words out.
He doesn't say anything, but I hear him stomp out as I pass out.
I don't know how many hours have passed. I lose all sense of time when I'm working. This may be a blessing; were I conscious of the passing hours, I'd probably feel even more exhausted than I do already.
I lost three patients today. Granted, I saved six others along with the help of my teammates, but the loss of three people is tearing me to shreds.
"Nothing more you could have done," my resident in charge assures me.
I want to scream. To break down and explode into tears. To just come completely unglued.
But you don't do that here. Believe me, they watch everything you do. Not just your technique, but how you react as well.
I do that, and it's going to be really ugly on my evaluation.
I sink down to the ground and close my eyes. The way I feel right now, I could simply collapse in this spot and never move again.
I get a few moments of silent reverie.
Should've gotten out while I had the chance.
But I didn't.
All because of a...guy.
I'm such an idiot. I could be home sleeping right now. Or at least watching the Game Show Network.
"Dr. Saint John?"
I blink. I think I may actually have fallen asleep while holding up the wall here.
It's Ringo Langly's companion.
All of a sudden, exhaustion is forgotten and I snap back into work mode.
"Is he all right?" My voice reveals a lot more anxiety than I'd like it to.
"He's fine. But he's asking for you."
"He...asked for me?"
"Yes. Do you have a minute?"
"Uh...I'm...I think I'm off shift now...sure..."
My heart is pounding as I walk with the little man.
"What's he still doing down here?" I demand.
The little man shrugs. "Said they didn't have any beds yet."
"Is that so?" I know we're busy, but this is ridiculous. I took those admitting orders over hours ago...
I never dropped them off. I got busy and didn't do it.
"I'll take care of it," I promise him.
"Ma'am, he really wants to see you," Mr. Frohike chides me.
"And he will."
And now, it's time to play grovel and beg.
I argue with the admissions clerks (a brain-dead species if there ever was one) long enough that a room actually opens up while I'm there.
It's a private room. I hope he's got decent insurance.
"He has to put a down payment on a private room," one of the admissions clerks reminds me, shaking her finger at me.
"I'll take care of it," I hiss at her.
"I can't-" she starts.
"Just do it!"
Like this day hasn't been long enough already.
She stares at me in shock, as if it was truly nervy of me to challenge her authority. (It is nervy, by the way. You may not believe it, but doctors occupy the lower rungs of the food chain around here, and doctors in training, of which I am one, are the lowest of the low).
"Yes, ma'am!" she says, angrily. Bureaucrats hate it when you win.
I'm on a roll here.
"And do it now!"
I'm not sure, but I think I heard her mutter something along the lines of 'fuck you' as I walked off.
I head back for the exam room where Langly is stationed, but when I arrive, it's been taken over by someone else.
"Where is he?" I demand of Kate, one of the nurses who had helped me earlier.
"I'm not sure."
"Did they take him to radiology?"
"What the hell do you mean, maybe?" I can't keep my voice from rising. I'm trying, but it's not working.
She glares at me. "I would think you of all people would understand that we've been a little busy this afternoon!"
"That's not an excuse for losing a patient!" What if he just took off, pulled out all his IV lines, decided just to leave...
Without even saying goodbye?
Ahab comes wandering through, looking as clueless as all interns do. "Ahab, have you seen the patient I was taking care of earlier?"
"Alive or dead?" He asks.
"That is not funny!"
I sprint off towards radiology, but as I do, I could swear I heard Kate say to Ahab, "looks like somebody's got it bad."
God, am I that transparent?
Oh, fuck them!
"I wanna see Deborah."
"I'm sorry, no visitors in here," the technician tells me. Bitch. Even if it is a guy.
Well duh, they wouldn't let Frohike come in with me!
"She's not a visitor." God, am I always gonna be this out of breath when I talk?
"She's a doctor here, she's my doc."
"We don't have a Dr. Deborah here."
Fuckrag is too stupid to live. "Think...that's her first name."
"You haven't been assigned an orthopedist yet, but if these X-rays are any indication, you will be soon."
"What?" Technician must be Max...I think. I don't care.
"Deb." I have no energy left. Just enough to get her name out.
"Mr. Langly, I didn't know what happened to you!"
"I'm...being tortured by this dude here."
He grabs my hand in a death grip, refusing to let go.
"Dr. SJ, you need to move," the tech tells her.
I want her here.
"Don't go," I whisper to her.
"I won't." She runs her hand over my head. God, she is so gentle. Love her hands. And her voice.
"Are you gonna let me take these X-rays or not?" Tech is certainly bitchy.
"I have to step outside," she whispers to me.
"Come back?" Oh God don't go.
"I'll be right outside."
It looks like I won't be going anywhere for a while.
At least not as long as my heart is in my throat.
It may never come out at this rate.