People’s inhibitions are at an all-time low in the emergency department. In the ED, grown men cry like babies, sometimes for good reason, usually not. Bodily functions fly, uncensored by their bearers. Once people arrive in the emergency department, fling open those sticky glass double doors and announce their most personal problems to whatever complete stranger happens to be monitoring the triage desk all social standards become irrelevant.
This view of humanity, a strange mix of raw emotion, annoyance and entertainment is like watching a weird social experiment right from my desk. With one click of my mouse I can view your most personal medical information from my computer all while monitoring your erratic behavior in person and simultaneously eating my lunch. No, your attempts to gross me out by smearing poop on door handles, peeing on the floor or insisting on having explosive diarrhea in the bedside commode with the door open rather than an enclosed space, like maybe the restroom, will not detract from my enjoyment of the apple and peanut butter I packed for lunch.
My emergency department life has provided me with endless amusement. Also with an amazing level of tolerability for all kinds of individual, umm expression. Despite my open-mindedness, one blog post was not enough to vent my occasional disdain with humanity. There are some things that still get to me. So, I bring you “My Nurse Practitioner Pet Peeves- Part 2”.
Can I Have Fries With That?
If you check into the emergency department with nausea, vomiting, explosive diarrhea and unremitting abdominal cramps I naturally expect you feel terrible. If when being placed in an exam room you immediately demand food, your credibility instantly diminishes. Patients with abdominal related complaints frequently demand fatty, greasy snacks like burgers and fries. No wonder you are vomiting. Consuming hospital cafeteria burgers at 3 o’clock in the morning is not going to make you feel better. Didn’t you read my post about how 25 percent of hospital food is contaminated with C.diff? If I were your gallbladder, I would quit working too.
I’m Not a Marriage Counselor
One of my dad’s common sayings to my sisters and I growing up was “Sounds like a personal problem to me”. Apparently most parents did not dispense similar advice. Some things are medical problems, some are not. Learn to differentiate, people. Your wife wanting to divorce you, no longer being sexually attracted to you or disliking your most recent tribal tattoo is not a medical emergency. Not even a medical problem for that matter. No, I don’t disagree that you have a problem. But, just because your health insurance won’t cover marriage counseling doesn’t magically render me a therapist. I fix broken bones, not broken hearts…unless you are clinically depressed, then we can talk.
Some People Just Want to be Sick
I hate being sick. Even if it will get me out of work, garner me some sympathy or even guilt my family into sending candy and flowers I prefer health. Keep your sweets, I would rather be trim, active and well. I despise being doted upon. I realize some illnesses warrant taking a sick day or two, popping a few antibiotic capsules, itching your subsequent yeast infection and slurping chicken noodle soup. But if you coughed three times yesterday get your behind back to work and stop attention-seeking. And no, I will not admit you.
BYOB (Bring Your Own Babysitter)
Have a lot of kids? Great. No problem. Now control them. If you check into the emergency department for pelvic pain, don’t being 4 children under the age of 3 with you. What do you think we are going to do to diagnose your ailment? An eye exam? The emergency department has a limited supply of popsicles and stickers. These items typically entertain children for a maximum of three seconds. Please plan accordingly. Oh, and if you want to be treated for a pregnancy-related problem but don’t want your kids to know you are pregnant, leave them at home. I refuse to whisper throughout our entire conversation about your contractions. You do realize they are going to find out eventually, right?
I Just Want to Get Checked Out
Many patients I see realize their problem is not technically emergent. For example, I often see parents whose children have fallen and hit their heads. Hard. Then the injured child proceeds to act crazier (or less crazy) than usual causing parents concern. No problem, I am happy to “just check out” your kid. Head injuries are scary. Usually, I’m OK with the “I just want to get checked out” kind of people. But, if you get a mosquito bite don’t come in wondering if your itchy red whelp is some sort of rare plague. Trust me, you don’t have the ebola virus. If you knick your finger chopping veggies for dinner and it doesn’t bleed, there’s no need for an 800 dollar ER visit. Buy your own bandaids and Neosporin. It’s called common sense.
Oh, I see, you are here in the ED today because you fell off a ladder while re-roofing your house which re-aggravated your back injury from deep sea fishing in Mexico last week. I’m so sorry. What kind of insurance do you have? I would like to refer you to physical therapy. Oh, you are on disability?! WTF. I might start applying for government assistance. My nursing clogs give me sciatica and your refusal to work makes me depressed.
Do you have any pet peeves as a nurse practitioner? Feel free to vent by commenting below!