Notes from the ER on Black Friday

by Melissa Chiasson

2:35 am: Woman, 35, comes in complaining of numbness in extremities. Upon removal of gloves and socks, frostbite of fingers and toes evident. She reveals she has been camping outside for the past two days to get a cheap foot bath, subsisting on slim jims and “pure adrenaline.” I inform her that I will have to amputate. She promptly bursts into tears, lamenting the fact that the foot bath is of little use to her now. I offer her $15 for it.

4:55 am: Boy, 14, arrives with gunshot wound to anterior thoracic region. Immediately scrub in for surgery, start operation with Dr. Nguyen to stop bleeding and extract bullet. A half hour into the operation, Dr. Wilson charges into the room, carrying shopping bags and exclaiming “Guys, you have got to get down to the mall, these deals are insane! I just saw a kid get shot for a Playstation 4!”

Dr. Wilson glimpses the operating table, slowly backs out of the room.

6:00 am: The nurse brought in six dozen donuts since it was “Buy one, get five dozen free!” They are all lemon-flavored. This day cannot get any worse.

7:05 am: Man, 52, presents with chainsaw superglued to his right palm. He reports that this was his strategy for preventing anyone from taking it from him in the morning scramble at Home Depot. I lie and say there is nothing I can do, hoping that this will cause some introspective reflection on the transient nature of material objects.

He replies, “That’s cool, I think it’s actually pretty badass having a saw for a hand now.”

9:41 am: Girl, 8, is suffering from severe allergic reaction to peanut traces from morning cereal, accompanied by her mother. I order a shot of epinephrine, at which point the mother asks me how much the shot will cost. I assure her that it will be covered by their insurance, and even if she doesn’t have insurance, the hospital will help them with finances. The mother shakes her head. She tells me that they just came from the other hospital in town, and if I can’t beat their price plus 10%, they are leaving.

10:00 am: Turn over all my patients to Dr. Ramos and head home. Drink a cup of coffee while enjoying my new foot bath.